Why I bought my first house in Quorn

‘Congratulations on buying a house… but why did you decide to live in Quorn?’ This is the most common response I have received from Quorn locals, family and friends over the last few months when I’ve shared the news I purchased my first house in a small country town 4 hours north of Adelaide. On the face of it, a young person moving to a country town in SA with a population around 1300 and not really knowing anyone in the town seems like a strange move. But, Quorn is not just any country town and I don’t share the same desires as the majority of young people so while it may look strange, I’ll explain to you why it made sense to me and maybe even encourage a few others to do it (or, consider changing their own view of where they live and what they do so they can experience their own paradigm shift).

Why move away from your current set-up at all? Good point. Taking a step back from moving to Quorn, I had a pretty good set-up for me at my parents house in Blackwood. The house is very well equipped with all the trimmings of modern life and I wasn’t paying any rent. I could go away on work and personal trips as much as I wanted and return home to find my room was still there and my parents were good company. I wanted more though (don’t we all). There is only a short window of time where we can dedicate ourselves to something without having to worry too much about job security, finances, supporting a family, keeping a partner around etc. I didn’t have any of those concerns and knew if I really wanted to have a crack at getting the most out of my outdoor hobbies now was the time to pull the trigger. To do this, I thought the best way to get good at something is to surround myself in it everyday as much as possible. I realised I therefore needed to choose to live in an environment where the adaptations I would make from living there would result in greater outcomes for my chosen hobbies.

My wants/needs:
What environment was going to give me the best chance at this then? Knowledge is power so I went down a rabbit hole of working out what I wanted and needed from a place of residence and local community and then seeing what areas I’d visited previously fitted them. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to work out who I am by reading the About Me section. Firstly, my needs (or you could say really really desired wants):

  • A house. I like to go on trips yes, but when I’m not on a trip I like to be at home resting, recharging and getting ready for the next one. This rules out being a van person. This could be seen as a want too, but purchasing a house also acts as a store of value and getting my foot into the Australian property market.
  • A community with a local shop, pub, general hardware store, footy oval and other community spaces. Being my first home purchase, dropping into a town that didn’t have any vibe to it, or the opportunity for me to run to the shops and grab something quickly would’ve been pretty isolating and a sure way to increase my stress levels around moving to a new town.
  • Close proximity (< 1 hr) to rock climbing, running trails or the ocean. I’ve got an itch to be in the outdoors and need to have it scratched regularly. At my parent’s house (my former base of operations) I had access to running trails straight from the back gate and three really good options for climbing within 35 minutes of driving, plus the ocean was only 20 minutes away so beating that set-up was going to hard to beat but I couldn’t live with my parents forever.

If I was really hardcore, I could say I don’t need any of these things, I could just live in a tent in a National Park and become a monk. But I don’t think that would be a very fulfilling life personally and I have goals that require the ability to train and experience more than what is possible living in a tent. Now, for the things that I wanted from a house/community:

  • Low-maintenance house and garden. Something that I can move into and at times, pull the door shut, walk away for a month or two and not worry that the garden is going to get out of control or whatever.
  • Normal country town vibe. Having spent time in a lot of towns across south eastern Australia there are some towns that have a real tourist hustle and bustle on, some that are dead, some that are really quaint and nice with that ‘olde town’ feel and some that have outdoor shops on every corner. I just wanted to be in a town that wasn’t trying to be anything more than itself and had a bit of history to it.
  • Opportunity for growth. I wanted to move to a house that, whilst being low-maintenance, also had space for me to do my own thing to the garden. The same sentiment applies to the town. If the town is already at its peak and has ridden the wave of tourism development well then that’s not very exciting.
  • Somewhere that transport back to Adelaide is still simple enough to do in one day so I can get back to hang out with family and friends if I needed to without the effort of travelling back being an added stress.
  • Stable ‘usable’ climate. What I mean by this is that I don’t want to feel like I can’t go for a run or a climb because it’s too wet, windy, hot, cold etc. too often throughout the year. Yes, of course I’m aware that there is no Unicorn town that has perfect weather all year-round but there must be some good candidates around Australia!

Something to point out here is I have not listed trendy cafes, nightclubs, regular live music, shopping centres, live sport options or any other attraction of a major city. When I was living in Adelaide I didn’t spend any time doing any of these things (yeah, I saw a little bit of live sport but not that much) because from a cost-benefit/opportunity cost analysis more training, relaxing at home or saving money for a trip always won out. Hence, I learned to live without these luxuries, fight off ‘lifestyle creep’, and kept life pretty simple and cost effective.

