Has Our Desire For A Sea Change Or Tree Change Increased In 2020?

2020 has encouraged many people to think about what they want from life.

And for many, that seems to be a tree change or sea change.

Have you been sitting at home more than usual during 2020, dreaming of a tree change to the farm in the country or a sea change to the beach house up the coast? Well, it seems you’re not alone.

Since COVID-19 hit in March, realestate.com.au has reported a significant uptick in regional searches, with lifestyle destinations such as Byron, the Sunshine Coast and the Snowy Mountains-Monaro region leading the way.

After all, there’s nothing quite like a pandemic to make us want a year-round holiday lifestyle. And many people we’ve spoken to who want to stay in Sydney are also hoping for a weekender where they can escape from city life.

Here’s what we’re seeing when it comes to sea and tree changing.

More people are leaving Sydney

As we wrote previously, Sydney was already losing residents to other locations within Australia even before the pandemic struck.

Migration data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that in 2018/19, 25,000 net residents left Sydney, primarily for regional locations in NSW and southeast Queensland.

One of the main reasons people leave our city is high housing costs. The potential for a smaller mortgage and larger home convinces some to start looking elsewhere, even if that means foregoing many of the great things Sydney has to offer.

Now, since COVID-19, more of us have been working remotely and - thanks to high-speed internet - even more of us are seeing the possibilities that life outside of the Big Smoke could bring.

Who is planning a tree change or sea change?

It’s not just retirees who are moving out of big cities right now. Corelogic reports that in the last 15 years, around 80% of people moving from city to regional areas were under the age of 50.

While locations less than an hour from capital cities have posted strong increases, so to have regional centres such as Albury and Orange.

How to do it right

While money is a big factor in many tree changes and sea changes, so too are other factors like the lure of a slower pace of life, a completely different lifestyle, more time in the outdoors, the chance to live in a close-knit community and a better work/life balance.

But people need to weigh against this that opportunities for employment are often lower in regional areas. Unless you have a job lined up or you can take your existing job and work remotely, you may find it difficult to achieve exactly what you were looking for.

According to Corelogic, the reality is that one out of every five sea or tree changes don’t succeed and moving back to the city not only costs money, but it can also be stressful.

What we’re seeing

Despite more people dreaming of a tree change, the reality is that for many of us it seems to remain just a dream.

An ABS survey revealed 94% of respondents said COVID wouldn’t influence their plans to move house in the next 12 months. This is backed up by data from an NBN survey (pre-COVID-19), which shows that Australians were twice as likely to just think about a sea or tree change than to actually make a move.

We haven’t actually observed many people leaving the Eastern Suburbs for good. In fact, stock levels for sales in our area remain low, competition for those properties is strong and prices are stable.

What we have observed is that those who own a second property, such as a weekender, are spending more time there in 2020 than they normally would. Those with properties in Palm Beach, Patonga, Pearl Beach, McMasters Beach, or the Southern Highlands and Berry are leaving the city more than ever before.

We’ve also fielded more enquiries than normal from those looking to invest in a second property outside of Sydney. The Southern Highlands and coastal locations are particularly popular, and our colleagues at The Agency offices in regional locations are all experiencing a boost in enquiries.

Buying a larger property outside Sydney, and smaller home in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs is also a typical property move we’ve seen for some time from clients looking to downsize. Now we’re seeing people in younger age brackets embracing this trend as they search for the perfect work-life balance - with an apartment or terrace here in the East and a more substantial property elsewhere.

Get in touch with our team today to find out more about buying or selling in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Download our 2018/2019
Eastern Suburbs Market Report

Next Insight

How Does Migration Affect The Property Market?