Signs it’s time for a sea or tree change

Feeling the urge to escape from your current location and seek out a sea or tree change? You’re not alone.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that in the three months to the end of March 2021, 104,100 people moved interstate. This was the highest migration level for a March quarter since 1996. Capital cities also saw a net loss of 11,800 people from interstate migration.

And where were these people moving? It appears that sunny Queensland is the most popular destination for interstate migration, gaining 28,500 new residents in this time period. The biggest losses were from New South Wales (-30,684) and Victoria (-23,771).

But it’s not just moves to other states that are growing in popularity, with 24,437 people moving out of Sydney and into regional New South Wales, and 22,651 people leaving Melbourne for regional Victoria.

So, if you’re on the fence about moving it may be worth exploring some of the key signs you are ready for a sea change or a tree change.


1.   Lockdown made you realise your space isn’t right

With millions of Australians plunged back into COVID-19-related lockdowns, you’re no doubt spending more time in your home than you ever thought you would. Those negative thoughts you’ve had about your home may have been easy to ignore pre-pandemic, but now it may be unavoidable.

Perhaps you’re desperate to add a furry friend to your family and your small apartment won’t cut it. Or your landlord’s ignoring of your request for repairs is becoming a serious issue. Either way, it’s not uncommon for a lockdown to make you realise your current space is just not right anymore.

In fact, in an interview with The Age, KPMG urban and regional planner, Terry Rawnsley, said the pandemic had changed population patterns.

“Melbourne is a good case study. Before COVID, Melbourne was drawing people in every quarter from elsewhere in Australia. The second COVID hit and we had long lockdowns, we saw a significant outflow of people from Greater Melbourne,” he said.


2.   Your family is growing

Another sign it may be time for a sea or tree change is that your family is growing. Whether you’re expecting a child or want to adopt a large dog, increasing the members of your household may be a good reason to consider looking for a new place.

It’s no secret that a significant portion of young Australians live in apartments. The last census recorded one in five (21%) of all people aged 25-34 years as apartment residents. And if you’re looking for more space, more affordable single-family detached homes may be available in regional areas away from city centres.

3.   Work from home regulations means more freedom

COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way millions of Australians work. Whether you’re currently experiencing a lockdown or not, many workplaces have adapted to allow for more flexibility. The last 18 months have confirmed that many companies are fully capable of running without an office.

One of the biggest barriers to regional or interstate migration is the lack of job opportunities. But, if your employer is happy to allow you to continue to work-from-home, it may be completely feasible to escape the rat race of inner-city living and move somewhere that better suits your goals and lifestyle. If you’re no longer commuting to your workplace, then this opens the door for you to consider a sea or tree change to a more ideal location.


4.   Affordability is an issue

Arguably the biggest reason people consider leaving their current location is because of affordability, particularly if you’re living in Sydney or Melbourne. Dwelling values in particular are at some of their highest levels in years, even despite the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy.

The latest CoreLogic figures for July 2021 show that housing values are 16.1 percent higher over the past 12 months. In fact, the median house price in Sydney now sits above an intimidating $1.25 million. Melbourne is not too far from the million dollar median as well, with a median house price of $945,769.

If you’re feeling priced out of your current town or city, want to set up roots but can’t afford a deposit, it may be worth considering more affordable options. Regional areas on average may offer lower dwelling values.

5.   Retirement is nearing

It’s not just young workers and growing families who may be considering a sea or tree change. In the same interview with The Age, CommSec chief economist Craig James said older Australians were driving the change from big city to idyllic small town.

“The exodus from the city to the regions is being led by baby boomers and Generation X. In part, COVID-19 may be driving retirement plans. But the 25 to 44 cohort isn’t far behind,” he said.

Many baby boomers who have finished work or are nearing retirement age may be hoping to get a slice of a slower, more simplified living. If this sounds familiar, then now may be the time to consider a move.

So, whether lockdown has you itching for more space, you’re looking for increased affordability or just want a taste of a simpler lifestyle, it may be worth considering if a sea change or tree change is right for you.

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