Ten Booming Regional Towns to Consider for Your First Home If You're Looking for a Seachange
Whether you want to relocate right by the beach or you're looking for a treechange, these towns are the ideal places to lay down roots.
November 05, 2021
in partnership with
The past couple of years have seen Aussies moving out of the cities in droves. The pandemic has undeniably played a part, particularly thanks to the flexibility for some that comes with working from home. It has also caused a lot of us to start re-evaluating our lifestyles, and it now seems everyone is considering a seachange — or a treechange. House prices in our major cities — especially Sydney and Melbourne — are skyrocketing, making big city living less appealing (and less achievable) for anyone trying to take a step onto the property ladder. And no, smashed avo is not to blame.
Sure, we love the metropolitan buzz, the convenience of public transport and the proximity to our mates. But, if you're considering moving, indulge us. We've teamed up with Great Southern Bank to round up ten underrated gems that offer affordable house and unit prices (comparatively, anyway). Plus, these booming regional towns offer lifestyle shifts that won't make you feel like you've given your life up.
Considering buying a place in one of these up-and-coming towns? Great Southern Bank has a range of clever tools to help you hit your savings goals faster — like The Vault which lets you hide your house deposit funds from sight, so you can't easily dip into them. If you're already there and are now at the serious point — the getting a home loan part — then check out Great Southern Bank's home loan options, which offer many ways to help manage your loan including unlimited fee-free extra repayments on all variable loans, free redraw to access any additional repayments and flexible repayment options to suit your budget.
ORANGE, NEW SOUTH WALES
When you think of Orange, you think wine. And, yes, that's a good enough reason to move there. But there's more to this picturesque town of 40,000-plus people than the nectar of the grapes. For one, Orange has a burgeoning food scene with a thriving community of growers, producers and restaurateurs. You can grab a coffee from the local roastery, sit down to lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes, do your weekly shop at an artisanal grocer and call into a cellar door on your way home all in one day.
There are also historic surrounding villages, countless beautiful walking tracks and a growing population of artists and musicians now calling Orange home. Less than a four-hour drive from Sydney, Orange is the ideal location for those seeking the sweet spot between rural idyll and having plenty to do — and eat.
Median house price: $611,000
Median unit price: $391,250
Located at the western end of the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool has long been known for its coastal views, whale watching tours and shipwrecks. As a place to call home, it's ideally positioned for day trips to tourist destinations like Port Fairy and the Twelve Apostles, but this family-friendly locale is more than just a base from which to explore.
Warrnambool has a growing street art scene and an incredible laneway art trail, as well as tons of hikes, playgrounds, galleries and museums. And, of course, it's coastal, so surfers and beach bums will feel right at home. The local council has a grand plan to forge economic links with China, so get in now before Warrnambool becomes even more popular (and pricier).
Median house price: $505,000
Median unit price: $375,000
You'll most likely know it as a base for visits to the Great Barrier Reef, but Cairns has more going for it than just yacht cruises and coral (although these are great perks). The Tropical North Queensland city combines laidback everyday living with outdoor fun galore, plus top-notch restaurants and craft breweries for catch-ups with mates.
You're only a short hop to the paradise that is Fitzroy Island, and you've got numerous adventures close by, such as swimming holes and stunning beaches. Thanks to its affordable living, crystal-clear waters, surrounding rainforest and tropical climate, Cairns will make every day feel like a holiday should you decide to live here.
Median house price: $522,500
Median unit price: $260,000
WOY WOY, NEW SOUTH WALES
Sydneysiders will already know the appeal of the Central Coast for day trips and convenient weekends away. But, following months of COVID-enforced working from home, the area has seen an influx of people move here permanently. While the house prices have certainly gone up, the suburb of Woy Woy is still a whole lot cheaper than inner Sydney. It's also just a bit over a one-hour train ride (or drive) away from the bustling CBD, so you can easily commute.
It's got a more laidback way of life than the Harbour City, but still has plenty going for it — enough so that you won't miss nights out or a quality cup of coffee. Plus, you've got Brisbane Waters and Bouddi National Parks on your doorstep, as well as pristine beaches and easy access to neighbouring towns.
