Picking rural over rat race

22 Jan, 2014 03:23 AM
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This trend signifies a big change in lifestyle preferences for this demographic

THE drift among young adults from country to city living is reversing, with more 25 to 44-year-olds returning to the regional towns they grew up in, the Regional Australia Institute says.

Internal migration data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows, for 2010-11, that eight capital cities lost a net 10,638 people in the 25 to 44 age category while the top eight regional centres gained 8064.

"This trend signifies a big change in lifestyle preferences for this demographic and opens up many opportunities for regions and businesses to consider how to take advantage of this," RAI chief executive Su McCluskey said.

"While the lifestyle might be a natural drawcard, investing in the other factors that play a role in people's decision whether to live in regional areas will be critical to a region's future."

According to a report by the RAI, there is anecdotal evidence many of those moving to the regional areas are returning to where they grew up once they settle down and have families, a group the research group has dubbed "regional returners".

The returners make the move for various reasons, the RAI says, including lifestyle, affordability, and to be close to family and have lower stress.

But some potential returners were held back by negative perceptions of career options, isolation and a lack of infrastructure, the RAI says.

Regional authorities needed to combat these perceptions by emphasising the different career pathways on offer and the "significant drawcard" of housing affordability.

The RAI's analysis of ABS figures shows Sydney is losing the most in the 25 to 44 age group of all the capital cities, at 7753 people, with Perth still gaining 2084 people attributable to the mining boom.

The most popular regional area in the age group to move is the NSW Hunter region, followed by south-west Western Australia and Queensland's Sunshine Coast, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Kiri Farrell, a 26-year-old aspiring teacher, is one of those who has decided to move back from the bright lights of Sydney to Griffith, a regional centre in NSW an hour's drive away from her original home town of Ardlethan.

Her brother made a similar move, returning from a police job in Adelaide to be with his fiancee in Griffith.

After seven years in Sydney completing arts and education degrees, Ms Farrell said she felt she could contribute more as a much-needed regional school teacher.

"I know the struggles in country schools and the need for good teachers," she said.

"I wanted to actually put into the community rather than just do a day's work and go home. To take what I've learnt from the city and take it back to the country."

Ms Farrell said she had not necessarily always considered the prospect of moving back, but had realised as she got older she "really missed the quietness".

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READER COMMENTS

Ian
22/01/2014 6:06:08 AM

Big surprise people are moving to the Hunter. The Hunter mines are now requiring employees to live local to avoid the FIFO/DIDO costs.
Cass
22/01/2014 12:40:59 PM

After four years of marriage in a country town, my husband and I moved to Sydney so I could continue my studies. Once I was pregnant, though, we agreed that we didn't want to raise a family in the city, and we came back. In spite of some very tough times, it was definitely the right decision.
cmt
23/01/2014 6:29:52 AM

As many of these city folk are moving to the rural areas, they are engaging in livestock and agricultural production as an aside to their other activities. While the average output from each property may be small scale, it is very significant when all outputs are aggregated. It forms a growing part of our agricultural industry. It is also often leading the way in increasing research and experimentation into improved land management and sustainability processes. It is worth of the support of the community and Governments as it is also bringing business to country towns.
Farmer Joe
23/01/2014 9:50:07 AM

Seriously? The Hunter and the Sunshine Coast are regional. What a a joke these areas are barely more the outer suburban areas these days and hardly reflect the hardship of rural communities on the other side of the range. This kind of reporting does little to recognise and acknowledge the real plight of rural Australia. I think it is great that people are choosing a non city lifestyle, but the reality is that rural centres need a viable ag sector in its own right to recover, thrive and attract young people back.
wtf
24/01/2014 2:17:48 AM

What rubbish, they are returning to the bigger regional cities but that has no effect on small rural towns and their communities. Should have been called picking regional cities over rat race. That title gives a completely wrong impression.
leon tanner
24/01/2014 8:35:17 AM

Not strictly correct wtf. I left the family farm at a young age and worked in cities for 35 years and then bought a farm out of a small country town 5 hours out of the capital city. In that district are hundreds of people like me doing likewise.
wtf
24/01/2014 9:57:11 AM

Yeah is that a treechangr or hobby farmer leon
leon tanner
24/01/2014 11:36:24 AM

You are not writing off small farms as irrelevant are you, wtf?. 100 properties, turning off 15-30 cattle per year = up to 3000 head per town. Multiply that by 100 towns and that gives you 300,000 cattle per region. That is enough to keep a couple of large abattoirs going all year round employing 1000 people each. Based on 4 person families, that is a living for 4000 people not to mention the purchases from merchandise stores, supermarkets, schools, medical centres, transport companies, etc etc. And this on top of other job income tax paid.
wtf
24/01/2014 2:46:10 PM

I think your hundred towns is a bit wild, Being to bre or wilcannia lately, not many moving there.
leon tanner
24/01/2014 7:53:34 PM

Look closer to the coast wtf.
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