South coast's flexible lifestyle is encouraging sea-changes amid COVID-19 challenges

Surfs up: NBN Co community manager and keen surfer Travis Bates along with his family are some of many who have recently swapped lifestyles to move to the Fleurieu.
Surfs up: NBN Co community manager and keen surfer Travis Bates along with his family are some of many who have recently swapped lifestyles to move to the Fleurieu.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent developments in working-from-home technologies has meant many Australians have taken the plunge and moved from cities to the regions, in the hope of establishing a more flexible lifestyle.

According to a recent NBN Flexible Lifestyle Survey, almost one in three (29 per cent) Adelaide residents are considering relocating to the regions, citing benefits like saving money, getting on with things that make them happy before they are too old, and the appeal of a quieter lifestyle.

As a premier holiday destination within an hour of Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula and greater south coast region is proving an ever-popular destination for those looking to make a sea-change.

NBN Co community manager Travis Bates and his family are just some of many who have recently made the move to the Fleurieu to enjoy all it has to offer.

Originally from farming stock on the Eyre Peninsula, Mr Bates and his family have been living in Queensland and NSW since 2007.

"While I was at university in Adelaide, my mates and I used to always come down here surfing and to be honest, I think the Fleurieu Peninsula is the nicest place in the country," Mr Bates said.

"I have three children and we all wanted to move back to South Australia considering our family is here, and we sat down and decided we wanted to make the Fleurieu Peninsula home.

"We are all keen surfers, we like living in country areas and down here we are close to surf beaches, close to schools, and there are plenty of opportunities on offer while enjoying a great lifestyle."

Mr Bates said the expansion of high-speed NBN services and a growth in working-from-home technologies has made working from the regions a more attractive option for many professionals.

"Working for the NBN has allowed me to maintain a senior role while being able to have a lifestyle at the same time and live in this great area," he said.

"With the NBN services we have in the region now, it's easy to work from home in a digital role and that has freed up a lot of people in similar careers to move out of the CBD.

"Everything I could do in the city I can now do here while working from home.

"During COVID-19 it's become more apparent that people want to be a part of a community, and I find rural and regional areas are much stronger communities and the kids have been able to find jobs and make friends already. Everyone here has been very welcoming, it's been brilliant."

According to the Flexible Lifestyle Survey, while almost a third of people in Adelaide are contemplating a move, the vast majority don't want to leave the state, with 75 per cent preferring to stay within South Australia.

When it comes to their dream location, Adelaide residents are looking for somewhere that offers a 'clean and green lifestyle', a phrase often used as a marketing tool by councils on the south coast.

Survey participants identified quiet streets and low traffic (66 per cent), plenty of green space (66 per cent), proximity to good health facilities (61 per cent), and friendly local shops (61 per cent) as the most important features of their ideal local community.

The desire to relocate has also been spurred by the experience of COVID-19 and the accompanying focus on remote work online, with 40 per cent of Adelaide residents saying they've wanted to relocate for a while but have only lately considered it a feasible option.

NBN Co head of state and social media Jane McNamara said that while COVID-19 had been incredibly challenging, it has also been a catalyst for positive change in many areas.

"With more activities - from work, to education, to entertainment - being made available online, it is now possible for Australians to reap the benefits of their ideal community from anywhere in the country, without giving up their job, access to important services or connection with family and friends," Ms McNamara said.

"COVID-19 has really helped people re-prioritise what's important in their lives. As a consequence and with the connectivity NBN has rolled out across the country, it's not just empowering people but it's affording them the opportunity to think about moving somewhere else.

"What's been really wonderful is to see people who are potentially able to move somewhere that they have always dreamed of but never had the opportunity to do so.

"Travis is a perfect example of someone who has been empowered to make that flexible lifestyle 'e-change'.

"Off the back of COVID-19 we are seeing corporations and organisations being very behind that [a move to the regions].

"People like Travis are being given that option to work from the regions and being supported, and I think that's wonderful because it means that as an economy and as a job creator as well, we are going to see potentially a wonderful regional swell of people looking to move out of the cities and into the regions and potentially vice-versa."