With the southern capital cities about to come off their recent highs, many people are predicting a resurgence of interest in regional areas. Both Domain.com and Realestate.com.au ran articles promoting both the affordability and liveability of regional towns and villages.
But all regional towns are not the same. The key to liveability is to provide some of the three C’s – convenience, culture and coffee. Regional towns that are not doing their best to modernise, smarten up their act and move into the 21st century are going to be left behind.
- Convenience means providing some “mod cons”. A local airport is a big advantage. Many people are happy to commute to and from a regional airport as long the travel distance is not a huge disadvantage. Same with NBN and inter-connectivity; these days you can work from anywhere as long as you can be online and with reasonable download speeds. C’mon NBN, get your act together!
- Culture means more than bingo nights and chook raffles at the local RSL. Culture includes the other big C – thats Community not cancer. People attract other people, as we are all social creatures. A town needs a point of difference and that means more than erecting a big prawn or a big pineapple. A town like Parkes did it with the incredibly successful Elvis Festival. Some towns have excellent food or music festivals which have put them on the map.
- Coffee! Coffee is short hand for “café society” and is just more detail added on to culture. I remember a story from when I lived in Sydney in the 80s, a property investor I knew would study the location of where gay people would be moving to and then buy houses there. He knew that if gay people started living in a suburb, pretty soon there would be coffee shops and interesting restaurants and real estate would go up.
A good example of a town attracting vibrant growth is Bendigo in rural Victoria. Domain.com predicts more growth for all Victoria’s large rural towns – Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine. Domain also suggests looking out for towns that have advantages like beaches, food or interesting architecture.
It specifically mentions beach towns like: Thiroul, Bermagui, Coffs Harbour, Sawtell – and Byron Bay of course. Those with interesting architecture are Mornington Peninsula, the three Vic towns already mentioned, Tasmania towns like Longford and Port Arthur. Food is another drawcard: Castlemaine gets a special mention, as do Bicheno in Tassie and Orange in country NSW.
Realestate.com ran an article listing the top ten towns with an increase in property listings. This list outlined another way for a town to attract more development and an increase in population. This is by providing affordable blocks close to good services for retirees and downsizers. This list often included towns with new retirement villages being developed. They were: Barandunda Vic, Dundowran Qld, Huntly, Vic, Jones Hill, Qld, Heddon Greta NSW, Marbelup, WA, Ashfield Qld, Cooma, NSW, Dongara, WA, Newton, Qld.