Let’s be blunt about the country…
Leave the city behind. Leave the traffic and the noise, and the crime and the expensive real estate, and escape to somewhere… idyllic. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Maybe a little too good to be true.
Well it is. Watch out all you tree changers and sea changers - life outside the city can be divine. But it’s not some hazy-edged utopian dream.
Apparently Australians are leaving the big smokes - especially Sydney - in droves. They’re going to the coast, or near-city centres, or not-so-near-city-centres.
The Government commissioned a major report to help them make some decisions about population and immigration.
The report (reportedly - it hasn’t been released publicly, only to The Australian under FOI) found Baby Boomers and families are drifting away on a daydream of semi-rural bliss.
Which is all fine, well and good. But, you shifters beware - life outside the cities is not necessarily quieter. It’s not necessarily cleaner, or safer. You may move into your ridiculously cheap property and find - shock, horror! - that the local amenities are not, ahem, quite up to standard.
For amenities, read: Hospitals, schools, roads. Choice. Pricing competition. Just to begin with.
Hey, I love the country - well, the `peri-urban’ part of it I live in. But:
1. It’s not quiet.
There are tractors and machines and big trucks taking apples and pears to wherever they need to go. There’s a particularly annoying donkey that brays its early morning greeting, a ghastly noise that carries clearly across the hills. While frogs can be an indicator of the health of waterways, when it’s as wet as it has been they are louder than your city neighbour’s stereo. People shoot guns. They’re quite noisy. As are sheep when they’re birthing.
2. It’s not clean. Stroll out for some fresh air and you’re likely to get hit with pesticide. Beautiful flowing stream? Probably polluted with cow shit. And once they leave the city, people love to dump all their trash - whole trailer loads - on the side of the country roads.
3. It’s not safe.
Worried about your kidlets playing in the traffic? Try cars that are going at 80 or 100 kmph. Try driving them around and dodging roos and dealing with unsealed roads, hoons up from the city laying rubber that goes slick as Vaseline on the corners. Then there’s the snakes - plenty of browns, not too shy to come near the house. The red-bellied blacks which really DON’T seem to be as scared of you as you are of them. Spiders. Machinery.
And of course, should something happen, you probably don’t have a hospital nearby.
To reiterate: Life outside the city is bloody beautiful. But you have to accept the negatives as well.
Our government has been pursuing a decentralisation strategy - country hospitals being a clear case in point.
Many of them have become glorified first-aid stations, or nursing homes, or, in the case of community hospitals, are under threat of closure.
So don’t leave the city and expect to find all the same conveniences and services. It’s very hard to justify putting specialist services out where there are fewer people - it’s both expensive and risky, as they may not have the demand to sustain their skills.
But never fear - as thousands more people flock to that regional centre or coastal town near you, the Government will have to ensure the infrastructure can cope. And the larger population will then necessitate better health services, and eventually all the specialists you need.
And before too long you should have the same population, services, infrastructure, services - and problems - you had in the city you left behind.
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