Archive for June, 2008

Where to live: Milton?

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

We’re planning on leaving Sydney in the next year or so, due to starting a family and needing a 4-bedroom house. But where to move to? The choice is overwhelming. In this series of posts, I explore a plethora of possible places – many of which we’ve visited – in an attempt to reach some sort of conclusion. Next up – Milton.

Milton is a charming little village on the New South Wales south coast. It’s about 3 hours’ drive south of Sydney, near the old fishing port of Ulladulla.

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The general area is holidaymaker territory, with beautiful beaches, swimming inlets, laid-back atmosphere and holiday cabins aplenty. Milton itself has a bit of an alternative vibe, a great vegetarian cafe, 2 semi-decent pubs, live music, a part-time library and a good IGA supermarket. It’s only 6km from Ulladulla for shopping, and close to the sea – in fact, houses with sea views are affordable for us (wow!).

Ulladulla itself is an OK but not particularly attractive medium-size coastal town. Mollymook, slightly to the north, has beautiful beaches and the stunning Narrawallee Inlet, which in summer looks like something out of a Bond movie with its deep blue water and sandy beaches. Perfect for swimming.

When we first visited Milton we fell in love with the area, and decided it was the place for us. We pooh-poohed the 3 hours’ drive from Sydney, convincing ourselves we’d hardly ever visit the city anyway.

What’s not to like?

So why haven’t we moved there? Well, the area does have its drawbacks.

First of all, it’s not just 3 hours’ drive from Sydney, it’s a good 2 hours’ drive from anything even vaguely approaching a city. Now I understand this is fairly normal for rural Australia, but it’s a bit scary coming from the UK – from that perspective, it’s the equivalent of the Outer Hebrides or something. Ulladulla itself isn’t particularly big, or good for shopping. The nearest “big” towns are Nowra (a dump, by all accounts) and Batemans Bay (which again, isn’t great for shopping either).

Second – presumably partly due to the lack of anything big nearby – it has the highest unemployment rate in Australia. Not NSW – Australia. I kid you not. I think it’s currently running at over 10 percent. The strange thing is, you wouldn’t know it to look at it. It’s not like there are crack-heads robbing you at gunpoint or beggars on every street. Nonetheless, there’s something about 10 percent unemployment that gives me the willies. Possibly not the best area to raise a family.

Finally – and I don’t want to appear ageist – the area is very much a retired person’s thing. The median age is 47, compared with the Australian average of 37. It feels like a place you would retire to (or visit on holiday), rather than a place you’d move to to bring up a young family.

But would we move there?

Despite these drawbacks, Milton’s a lovely place, the scenery is great, the people are friendly and chilled-out, and it’s close to the beach. So for these reasons, it’s still very much in the running for us.