Regional living is now officially ‘cool’. Of course, this isn’t news to those of us who already call our towns and regional cities home. We’ve always appreciated the benefits of a regional address and wondered why everyone couldn’t see the appeal.
But now it seems the secret’s out and our city cousins are making the move in greater numbers than ever. The pandemic has caused many of us to reassess aspects of our lives and many it seems have decided the bright lights of city living are no longer for them.
Demand for housing in our regions has been stronger than usual in the past 12 months, with prices on the rise and housing stocks in short supply in some areas.
Regional areas have proved something of a safe haven during the COVID crisis, largely remaining immune from many of the restrictions of our metro locations. And, when many of us were forced to work from home, there was a realisation from employers, and employees, that the work still got done and there were technologies available that made working remotely not only possible, but also efficient and effective.
So, what does this mean for our regional communities and the people who live there? Well, the pressure on housing stocks in some regions, particularly along our coast, has seen housing prices surge dramatically. And even inland regional areas have seen prices rise by some of the biggest margins in years. This obviously makes it pricier for locals to get into the market and evidence suggests renters are suffering as well, as housing availability is impacted by city buyers who find our regions a bit of a steal compared to the likes of Sydney and Newcastle.
Encouraging ‘decentralisation’ has always been spruiked by our governments as a ‘priority’ – this point is open for discussion – but after considerable talk about and hand-wringing over how exactly to encourage city-dwellers to make the switch, it seems a global pandemic was the answer all along. So, with regional populations now seemingly on the rise, how do we as a state, and nation, address all the issues that come with that.
Infrastructure is one of these, with the likes of health and education assets of concern as populations exceed existing facilities. The quality of road networks and transport routes are another. In short, the appeal of our regions is welcome in so many ways and the experts are telling us this new ‘trend’ is not going away any time soon.
Planning and resource allocations must be prioritised in the months and years ahead, and it’s up to governments and planning authorities at all levels to ensure demand doesn’t kill the very things that have made our regions so appealing to so many.