Thinking about a tree change. Make no mistake about it, it’s hard work. It’s different. It’s exciting. And for some it’s a permanent change.
Just how do you know for sure if you want to exchange your city/suburb-y life for a country one? Don’t ask me! I know why I did. I can’t tell you for sure if you want to make the change. There are several things you can do to make the decision easier though. Here’s one of them. Give it a try. But before you buy. When we lived in the ‘big smoke’ and were looking to move people said to me ‘But you’ll never be able to afford to move back here if you leave!’ I was seriously over ‘the big smoke’ so it wasn’t an issue for me. As I told them. If we don’t like it, if it doesn’t suit, we’ll just move somewhere else – it’s a big country after all!
We were both right. I didn’t ever want to go back to the city – but we’d never be able to buy anywhere near the city now – the prices in cities go up but in the real countryside prices are pretty stagnant. So if I wanted to sell up here and go somewhere else the selling part would be hard.
Properties do not move very fast. If you are very near to the snowfields you will get buyers, although not many as there is so little industry around here at all that many families cannot afford to move here. They can live in the township because it is on a good road to Canberra – so lots of commuting but do-able; if you move out of the town in any direction except towards Canberra then you would be increasing the commuting time to something that is not manageable over a long period of time. Let’s face it – you rarely move to the countryside to see less of your family and have less time to relax!
So how can you really decide? Firstly, check around on the internet for schools. How many are there? Primary, High Schools? What are their size? Check out what they offer in the way of subjects. If it’s extremely restricted and you want a lot of choice for your children, would you be able to send them to boarding school? Would you want to? Are there TAFE’s and universities in the town, or nearby? Canberra obviously has a uni – well 2. So for me it was a better option than the coast where Wollongong would be the closest. Of course, your children will frequently want to apply for a university on the other side of the continent from you by then (lol) but it’s nice to plan that if they did want to stick around somewhere nearby that they had that choice.
Check the online job sites for jobs going in the local area that you are thinking of moving to; and in the nearest larger towns/cities. Then check out the properties for sale. See how long they are on the site for – some may be overpriced and stay there a long time for that reason; but if all properties are slow to move then it’s an indication that you should wait and see how much you like the place before you commit your money to it. Then look at the rentals. Renting while you look around, get a feel for the place, the people, they way life is lived there is great. Lots of people think of renting as dead money. But is it in this instance? No, it’s using your money rather than tying it up in a property that may be hard to sell on – and all the costs of purchasing which are definately dead money if you don’t want to stay. If you decide this place is not for you, your money invested in buying a property may not be dead money – but it may behave like it’s in a coma, while you would like to move on to another area.
Don’t forget to check out the local council website either. Check on the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) as this can have serious repercussions if you buy something that you will never be allowed to build on……something that is a big issue round here but not in some other areas. You’ll need to check the Noxious Weeds section too, as you could be buying someone else’s problems. You need to be a bit savvy about this stuff before you go in.
Another don’t forget is the internet. We live in a mobile/internet blackspot. A couple of k’s down the road they have hardly-any-speed-broadband. It’s cheaper than our hardly-any-speed-satellite internet. In town they have high speed. In nearby snowy town they also do. If you’re planning on anything that needs high speed make that something that is on your essential list.
You could Rent to Buy. This is becoming more popular these days where it is hard to get the upfront deposit money from a bank. When you have children you would like to bring up in the country but can’t afford to buy in until they are almost ready to fly the nest it’s frustrating. So Rent to Buy can get you into a property; you can put the kids in school, settle in, start your permaculture garden, your online business venture, and see how it all goes. If everything works well and you are loving it, then you can obtain your loan and purchase ‘your’ property at the price you agreed on one or two years ago. If you don’t like it? If gardening palls? If you learn you hate working for yourself because you are a lousy boss 😉 or you hate being by yourself that much? The kids are found to be city kids after all? Then you can move on. You don’t have to sell that property before you can move on.
You do need to do your homework on the area first though. Because you will need to put some money down on that property to hold it for Rent to Buy. And you will be paying rent. So you need to know that you can afford to make the payments. Especially if you are moving into the area and don’t yet have a job there. You would need to have a job option nearby that would make it feasible. It’s more than a residential lease – it’s an offer to buy the property at a set price after a period of time. It’s like hedging your bets. It gives you choices, and it gets you started. But is it for you? Do your homework online. Then go for holidays in the area. And go sometimes when it’s not school holidays….so you can drive past the local schools. Drop off and pick up times are great as you get to see a little microcosm of the town – not just the kids and buses, but the parents who are there as well. Make an appt with the school principal – or a couple, to get a better feel for the place. When you go into shops, stop and have a little chat. And don’t just chat about how high the prices are in country towns; it’s a fact of life for us, that convenience costs a fair bit extra. Oh and there’s no fast food in small towns! Even the fast food places take extra time to make the food.
As for the slowness…..well…..let me……blog….about…..that….another….time…………………mebbe.
Just a little tip – be ready to be pulled over by the police if you do drive past the schools more than once………..it’s a small town, everyone knows everyone, and any stranger who is acting strangely around our kids will be noticed and checked out! Rather a nice feeling for parents to know that their children are being looked after.
There are no secrets in a small town, although not everything you hear is the truth.