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Is the grass always greener?
11 April 2018

Is the grass greener outside of the hustle and bustle of city life? Is swapping the C-suite for salty sea air the right decision?  

AMP customers Luke and Jacqui mulled over such questions before swapping city life for Gundaroo, just outside of Canberra.

“By not being committed to a mortgage that’s prohibitive, we can still go and have a weekend in Melbourne, we can go and visit Jacqui’s parents in Sydney and go out for a night,” Luke says.

"In the face of this new housing reality, it’s no surprise that abandoning the rat race remains alluring."

Luke and Jacqui aren’t alone in contemplating a geographic change - especially as the price of real estate in our major cities remains high by historical standards - and good goals-based financial advice can be key to turning these contemplations into reality.

The latest CoreLogic data shows that Sydney values slipped 0.3 per cent in March, month-on-month, a slower rate of decline than in previous months. House prices in Sydney are now 2.1 per cent lower than this time a year ago.

And in Melbourne prices fell 0.2 per cent in the month, while the majority of capital cities notched up modest increases, with Brisbane up 0.1 per cent, Perth up 0.3 per cent and Hobart up 1.7 per cent.

However, despite the downward trend in Sydney and Melbourne, thanks partially to tighter regulatory clamps on investor lending, house prices remain historically high.

Sydney prices have risen 75 per cent in the five years to mid-2017 and since they began cooling have slipped only 3.9 per cent.

In the face of this new housing reality, it’s no surprise that abandoning the rat race remains alluring.

Analysis commissioned by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) from Bernard Salt uses the latest Census data to identify tree and sea change hotspots for Australians, based largely on the discrepancy between median house prices in big cities and regional areas.

Of course, an influx of seachangers to a certain area always has the potential to push property prices higher. 

For example, the research singled out Forster-Tuncurry in NSW as a sea change hotspot.

ASFA CEO Dr Martin Fahy said sea changers moving to Forster-Tuncurry could liberate significant capital, with the median house price $650,000 less than in Sydney.

“That is a lot of money that can be used to pay off a mortgage or fund a better retirement lifestyle,” he said.

But a tree or sea change isn’t exclusively the domain of retirees.

As this video of Luke and Jacqui explains, getting out of the big smoke can make certain personal or financial goals more attainable.