Welcome to the launch of a new series from ACM, Race to the Regions where we take a deep dive into the real impact of COVID-19 on regional Australia.
It's not just the influx of city escapees that has impacted regional areas. COVID-19 has changed the way we travel, work and interact with our community.
The changes have been rapid, and they haven't benefited everyone.
For every gleeful city dweller singing the praises of their new home up the coast, or across the country there are locals who are suddenly finding themselves priced out of the housing market. We're a big country, how do we make sure our towns continue to offer equal opportunities and services for all?
Over the coming weeks we'll hear from people such as Roy Elder who found moving from a suburb with a population of 16,000 to a town with a population of 8,000 offered not just a lifestyle but a significant promotion and career advancement.
Others have made the move for more holistic reasons, citing the health or educational benefits on offer.
Whilst regional universities take pride in the boost they bring to the local economy as well as the community ties they strive to build, the sector has been hard hit after seeing student numbers decimated by restrictions on international arrivals.
Yet one family we spoke to made the move up the north coast of New South Wales for the educational opportunities it offered for their school age children combined with a better quality of life overall due to reduced commute times.
Others, we talk to have never felt the need to move, discovering opportunities for setting up their own businesses in the regional cities they grew up in.
The changes in how we travel and explore our own backyards has also seen a huge influx in local tourists. Can our industry adapt to cater for local tourists and is it enough to replace the international tourists that look to be locked out for another year?
Some of the stories we bring you may have you nodding in agreement, others we hope will surprise and inspire. Regardless of the motivations people have for moving regional, there is one thing that seems to unite: the move was always a long-term goal.
How the Race to the Regions came about
For many communities across Australia the first six months of last year were diabolical. First there were bushfires which, if they didn't destroy houses and businesses, shut everything down during the peak tourist season.
Then all of a sudden a new virus started circulating and we were sent into lockdown, unable to travel, required to work from home where possible, restricted from so many activities we take for granted.
Since those initial restrictions there have been a number of snap lockdowns and border closures restricting the movement of Aussies, but one thing it hasn't done is stop people from moving from city to country.
A recent survey by the Regional Australia Institute highlighted that up to 20% of all city residents were considering a move to the country.
The ABC even recently launched a new series, Movin' to the Country, exploring the different lifestyles and entrepreneurial opportunities on offer across regional Australia.