What to consider before making a tree-change to regional Victoria

man with kids on farm

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted August 18, 2022

The promise of a simpler life amongst nature sure can be appealing, but before you make the move, make sure you know if it’s really for you.

Ah, the serenity.

Rolling hills, room to roam, and the peaceful hum of nature in the background. Who doesn’t love getting out of the big smoke to enjoy the countryside?

Interest rates are rising, city property prices are growing, and cost of living pressures make it that much harder to save for a deposit. It’s no wonder people are moving from the city to regional towns in droves, with more than 60,000 people waving goodbye to Melbourne between 2020 and 2021.

The appeal of the tree change has become so popular that it’s even the new setting for this year’s season of The Block, where the show has shifted from Melbourne to the Macedon Ranges to highlight the rural lifestyle.

However, while there are many pros of living in the country, there’s more to moving to regional Victoria than simply putting on a flannel and heading to a country Farmer’s Market.

From local amenities to bushfire awareness and job security, here’s everything to think about before making the big tree change.

Mt Macedon

Macedon in Victoria's Central Highlands has grown in popularity. Image: Getty.

Moving from Melbourne to Regional Victoria

Why are people moving regionally?

For some, it’s about getting back to nature and establishing a calmer pace of life.

Janine, a 32-year-old architect from Melbourne, moved to the surf coast this year - and hasn’t looked back.

“It was about being able to spend my free time outdoors and more in nature,” she says. “Having less urban structure makes that change for you, rather than forcing it uphill when you’re living inner city.”

Rather than having a multitude of gentrified amenities at her fingertips, she says the lifestyle change has helped her feel “happier, calmer, less nervous [and] a lot less stressed.”

For others, it may be about fulfilling a dream, empty nesting, or simply looking for something new.

Carmella, 67, a retired teacher from Box Hill, made the tree change with her husband to Dean’s Marsh in Victoria’s south-west.

“My husband always wanted to go back to the town he grew up in,” she says. “Melbourne was getting too busy; we’d stopped work and the kids had moved out. We didn’t need to be in that traffic all the time, and a lot of our friends moved, people had changed their lives.”

While both Janine and Carmella enjoy the slower pace of life outside of the city, they acknowledge there is a lot to think about before making the big move.  


woman with dog on beach

Sometimes leaving the city is about being closer to nature and stunning seascapes. Image: Getty

What to think about when living in the country – pros and cons

Local amenities

In the city, modern conveniences are at your doorstep – schools, supermarkets, and a flurry of local shops.

However, even some of the coolest and quirkiest small towns may be quite a drive from local amenities. When deciding to move, think about the commute to pick up the kids from school or for the grocery run, and make sure that this is feasible for where you want to live.

For Janine’s move to the surf coast, she made sure to be within a 20-minute drive to shops and cafes.

“It’s a lot more planned,” she says. From going to the shops to driving into Melbourne, “I group together things I need to do when I come [into the city]. It just takes a lot more planning.”

In Dean’s Marsh, Carmella agrees, saying that making the tree change is all about “making a plan” – and remembering to pack a cooler bag for those long trips to and from the supermarket!

The distance

For some, the more remote, the better. “I was thinking, where do I wake up and see kangaroos, a river, or something that makes it worthwhile being further away,” says Janine. As a millennial used to having the world at her fingertips, she says that “having fewer urban amenities helps with the lifestyle change.”

For others, the distance can be quite the adjustment.

Going bush was a struggle at first for city-dweller Carmella, as her friends and family were still in Melbourne. It was a big change from Melbourne’s roaring attractions to living in the population of just 269 people in Victoria’s Dean’s Marsh. “It’s definitely… peaceful,” she laughs.

“We really do love where we live,” she says. “But it’s hard when you want to see your family and they’re so far away. As you get older, you’re more aware of how much time you can feasibly spend on the road.”

However, Carmella ensured that they weren’t too far from nearby Lorne, where she can go for her fix of shopping, cafes, and a daily swim. 


Best regional pies | The Store Dean's Marsh


Financial implications

With the rising costs of living, some believe moving outside of the urban areas is more affordable for home buyers. While this may have been true pre-2020, and still the case for many smaller towns, the median house price in regional Victoria rose 17.4 per cent over the 2021-2022 period.

“I thought [housing] would be cheaper, but it works out about the same,” says Janine. However, she believes that overall, costs have gone down, as she “spends less on lifestyle costs - going out, tolls, and parking, and that makes a big difference.” 


It is important to take note of the area’s access to regular health practitioners if you were to fall ill.

For Carmella, she says this has become more important as the years go by. “As you get older, you do realise you need to be in places with healthcare,” she says.

Bushfire awareness

Australia is a bushfire-prone country, and they are more prevalent in regional areas with sweeping bushlands and forests. If you’re looking to make the move, be sure you have an up-to-date Bushfire Survival Plan, your home and car are adequately prepared and covered, and that you can maintain regular contact with the CFA or other bushfire emergency services.

Property maintenance

While many may romanticise the idea of a big sprawling property among the gum trees with lots of plum trees, in reality, a large property takes a lot of time, patience, and work.

In Dean’s Marsh, Carmella knows this firsthand. Moving onto a rural 16-acre block, she says it takes “a fair bit” of maintenance, her attitude to which has definitely “changed with age.”

If looking at a larger or farm-style property that may require more maintenance than an inner-city apartment, consider a property inspection to understand what you’re really up for before swapping those gladiator heels for gumboots.  


house by the sea

Could you live this remote if you had this view of the sea? Image: Getty.

Job prospects

During the pandemic, many people worked from home, with some keeping this as a full-time option, or for certain situations. It’s important to have a discussion with your employer if you are contemplating the big move while keeping your job.

For Janine, she mainly works from home, but goes to her office once a week, which she says “keeps me social.”

If you’re looking to start fresh, investigate the job market in the region you’re moving to ahead of time to understand your prospects in the area. 


Some regional towns have infrequent access to Wi-Fi and other electrical amenities. If you’re looking to work from home productively with a job that requires internet connection and reliable power, make sure to have this thoroughly inspected or installed in the area you’re moving to.

It’s also good to consider investing in back up energy resources, such as a solar battery recharger for homes fuelled by natural energy resources like solar.

Meeting people

While Janine’s partner and work are still Melbourne-based, she says living regionally means you need to “have activities” to meet people. After moving, she joined the local footy team to "speed up the process of meeting people in the neighbourhood.” 



Getting involved with the local community can be a great way to meet people. Image: Getty


As a social person, Carmella signed up to everything she could to get involved with in the local Dean’s Marsh scene. “Art classes, yoga, volunteering!” she laughed, “They’re all great ways to meet people.” She also worked as a casual relief teacher at the local primary school, while her husband joined a local men’s cooking group.

While she finds that moving means she has had to “work harder” on her friendships, Carmella says that, in the country, “people have time to chat. People are more willing to help with a problem. We’ve got great neighbours we love, and we have a group of friends in nearby Lorne.”

She also advises people wanting new friendships to start with their kids and, if able, to get a dog.

“It’s especially good for young people. You meet other parents at school, or we have met so many people just walking the dog. Just join as many things as you can!”


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