The COVID-19 pandemic forced Morris Bryant and partner Bek Fraser to re-evaluate their life circumstances – including where they lived, work schedule and lifestyle.
When the lease on their Sydney rental expired in March, they struggled to find somewhere else appropriate to live in the city.
“We really questioned the value of the city to us at that time, particularly if we were looking at working remotely for a period of time,” he said.
Ultimately, they decided to relocate from Sydney to the Illawarra.
The couple, along with dog Ted Danson, moved into their new home in March.
They purchased a property in Wombarra, where they’ve embraced a lifestyle filled with bushwalks, gardening and swimming.
“We were right in the middle of the city, and we did two weeks’ quarantine at home,” Mr Bryant, 34, said.
“It felt very crowded and stressful … It was about getting some space, and a different lifestyle, which we’ve definitely got now.
“If we were going to go into extended lockdown, it’s a far more pleasant place to be. We realised that the city for us was really just proximity to the office at this point in our lives.
“We wanted something different, a bit of community, and a nicer environment.”
Mr Bryant co-runs a Sydney-based digital marketing company, Sparro, where Ms Fraser also works.
Mr Bryant said it had been a long-term goal to live somewhere like the Illawarra, but the pandemic had expedited this process.
They commute to the company’s Sydney office a couple of days a week, but largely work from home.
“We’ve got great NBN down here, and mostly we’re doing our jobs remotely, while commuting in a bit, which has been quite easy,” he said.
“I was flying to Melbourne twice a month at one point for meetings and things that we’re now able to do online, or really were always able to do over conference.
“I think the way we interact professionally has been a bit stuck in the past, the technology has outpaced it. Now we’ve caught back up.”
Matt Knight runs Illawarra/South Coast-based buyer’s agency firm Precium.
“I think a lot of people have had a dream to relocate (to the Illawarra) for a long time,” Mr Knight told the Mercury.
“But I think what the pandemic has done is two things. I’ve had comments from people who wanted to escape the populated areas, and be away from things like public transport and densely populated areas.
“It’s also convinced their bosses that they can work from home more.
“So a lot of people are realising how much more doable the commute is, if you can get it down to one or two days a week.
“Suddenly being one, two or three hours from a capital city’s no longer a problem.”