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Friday, September 30, 2022

A hot, dusty town off the beaten path? We’ll take it.

MELBOURNE, Australia. From the air, the tiny town of Quilpie, Queensland, appears to be off the beaten path. It lies on a dusty, rust-colored ground. About 20 kangaroos sometimes settle on the school lawn. In summer, temperatures can reach 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The nearest town is 10 hours away.

But Quilpie recently found himself suddenly the object of universal desire when he unveiled a plan to combat housing shortages and attract new residents by offering “free” land.

Officials initially had a humble vision, hoping that five new homes would be built in the city of 575. But in the two weeks since local media reported on Oct. 11, Quilpie (pronounced QUIL-pee) has received more than 300 requests, officials said, including from Hong Kong and Europe.

The flood of requests from the country and from abroad has been a testament to the desperation of Australians, who fear that home ownership is becoming more unaffordable, as well as the global crisis in the area of ​​affordable housing.

“It was incredible,” said Justin Hancock, executive director of the Shira Quilpie Council, who developed the plan, about the interest the scheme generated. “Some people just call because they heard ‘free land’.”

Yes, there is a fine print: new homeowners will have to pay up front $ 12,500 for the site, but if they build a house there and live in it for more than six months, they will receive a refund of the value of the land.

Mr. Hancock’s vision is a confluence of two forces seen around the world: the need to find cheap housing and the drive of small or shrinking cities to expand or give new life to their communities.

Some picturesque towns and villages in Italy have made international headlines after giving up their dilapidated houses for as little as € 1 in an effort to rebuild them. Gary, Indiana, also sold abandoned homes for $ 1 to those looking to renovate them.

Australia’s two largest cities – Sydney and Melbourne – are also two of the most expensive housing markets in the world. Home prices rose sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by CoreLogic, a real estate data company, rising 11 times faster than wage increases over the past year. The median home price in Sydney is $ 1.3 million.

Quilpie who 543 miles west of Brisbane, whose main industries are agriculture and mining, struggled to build houses. According to Mr. Hancock, banks are demanding higher mortgage deposits in Australia than in cities, and there is a shortage of merchants in the region.

Mr. Hancock said he came up with a housing plan to address the shortage. While he does not expect all 300 inquiries to be translated to land sold, he estimates that 15 to 20 buyers are seriously considering the offer.

Since the pandemic is not over yet – Queensland’s borders are closed to other Australians and foreign visitors are barred from entering the country – potential buyers may have to wait a few months to visit the city.

But for those thinking of moving to Quilpie, the city offers a free pool, 24-hour gym, two grocery stores, and a lake. It is famous for its opal mines, and the bones of some of Australia’s largest dinosaurs have been found on its outskirts. There are cultural events almost every weekend, Hancock said, including an outback opera, horse races and triathlon.

Robina Meehan, 41, made an offer at one of the sites before she knew about the refund because, she said, “even $ 12,500 seemed too good not to take it.”

According to Ms. Meehan, there is freedom and self-sufficiency in rural life that the city does not have.

“Here you can drill a hole, light a fire, kill a cow to eat it,” she said. “But you can’t do that in the city. You can just plant a small garden full of lettuce. “

Ms. Meehan moved to Quilpie with her husband and two children 18 months ago from her farm in New South Wales. This was supposed to be temporary, but took longer after many cities were blocked.

“It takes money to get here, and maybe your food is more expensive due to inflation,” she added. “But life is so simple. It’s so easy to live. “

Tom Hennessy, 24, who recently bought the plot with his fiancée Tessa McDougall, said in a recent telephone interview: “There is no place where you would rather raise a child and start a family. Quiet, everyone knows each other, if something is wrong, half of the city raises their hands to help. “

Referring to his friends who rent in cities, he said, “It kind of makes you feel like we’re going to take advantage of our friends the same age as us, who probably won’t be able to own their home. for a while. “

According to him, Quilpie attracts not only local residents: wildlife often wanders into the city.

“Kangaroos and emu are everywhere,” he said. “At the school where Tessa teaches, I think there were 20 roosters on the lawn.”

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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