Four years ago Steven Wright was offered a six month contract to practise law in Broken Hill and he hasn’t left since, now working as the practice manager for NSW Legal Aid.
And while moving from the big city to a regional town (especially one as remote as Broken Hill) may seem like a daunting experience, Steven says it has been amazing.
And he’s not alone, according to new research commissioned by the Regional Australia Institute found one in five metropolitan Australians were wanting to make the move to regional Australia.
Also read: Aussie town offering $20,000 to move there
Bigger sense of community
“It's quite hard to make connections and relationships in the city. I think it's very difficult for people to find strong connections outside of work or already existing social connections and I wasn't from Sydney, originally,” he said.
“So I found that quite difficult, but in a regional area, because everyone kind of relies on each other so much. I think you make connections really quickly, and they're really strong connections. And I really liked that sense of community.”
Fantastic job opportunities
But it’s not just community that kept Steven and his partner living in a regional centre - one major benefit has been both his and his partners careers.
“One of the reasons that we wanted to stay was because he's had exceptional career progression as well. He's been able to get a couple of different jobs in his field which might not have been open to him in a bigger city setting,” Steven said.
“I think there's quite a lot of really untapped potential in regional areas. And we also have to remember that regional areas have a high area of need for services and when people are willing to move they often get promotions that they didn't even know about.
“But also in terms of a work life balance. We live in a community of people that appreciate what it is that we do during the week. And so there's no huge demands on our time when people realise that we're having downtime.”
No more long commutes
Steven says the idea that living in a remote area means that you will be, well, remote, things are a lot easier to get to than one might think.
“One of the things that I love the most is the commute. It takes me less than a song on the radio to get to work. Which means that a lot of that travel time is no longer lost for me,” he said.
“It takes me 45 seconds to get to Woolworths. But I also know the neighbours on all four sides. If I called out over the back fence and said ‘Can I have some milk?’ I wouldn't have to go to the shops. I wouldn't have to worry about it.”
It’s all relative
Steven admits that being a 15 hour drive from Sydney might seem to some as too far, but he says what people might perceive as isolation is all relative.
“We're only a five hour drive to Adelaide and a three hour drive to Mildura. And that might seem like a lot for some people,” he said.
“But, they might spend five hours commuting during the week to get to and from work. So our three hour drive once a month to go to Mildura to have dimsum is not really that much.”
Many Aussies following the same path
Regional Australia grew by 70,000 people in 2020-2021 due to changing migrations patterns caused by the pandemic. In 2023, regional migration is up 16 per cent on pre-pandemic levels, despite a small uptick of regional Australians returning to the cities.
Regional Australia Institute CEO Liz Ritchie said regional centres are prepped and primed for Aussies considering the move.
“During the pandemic we saw thousands of Australians make the ‘move to more’, trading the hustle and bustle of the city for a life in the regions,” Ritchie said.
“People are realising a move to regional Australia doesn’t mean compromising your career, income or lifestyle. There are well-paying, professional, skilled and entry-level jobs waiting to be filled in country areas.”