A recent Commsec report has confirmed what most knew already; at a median price of $260,000, houses in the Riverina are much more affordable than in the capital cities.
What the report also mentioned is that when coupled with the third lowest unemployment rate in the country, the Riverina is becoming an attractive option for city-dwellers looking for a more affordable change.
Approximately 4000 people have made the ‘tree change’ to the Riverina from capital cities since 2011, and according to Narrandera real estate agents, it’s a trend that’s growing.
“It’s picked up over the last 12 months, and that’s increased from the 12 months before that,” said QPL Sales Representative Andrew Pellow.
“We’re seeing people from Sydney, Wollongong, the central coast. It’s families with kids and retirees – the retirees are looking to downsize, although they’re at the higher end of the market. But if they’ve sold a property and they buy something out here worth $800,000, they’ve still probably got $300,000 cash in their pocket.”
Mr Pellow said QPL had also noticed more tree-change buyers at their Temora office.
Elders Real Estate Narrandera representative Penny Powell agreed that it was a trend Elders were seeing as well.
“There’s definitely people from the cities looking. Some of it is people moving back home after living in the cities. Probably investors too.
“The people that do look – it’d be half and half between people looking for an investment property with good return and people looking to buy for themselves.
“Definitely it’s attractive.”
Ms Powell did note that some people found the change difficult, having made the move from the big smoke herself.
“It’s a backwards step for some people. Well, not a backwards step, but you’ve got to adjust to things not being on your doorstep.”
The adjustment hasn’t been too difficult for tree-changers Peter and Janelle Broadhead.
The Broadheads didn’t come to Narrandera for a change of lifestyle or to break into the property market.
“Up until 2014 I was working in the mines near Wollongong,” Mr Broadhead said.
“In 2014 we were all made redundant. I managed to get some casual work for a while, but I wanted a more permanent job. I’d always worked in water.
“I looked online and the job with Narrandera Council came up. I moved out here in July 2015.”
Mr Broadhead moved to Narrandera first, living alone in the town and going back to the coast to see his family on the weekends. Despite the separation, Mr Broadhead grew to like Narrandera.
“The biggest difference between Gerringong and Narrandera is there’s an ocean at Gerringong and a river here,” Mr Broadhead said.
The Broadheads sold their house in Gerringong for more than double its original price and their investment property in Dapto sold at a profit of $150,000.
“It would be worth more than that already, the market’s just crazy right now. The people who bought our house in Gerringong sold it for $100,000 more.
“That made the move here easier for us; it was a bit more affordable. We benefitted from the fact that the property we sold had increased in price. We’ll probably feel it if we have to go back, but I don’t think we will go back.”
While Mr Broadhead is thoroughly enjoying the move, he does admit that his wife Janelle has had to find work in first Wagga and then Griffith, which means a long and often tiring commute for her.
“She was lucky to pick up work in Wagga, but it’s a lot further and a lot longer than home.”
Still, the Broadheads are happy with their decision.
“We quite like it. There’s always something going on, there’s always a festival somewhere in striking distance.
“We’ve been to Temora, Griffith, Wagga for events. Usually there’s a few things on at the park in Leeton.
“We’re pretty happy here,” he said.