7000 reasons to move to the country

MAKING the escape to the country is about to be made a whole lot more palatable for city slickers.

Bathurst is being described as the type of regional destination which would be an ideal place to settle for those people looking to grab a slice of the NSW Government’s $7000 relocation grant.

The initiative is now set to be expanded to include those people wanting to make the move from the metropolitan areas to the bush to build a new home as well as those looking to purchase an existing dwelling.

Acting premier Andrew Stoner made the announcement yesterday amid concerns at the small number of people who had acted to capitalise on the grant, which was one of the Coaltion’s pre-election commitments to stimulate decentralisation.

There were less than 50 applicants within the first three months of the scheme’s introduction in July.

Bathurst MP Paul Toole said it was common sense to give the promotion a kick-a-long by adding the option of being able to build from scratch.

He said that to be eligible, people would have to sell their city home and have bought vacant land valued at up to $450,000 for building a new home.

Laying of the foundations would have to start within six months of completion of the land purchase and the home must be lived in as the main place of residence within 12 months.

A completed, or off-the-plan home, valued at up to $600,000 would also be eligible.

“If you lived in the city and looked at likely places to relocate to, Bathurst would have to be right up there with the best of them,” Mr Toole said yesterday.

“One of the big attractions is that we are ideally situated to Sydney and have a reputation as being a hub of education excellence, including being a university town.

“That makes us a prime attraction for families, noting that our average age is pretty low at 39 years compared to other country towns.”

Mr Toole said the fact Bathurst doesn’t rely mainly on one industry such as mining is also a selling point.

“Our economy is diverse across primary, secondary and tertiary industries which helps with employment opportunities as well as providing for a more stable economy,” he said.

“It’s also appealing knowing you won’t have to sit in heavy traffic every day just getting to work. And don’t forget you can sell your home in the city, buy in the bush, and still have cash in the bank.”

The Coalition originally expected the scheme would be taken up by 10,000 households a year.

However, this has since been revised down to 7000 a year.