The search for slow

As 2020 forced a reappraisal of what’s important in our lives, a noticeable migration began—from the busy and crowded inner suburbs to towns and neighbourhoods where the pace of life feels, well, a little slower.

14 April 2021

So much has changed since the onset of COVID-19 that it’s become commonplace to hear people speak of life in three distinct epochs: pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic.

Pre-pandemic life consisted largely of taking things for granted—including hugging our friends, moving unworriedly through crowded spaces, and total confidence in our toilet paper supplies. Then 2020 came along and everything changed, including our acceptance of things that weren’t so great about pre-pandemic life. Mortgage stress. Long commutes. A lack of work-life balance. The realisation that many jobs could be done as effectively from home as in the office had many of us rethinking not just how we work, but where we live too. As 2020 forced a reappraisal of what’s important in our lives, a noticeable migration began—from the busy and crowded inner suburbs to towns and neighbourhoods where the pace of life feels, well, a little slower.

Life’s a beach

Frasers Property’s General Manager of Development in Western Australia, Tod O’Dwyer, says that a new surge of interest in the company’s idyllic coastal Port Coogee project, south of Fremantle, reflects people prioritising lifestyle over the burdens of inner-city living. “There’s been a marked uptick in enquiry as people look to reconfigure their lifestyles to the new ‘COVID-normal’”, says Tod. “The common refrain we’re hearing is ‘if I’m not going to have to be commuting as much to the office, then I may as well live where I want’. And the place most people seem to want to be is by the beach.”

With its warm Indian Ocean waters, safe beaches, and world-class marina, Port Coogee has long been popular with retirees and those approaching retirement. But all that’s changing as young families from Perth and Fremantle discover the community. “There’s a very unique, very distinct character that you get with coastal communities,” says Tod. “Life is a bit more relaxed and there’s time to stop and have a yarn in the street with the shopkeepers or the neighbours you’ve run into. That social aspect is something life in the inner-city doesn’t always respect and can be quite detrimental to young families who want their kids to grow up with friends in the same street or have a neighbour that can babysit from time to time. Port Coogee might only be 40 minutes from the big smoke, but it feels like a world away in terms of pace of life.”

Take five

Over on the other side of the country, Frasers Property’s new Five Farms project in Melbourne’s green and semi-rural south-east corridor is promising a new kind of life balance in a community purpose-built to the task. Designed to address five interconnected pillars of wellbeing, the project vision is a place where health, happiness, prosperity, sustainability and community combine to create a contemporary neighbourhood with the feel of a traditional village.

Frasers Property General Manager of Development in Victoria, Sarah Bloom, says the launch of this new project couldn’t be timelier. “I think last year really highlighted for people that the kinds of things we had sort of come to accept as the costs of modern life we’re burdens we didn’t always have to bear,” explains Sarah, “and that we can find a better balance. The design of Five Farms really consciously taps into that concept of balance, presenting a way to get outdoors more, walk more, play more and immerse in your surroundings.”

On the waterfront

At one of the company’s oldest running projects on the south coast of NSW, the search for slow has seen an exodus of Sydneysiders to The Waterfront, Shell Cove.

Ben Morgan is the lead engineer for the boat harbour development at The Waterfront, spending more than a decade working on the monumental Shell Cove project.

Having grown up on the south coast and studied civil engineering at the University of Wollongong before undertaking a Masters in Coastal Engineering at UNSW, Ben’s connection to this part of the world is deeply felt.

“I just like the coast. Growing up there was always water around where I lived. That’s where my interests lie, and I wanted my career to be about something I love. So, I chose coastal engineering as my specialisation and work on marina projects,” Ben says. After living for many years in Sydney and commuting to Shell Cove, Ben bought a home in the community for his young and growing family, placing him in the “backyard of the project”. “I used to get up at 6am to beat the traffic if Iwas driving down to the site from Sydney for inspection. Now I can turn up any time I am needed to keep track on how construction is progressing,” Ben says. “I often even go for a morning surf before work. I used to surf twice a month when I was living in Sydney, but since moving here I have been surfing two to three times a week. The lifestyle is fantastic.”