A bond over a love for their newfound home has compelled four Launceston friends to try and attract more families to relocate to the region.
Bede Clifton, Phil Cooper, Craig Richman and Will McLoughlin have lived across Australia and across the world in locations such as Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, London, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
But it was on the tennis court and schoolground in Launceston that the group formed to use their skills, creativity and stories to start Live Launceston, a platform and plan to capture families tired of big city living.
The Live Launceston team identified a communication gap with people actively looking to relocate and, more importantly, people not looking but open to relocating based on the pain points in their life.
These pain points include quality family time, house prices, commute times, job opportunities, access to recreation, clean environment and connection to community.
It was, after all, these opportunities that attracted the four friends to Northern Tasmania.
Bede, who worked in various global marketing roles, grew up in Sydney where he met his future wife Hayley who was born and raised at Westbury but moved to complete her Masters in osteopathy. The couple have three boys, Hugo, Charlie and Jasper and as if Hayley wasn't outnumbered by boys enough, added TomTom the family dog this year.
"We moved to Launceston seven years ago to escape the rat race of Sydney. With one child already we thought moving to a city with space and access to Hayley's family would be important for our family's future," Bede says.
"We wanted a place we had some roots but also we wanted to create a new network of friends yet remain a quick plane ride away to maintain our Sydney connections. For us Launceston was the obvious spot."
Launceston ticked all the boxes for Will and his wife Mel when they were looking for a treechange from Melbourne with their children Flynn, 9, and Gwen, 7.
"We had been to Tassie many times over the years and I had done numerous hiking trips down here. We have always loved getting out into nature of which Northern Tassie has an abundance. We run a small chiropractic clinic and enjoy the laid back lifestyle and wonderful community in Launceston," Will says.
"Coming from Melbourne we wanted to find a town that was a quick flight back, had affordable housing, little traffic, easy access to natural areas, good schooling and promising job opportunities in healthcare. Launceston ticked all the boxes."
Phil moved to Launceston just over four years ago with his wife Isabel and sons Hamish and Jesse. Isabel, who grew up on a farm at Beaconsfield, and Phil met in Melbourne where the boys were born.
The couple were able to bring their Melbourne jobs to Tassie where Isabel works from home for a global recruitment company and Phil runs his technology businesses from a shared office in Launceston.
"We were living in Melbourne, the cost of living was high and despite being fairly close to the office, the commute was an unpredictable 30 to 45 minutes with frantic childcare drop off and pick ups to coordinate along the way," Phil says.
Ultimately the lure of being closer to Isabel's family, good schooling, affordable housing, and a quality airport with regular flights was more than enough for Phil.
"I travel a lot for work as our customers are nationwide. I arrive in different cities and love it. But I also love landing in Launceston. The clean air and the feeling of space is priceless. The sense of community and outdoor sports were the unexpected win."
Craig is the only member of the group born in Tasmania but lived and worked in London, Hong Kong and Singapore before deciding to return home with his wife Susan.
"Susan and I have three girls, Chloe, 16, Zara, 14, and Cassie, 10," Craig says. "Susan and I are both Tasmanian born and understand the value that growing up here can offer for children. Large metro cities suck time away from you - time in your car, time in a taxi, time on the train, time queuing, time worrying about the cost of living.
"People in regional areas also have more time to give you - time to chat, time to help a friend or neighbour, time to be. There is also a greater sense of community in a regional area, more like life was a few decades ago. Life in large cities has become increasingly hectic, increasingly polluted and increasingly impersonal. Launceston is big enough to have pretty much all of the services and suppliers you need, with none of the things that make bigger cities a drag."
The group came together through their children's school and soon found they shared an interest in sport, outdoor recreation and a love for talking up greater Launceston. Ultimately the group would like to use Live Launceston to provide data and leads for a "Concierge", a person part salesperson, part dealmaker, who would work with potential families to get them to relocate to Northern Tasmania and established within the community.
The position has been proposed to fit under Northern Tasmania Development Corporation, a regional economic development agency charged with increasing population and improving economic outputs. NTDC chief executive Mark Baker said the Live Launceston and Concierge concept was a great example of merging a technological solution with a people-focused role.
"Now more than ever before, families in large metropolitan cities will be thinking whether the increased cost of living and poorer lifestyle options are really worth it," Mr Baker said.
"Many will have a proof of concept that working from home or running their businesses remotely is possible and the time is right to try and attract those families to Northern Tasmania."
Mr Baker said the Concierge would be able to use the data captured by Live Launceston to understand the reasons why someone wants to move to a regional area, then match those wants and needs to opportunities in Northern Tasmania.
