The silver lining: Why city prices exceeding your budget aren’t always a bad thing

There’s not a lot of joy at the moment for hopeful buyers in our biggest cities, with an ever-tightening housing market and sky-high interest rates adding to the squeeze.


But turning lemons into the proverbial lemonade might be easier outside the metro areas, among the orchards and farms, quaint towns and spacious blocks of a regional community.


Relaxed, picturesque living within easy reach of major cities continues to draw folks to places where rich metropolitan-style lifestyles exist without city house prices: buzzing towns like Castlemaine and Kyneton in Victoria and the ever-popular Southern Highlands villages in NSW.


Ben Pearce knows. Pearce runs Massive, a small advertising agency in the Highlands, and lived on Sydney’s lower north shore and inner west for 25 years before buying in Bowral in late 2021.

Pearce, 43, and his wife, 39, decided retirement was too far off to wait to live where they loved, near many historic towns in a lush natural environment.


“The way remote work was evolving, we decided to sell our ‘shoebox’ in Sydney and move somewhere we could stretch our legs and the kids could run around,” he says.


Selling their two-bedroom city unit meant the couple could buy a five-bedroom home on an idyllic “quarter-acre block” complete with a veggie patch “pretty much halfway between Canberra and Sydney”.


As more people look towards this gem of a region, some thoughtfully considered new developments are budding within the green hills, ensuring diverse housing options are available at a range of accessible prices.

Charming and lively Moss Vale is home to a new master-planned residential community, Ashbourne, which benefits from expert planning by NOVM, the group behind the award-winning Esplanade Norwest.


The design team has embraced the natural beauty of the surroundings into the community’s green spaces and parklands, encapsulating rolling hills, leafy landscaping, and pristine lakes just a short walk from the front door.


“Having green spaces and recreational areas within the estate allows residents to enjoy the outdoors and relax close to home,” says Angela Villate, NOVM’s project development manager, pointing to 7.7 kilometres of walking and cycling paths within the Ashbourne community. 


There is plenty of choice regarding lot sizes, ranging from 450 square metres to 850 square metres. There is also plenty of flexibility for buyers to choose their home design and builder, allowing them to make choices that suit their budget.


Essentials such as a childcare centre and shopping hub are planned, creating what Villate says is a well-rounded environment for individuals and families seeking a refined lifestyle.

Moss Vale has a variety of dining options, while the charming towns of Bowral and Berrima – both within a leisurely 10-minute drive – offer a further array of stylish and appealing options when it comes to shopping and dining.


“Residents can look forward to wine tasting events, farm-to-table dining, and access to fresh, locally sourced produce,” Villate says. “The area has a thriving arts and culture scene with galleries, craft markets, and cultural festivals. Those interested in the arts can immerse themselves in the local creative community.”


Pearce agrees that the area is a perfect blend of urban conveniences and a semi-rural lifestyle that evokes his childhood growing up in a small NSW town. He fondly describes the Highlands as “country-lite” living.

“There are all of the good things about being in the country: the community, fresh air, idyllic bush, farms and villages, but very few of the drawbacks,” he explains.


“We have good internet; there are lots of events, world-class restaurants, and relatively low unemployment. It also lacks that ‘small-town syndrome’ you get in places where there isn’t enough to do.”


It’s a move with no regrets, but he jokes there is one downside: it’s hard to get away from home when you live in a dream location where family and friends from the big smoke love to pop in for their own taste of the simple life.


“Most of our friends want to come down and visit us on weekends, which leaves little time for us to get out of the area. But it’s lovely.”


The New Journeys Collection at Ashbourne, Moss Vale, is coming soon in March, with land lots starting from $480,000. There are only 14 lots in this limited release – register your interest here.