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.