How to make a successful Sea Change or Tree Change

There are so many valid reasons for wanting to make a major life change. Often it’s simply so you can slow down. Sometimes it’s been a long held dream about retirement. Or it could be that you want your kids to have a more rural upbringing. Whatever your reasons, the fact is that life out of the fast lane will bring many changes that you would not have anticipated. To make a successful sea change or tree change you will need to put in a lot of thought and planning.

Tree and sea changers often fall into the trap of thinking that their whole life will be like a holiday if they can move to their favourite part of the planet. But often the reality is far from that.

I have met a lot of sea/tree changers  whilst filming Relocation Relocation Australia and Location Location Location Australia. In order to make a successful sea change or tree change, you can take three main lessons from their experiences.

Firstly, living in a holiday area is a far cry from being on holiday.

Secondly, the same real estate rules simply do not apply in regional areas and cities.

Thirdly, never buy a property after only one inspection! It doesn’t matter where it is. It is always cheaper to get on a plane and take another look than to make a mistake and buy the wrong property.

I was talking recently to a friend who moved from Sydney to Byron Bay a few years ago. He had wanted to move there for years and imagined a leisurely life of surfing and a more relaxed work pace in a warm climate. And while he definitely enjoys living there, there are many challenges that were not fully appreciated in the original dream. The work situation, for one. The opportunities for career advancement or challenging roles are few and far between and pay levels are lower than in the big smoke.

Tourists can disturb the peace in more ways than one and traffic jams should have no place in a seaside haven! Options for schooling are limited and he has to consider boarding school for the high school years. And then when school is finished many kids leave the area for university and general career advancement.

Lastly, because the Sydney property market has surged since he sold out of it, he can never hope to buy back in at the same level at which he left, so that reduces his exit options.

6 key tips to making a successful sea change or tree change.

Even though it’s such a big move with potentially huge ramifications, plenty of people love the idea of a sea or tree change. So if the drawbacks aren’t scaring you off, following, are six things I believe you should consider:-

  • It’s silly not to have a plan and invest in research. This is not the time to take a plunge and “see what happens”. You need to consider things like employment, access to health care, finding new friends. And if you are planning your retirement, how will you feel once your adult kids start to have their own children and you won’t get to regularly see them?
  • Visit the area many times in different seasons so you haven’t got holiday rose coloured glasses on. Try to hang out where the locals hang and imagine the daily grind rather than holiday excitement.
  • It’s crucial that you learn local property market dynamics and pricing. Property often takes a lot longer to sell than in the city and you need to know the features that locals look for in real estate and what they shun.
  • Don’t overpay through having a city mentality. Just because you get a lot for your money in relative terms doesn’t mean it’s good value.
  • Be wary about selling out of a stronger market because capital growth in regional areas is not assured. You don’t want to be trapped if it turns out to be the wrong thing for you.
  • Don’t be scared to rent and try before you buy. It seems like a massive upheaval to do this but it’s nothing compared to the stress associated with having to sell a short time after buying if it doesn’t work out. No amount of research and planning will prepare you better than actually “living the dream”.

Now if you carefully plan and do not rush this process you will increase your chances of making a wise decision and living with no regrets. In short, this is how you ensure a successful sea change or tree change.

Further reading:

Should you buy first or sell first?

What are the risks of buying off the plan?

Published: 3 December 2014
Updated: 20 December 2018

Disclaimer: Good Deeds buyers tips are intended to be of a general nature. Please contact us for advice that is specific to your individual circumstances. You may also need to get advice from other professionals such as an accountant, mortgage broker, financial planner or solicitor.

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