The NBN Is Making Australia’s Country Towns More Appealing

Kiama (NSW), Ballarat (VIC), Toowoomba (QLD), St Helens (TAS), Victor Harbour (SA), Mandurah (WA) and Howard Springs (NT) are highlighted as potential boom towns for the latest lifestyle movement, identified in research from a report commissioned by NBN.

It’s dubbed an “e-change” (as opposed to “sea-change”), and involves escaping the city in search of a better lifestyle and “super connectivity”.

The Super Connected Lifestyle Locations report identifies more than 600 Australian “lifestyle towns” which are expected to “harness fast broadband to allow residents to work from home, minimise commute times and increase their quality of living”.

Author the report, demographer Bernard Salt said “While many of us may be experiencing a post-summer-holiday lull, this research suggests the dream of packing-up your home and living in a coastal or country town may not be so far away.

“We are witnessing a quiet lifestyle revolution in suburban Australia. The fusion of a relaxed lifestyle in tree-change and sea-change locations combined with super connectivity provided by the nbn network, is giving people even greater scope to take greater control of where they live and how they work.

“I predict a cultural shift or ‘e-change movement’ which could see the rise of new silicon suburbs or beaches in regional hubs as universal access to fast broadband drives a culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation outside our capital cities.”

The research details what it calls “the rise of the lifestyle town”. Defining features are ore affordable properties with space and scenery, within a commutable commutable distance of a capital city. “Lifestyle happiness” and cost of living are the main reasons people choose to move to these areas, with access to fast and reliable internet a crucial deciding factor.

The top reasons for valuing internet access are reported as being access to health services (76 per cent), being able to remain close to friends (68 per cent), access to leisure activities — which I assume includes cat videos — (67 per cent) and employment opportunities (65 per cent).

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Around 1 in 6 (16 per cent) Australians surveyed are unhappy with their lifestyle due to work commute times. However, those who have made a sea-change report being much happier with their work-life balance than those who have not made the move (69 per cent compared with 58 per cent). It’s also estimated approximately 400,000 Aussies have already cut down on their commute times by working from home, with predictions this will grow to be more than a million workers in the next decade.

Over the last five years, 1 in 5 (21 per cent) Aussies surveyed over the age of 55 sold-up and relocated to coastal retreats. The reasons given by this cohort for making the move include the pursuit of a better living environment (65 per cent), a slower pace of life (55 per cent), housing affordability (29 per cent) and escaping from traffic (15 per cent).

NBN’s goal is to connect eight million homes and businesses by 2020.

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