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property-market-2010But there’s a lot to consider before packing your bags, writes Carolyn Boyd.

Moving to the country might appeal to one-quarter of Sydneysiders but many don’t act on their desire unless a trigger arises.

A recent online survey by the state and federal government’s Evocities campaign – designed to encourage city residents to move to one of seven NSW regional towns – found that one in four of the 1000 Sydney residents questioned would consider a country move.

The chief executive of the Foundation for Regional Development, Peter Bailey, says many people toy with the idea of a big move but it often takes a catalyst for them to pack their bags.

That could be having children, losing a job or falling ill.

Bailey says when the global financial crisis was brewing, a large number of people attended the foundation’s Country & Regional Living Expo in Sydney.

‘‘We had a stack of people through who were fearful of the future and were beginning to put a plan B in place and were looking at options to get out,’’ Bailey says.

Now those fears have subsided, a major pressure point has become the cost of housing in Sydney. Bailey sees increasing interest from people under 35 who are finding it difficult to scrape together enough money to buy a house in the city and are attracted by lower country prices.

Bailey says the biggest barrier for people making a move is ignorance.

‘‘They don’t know where places are and that’s one of the things that we’ve tried to do is to educate people that the opportunities are on offer,’’ he says.

Another factor holding back many would-be country and coastal residents is the lower wages on offer and the difficulty in finding jobs.

Bailey urges people to crunch the numbers, though. ‘‘It’s not so much what your income is, it’s what you keep at the end of it, isn’t it?’’ he asks. ‘‘Isn’t it about what your net return is after all your costs?’’

Bailey says people should start their search by looking at job opportunities. Too often people do it the other way around and move to a place only to discover there is no suitable work.

‘‘You’ve almost got to find the job and then go and find the places you want to live,’’ he says.

After you think you’ve found a place, you need to visit for long weekends and a holiday or two. Bailey says it’s important to go ‘‘not just in the beautiful summertime but go in the winter, too’’.

There’s no need to rush, though. Bailey says it can take up to three years to make the decision and begin to plan a move.

An easily overlooked consideration is the availability of water. ‘‘Water is important for things like gardens and lots of people like gardens,’’Bailey says. ‘‘Although our water situation is great now, you’d also want to look at what it was like five years ago in centres you’re proposing to move to, or even two years ago.’’

When it comes to housing, Bailey says if people have a property in Sydney, it could be a good idea to hang on to it.

‘‘There are very few markets that have capital appreciation like Sydney,’’ he says. ‘‘If it’s not a forever decision, if you don’t like it, you can always go back. Or conversely, if you decide you do like it, you keep the house in Sydney, negative gear it and buy a place in the country [depending on your financial situation].’’

Bailey says once you’ve moved, it’s vital to get involved in the community.

‘‘Whatever it is, get involved and that way you’ll meet people and once you’ve developed a social network, it’s amazing how everything else will fall into place.’’

Why Sydneysiders move:

36 per cent — change of lifestyle and freedom to pursue a dream, slower pace of life, more leisure time and flexibility 24 per cent — less stress, improve relationships (more time with family and to raise children), self esteem and personal satisfaction 7 per cent — make a new start, move away from family and friends 6 per cent — less financial stress, lower cost of living, lower mortgage

And why they’re hesitant:

34 per cent — difficulty in finding work 17 per cent — fear of not having enough money or not making ends meet financially 13 per cent — worry about what family and friends will say or moving away from family 11 per cent — unsure about how to find the right location and somewhere to live

Source: Possibility to Reality.

Steve Innis and Libby Clark bought land in Milton on the south coast thinking it would be where they would retire.

But when Clark was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago, the couple decided to move their plans forward and shift from Sydney as soon as they could build a home.

A hiccup with an architect who designed a building costing twice their budget slowed their plans but then they engaged a local designer-builder,Tony Marshall of True North Design.

He proposed a two-storey house with a huge deck that appears to reach into the surrounding trees of the steep east-facing 1.2-hectare block.

Building started last June and the couple, who own a business that arranges physiotherapists for private hospitals in Sydney, moved from Concord to the coast at Easter.

‘‘It’s really all about the outdoors here,’’ says Clark, 44. ‘‘It’s wonderful. We have lyrebirds and wallabies and it’s just magic.’’

The couple’s home was built with visitors in mind, including Innis’s four adult daughters. ‘‘It creates different time with your family,’’ Clark says.

‘‘In Sydney we would have had dinner with [the girls] every couple of weeks or Sunday lunches but when they come down here and stay … it’s a different kind of quality time that you have with people.’’

The couple spent $480,000 building their three-bedroom home, which also has an office. It is brick downstairs and has fire-resistant cladding on the second level.

Eco features including tankwater, sustainable hardwood decks and low emissivity glass.

Innis and Clark did not have the hurdle of finding work — they simply took their business with them. Clark works from home while Innis, 55, commutes to Sydney for a few days a week, staying in a rented flat.

Clark’s cancer returned this year and, despite stays in a Sydney hospital, she doesn’t wish sh were living back in the city.

‘‘I’ve been cancer-free until I was  diagnosed with secondary cancer in August,’’ says Clark, who is undergoing treatment and says the future looks positive.

‘‘I’m so bloody glad I’m down here and not in Sydney. Just the lack of traffic, the lack of people, the beautiful fresh air. The house is just fabulous; it’s very soul-restoring
down here.’’

Decide what your skills are Explore what you want to do in your next stage of life — continue in the career you are in or seek a change?  Look at your CV and make sure it’s up to date Find a town or city that has opportunities for work or business ownership Visit in different seasons and spend some long weekends and holidays deciding if the town is for you Ask locals what they like and dislike about the town Research schools and services Once you arrive, get involved in the community

Story by Carolyn Boyd www.domain.com.au

Tags: economy, interest rates, marketing, news, prices, property, real estate, research

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