People Looking for Wide-Open Spaces Overwhelm Town Offering Free Land
An Australian Outback town looking to draw in five new families came up with the idea of effectively offering free residential land to anyone who moved there. But what Quilpie officials didn’t expect was receiving overwhelming interest from hundreds of people who would take the remote community’s wide-open spaces and make them into homes, the Associated Press reported.
Authorities in Quilpie, where about 800 people live, were looking to remedy a housing shortage and ensuing lack of people able to take on cattle and sheep ranching jobs in the region. The Quilpie Shire Council came up with the idea of giving a $9,400 grant to anyone who buys a plot of land, builds a house on it for less than $560,000 and lives in it for six months.
The fully serviced, 1,000-square-meter block that people would purchase sell for the same amount as the $9,400 grant, effectively providing the plots to buyers for free. The council received more than 250 inquiries in less than two weeks, both from Australia and beyond, AP reported.
“People who are coming out of lockdown are saying ‘I want wide open spaces,’ and we have plenty of that,” said Justin Hancock, the council’s chief executive.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The grant was Hancock’s idea. The 30-year-old spent six months in a retirement village cottage when he first arrived in Quilpie this year because of the shire’s housing shortage.
Quilpie has recently needed nurses, teachers, mechanics, butchers, trade apprentices, bar tenders and more.
Enquiries came from as far away as Britain, India, Hong Kong and New Zealand, the council said. But home buyers need to be Australian citizens or permanent residents to qualify for the grant.
“If we could get five new families to the shire, for us that would be a massive success,” Hancock said Thursday. “To see the interest, it was a little overwhelming.”
Real estate prices have soared across much of Australia throughout the pandemic due to record low interest rates and extended lockdowns in the largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, which have sent residents searching for more spacious homes in smaller towns.
Most of the interest in coronavirus-free Quilpie has come from the state capital, Brisbane, a city of 2.4 million on the Pacific Ocean 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) to the east.
But there is also interest from Melbourne—which local media report has been locked down longer than any other city in the world—the city of Newcastle, and Western Australia state.
Both young families and retirees are considering the Quilpie move. Their reasons vary.
The shire covers 68,000 square kilometers (26,000 square miles).
Two grants will also be cashed by Quilpie locals, one by council employee Tom Hennessy, 23, and his 24-year-old school teacher fiancée, Tessa McDougall. The couple bought a block in August.
“I love Quilpie. It’s a great place. Everyone’s friendly,” Hennessy said.
Hennessy was born in Quilpie and his fiancée came a year ago from Brisbane where relatives struggle to buy houses and make mortgage repayments.
“They’re a little bit jealous of us,” Hennessy said.
Published at Thu, 21 Oct 2021 17:00:19 +0000