Median house price: $900,000
Median unit price: $620,000
Tasmania's second-most-populous city, Lonnie is a real up-and-comer. Its location in the Tamar Valley means there's a wealth of incredible produce, and this is reflected in the city's foodie scene. Top eateries include Italian aperitivo bar and restaurant Geronimo and the award-winning Stillwater, which is housed in an old flour mill perched right on the water. There are also ample pubs, bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries to boot.
More into nature? Almost half of Tasmania is national parkland, meaning the Apple Isle has some of the cleanest air in the world. So, it's no wonder Launceston residents take advantage of an outdoor lifestyle. Launceston is more affordable than Hobart but has a growing economy and plenty else to woo you, including decent transport links (there's even an airport).
Median house price: $665,000
Median unit price: $495,000
If you want the culture, art and food of Melbourne without the hustle and bustle (and for a lower price), then Ballarat could be just the ticket. The famous gold rush town is steeped in history and offers an ideal mix of galleries, restaurants and outdoor experiences, with beautiful bushwalking opportunities readily accessible.
Small enough to feel like a community but large enough to have all the amenities you need, Ballarat also has some more obscure places such as Kryal Castle, a medieval theme park where you can watch re-enactments of knights jousting alongside court jester shows and a potion-making school. Yep, Ballarat practically has it all.
Median house price: $691,000
Median unit price: $310,000
PORT MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES
If you're looking for an east coast town on the rise, then consider Port Macquarie. Long derided for its reputation as a haven for retirees, its welcoming climate and numerous beaches have attracted a younger demographic in recent years.
For the outdoorsy people, there's surrounding hinterland and the ocean as your playground. For those still wanting a bit of buzz, Port — as it's known locally — boasts nightlife, a few breweries, a solid dining offering and plenty of family-friendly activities. It's also home to more esoteric attractions, such as beach camel rides, the world's first koala hospital and an offshore inflatable water obstacle course. While it's a fair way from Sydney, it's less than three hours north of Newcastle, and comparable as a more chilled version of the popular city.
Median house price: $775,000
Median unit price: $515,000
It may only have a population just over 50,000, but Caloundra's location in the Sunshine Coast region means it's an ideal place to lay down some roots — or even buy your first investment property. Less than 100 kilometres from Brisbane, the area is a beach lover's mecca. It was primarily known as a place for retirees before an influx of youngsters wised up and wanted in on the lifestyle.
In Caloundra, you get the benefit of living a dreamy beach lifestyle without the eye-watering cost you'd find in other stretches along the coast.
Median house price: $745,000
Median unit price: $599,000
DUNSBOROUGH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The remoteness of Western Australia can feel like another world entirely, and if you want to escape the grind, there's nowhere really like it. Situated 250 kilometres southwest of Perth lies Dunsborough, a small coastal town with a strong sense of community and a love for the outdoors.
Like many places on this list, Dunsborough is your opportunity to live the beach lifestyle and have the ocean a stone's throw away — without breaking the bank. But here, you get the added bonus of having one of Australia's most-loved wine regions — the Margaret River — just down the road. Once more of a holiday-house town, Dunsborough is seeing more and more people settle there full time resulting in a surge of cafes, restaurants and shops.
Median house price: $695,000
Median unit price: $540,000
MOUNT BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Mount Barker may be the largest town in the Adelaide Hills region, but it's still a huge shift from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. It's got a family-friendly vibe and an expanding infrastructure, but its real drawcard is its proximity to both a renowned wine region and the city — Adelaide is just a half-hour drive away.
The beauty of living in the Adelaide Hills is you're never far from a great walking track, beautiful panoramic views or an array of local wildlife — and, of course, A-class vino. Of all the places on this list, Mount Barker is perhaps the best pick for those who want a quieter, more affordable life while still wishing to commute into the city.
Median house price: $475,000
Median unit price: $363,000
Great Southern Bank is empowering Aussies to get clever with their banking. Whether you want to stick to your savings goals with The Boost or hide your house deposit fund from yourself with The Vault, Great Southern Bank helps you get there. For more information on savings tools and home loan options, head to the Great Southern Bank website.
Top image: Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie, Lindsay Moller Productions
*All median house and unit prices were sourced from realestate.com.au and were correct at time of publication.
Published on November 05, 2021 by Joe Rivers