WANT a house without the wallet-draining mortgage?
With Victoria’s cheapest houses, some of them below $100,000, Warracknabeal might be your ticket to a home without the loan.
The town in Victoria’s north west, about 3.5 hours away from Melbourne, has a $106,000 median house price that’s just a fraction of the average mortgage in the big smoke.
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But the bargain basket for the charming country town has ten houses for sale with an asking price below $100,000.
Back in June a three-bedroom house on 590sq m in Clifford St sold for just $27,000.
Elders Warracknabeal’s Tim McIntyre sold the three-bedroom house on 590sq m in June and said the house had been “let go” and was really just block value, but it wasn’t uncommon to sell homes below $100,000.
In the past few days he’d had strong offers for a pair of houses in the town for about $65,000 each — one from a family relocating from NSW, another from a retiring Melbourne couple.
“It’s fairly typical of people from Melbourne to come and look up here,” Mr McIntyre said.
NorthWest Real Estate director John Hadley said it was the prices in Melbourne that were hard to believe.
“It’s mind boggling what you get there for $500,000,” he said.
“It’s a bit hard to comprehend.
“For people who are sick of working day in and out to feed the mortgage, you could come up here and live very comfortably. You could have a simpler lifestyle and have a bit of money in the budget for a family holiday instead of paying it all to the mortgage.”
And you get the kind of property most people could only dream of in a capital city.
“Generally you will get around a quarter acre (1000sq m). So the great Australian dream is still alive in Warracknabeal,” he said.
The town has two primary schools, a high school, a recently updated hospital and a variety of sporting facilities. It even has its own roller derby team, the Wheat City Derby Angels.
And it’s very family friendly, according to mayor Graeme Massey.
“It’s a very good, friendly town,” he said.
“You will know your neighbours in a few days.”
Ken Smale, a former Collingwood Football Club premiership player, thinks it’s a ‘no brainer’ to come and live in Warracknabeal. Picture: Rob Leeson.
It’s also got its share of famous faces. The birth place of Nick Cave from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, it’s also produced its share of AFL champions.
Lifelong local Ken Smale travelled to Melbourne for four years to play with the Collingwood Football Club including for three premiership tilts in 1955, 1956 and 1958, but said he had always viewed Warracknabeal as home.
“It has the relaxed country atmosphere, a great shopping centre and facilities, an active community including volunteer and sporting groups and you couldn’t do better,” Mr Smale said.
He said that anyone with a similar view on life, and an appreciation for a strong sense of community, would find the town attractive.
With all those benefits, as well as its affordability, if presented with a choice between his home town and Melbourne he’d make the “logical” choice and pick Warracknabeal.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.
And there’s plenty of space for a pet pooch to run around in. Picture: Rob Leeson.
But the affordability that makes Warracknabeal so attractive is a symptom of a problem afflicting country towns across the state. The population is declining as people follow jobs and convenience to larger centres, like Horsham 35 minutes away.
On the employment front, those looking to move to the town would already have work lined up, though a tradesman willing to spend some time on the road could do well — and an Uber driver might do well in town too, Mr Massey suggested.
But expectations that the National Broadband Network will be in town next year will potentially open the door to a reinvigorated township, allowing people to take advantage of the affordable prices and be able to work from home.
Behind its weatherboard facade the three-bedroom house at 91 Anderson St, Warracknabeal has plenty of value — it recently sold for near it’s $89,000 asking price.
“The messages we have received are that the NBN has been quite effective,” Mr Massey said.
“So we hope the NBN will have an impact in town. It will certainly help business.”
Head of NBN Local Victoria Ebony Aitkin said their research showed businesses in NBN connected regions grew at twice the pace of the national average.
“We’re already seeing promising examples of highly connected areas in Victoria, such as Ballarat and Shepparton, counter industry downturns by creating online start-ups to reach overseas markets, and focus on building a technically-skilled workforce to enable future growth,” Ms Aitkin said.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Mark Stone (AM), said regional towns were also seeing educational benefits for schoolchildren as the technology caught up — making regional lifestyles more appealing for families.
It was also making the regulatory side of running businesses easier, with higher bandwidth allowing business operators to complete necessary paperwork online without risk of a slow internet connection timing out.
“And those forces could combine to help towns like Warracknabeal to not only survive, but prosper,” Mr Stone said.
Regional Australia Institute chief executive Jack Archer said a lift in technology could level the playing field for rural and regional towns.
“Once you have got the NBN in place it really doesn’t matter where you are, and that’s a huge change for places like Warracknabeal,” Mr Archer said.
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He added that it was also great for those who were willing to live away from major cities.
“It’s a great time for people who are looking for some flexibility — it doesn’t matter so much where they are, people who are wanting to cash out a Melbourne house and keep their job can,” Mr Archer said.
“And when you look at the price point difference, it’s got to be worth a look.”