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Gone are the days where having a successful career meant enduring the daily grind of a capital city. Changes in lifestyle and workplace dynamics (as well as factors such as the rise of remote work) have led to more and more people bidding farewell to the big smoke in favour of laid back living. And what place encapsulates that style of living better than Newcastle?

Located just two hours north of Sydney on the New South Wales coastline, Newcastle is big enough to be named Australia’s seventh largest city, but not so big as to have all the downsides of a capital city. Surrounded by pristine beaches, buzzing with fantastic dining and entertainment options, and steeped in strong community and family values, it’s a popular choice for many people wishing to make a lifestyle change.

James Grierson and Julie Gearie, co-founders of GWG, were two such people. Both moved to Newcastle from Sydney to escape the hustle and bustle. After meeting through work, they set up GWG Recruitment, which now brings countless professionals to the region for job opportunities.

Below, James and Julie share their personal insights on the benefits of making the move, exploring their top reasons to live and work in Newcastle.

It’s the perfect place to raise a family

Newcastle’s family-friendliness is a reassuring prospect for those considering a move. ‘The idea of moving cities certainly is daunting, especially for parents – not only changing jobs, but finding schools, childcare and of course trying to meet new friends,’ says James. ‘So far, it’s been pretty easy for us, and we’re finding Newcastle an amazing place to raise our family.’

With great schooling options, recreational areas and sporting clubs, Newcastle offers everything families could need. Many also find that the more relaxed pace is conducive to a healthy family dynamic – including James, who now can’t quite imagine taking his young kids back to a bigger city. ‘It’s normal for folk to leave work here at five p.m., and there’s not a lot of traffic, so we get to spend much more time together as a family,’ he says.

Julie’s kids are now young adults, but the benefits they experience from living in Newcastle are similarly abundant. ‘They have so many local options when it comes to continuing their education, pursuing a career and enjoying a thriving social scene,’ she says. ‘As a parent, it gives me comfort that Newcastle is a city, but with country town values. The kids stay connected with a wide circle of friends and everyone looks out for each other.’

It’s more affordable

Living in a big city is expensive – and getting more so. Smaller cities offer much more affordable options; median house prices in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie come in far under Sydney’s whopping $1 million median. ‘It gives younger people a chance to enter the market,’ says Julie. ‘I can’t think of any area in Sydney where you can buy a property for under $500k within ten minutes of the beach.’

James and his family took advantage of this, buying a five-bedroom home in Lake Macquarie for around the same price as a two-bedroom unit in the Lower North Shore. ‘It’s perfect for my family of four,’ he says. ‘We’re close to good cafes, bike paths and major shopping.’

It’s still close to the action

James does admit that he occasionally misses the big city buzz. But Newcastle’s ever-growing dining, arts and cultural options, plus its proximity to Sydney, provide the perfect balance. ‘What I love about living here versus somewhere truly regional is that I can head down to Sydney every few weeks to get my fix, and then happily escape back to chilled Newcastle,’ he says.

There’s also handy access to other capital cities like Melbourne and Brisbane through Newcastle Airport, and the wonders of Hunter Valley Wine Country are less than an hour’s drive away – truly the best of both worlds.

There are great career opportunities

Newcastle is proof positive that career opportunities aren’t always thin on the ground outside of capital cities. After starting as a recruitment consultant in Newcastle in 2005, Julie has survived and thrived through the booms and busts of various industries and economies, helping countless others along the way.

She’s noticed that people are often surprised at the careers on offer within industries such as finance, technology, engineering, health and education – but points out that Newcastle is a resilient, resourceful city, full of ever-growing opportunities. ‘Investment in the region’s infrastructure, in particular our port, rail and airport networks, has generated an abundance of employment opportunities within both blue- and white-collar professions,’ she explains. ‘Our region can also boast a thriving tourism industry, not only in Newcastle but with our neighbours Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter Valley.’

James agrees, highlighting Newcastle’s thriving economy and the exponential growth of career opportunities he’s witnessed since moving here in 2009. He believes these factors, paired with the comparably higher ‘liveability’ of smaller cities and towns, have led to the growing popularity of a sea or tree change. ‘There’s definitely a real migration happening from the capital cities to regional cities of Australia where life is just more liveable,’ he says. ‘While you won’t make quite as much money as in Sydney or Melbourne, the salaries are good. And when you factor in that the cost of living is significantly less, you’re far better off.’

Novocastrians are amazing!

For both James and Julie, some of the best aspects of Newcastle living are the people themselves. ‘In our neighbourhood, everyone knows each other. I’d say half the street has offered to help renovate our house, and there’s even a street Christmas party for the kids!’ James says. ‘People here like to chat, so you need to get used to saying hello and joining in the conversation. You’ll end up with more friends than you know what to do with here.’

Julie agrees. ‘I’m reminded every day of the generosity and friendliness of people here. No matter where you go, you are always greeted with a warm hello and a smile – I’ve found this across both social and business circles,’ she says. ‘We are so proud of our beautiful city, and Novocastrians are a huge part of what makes Newcastle amazing.’

Thinking about making the move from Sydney to Newcastle? We can help you find the perfect career opportunity – get in touch today!

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