Who wouldn’t want to live on the Coffs Coast?
Who wouldn’t want to live on the Coffs Coast?

Could Coffs become Australia’s remote work capital?

COFFS Harbour is jockeying to become the remote working capital of Australia.

Ready to leverage the perfect combination of picturesque scenery and a regional centre connected to the major capitals, Coffs Harbour City Council is targeting potential sea-changers.

“As you can imagine, what attracts visitors to the Coffs Coast is very similar to what attracts potential new residents to the destination – the open spaces, the coastal lifestyle, the amazing climate, the city sophistication, the country feel and hospitality,” Council’s section leader of industry and destination development Fiona Barden said.

“During Covid we have concentrated much of our marketing effort on destination awareness, creating continuous, positive feelings about the destination and the amazing experiences available.

“Recent social media campaigns have been focused more heavily on this, showcasing the natural beauty of the area, the lifestyle and the environs for those wanting to escape to Coffs for a visit or more permanently.”

Of course the region can’t rely solely on leveraging its picturesque beaches and relaxed vibe, the critical infrastructure that enables professionals to work or find employment is paramount.

With the connectivity provided by having a regional airport, the NBN rollout and a number of co-working spaces and business support programs, Ms Barden said the Coffs Coast was prepared to meet the needs of many remote workers.

The beaches on the Coffs Coast form part of its appeal.
The beaches on the Coffs Coast form part of its appeal.

Which is where the ‘Remote working capital of Australia’ idea was borne.

“While our focus has been very strongly on supporting our local businesses and residents through Covid during the last few months, we are now designing a more aligned campaign to showcase the region to visitors as a relocation option while they are in destination,” she said.

“Information delivered through PR campaigns and in-destination accommodation is being designed,” Ms Barden said.

Council also has a web page which gives prospective residents a rundown of the region at coffscoast.com.au/live.

In the battle for the country’s professionals, metropolitan centres have traditionally had significant advantages over their regional rivals, given the concentration of technology, industry and cultural institutions.

READ MORE: Are Millenials leading the push to the bush?

With the pandemic causing huge disruptions to these industries – especially arts and culture – the benefits of regional living has become more appealing to those considering a sea change.

And if recent jobs data is anything to go by, the battle to coax people away from metropolitan centres could be becoming easier.

Last month employment marketplace Seek released a report which showed more than 70 per cent of applicants for Coffs Harbour jobs were classed as ‘external’ meaning they did not reside in the region.

Of those applicants, more than 30 per cent were applying from either Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, indicating just how many people are already looking to make the switch.

So does the pandemic present a unique opportunity to snap up talent from the cities?

Liz Ritchie at the Regional Australia Institute certainly thinks so and is establishing the Regional Activators Alliance, a campaign which RAI hopes will instigate a “powerful national movement to change the narrative of regional Australia”.

Liz Ritchie, CEO Regional Australia Institute.
Liz Ritchie, CEO Regional Australia Institute.

By bringing together councils, economic development organisations and industry from all sectors, Ms Ritchie said the campaign needs regional insights, passion, and stories to “change to the course of Australia’s settlement patterns”.

“Australia has alternatives, and people need choice about where they build their future. In a post-COVID-19 world, this has become increasingly relevant and important and now is the time for regions to shine,” Ms Ritchie said.

“We are asking Activators to help us show the country what makes their region unique and to help us co-create the campaign that will build a new brand for Regional Australia.”

For more information on the Regional Activators Alliance visit regionalaustralia.org.au