Treechanging Entrepreneurs

Treechangers are wanting to take advantage of the rural town lifestyle, affordable housing and commutable distances in Melbourne.

Treechanging is when people move from the city to the countryside and here in Gippsland we are enjoying an incredible influx of treechangers.

The Victorian Planning Authority has highlighted the South East Growth Corridor (from Dandenong through to Pakenham, Cranbourne and Clyde) as one of the fastest growing areas in the state. This growth corridor is having effects though beyond the metropolitan area, with West Gippsland being impacted as more and more people flock to Baw Baw Shire in search of more affordable and balanced lifestyles.

Baw Baw Shire predicts that its population will grow from 52,000 currently to 110,000 by 2035. Treechangers are wanting to take advantage of the Shire’s scenic views, rural town lifestyle, affordable housing and commutable distances to Melbourne. What does this mean for jobs and business in the area?

The Shire is working actively to encourage a thriving business community and to retain the knowledge and skills of its population locally rather than lose great people to city jobs. This means that they’re not only supporting established businesses to grow and create more jobs in the region, but they’re actively encouraging self-employment through new businesses starting up.

There are many local treechanging entrepreneurs already in Baw Baw, myself included. I moved to Warragul from Melbourne at the beginning of 2019 and have since co-founded Herd Coworking with my treechanging business partner Dr Elena Kelareva. I was attracted by the opportunity to design and build a unique home for me and my partner and by the burgeoning local business community. As well as the obvious lifestyle benefits the area appears to be teeming with opportunity for new business lovers like me!

The area is welcoming many successful treechangers who are making their mark on the region. In Warragul alone we have a number of great examples, three of whom are speakers at the Work My Own Way event Treechanging Entrepreneurs and Networking.

Dr Kylee Junghans from Key Acupuncture, relocated from the busy southern beaches of the Gold Coast to a Gippsland property with views of the Bass Coast. She runs her thriving business from the Warragul Wellness Centre and relaxes on her property with numerous fur babies. Like many treechangers, Kylee made a career change with her location change. Having been a successful chef she spent six years in full time study to become a fully qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and now treats her Gippantsland patients for a variety of ailments from infertility and IVF support to pain management and exhaustion.

Sonny Banjara from Untitled 2.0 Cafe splits his time between his two cafe businesses in Geelong and Warragul but is originally hails from Nepal. Another talented treechanger with many strings to his working bow, he’s a qualified chef, turned coffee roaster, turned cafe owner who loves his food and adores drinking coffee. Sonny has built up a fantastic team and built a loyal following of customers who come to Untitled for what he calls his “brewtiful” coffee, the remarkable menu and Sonny’s sense of humour.

Casey Hearing’s Khatija Halabi is another international Gippslander, having been born in South Africa. Khatija worked as a language therapist and audiologist at a School for the Deaf. She wanted to experience living and working in a new environment so she went from an educational setting in a city to a general private practice in a regional area. 

Khatija came to Gippsland for a two year work experience nearly 16 years ago! Her thriving audiology business helps her patients stay connected with loved ones and the activities they enjoy.

Starting a business in a new place not only helps you create a job in your area, but it can help you find social and professional connections through the local business community. In the natural course of doing business you may meet people who are customers, suppliers and colleagues. 

We also encourage you to seek out local business networking groups, buddy up with another local entrepreneur, find an inspiring mentor and of course come along to the Work My Own Way business networking and mentor events

Check out this great article from the ABC which gives advice from experienced treechangers to people considering a move to the country. There are nine great tips here, from checking out internet and transport facilities, to becoming a part of your new community.

Stephanie Thoo