Finding the right property for mining families
By Kevin Doodney, Founder of The Future Housing Taskforce
One of the biggest challenges faced by families working in the mining or regional industries today is choosing the right property and best location for the family to live. The growth of FIFO working arrangements has added pressure to the debate. Is it better for the family to stay put in a metropolitan suburb and see mum or dad every few weeks, or is it better for the whole family to move to a regional location closer to work? The pros of investing in regional property and living closer to the workplace include more quality time with family and less travel while the cons can include limited friend and family support networks that come with moving to a regional town.
There is no magic answer to this question as every family is different but I’d like to offer a couple of tips when faced with this property dilemma.
The big question mark for many is the timing of work contracts and level of job security these contracts offer. This can create indecision about whether to buy property and move the family to a new location or continue renting. And so it should! If you’re thinking about buying property, firstly work out how much time you expect to live there. The difference between two years and five years will affect the property choices you make. For example, if you are planning for a 2 year work contract then it would be wise to purchase a traditional investment property that you can easily rent out if you move onto another job or change location. On the other hand, if you are planning a five year commitment or longer then you can widen your search to lifestyle properties which can offer longer term capital growth.
When looking at properties; widen your search area to consider locations 2 to 3 hours’ drive from the workplace. Many mining families live on coastal or country properties with the work partner coming home on weekends. Regional coastal and country towns such as Yeppoon and Biloela offer a great quality of life for the family including a good variety of schools and opportunities for the kids. Before committing to any specific location, firstly research each potential area as a property investor would, then consider your options as a home owner. Is the township you’re considering stable? Is there future growth planned? Are the average rental vacancy rates low over a full 5 year period? Is there a government presence in the area? Are you close to a ‘hub’ town that has a steady and diverse economy? You want to be sure these boxes are ticked as this property may become a very valuable investment property for you in the future.
Choose a township with more than mining
There are many regional towns that have more than mining holding up their economies. Rockhampton, Biloela and Yeppoon are also central government hub towns with a strong agriculture heritage keeping rental vacancy low and housing growth steady year on year. These regions are the ‘quiet achievers’ of the Central Queensland property market. Gladstone has certainly had its fair share of media and property hype as a major mining town but the fact is 95% of all employment in Gladstone is not in mining! Now the property market has normalised, you can find reasonably priced property with room for future growth in many of these locations.
It is a big step to move from a city suburb to a regional town, but there are many upsides including a greater variety of outdoor activities for the kids, smaller schools, less suburban sprawl and traffic to name just a few. If you can find the right property that suits your lifestyle while also being a smart investment then you’re half way there.
About the Future Housing Taskforce
The Future Housing Taskforce was founded in 2010. Australia’s key industry leaders have joined forces to tackle the challenges of housing affordability faced by millions of Australians. The Taskforce brings together the best minds in the country to find new and innovative ways to house our future generations.