Tips for a Successful Tree Change

December 2nd, 2022

Increasingly, the charm of the country is luring more of us to move from the cities. Australia’s capital cities combined lost 11,800 people to internal migration in the 2021 March quarter, according to ABS data – the biggest quarterly net loss on record. Read on to discover our 8 tips for a successful tree change…

For some, the reality of relocating can feel overwhelming. Here, we break it up into practical steps with pointers about what to consider.

1. Analyse your needs and priorities

A location and home should support your goals and needs. Natalie Morey, director of Australian Relocation Managers, a service that manages relocations and finds rental properties for executives and their families, suggests doing a needs analysis. Think about what activities you like, she suggests. Along with your current lifestyle, what do you want from the future?

Equally important is what you don’t want. Also, take into account and negotiate the needs of everyone involved.

2. Temper your romantic vision

Connection to nature and community are key motives for a tree change, says award-winning city, regional and social planner Dr. Laurel Johnson, a senior lecturer at the Yunus Centre, Griffith University. However, many regional areas suffer from poor public transport, greater car reliance, internet connectivity issues, and reduced opportunities for youth, work, and education, she says.

Ian Lillington, a permaculture and land consultant, and educator, says tree-changers aspiring to grow food need good soil and water. They also need ways of dealing with the limitations of a site – like windbreaks, polytunnels, greenhouses, drainage modifications, or water harvesting. Wildlife eating the crops can also be a problem. Those who want to farm on a larger scale need to realise it’s not something you can do alone, he says. Research what resources and support exist nearby.

3. Pinpoint a location

Initially, focus on social and economic constraints to narrow your search, Lillington advises: “For example, some people don’t want to move, say, 50 kilometres away from their family.”

Match town features against your personal criteria. Common desirable elements include a like-minded community, farmers’ markets, shops, educational and work opportunities, healthcare, public transport, cycleways, entertainment, and leisure options. “If you have a shop or school, or some services in your town, that can be a defining factor by which you make your choice,” Lillington says.

If a specific climate is on your hit list the Bureau of Meteorology has climate data on every Australian town, Lillington adds. Be aware that within regions and distances as small as 30 kilometres, altitude, frost, wind, cloudiness and other climate factors can vary significantly, he warns.

4. Reconnaissance of the area

Do your homework on the area before you pack up your lives, Morey advises. “It takes months, possibly years, to make sure you get the destination right.” Along with holidaying there she recommends renting before buying – a strategy Morey herself pursued when relocating from Melbourne to Gisborne.

Alternatively, house-swap or house-sit, Lillington suggests. The best insider goss can be gained from the locals, he says. Also, check out the residents’ Facebook page. See the area at its most extreme. “Go there in the middle of winter and in the middle of summer,” he says.

The local council can provide free access to planning overlays that show where there’s a high risk of floods or bushfires, Lillington says. Council can also tell you about any subdivision potential, local planning and building regulations, heritage considerations, and future plans for the development of the location.

5. Choose a home

Renting versus buying

With Australia experiencing a massive rental property shortage, Morey advises approaching renting like a job. Be organised with your paperwork and present well. “It’s a very competitive market,” she says. “Your expectations and brief will probably need to change.” Be flexible, broaden your geographic search and consider surrounding areas, she advises.

On the upside for buyers, paying a mortgage is cheaper than renting for about 60 percent of Australian regional properties, according to an analysis by CoreLogic (reported in March 2022).

Lillington, who enjoys regional life in Castlemaine, says the dream of living away from neighbours on large acreages often comes with increased driving, significant land management, more maintenance, and higher costs.

Water and fire are key considerations. “Our eucalyptus-dominated landscape is a very fire-prone landscape,” he says. “And, most places in Australia still don’t have enough water.”

What home type?

Suburban-sized town blocks and higher-density homes tend to be more conveniently located and less expensive to buy and maintain. However, high-density and closely packed subdivided housing developments are often poorly designed for eco-living, Lillington warns. “There’s no guarantee of winter sunshine or good soil.”  Building on your own land allows for greater creative control and potential eligibility for the First Home Owner Grant but can blow out in terms of building costs and time.

Home businesses have the advantage of providing an income. But they’re more complex to buy and often involve GST on the sale, warns Joshua Bignell, partner at RMB Lawyers, the largest regional law firm in NSW.

6. Use expert help

Helpful experts include property lawyers, accountants, council, real estate agents, builders, buying agents, relocation experts, building inspectors and permaculture consultants. The latter can provide advice about siting, slope and aspect, water and energy supply, passive solar design and more, before or after purchase.

Lillington recommends getting a land capability assessment performed by permaculture consultants and experts qualified in the environmental, geotechnical, soil science or wastewater consulting field.

7. Manage the move

A smooth move is a well-planned one, Morey says. Plan schools and book removalists well in advance. “Their demand is still very high,” she says. Declutter before moving and avoid transporting stuff that’s not going to fit your new home.

8. Tap into the community

Work, interest groups and courses, volunteering, schools and the neighbourhood are good ways to get connected.  “You have to really get out of your comfort zone,” Morey says.

First published by Domain, By Linda Moon August 10, 2022

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real Estate Buyers Agent



    • Since 1999

      250+ happy clients

    • $310 mil

      Properties sold across the Northern Rivers

    • 1 in 5

      Properties purchased off market

    Recent Posts

    Recent Comments