A popular coastal town in south-west Victoria is proving a popular choice for the hordes escaping city living.
ME Bank has listed Port Fairy in the top 20 regional towns for first home buyers.
ME consulting demographer Chris McNeill said regional areas were proving more popular than ever after the coronavirus pandemic.
"Like many Australians cooped up in the city, I spent hours during the pandemic trawling through property websites, daydreaming of a refreshing sea or tree change.
"This list can help make those dreams reality. With working from home on the rise, now is a perfect time to escape to the country, not only to improve your lifestyle, but save money and buy your first home."
"All the towns in our top 20 list are ideal for first home buyers, in different ways. Some are cheaper for the bargain hunters, while others have the ideal beach lifestyle for those with bigger budgets."
Eileen Curd, who moved to Toolong four years ago with her husband Derek, said the couple had fallen in love with Port Fairy.
The couple had lived in Melbourne for more than 30 years and wanted to escape the hustle and bustle.
Mrs Curd said she was not surprised to hear Port Fairy was proving a popular choice. "We just wanted a slower pace," she said.
"It's a great place to live and we can go back to Melbourne whenever we like."
Mrs Curd said her seven grandchildren loved spending time in Port Fairy, exploring Pea Soup beach or Tower Hill.
The spectacular sea views and landscapes have also provided inspiration for Mrs Curd's paintings.
The couple has converted a stable on their property into a studio, which Mrs Curd opens to the public most afternoons. She said the couple now called Port Fairy home.
"It's really beautiful and the community spirit is amazing," Mrs Curd said.
The couple moved to Australia three decades ago from Liverpool in the UK in search of a better life.
"There were no opportunities in Liverpool and we thought 'let's give Australia a go'."
They now understand why Australia is referred to as the lucky country.
Eight Victorian towns featured in the top 20 choices, Mr McNeill said.
"It's no surprise Victoria fares so well," he said.
"So many Victorian towns are within striking distance of Melbourne, or a major regional city, which gives first home buyers in these areas great job flexibility and access to amenities.
"There are still undiscovered gems dotted around. Then there's Port Fairy, which is a paradise on anyone's list."
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