To be honest, living in the country was more a pragmatic decision than a heart choice. Because my step-father-in-law has a rural property in Wooyung (NSW), living here was an opportunity to save with the rent and that’s all. No feelings about it. However, after 4 months living here, we could find lots of interesting facts about remote areas in Australia as well as a number of benefits that a country life can bring. So if you are looking for a place to stay during your academic studies, perhaps the countryside could be a good option.
In Australia, being born and living in the countryside is not a synonym of poverty and it does not negatively impact your future. When I first arrived in Australia I was impressed by the infrastructure and the standard of living that properties in the countryside and small towns enjoy. Coming from a developing country I am used to seeing the rural areas as remote and forgotten places that do not have a fair infrastructure and sometimes, even lack basic services such as schools, hospitals, supermarkets, sewage, paved roads, etc. Therefore, being born and growing up in the countryside in my country (and maybe, I can say, in most developing countries) would definitely hamper your future. However, in Australia rural areas can pretty much have access to everything that is necessary for a respectable life with the plus of less traffic and more contact with nature. For instance, schools are near, and if not, school buses make sure that not even one child is left behind or prevented from going to school. There might not be plenty of supermarket options, but certainly, there will be at least one not more than 15 minutes from where you live. And if you don’t like it, for sure there will be a good road nearby and available public transports so you can easily reach the closest big city in order to find more options. For instance, I live in Wooyung and my son goes to a child care in Pottsville (12 minutes from my home) and if we need to buy a few things, we go to a small supermarket in this city. But to buy groceries for the whole week we go to Tweed Heads (30 minutes from my house). And another thing that caught my attention was the appearance of houses in the Australian country areas. I have only seen beautiful and nice houses (sometimes even with modern architecture) and this is something that I am not used to because where I come from, houses in rural areas are often old and in bad conditions.
A personal perception is that living far from big centres seems to be a trend in Australia and fills the eyes of many aussies. But apart from that, the truth is that Australian rural areas can indeed offer a number of benefits. The first big benefit is that your purchasing power immediately grows and the main reason for that relates to affordable housing in these areas if compared to big cities. Second, living in the countryside offers the possibility of interacting with nature and ultimate health benefits. From my personal experience I can say that my son used to get sick very often, but since we moved to the countryside, he has not been sick since. We enjoy walking in the woods, breathing pure air, seeing the sunrise and sunset and we often hear birds singing and cows roaring. And because space is not a problem, we also grow our own vegetable garden and have access to fresh oranges, lemons and strawberries. In addition, we can buy fruits and vegetables directly from local farmers. So, in general I can say we have a healthier diet because of that. Third, traffic is non-existent in rural areas and maybe you will not be surprised if I tell you that it is possible to travel long distances in less time than short distances in big cities. When driving my car to go to the supermarket or taking my son to childcare, I do not face any gridlock traffic, stressed drivers or smoky air. Instead, I see cows, rivers, leafy trees, sugar cane fields and people waving at me for apparently no reason at all (but that’s so nice and warm!).Therefore, stress due to traffic is significantly reduced and you can use this extra time to be with your family or dedicate to some hobby.
Fourth, country areas are known for having a good community hub, which provides the opportunity to establish meaningful connections with other people and make lifelong friends. I have the impression that people in the countryside are more friendly and open to newcomers than big city dwellers. For instance, unlike big centres where foreigners are taken for granted, in the countryside foreigners might feel more welcomed. However, due to social distancing restrictions during COVID-19 this positive aspect was enjoyed for only a short amount of time by me and my family. Then comes the last benefit of living in remote areas, which is that we can be considered privileged since it is fairly easy to practise social distancing in these difficult times.
After our experience in the rural area and small cities, my family and I might not want to live in the big centres anymore. Perhaps this article could be the kind of push that you needed to step out of a stressed life and calm your mind by turning yourself to nature…