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$50,000 cash bonuses for Aussie teachers who move to the bush

Regional Australia is becoming more attractive for teachers looking to escape the rising cost of living.

Primary school teacher Courtney McCrone and her daughter.
Primary school teacher Courtney McCrone moved with her family from Manchester, UK to Temora, NSW. (Source: Supplied)

Aussie teachers are being persuaded to move to the regions and, as the cost-of-living bites, money is the top factor swaying their decision.

In addition to cheaper housing and rental costs, teachers who move to regional areas could be eligible for cash incentives of up to $50,000, depending on the state.

Primary school teacher Courtney McCrone grew up in Temora in the Riverina area of New South Wales. She later moved to Canberra for university and then Wollongong, before her husband’s football career took them to Manchester, England.

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During the COVID lockdowns, the couple and their kids decided to move back to Temora. Courtney said the travel restrictions, along with the cheaper lifestyle regional areas could offer, played into their decision.

“It’s definitely a lot cheaper to live here compared to other places, with rent and general living expenses,” Courtney told Yahoo Finance.

“When we were in Wollongong, I probably paid over double what we pay [for rent] here. So that’s a huge difference.”

The McCrones are currently renting while they build a five-bedroom house in Temora on a small acreage block - something Courtney said wouldn’t be possible in a capital city.

“There’s no way we could afford to build the house we are building, with the space we are going to have in any capital city. Small rural towns are a lot more affordable and you get more for your money as well,” she said.

Courtney McCrone and family
Courtney said she doesn't see her family leaving Temora any time soon. (Source: Getty)

Better work-life balance

Aside from the cost-of-living benefits, Courtney said living in a regional town offered her a better work-life balance and a community feel.

“It’s less rushed and less busy. It feels like a more relaxed lifestyle. You’re not rushing and spending half an hour in the car each way. Everywhere is within five minutes and you can send the kids on their bikes if you need to,” she said.

As a teacher, Courtney said smaller schools were another benefit.

“Because I know those kids outside of school, you have a real relationship with them and I don’t feel like there’s many behaviour issues for me,” she said.

“With teaching, you know your colleagues and you know them out of school as well as in school. It’s just a nicer way to live, I think.”

Courtney McCrone at school
Courtney said working in a regional school also offered better work-life balance. (Source: Supplied)

And with the couple’s family also living in Temora, Courtney said she couldn’t see her soon-to-be family of six leaving anytime soon.

“Our family is close by and we’re pretty entrenched in the community with sport. Our kids love it. I don’t see us going anywhere,” Courtney said.

Making the move

New research by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) found 83 per cent of metro educators could be persuaded to make a sea or tree change.

Salary increases were the biggest incentives (77 per cent), followed by other financial rewards - such as recruitment bonuses and relocation payments (72 per cent). The cheaper cost of living (59 per cent), and housing support - such as a rental subsidy or reduced stamp duty (59 per cent) - were other drawcards.

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said the regions presented a viable solution for teachers and their families looking to escape the rising cost of living.

“State governments are willing to pay decent money to teachers interested in taking up regional positions,” Ritchie said.

“For example, a high school teacher interested in moving to Moree in regional New South Wales could earn an extra $45,000 thanks to rural incentives, relocation-support payments and retention bonuses.”

Cash incentives on offer

Teachers who move to regional areas for a job could be eligible for cash incentives of up to $50,000, depending on the state.

In New South Wales, for example, teachers who move to rural and remote public schools may be eligible for a range of benefits including a recruitment bonus of $20,000, a relocation payment of up to $8,000, a rural teacher incentive of between $20,000 and $30,000, and a rental subsidy.

In Victoria, teachers who take up positions in rural and regional locations may be eligible for initial payments of between $9,000 and $50,000 for hard-to-staff positions. Annual retention payments of $9,000 are also available after the second, third and fourth year of employment.

According to the RAI, there are more than 4,000 teacher jobs on offer across regional Australia, with the most opportunities in regional New South Wales, followed by Victoria and Queensland.

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