Leaving the big smoke? Advice for relocating to regional areas

The traffic is hectic. The rat race is swallowing you up. You’ve just spent an incredible week in a remote coastal town, and it is the first time in a long time your blood pressure has dropped to normal. So now you’re thinking of packing up, selling at a great price, and making a sea change. Why wouldn’t you?

Making a sea change, or a tree change, has a lot of charm and appeal. But before you sell up in the city, and buy in a peaceful location, there are a few things to consider.

Try before you buy

You wouldn’t buy an expensive new suit without trying it on. Likewise, if you’re investing in property in a new location, you need to know if it’s the right fit for you.

Think about renting in your desired location for a period of time, before buying. Or at least visit the area regularly. You need to get to know an area through different seasons.

Your summer holiday may have been bliss, but in winter, the mercury drops and it might freeze over. Also, you may have experienced a peaceful off-season on your holiday, but come summer your remote location could become a hive of activity – exactly what you were hoping to avoid.

You should also know about the upkeep of your dream property. A vast acreage in a fertile location may mean a day of mowing every week. A house by the sea could mean rust damage and frequent maintenance.

If you can’t experience your chosen location through every season, at least do thorough research. Read magazines, hop on blogs, and try to get hold of the local community paper to get a feel for the place.

Consider regional property trends

At first glance, your dream location might seem unbelievably affordable compared with city property prices. But there are other factors to consider.

Firstly, some regional areas have had property prices rise by almost unprecedented amounts over the past 12-18 months, largely driven by citysiders flocking to the country throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Could this be the peak of the market? Is the momentum coming to an end? It’s important to understand the drivers of the particular market you are buying into and whether those drivers are permanent or fleeting. Research the area where you want to buy carefully and make sure you are comfortable with the fundamentals of the area to reduce the chances of losing capital value over the years to come.

Secondly, the last 18 months aside, regional property markets generally move quite slowly compared to city markets. Demand for property in a regional area can be low given what is usually a smaller pool of buyers, which means it can be hard to sell, even if it’s a wonderful property. You’ll want to be mindful of this if you’re not sure how long you’ll want to stay. If you decide you want to leave and the market is slow, you may have to sell for less than it’s worth.

Of course, sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks. If you want to move for mental or physical health reasons, and losing out a little financially isn’t going to be the end of the world, then go for it.

Think about what you’ll miss

While you dream about your future, it’s easy to gloss over the negatives, and avoid thinking about what you’ll leave behind.

Regional life offers peace and quiet, yes, but it may also lack entertainment, services and facilities you are used to in the city. Research what amenities are available in your chosen location, and how easy it will be to return to the city, if you are missing city life, friends and family.