Considering the above list of needs & wants let’s now consider the options in areas around Australia I’ve visited:

  • Natimuk, Victoria. Located right next to Mt. Arapiles and within an easy drive of the Grampians. Ticks a lot of boxes.
  • Jindabyne, New South Wales. Services Thredbo and Perisher ski resorts and plenty of trails in summer.
  • Bright, Victoria. Similar to Jindabyne, services Hotham and Falls Creek but is also nearby to granite climbing mecca of Mount Buffalo.
  • Coles Bay, Tasmania. Right next to the climbing and ocean activity paradise of Freycinet National Park.
  • Victor Harbor, South Australia. Ocean activities and some nearby climbing available.
  • Blue Mountains region, New South Wales. Australian climbing mecca.

All of these places are awesome. Some of them tick all the boxes too which is great. But there is also some slightly nagging points about them too that, to save the pessimists the trouble of pointing them out, I’ve done it for them below:

  • Natimuk. Access to Mt. Arapiles and the Grampians climbing areas is murky at the moment and looks to be murky for a while.
  • Jindabyne. Massive commute to get back to Adelaide and not much rock climbing around.
  • Bright. Again, similar to Jindabyne. The rock climbing I mentioned at Mount Buffalo does make it rank a bit higher. However, Bright is probably a bit wetter/colder/drearier in winter than Jindy is though so that evens those two up.
  • Coles Bay. Longest commute to Adelaide out of all the towns. I’d have to commit fully to my dream if I went and lived in Coles Bay.
  • Victor Harbor. The amount of current climbing and running options can be exhausted pretty quickly leading to the development of boredom setting in quickly. Plus it’s always windy whenever I’m at Victor.
  • Blue Mountains region. Probably the busiest out of all these places and I’m not a big fan of that.

One elephant in the room I haven’t addressed so far is the cost of living in these areas. I can have all my fancy dreams, aim for the stars etc. but if I don’t have the money to sustain myself financially that’s a problem. I’ll get to the costs in a moment, but first let’s introduce Quorn to the scene.

  • Quorn, South Australia. Central to the Flinders Ranges region for climbing, bushwalking and mountain biking. Within 30 minutes of the ‘ocean’ at Port Augusta. Gets really hot in summer is it’s negative.
The candidates + Quorn

The main cost of living in this scheme of mine is the property. Can’t get around that. The other bits; cost of food, diesel, lifestyle activities are all going to be pretty simple. The transition cost of moving from Blackwood (my parents house and base of operations) to a new area will depend on how far away the new area is. To try and keep this analysis semi-relevant to other people I’m going to introduce the ‘transition addition’. For every 500km away the candidate area is to Blackwood adds roughly $1000 to the cost of moving. This number is based on:

$200 (2 tanks of fuel for return travel between old & new home)
+
$350 (day rate of driving to and from old and new home)
+
$400 (rough moving truck cost)
+
$50 (for unexpected costs)

Alright, now the meat of the reasoning. The cost of property in each of our candidate towns. In the table below is data taken from realestate.com.au that shows the median house price in each of the towns. The median house in each area is probably not comparable, and nor is it likely to be the house I buy, but it is a simple representative figure of the level of the property market, assuming there is enough turnover* in cheap and expensive houses to make the statistic useful (*Natimuk struggled to make the cut).

TownMedian House PriceTransition Addition
Natimuk$296 000$1000
Jindabyne$1 350 000$2000
Bright$911 670$2000
Coles Bay$605 000$3000
Victor Harbor$467 000<$1000
Blue Mountains$780 000$2500
Quorn$148 500$1000
Median house prices for each candidate

Wowiee, I hear you say. Quorn is easily the cheapest, followed by Natimuk and then Victor Harbor. I was surprised to find Coles Bay was so cheap as well given the amount of big fancy weekend retreat homes I’ve seen there but it obviously had a higher moving cost factor. Conversely, I was not surprised to find that the two ski towns of Jindabyne and Bright were the most expensive.

Hmmm. All the preliminary research is on the table now. Six months ago in July 2021 I was staring at this information (and a bit more, this is just the short version of it) and was now entering the ’roundabout of choice’. This was your typical roundabout with four options:

  1. Left turn. Buy a house in Natimuk. Become a climbing guide and run lots and have ability to travel to Adelaide AND Melbourne as a bonus.
  2. Straight ahead. Buy a house in Quorn. Potential is there to explore massive area of the Flinders Ranges but risk is higher due to the amount of unknowns about the town.
  3. Right turn. Buy a house in Victor Harbor. Minimise the ‘isolation from family’ effect but increase the cost of living.
  4. Do a complete lap of the roundabout and exit on the same path I had been on before and save for a house in Adelaide.