"Think about that young family a big city that is trying to get into the property market or pay an exorbitant mortgage; they are commuting a few hours a day, the cost of living is high, there is no real sense of community and those cities are only growing and getting more crowded and COVID-19 has only amplified those pain points. If you can say to them, 'Come down to Northern Tasmania, have the house you love, the lifestyle you dream of, with a good job, supportive community and milder climate', it really is a strong argument."
For the Live Launceston group, the sales pitch is very simple.
"In the four years we have been here we have been to some mind blowing places. So many times we've said ... 'I can't believe this is so close to home'," Phil says. "There's the well known places like Cradle Mountain, Coles Bay, Derby, Boat Harbour, et cetera, but then there are the little hidden places that people rarely talk about, most times you are the only person there. In other parts of the world they would be the showpiece."
Will agrees: "The natural beauty of the area continues to amaze us. We are always finding new beaches, mountains or forests to explore and generally without the crowds! The food and wine in the Tamar valley is also outstanding and we have found the community to be wonderful both socially and from a business perspective."
The marketer in Bede comes out when selling the region. "Launceston has the key elements to live a nourished and fulfilling life that you actually get time to enjoy," he says. "Importantly it is the people and the community that make an effort to connect, to share and to enjoy."
If Craig, who owns and operates the Sebel Hotel in Launceston, had to convince someone to live and work in Northern Tasmania he would cite the better life balance between work and play. "Leisure activities are just easier and more accessible than in a bigger city and you'll get more time with your family."
Bede concurs: "The first thing I noticed about moving here is I had time to take up hobbies again, I was no longer sitting in traffic spending hours per week commuting, getting car parks and running from place to place. Now I get to have a life during the working week - I can mountain bike, play tennis, go out for dinners and spend time in the garden."
Will believes Tasmania's climate will become a point of attraction as mainlanders escape the extreme events.
Phil says he read someone describe the feeling of living in Tasmania as "Hygge", a Danish and Norwegian word for "a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment" and couldn't agree more.
"Tasmanians have an authenticity about them which is endearing and comforting," Bede adds. "Safety, affordability and time are the key factors that make Launceston and Northern Tasmania so liveable. Essentially quality of life for a middle income earner is far superior than a major metro city. Northern Tasmania also is well placed for accessing the fabulous attributes of nature: mountains, forests, beaches, rivers and lakes are all close by and seldom busy - the place allows you to unhinge from the stresses of metro life."
So, where are some of their favourite places to spend time?
WMc: The Cataract Gorge here in Launceston in my view is the best natural area in any town in Australia. Also Cradle Mountain, only two hours away, is spectacular any time of the year and has truly exhilarating areas to explore by foot.
PC: Derby. If you dreamt of a perfect mountain biking scenario it wouldn't be as good as Derby. We also enjoy the east coast, Coles Bay for a swim, Bicheo for a surf and looking forward to St Helens for a ride. In Launceston, we spend a lot of time at the Gorge. You can spend hours there with the kids and press repeat.
CR: In Launceston, the Cataract Gorge - within the region, Bridport
BC: At Home with family and friends. The old saying "love where you live and live where you love" could not be any more relevant to me.
And, why do they think population growth, particularly attracting young professional families to the region is so vital?
BC: I believe the city is short 20,000 people. It is on the cusp of greatness and the cities attributes and infrastructure lends itself attracting working families that can contribute to the community. It is critical we get young professional families that can bring new ideas, capital and energy to revitalise our economy and improve the social fabric of Northern Tasmania. Innovative thinking with a focus on quality over quantity should be our mantra when thinking of a community our children can thrive in.
CR: With an ageing population and propensity for our younger demographic to leave for job opportunities in larger cities, attracting professional families is critical to maintain and grow our economy as well as drive up the availability of a skilled workforce to encourage companies to setup or expand their businesses in Northern Tasmania.
PC: We love living in Launceston and have watched the city evolve over the last four years - new restaurants and cafes, new parks, new mountain biking trails. A growth in population will prompt further growth in amenity and prosperity of the city. We seek this for ourselves and for our kids.
WMc: Being in healthcare we know that Tasmania has an older population and as such we need younger people either remaining in the state or young families moving here so that the population doesn't run the risk of not being able to support the older generation. Young professional families can bring a passion and vibrancy to the community and whilst it is important to get the right balance I feel another 20-30 thousand people in the Tamar Valley would be sustainable and bring better prosperity to the region.
- People interested in the concept can visit livelaunceston.com.au or @livelaunceston on Facebook and are encouraged to share it with friends and family looking to move to Northern Tasmania.