Sydneysiders Nigel and Lisa Baldwin and their seven kids moved to a $1 rental in the town of Cumnock. Picture: Kacie Herd
Farmers are offering families homes to rent for as little as $1 a week to help keep their towns alive — all that is required in return is for the children to enrol in local schools.
With the drought spurring an exodus of residents from rural NSW, schools are struggling to attract enough students and funding to remain open.
By offering spare houses on their properties at reduced rents, the farmers hope to boost student numbers, avoiding the need to send their own children to schools in more populated areas more than 100km away.
Other farmers are counting on new families to fill critical skill shortages in their region and help rejuvenate the local community.
Many of the houses, up to five bedrooms, are on substantial blocks near the outback towns of Orange, Wellington and Parkes, more than 350km west of Sydney.
Baldry farmhouse in the Orange area was available for $1 rent.
One advertisement for a $1 farmhouse in Wellington specifies the preferred tenant would have “building” experience.
Another $1 listing in Cumnock, 60km west of Orange, states preferred applicants should be willing to volunteer for squash and tennis competitions and junior athletics and swim programs.
Rentafarmhouse.com.au founder Christine Weston, who sits on the Board of Regional Development Australia, said the prolonged drought was bleeding rural communities of vital workers.
This three-bedroom farmhouse located 30km west of Cumnock is available for $1 a week.
The exodus has opened up a raft of houses available for rent at virtually nothing.
“We now have heaps of empty houses,” Ms Weston said. “We need people to come back and there is an opportunity for families who live in the outer suburbs of big cities to come here and create a new life.
“Many of the homes need some TLC but would suit someone running an online business or working a job from home.”
Rural communities are in particular need of tradies, along with nurses and doctors who might want to avoid the “mortgage trap” of living in an expensive Sydney suburb, Ms Weston said.
This five-bedroom farmhouse in Cumnock is available for $1 per week.
The low rental offers have proved enticing enough to attract some Sydney families.
Nigel and Lisa Baldwin recently moved out of their home in McGraths Hill in northwest Sydney to a $1 rental in Cumnock.
Mr Baldwin had been working two jobs to help support the couple’s seven children and said the dramatically reduced living costs allowed the family to take a step back.
He now uses the rental income from their old McGraths Hill home to fund their lifestyle and they recently bought a pub in their local town.Tips to keep ahead of the property market
“The move was totally worth it,” Mr Baldwin said. “We were living in a three-bedroom house in a densely populated area. Out here we get so much more space and we love the community.”
Mr Baldwin added that having prior renovation experience helped.
“We got the home for basically nothing but there were a lot of things we needed to fix up … but for us that was part of the experience. We wanted an adventure.”
This article was first published in www.realestate.com.au. Here is the link to the original article.