The Unreliable Guide to…City Living
The Unreliable Guide is not loving the city. All the fun things – galleries, restaurants, pubs, parties – are off the menu, while all the crappy things – too many neighbours, small living spaces, no garden – have been thrown into sharp relief. Even going for a stroll on the coastal walk feels like a game of COVID roulette with the number of people here. The death rate seen in high-density areas like New York and London highlights the fact that crowds equal danger.
At the time of writing, Melbourne is still in hardcore lockdown with a strict curfew and depressing daily death toll. While Melbourne’s CBD ranks number one as the most densely populated area of Australia, our local suburbs such as Potts Point and Bondi take 8 spots out of the top 10. A similar Sydney lockdown seems almost inevitable, but never fear, The Unreliable Guide is here to suggest a solution.
Right now, a sea/tree change sounds like a great idea. Check the latest restrictions before you pack a case and leap into your car, but for the moment New South Wales residents can travel anywhere within the state. Don’t be a dick though; that cute little rural town doesn’t want your city contagion. Get a COVID test before you go, wear your mask while you are out and about, and be respectful. It might end up being your new forever home.
It’s a trend
I’m not the only one thinking outside the city box; rural real estate offices are reporting a massive upswing in sales and rentals. COVID refugees have been fleeing the cities since March, with some looking for a break and others using this crazy time to reassess their whole life. Guardian writer Calla Wahlquist summed it up well in her recent article: “It’s as if the whole world had a midlife crisis at once.” We’ve started asking ourselves, “Who am I, what’s it all for, and what am I doing stuck in this crappy apartment?” From there it’s only a short step to wonder why the hell we don’t move somewhere pretty with a garden, a dog, a veggie patch, some chooks…
COVID has made many of our jobs virtual, and this shift may reshape the world forever. If you’re working from home, why pay a premium to live within commuting distance of the office? Sure, if you have kids you need to stay close to their schools (unless the schools go back online), but for those of you who are child-free, what’s stopping you?
With the current downturn in tourism, several countries are now marketing themselves as hot destinations for digital nomads. If you are COVID-free and can prove you have sufficient funds and healthcare, when Australia opens the international borders you could be working in Barbados, Bermuda, Estonia, Prague, Berlin… So long as the Wi-Fi is good and the locals let you in, you can be virtually anywhere (pun intended). Fancy relocating your home office to an isolated beach in Madagascar for a few months? Don’t laugh, you’ll probably have less glitchy Zoom meetings. A world comparison of overall internet speeds ranks Madagascar at 33 while Australia struggles across the line with a sleepy rank of 50. If speed really is everything, consider the British island of Jersey, a beautiful little place off the coast of France, which ranks third in the world after Taiwan and Singapore for fastest average connection speeds.
Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests we start thinking outside our previous squares. A 45-square metre, million-dollar apartment in the city isn’t much fun if restaurants, bars and theatres aren’t open. If everything is closed and you’re cooped up in that apartment like a battery hen, why not sell up and ship out?