One in five Sydney dwellers are looking to relocate to the country with COVID-19 proving to be a catalyst for the shift.
One in five Sydney dwellers are looking to relocate to the country with COVID-19 proving to be a catalyst for the shift.

Regional renaissance drives shift to the country

Stressed-out Sydneysiders are looking to relocate to the country in droves, with one in five considering a tree change as Australia experiences a "regional renaissance". 

New research from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) pegs Sydney and Brisbane residents as the most stressed and time-poor across all Australian capitals, with the pursuit of affordability another major driver towards a simpler country life. 

Government and business stakeholders are looking to harness this sentiment with today's launch of a multimillion-dollar campaign urging people to make the shift, part of a two-day Growing Regional Australia - Shaping the Good Life national summit in Canberra. 

The multi-platform advertising campaign follows a spread of anti-city attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 22 per cent of respondents citing COVID as a factor significantly raising the desire to move. 

 

Regional towns like Mudgee are seeing a surge of tree changers. Picture: Bob Barker
Regional towns like Mudgee are seeing a surge of tree changers. Picture: Bob Barker

 

But RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said the pull factors of country life were a stronger motivation. "Regional Australia is undergoing a renaissance as an attractive and viable alternative to capital city living, with opportunities for more affordable living and a better work-life balance," she said.

Australia's capital cities lost over 11,000 people to the regions in the quarter up to September 2020, representing the largest loss to internal migration on record. 

Dean and Lisa Marzolla are among those who have fled the city. They recently moved from Western Sydney to Mudgee, the sale of their Wattle Grove home funding a 40ha property. "With prices booming in Sydney, it cleared the mortgage with extra left over to renovate," Mr Marzolla said. 

"It took a huge weight off our shoulders and we felt an instant sense of peace, open space, fresh air and nature.

All our farm neighbours are tree changers and we all say that you don't know what you're missing until you come and live out here."

Concerns about limited regional job opportunities are the biggest barrier to moving, according to RAI's research, despite vacancies topping 54,000 in the latest figures, including professional and skilled roles.

Both Dean and Lisa Marzolla have found work locally, are raising a flock of sheep, and have also purchased an iconic local bar, Eltons, with staffing now their biggest issue.

"We are stretched - businesses are having to share their staff," Mr Marzolla said.

"There are loads of jobs out here."

Deputy PM Michael McCormack headlines this week's national summit, which unites over 300 representatives from all levels of government with business and community stakeholders. The future-focused discussion will help inform and engage leaders in the push towards Australia's regionalisation.

Originally published as Regional renaissance drives shift to the country


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