I talked over my decision making process with friends and family and could hear in my voice and reasoning what path I was most keen on…

Quorn just had that many dominoes lined up in a row that it was irresistible to not knock them over and see what happens. I mean, I was so excited by the thought of going to somewhere that is relatively ‘new’ to me and establishing myself. The cost of the whole adventure was also low which meant I could afford to take the risk without ‘buying’ too much worry and uncertainty in the process. What was the worst that would happen? Yeah maybe after 12 months I find out the town is really average, the summer heat is too oppressive and the opportunities for climbing and running were not as extensive as I thought. But even if this was my view 12 months after moving in, I would have gained the experience of buying a house, living in it and dealing with all the extra life things that came my way in the process. The final straw that broke the camels back for me was the advice I took from an excerpt of ‘Wanderer’ by Sterling Hayden. The final line in the excerpt is the question:

Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

Sterling Hayden

For me I have figuratively chosen the bankruptcy of purse option and have moved to Quorn.

And how has it turned out for me so far?

Bloody awesome! At the risk of sounding like one of those parents who thinks their child is the Messiah, I have found the town of Quorn to be an awesome town full of good people and great opportunities. I was fortunate enough to stumble into a job at the Quorn and Hawker pools and was able to spend my time meeting and greeting a lot of the locals and working out who’s who. I’ve also found the running options up here are as good as I expected. The climbing is already really good but the opportunities for more of it are way more than I thought and are actually mind-boggling. Plus, add in all the other nice parts of town that make it feel like a home; the Bush Tucker Garden, Silo Light Show, Pichi Richi Train, gum tree lined creeks, parks and streets and a sensational quality Oval and I keep scratching my head going ‘why doesn’t more people like me live here’? I’m cognisant of the fact there is not heaps of typical job opportunities but what I’ve found so far here is that if you hang around long enough, you’ll find work somewhere or there’s plenty of jobs down the road in Port Augusta too to consider. I’ve only owned my house in Quorn for six months so I might still be in the honeymoon period but so far, life has been pretty good up here!

If all that explanation doesn’t answer the ‘why did you move to Quorn’ question for you enough then hit me up on the telephone or email! To make another message clear in this piece as well though, Quorn just happened to be the right town for me at this point of my life circumstances but for you, the reader, maybe you could apply some of my logic about choosing where to live first, and finding work second (which is a very Tasmanian thing to do) in order to squeeze a bit more happiness out of life. Only you can answer that (and maybe your partner and/or children might have a say in it too) and to do that you really need to understand yourself and what makes you happy.

My thoughts on the matter of what makes a good/enjoyable life are; step one, work out what makes you happy, then step two is find a lifestyle that allows you to do that as much as possible. Don’t overcomplicate it any more than that. Right now, running, climbing, training for big trips, exploring my own backyard, watching sport and doing some gardening are the things that make me happy. Living in Quorn makes doing these things really simple for me at the moment so for now, I’m going to enjoy living life in Quorn!

As I grow older and my priorities change in life maybe I’ll stay here and maybe I won’t, what is important though is to keep checking with how well I’m following Steps 1 & 2 from above. As long as I’m ticking those boxes to the best of my ability then life, happiness, joy, or other buzz words you’d find on cushions or interior decorations, will take care of itself.

6 responses to “Why I bought my first house in Quorn”

  1. Excellent blog Frase. It’s like you’re sitting across from me on the couch chatting through all of your thoughts, what a great read.
    I’m so happy for you, and can’t wait to visit again soon! xx

    Like

  2. […] allowed to drive outside of Adelaide. That ended up happening in June and was probably a big pre-cursor to eventually settling up in Quorn. Having a look down at my fuel tank, the motivation was about 1/3 full and but I’d built such […]

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  3. […] April. The time of great sun in Cuba and also Easter bunnies. It’s also my ‘peak’ season for this current training block and time to see what effect the training I’ve been doing has had. Starting with some stats first, I’ve monitored the last 15 weeks of running and averaged 110km in this period. From Week 6, where I was back at 100km per week, I have maintained 130km per week. Pretty decent for my first training block since 2020. My consistency with supplementary training focuses of nutrition, strength training and recovery protocols has been probably my best yet and is a direct result of having my own space in Quorn where I’m not distracted. […]

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  4. […] My initial two thoughts were what a great idea but what a terrible choice of location. Sure Araps has all the routes and there are some classics at the lower grades but Moonarie is really where it’s at it when you consider how much time we’ve both spent there in the last two years. Heck, I love the place so much I moved to Quorn… […]

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  5. […] Peak, Quorn in early July. Originally planned as a 2-day visit, it turned into almost 4 days. Thus the dream was born. If we hadn’t taken that climbing trip, I mightn’t be living in Quorn and if I […]

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  6. […] moved to Quorn in September 2021 to be closer to the Flinders Ranges. There’s a separate blog post detailing why I did that but simply put I thought if I could adapt like a chameleon to the Flinders I would be the ultimate […]

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