‘Stralia’s tree changing

It seems there is a noticeable and growing domestic migration happening in Australia in which urbanites are relocating to smaller rural and distant communities. This phenomena is referred to as ‘tree-changing’. Typically Aus, ‘tree changing’ is a modified form of the better known phrase, a ‘sea change’ but, because everyone is moving inland from the urbanized coast, they made it a ‘tree change’.

Nomenclature aside, demographers have reported that this ‘movement’ started before Covid but definitely accelerated after the epidemic took hold. It seems the movement was originally started by degrading liveability, the high cost of living in the cities and, in particular, the high cost of housing.

They didn’t say it but I will…I think that the aging of the baby boomers added to the mix as well. We stereotypically see the city as the place for the young to grow their careers and get into the gene pool. And many of us also see spending our latter years at the cottage. So, to my way of thinking, the exodus was further spurred on by aging boomers seeking cottages. Or, to those like me, hating the same ol, same ol’ rat race. Regardless of how you put it, hitting your senior years is, for many, a catalyst for making a change.

Personally, I was a bit surprised it took so long…….I am referring to a smaller, weaker form of tree changing happening to the more desirable locations in Canada, too. New Brunswick is growing. Alberta is growing. And BC and Nova Scotia are in a continuing expansion not in the least restricted to the urban centres.

But there is a marked and measurable counter-movement to the exodus that accounts for some of that surprise. And that is the cost of living coupled with the lesser skilled labour force following behind the boomers. It seems a lot of folks who planned on retiring not only can’t afford to stop working but they are being courted and wooed to stay at their jobs longer!

I read the other day of a guy working in Walmart at the ripe old age of 82 who was finally released from bondage by a Go Fund Me contribution of $175,000. And there is another 82 year old working at another Walmart now the subject of another Go Fund Me effort.

“So, Dave, what is the point?”

…..umh….I dunno…..maybe that the rural exodus will continue, housing prices will rise in small towns and level off in cities? Or, maybe that there will be a mini-boom in rural entrepreneurship as spoiled urbanites demand their special coffees and better restaurants even in Spuzzum?

I suppose – if I had to take a guess – I would venture that this ‘sea change/tree-change’ will have major repercussions since it is bucking a long standing, historical march to urbanization that started way back with Industrialization and the Enclosure Acts of Britain in the 1700’s and has continued and accelerated in so-called developing countries like China to this day. We have been living increasingly ‘URBAN for centuries and now, now that urban has become less livable and surpassed rural in population numbers, that trend is reversing…..somewhat…..

….couple that with climate change awareness, technology, environmentalism and population abatement, could we finally, possibly be unconsciously setting one step forward on a long path to sustainability and better living?

Too much of a stretch? Well, it is January first. New Years Day. And I am looking for some good news to share. So sue me! But, before you do, have a better year in 2023. I hope we all do.

11 thoughts on “‘Stralia’s tree changing

  1. I had the extreme pleasure of spending time in Mexico with Vicky Husband and her partner, back in the day. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, she was the long time president of the Sierra Club of BC. We got along surprisingly well and one day we were talking about this very thing. She said, “Do you know the difference between a Developer and an Environmentalist”? With a twinkle in her eye, she answered “The Environmentalist already has their cabin in the woods”.

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    • Yes, they do. Mr. Suzuki comes to mind. Mind you, some of us are further into the woods than others but there is a definite trend to returning to the woods as one ages and it would seem that there is now a small but growing deterrent to staying in the city….I think…I am not 100% sure but I am allowed to opine and project.

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  2. My thought on moving to rural areas is that so many more can telecommut . That it makes it easy to work at home any where, and why not make it from the cottage

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  3. My thinking exactly but, then again, I am out of the rat race, out of the gene pool and generally dissatisfied with what passes for a good life in the city. Can you imagine commuting an hour or more each way? Can you imagine SHOPPING!!! Throw in constant interventions from sales calls to government enforcements, neighbourhood expectations and lining up to do anything and realize that all that constitutes a large part of urban life mostly absent in a small town and reduced to nothing Off the grid, and you wonder why people do it…..”We do it for the money!” Right. But small town living is cheaper so you need less money and anyway, when you are down to your last ten or so years, it is time that is your real currency.
    Nice to see you, Russ.

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    • This exodus happened on a certain scale when the first wave of Covid hit Europe. Some people moved to rural area’s, because suddenly they were allowed (and even forced to work from home). So prices of real estate went up in the rural area’s. It works for half of the people who moved to rural area’s. The other half is wondering to go back to the cities. They think that distance to the nearest shop is too far away, no Uber Eats to deliver fast food to your house now they have to look after a garden, a lot of rural houses are old and poorly isolated (driving up heating cost). So there will be a new balance in the years to come. Most people like the “comfort” of the city where everything is close by or delivered to your doorstep

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      • Yeah. I get that. I would point out that that comfort comes at a very high price, not the least of which is unhealthy living at great expense. But, at that discussion, we are talking personal choice. Perhaps, for instance, a less energetic soul seeking particular and uncommon desires might find such things in the city and not a trace of them in the country. For the different and the marginalized, the city is a a comfort because others-like-them gather. There is a role for cities in many ways other than that, of course. But not for me. And, as you suggest, half will like the country now that they are there.

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  4. Yeah. I get that. I would point out that that comfort comes at a very high price, not the least of which is unhealthy living at great expense. But, at that discussion, we are talking personal choice. Perhaps, for instance, a less energetic soul seeking particular and uncommon desires might find such things in the city and not a trace of them in the country. For the different and the marginalized, the city is a a comfort because others-like-them gather. There is a role for cities in many ways other than that, of course. But not for me. And, as you suggest, half will like the country now that they are there.

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