Since spring last year, many of our regional offices have been reporting an increase in buyer enquiry from young families leaving Sydney for a seachange or treechange in coastal or country areas of NSW. Many of them are doing it for lifestyle reasons in addition to the benefit of greater affordability in regional property markets.
We’ve also heard a lot about the dense population of some of our cities and how this is keeping property prices strong in certain areas. And our population continues to grow at a fairly rapid pace due to natural increase and migration.
So I guess it’s not surprising to see governments getting involved in trying to encourage people to swap city life for country life. In NSW, the newly elected Barry O’Farrell Government has just introduced a property grant that provides $7000 for anyone selling in metropolitan areas and buying a new principal place of residence in regional areas – as long as the purchase price is under $600,000. It’s called the Regional Relocation Grant and it became effective on 1 July. The government is offering 40,000 grants over a four-year period until June 30, 2015.
The government is defining ‘metropolitan areas’ as the local government areas (LGAs) of:
Any location outside these LGAs is considered ‘regional’. Other criteria for the grant include:
I think the concept of encouraging people to move to regional areas is a good one, and it might even provide a small boost to regional property values in some of the more popular areas if buyer demand increases enough. However, I don’t think $7000 is enough to directly induce a family to uproot their city lives and move to the country. I think the grant is more of a bonus for people who are already thinking about heading to the coast or country. While $7000 is not small change, it is a drop in the bucket when you consider the grand total of selling costs, buying costs (including stamp duty) and moving costs.
The great news is that many people will actually benefit from this grant, as there seems to be a growing desire among certain groups (senior executives, retirees and a small number of young families) to quit our cities. And who can blame them – the lifestyle in regional areas is vastly different to city life, with much more peace and quiet and a stronger sense of community than you tend to find in cities. And the cost of living – not to mention real estate – is much cheaper. While downsizers and retirees have been moving to regional areas for a long time, it’s great to see an emerging trend in young families also choosing to do this as well.
One regional area that qualifies for the grant and is already in high demand from city dwellers is Port Macquarie on the North Coast. Our Port Macquarie office began reporting demand from young Sydney families and senior Sydney executives in summer 2010 and it’s been increasing ever since. The daily flight service back to Sydney is a big drawcard for senior executives who want to work from home but have a quick commute back to the city when they need to return.
To read more about the Regional Relocation Grant or download an application form, visit www.osr.nsw.gov.au/benefits/rrg.
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