The Rise of the e-Change & Australia’s ‘Lifestyle Towns’

You’ve heard of a sea change, and you know what it means to make a tree change, but have you heard the new buzzword that’s flying around the property market? It’s the e-change, and it’s all thanks to the arrival of fast Internet in Australia.

In a recent report which was commissioned by nbn and researched by Bernard Salt, a very interesting picture of the new trend is painted. So what is the e-change, and how could it benefit you?

NBN High-Speed Internet = Working Freedom

It’s 2016, and people are starting to consider alternate ways of living. Driven by the desire for a more relaxed, slower paced lifestyle and the cheaper cost of living, some are now choosing to live in rural areas and telecommute on a part-time or even full-time basis, giving them more freedom. This is essentially what is being labeled Australia’s ‘e-change’.

Moving to a rural area that’s still reasonably close to the city has meant that e-changers can enjoy the peace and quiet of country living (and the savings!) but still enjoy their city lifestyles and keep their higher-paying jobs. The rise of fast Internet also means telecommuting is far more feasible than ever.

According to the nbn report: “It’s… estimated approximately 400,000 Aussies have already cut down their commute times by working from home with predictions this will grow to be more than a million workers in the next decade.”. One million workers!

So What is the NBN, Anyway?

The NBN (National Broadband Network) provides Australians with fast and reliable landline phone and Internet access. Driven by Australia’s fast-growing digital economy, the nbn comes as a much-needed improvement to the Internet infrastructure in our country. At the time of writing, over 1.8 million premises had been readied for nbn service, with many more to come.

Say Hi to the ‘Lifestyle Towns’

The report names areas like Kiama, Byron Bay, Cairns, McLaren Vale, Geraldton, Bacchus Marsh, Howard Springs and our very own Queanbeyan as areas that have the potential to become e-change zones, and certainly we’ve already seen this happening in towns like Braidwood, Bungendore and Yass. Since we’re based in the ACT, let’s have a look at the data for Queanbeyan, Braidwood, Bungendore and Yass.

According to yourinvestmentpropertymag.com.au, Queanbeyan has experienced growth of 3.41% over 12 months, while Braidwood has grown 5.52% in the last quarter. Bungendore has achieved average growth of 4.89%. The other benefit of Bungendore is that median house prices have actually dropped over the last year, making it even more affordable. Yass has an average annual growth rate of 5.52%.

Lifestyle Town, Lifestyle Benefits

Living in one of these ‘lifestyle towns’ close to Canberra and embracing the idea of the e-change has quite a few benefits, which we’ve outlined some of below:

Working Flexibility

As mentioned above, some employees are now telecommuting on a part-time or full-time basis. The nbn has meant that these people can either skip their commute or only have to deal with it on some days of the week. This allows them more family time and helps reduce stress levels to boot.

More Space

If you like your space, moving to a rural area can be a great option, as it’s possible – even likely – that you can find a bigger block or even move onto an acreage. In Canberra, this is obviously much harder.

Buying a Home is Easier

Generally, rents and house prices are lower in rural areas, so the cost of living can be markedly reduced by moving to one of these areas. For example, the median house prices in Queanbeyan currently hover at around $455,000 while Canberra’s median sits around $593,000. That’s a pretty big difference!

Investment Opportunity

For investors, the good news is that demand for property in the lifestyle towns continues to grow at quite a rapid rate, and this is creating plenty of new investment opportunities. As shown above, properties are cheaper in these areas, however rents also remain fairly strong, meaning good rental yields are being seen.

But is the e-Change Really for You?

Now let’s not forget that living in the city definitely has plenty of its own benefits. Quite apart from the access to necessary amenities like medical services, kids’ sports, recreation, gymnasiums and emergency services, there’s also myriad other benefits.

Here in Canberra, we’re blessed with a great city-country balance and a fantastic quality of life. There’s the chic restaurants and bars in areas like Civic, Braddon, Manuka and Kingston, and then there are plenty of places to enjoy the natural environment like The Centenary Trail, Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra Nature Park and many more… too many to even count!

And Canberra still remains the most affordable state or territory to buy property in, with Canberra homeowners spending under 20% of their income on mortgage repayments while the folks in NSW spend almost 40% and the good people of Victoria spend over 34%, according to the December 2015 REIA Housing Affordability Report.

We think we’ll stick with the Capital. Drinks at Hopscotch later, anyone?

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