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  1. Shigella

    Think outside the (city) box

    It’s now 5 years since hubby’s partner visa came through, and 4.5y since we made the move. I haven’t really been back here in this time, but I got a notification about an updated thread and it prompted me to come back and browse the forums. One recurring theme is the high cost of living, and the challenges of securing and/or affording a house (regardless of whether you’re renting or buying) and yet at the same time, almost all the questions are about the major cities, usually Sydney or Melbourne. I realise most people live in major cities, worldwide, but I wanted to raise the profile of the regional centres and let people know how much can be gained by looking outside the major cities to the regional centres. In Australia, regional centres often punch above their weight: they serve a much wider geographical area and a much higher population base than their published population size suggests. This means that facilities and services can be very generous, while at the same time cost of living can be MUCH cheaper. After moving here we weren’t really sure where we wanted to live, so we bought a caravan and set out to travel the country for two years. We stopped to work when we needed money, often in regional centres, and when it was time to settle down we resolved to accept the best job offer that wasn’t in a major city. That job turned out to be in Mildura, a regional centre on the Murray River in NW Victoria. Hubby works in healthcare and secured a package as good as any he could get in a city, but our house cost about a third of what the same house would cost in the city. While property prices are falling in the cities, our town had the biggest increases in property prices in the state last year (12%). There is a housing boom happening here, with a massive housing shortage driving new development all over town. Our British family came to visit 6m ago and were very impressed with our house, saying that their whole house could fit in our front room, and we also have a huge backyard. There is a large selection of schools. And the zoning is not tight, so if your preferred school is outside your zone there is a good chance you’ll get a place. Even if it’s on the other side of town, that’s only 15min away, tops. Sports and activities for kids are abundant (our kids chose to do BMX Racing, but there are all the other options besides). If you like the culture and atmosphere of city sporting or arts events, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide are an affordable 1hr flight away. If you’re a builder, tradesman, or have the skills to run your own construction-related business you can pretty much name your price. Healthcare services are short staffed, and job offers are generous to secure staff and the expanding population means there are many opportunities in education too. If you are concerned about the cost of housing or opportunities in the cities, I urge you to look at the regional centres in whatever state appeals to you. You can find superb lifestyle opportunities for a fraction of the living cost if you are willing to step outside the major cities.