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New research shows most Aussies dream of living the country life

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An ideal forever home is something most Australians dream of and aspire towards, but it turns out this dream can change depending on your age. Whether it’s a place to settle down in and raise kids, or the perfect pad to run a home office out of, the definition of what makes a forever home perfect, differs from person to person. So too does the location of the ideal home. Australia is a large country, and its lifestyles vary between cities, small towns and rural areas.

We recently surveyed 1,087 respondents to find out where their ideal forever home would be located. The top response was a rural location, farm or country lifestyle, with 26.20% of those asked giving this response. This result is surprising when you consider the fact that according to the 2016 Census, 67% of Aussies live in city areas.

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Are expensive city properties to blame?

Of those who responded with a rural lifestyle being their ideal location, 30.3% were Gen Xers (those aged between 35 and 54) and 30.6% were over 55’s, while only 19.8% were millennials (18-34-year-olds). Millennials were the generation most likely to choose their ideal forever home close to the city: 26.1% said that their ideal forever home would be in the suburbs surrounding the city and 21.7% said it would be within 5km of the city centre.

These results reflect those of numerous other studies across the globe that suggest millennials prefer to live within highly-populated areas. One study by BUILDER found that millennials were happiest in the “largest metropolitan areas”, something that seems exclusive to this cohort. For other demographics, happiness levels seemed to decrease with larger populations.

These inner-city locations also tend to be the most expensive, both to buy and to rent in. The average price of a house in Sydney is around the $1.1 million mark, whereas the median price for a house in a NSW town such as Lawrence - a rural township of 390 people, 640km north of Sydney – is $387,000.

This pattern is similarly reflected in the rental world. For example, the average cost of renting a 3-bedroom house in the Melbourne suburb of Prahan is $850 per week. Compare this to Kalkallo, a rural town with a population of 105, located a mere 33 kilometres north of Melbourne’s city centre, where the average is just $370 per week.

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Your dream forever home changes by generation

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Our survey showed that 21.3% of those over the age of 55 were most likely to say their ideal forever place would be within a small town of less than 10,000 people. This compared to only 14.9% of millennials who said the same.

According to Startsat60, many retirees are choosing to move to regional locations as they generally offer a quieter lifestyle with less stress and lower property and living costs than capital cities.

Data from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) echoes this thought, showing that retirees are choosing to downsize and make the sea and tree change. In one of the locations analysed, Forster-Tuncurry, around 32% of the population are over the age of 65.

CEO of ASFA, Dr Martin Fahy, states that with the median house price in Forster-Tuncurry being $650,000 less than that of Sydney, significant capital could be freed-up for retirees making the move.

17.5% of millennials said a large town (between 20,000 and 100,000 people) would be their ideal location, compared to only 9.8% of Generation Xers and 11.9% of over 55s.

Interest in city living declines with age

While the most popular response for the location of an ideal forever home was a rural location, farm or country lifestyle, a close second was in suburbs surrounding the city, with 23.9 % of respondents giving this answer. Millennials were the most likely demographic to give this answer, with 26.1%, closely followed by 24% of Generation X and 20.1% of those over 55.

It could be that the suburbs offer a good compromise: they are generally more affordable than inner-city living, have more space and often include a backyard, while also being close enough to the city for work or social events.

Another interesting statistic showed that people’s interest in living within 5kms of a city centre gradually, but consistently decreased with age. 21.7% of millennials said their ideal forever home would be located within 5kms of a CBD, compared to 20% of Gen X respondents, and just 16.1% of over 55s.

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The location of an ideal forever home differs greatly from Aussie to Aussie. There are many factors at play, such as life stages and generational differences that have a role in impacting these results. In the end, while there are strong correlations between demographics and the areas they say are ideal, it comes down to a large range of variables including personal preference, financial position, and future aspirations.

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