How do you go about generating leads among changers who want to leave the city behind?

Thousands of Australians are leaving the city behind and relocating to country or coastal towns.  Internal migration to regional New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland is the highest it has been in ten years.  But don't be fooled into thinking it's just a result of an aging population and that they are all retirees. Younger generations are in search of better lifestyles away from the pressure of city living.  

Knowing who they are and what drives them to relocate can be used in your marketing to help gain new custom from these tree and sea changers.

Who, where?

Since as early as the mid-2000s, nearly 80% of people changing from city to regional areas have been under the age of 50 . These facts dispel any myth that people moving from cities to sea or tree change areas are predominantly retirees or baby boomers. 

According to Cameron Kusher, head of research at CoreLogic, out of the 25 regions that recorded the highest net internal migration over the last year, 13 were regional, country or coastal areas . The highest migration was recorded in areas such as Moreton Bay in Queensland, La Trobe in Victoria's Gippsland and Richmond-Tweed in New South Wales.

Locations under an hour from capital cities posted strong increases. Areas including the coastal town of Yanchep, 56 kilometres from Perth, Yandina in Queensland, 22 kilometres north of the Sunshine Coast, and South Australia's Balhannah, an Adelaide Hills village 30km from Adelaide, have all seen well over 50% growth in population between 2006 and 2011 . Some rises have been spectacular: the population of Yanchep almost doubled from 4,247 to 8,868 between 2011  and 2016 , while Mount Cotton - 34 kilometres from Brisbane City - experienced a population growth of 42% in the same period.

However, changers were not limited to locations within daily commute distances. For example, Albury - 550 km from Sydney and 320km from Melbourne - had a population increase of 6.8% between 2011  and 2016 , more than double the increase in the 5 years before 2011 . In Queensland's Maryborough, just south of Bundaberg, the population between 2006 and 2016 has seen a dramatic increase of 23% from 41,262  to 51,102 . Busselton, 220km south of Perth, showed an increase of 22% between 2016 and 2011.

Why make the move?

According to an NBN survey, Australians were twice as likely to think about a sea or tree change than actually do it . For those wanting to take the plunge, the survey identified two prime motivations: slower pace of life and a better living environment. A better quality of life is desired  - and many see the answer in smaller, integrated communities.

31% of those surveyed considered cost of living the main reason to relocate. Properties in tree change, and sea change regions can tempt changers with lower cost, higher value alternatives to the expense of housing in Australia's capitals.

One interesting conundrum for changers is the risk that if too many people move the area will be turned into another big suburb. The Australian Coastal Councils Association is one group that has tried to address it: they worked with Curtin University to "develop strategies that could help retain the values and character of coastal communities". 

Key points to consider in your marketing to attract people based on their tree or sea change motivations include:

  • Real estate opportunities including greater value for money, lifestyle living and, where buyer's budgets are tight, affordability
  • The presence of a vibrant community 
  • Local services, offering many of the benefits of the city, in a more relaxed environment
  • Where present, planning controls to maintain the coastal or country environment

Impediments: Earning a living, services

According to analyst Mark McCrindle, a sea change or tree change doesn't work out for one in five people who attempt it, leading them to return to the city, incurring significant stress and expense . Changers need to do their research and understand how they can successfully make the move.
While some may be willing to forsake more lucrative employment for a better work-life balance out of town , aside from retirees, making an income is still a necessity. This need to earn a living can restrict the ambitions of changers and shape their choices.

Options on the table to earn a crust while living in a tree or sea change area include:

  • local jobs in nearby towns or regional centres
  • commuting daily to a capital city job,
  • a mix of commuting infrequently to a capital city job and remote working, and 
  • remote working

There can be a lack of variety in jobs in Australia's rural and regional areas . The Australian Government Department of Employment has created a Regional Education, Skills and Jobs Initiative (RESJ) to engage with regional communities to promote education, jobs, skills and workforce development . However, if a mover's big city skill set does not convert to local needs easily, they may need to change occupations to get local employment. Such a change is not easy.

For those unable to leave the city job behind, tree and sea change areas within a daily commute are attractive, particularly where some working from home  can be accommodated. The more days a person can work from home, the more feasible it is to move further afield. This makes towns like Bathurst in NSW - with the 'Bathurst Bullet' daily return train service to Sydney - possible change destinations.  Likewise, Victoria's regional railways are undergoing significant upgrades, with improved connectivity across the railway network.  Conversely, a lack of transport options can be a deterrent. 
Remote work can make a sea or tree change possible, with access to Internet connectivity from the NBN roll out essential. Due to the variety of Internet connectivity being offered under the NBN, changers will likely want to know details about connections available in the region and for specific properties. The type of Internet connection preferred may also vary based on profession, with digital and IT workers likely requiring the surety and confidence of the highest quality connections.

Key points to consider in your marketing to address the impediments to a tree or sea change:

  • Target workers in sectors that are in demand in local areas, such as the service or healthcare industries 
  • Make the availability of public transport and quality road links for commuters clear in your communication
  • Be knowledgeable about the availability and type of NBN at a regional, local and property level

What does all this mean for you?

According to a survey conducted for the NBN, 72% of Australians have considered a sea or a tree change. 
For brokers and agents in tree or sea change regions, this is an opportunity to target both 'dreamers' and those ready to make the decision. Your marketing can address their desires, present opportunities and solutions, and help them overcome perceived or real impediments. Carefully targeted messages to your audience segments will maximise impact. For example, if your area is about to have a new motorway opened or NBN availability released, it could be a great reason for an advertising campaign to changers.

City-based brokers should be aware that many of their customers may be considering a change. Creating marketing campaigns that educates changers on how to handle the pros and cons of a move could ensure that if they decide to proceed, they will make the shift with your help. And even if they don't go through with the sea or tree change, they could look to the next best thing with your help: a new home in the city that provides lifestyle benefits.

© Copyright 2018. RP Data Pty Ltd trading as CoreLogic Asia Pacific (CoreLogic) and its licensors. All rights reserved. The data, information and commentary, provided in this publication (together, Information) is of a general nature and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the relevant contributors and should not be construed as specific advice or relied upon in lieu of appropriate professional advice. While CoreLogic uses commercially reasonable efforts to ensure the Information is current, CoreLogic does not warrant the accuracy, currency or completeness of the Information and to the full extent permitted by law excludes all loss or damage howsoever arising (including through negligence) in connection with the Information.


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