13. Tree-change

Benefits and Challenges of Moving to the Country
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Introduction
Country living offers many benefits for people sick of the stress and demands of city life. But rural life is not just fresh air and wide open spaces, it can challenge long held notions of privacy, convenience, and status, and may demand significant personal change and adjustment.

Contributors
Dr John Ashfield
Anisa Assafi
Professor Dean Carson
Gerry De Jong
Monica Dodd
Dr Angela Ragusa

Thinkabout Talkabout
Dr John Ashfield
The tree-change and sea change phenomena can be something of a mixed blessing: towns whose populations are in decline are certainly benefiting by new people moving in; its helping to keep schools open, local businesses operating, and housing stock occupied. In some communities, even the influx of just a few families can keep towns viable.

On the other hand, in other cases it has perhaps caused the decline of some rural town cultures – and lots of unexpected problems. Very low cost housing has for some communities attracted people that are quite broken and dysfunctional – families and people with substance abuse and mental health problems. It is not hard to imagine why this sometimes causes local ill-feeling, and a tendency for locals to be unwelcoming.

One of the problems with concentrating high need families in rural communities, is that such families will find it very hard to access the kinds of services and support they might have taken for granted in regional towns or the city.

Local councils and resident groups need to put a lot of thought into issues of development and sustainability, if these are to happen in a positive way.

First Broadcast – Monday 24 June 2013