By Jackson Russell
Kilmore has ranked among the top 20 regional towns across Australia for first homebuyers, according to research commissioned by ME Bank.
Kilmore ranked 11th and was the fourth-highest Victorian town behind Woodend (sixth), Beechworth (seventh), and Tatura (ninth).
Nairne, South Australia, took out the number one spot, followed by Bungendore, New South Wales, and Margaret River, Western Australia.
The research, undertaken by Ethos Urban, ranked towns by evaluating criteria including housing affordability, healthcare and education facilities, employment rate, internet access, town character, the natural beauty of the area and population growth.
The study was exclusive to towns with populations between 3000 and 20,000 people – enough to have a town centre but not quite a regional city – and within 200 kilometres of a capital city or 50 kilometres of a major regional centre.
Ethos Urban director Chris McNeill said the study was taken from the perspective of someone currently living in a capital city and their key areas of interest if they were to move to a regional town and needed access to a capital city or regional centre.
“Kilmore is very accessible back to greater Melbourne. You’ve got well-established road links of a fairly high quality and you can also catch a train,” he said.
“It’s located in an attractive setting with rolling hills, the median house price is competitive, population growth has been pretty strong, it’s got a good range of retail offerings, and what’s not available is fairly accessible without having to undertake a two or three-hour drive.”
Mr McNeill said Kilmore’s community facilities also contributed to its high ranking.
“Kilmore, of course, has a hospital and some highly-regarded schools which definitely drove it up a bit,” he said.
“It’s a quirky one in that it doesn’t have a state high school, but Wallan and Broadford do so you’re not having to go too far for high school.
“Victoria featured pretty well, and part of the reason was the compact nature of Victoria.
“There are a lot of towns within that broader two-hour drive of Melbourne and a lot have really good town character, there’s a bit of history about them and a well-established feel.
“Over time, that sense of character is becoming increasingly popular with homebuyers.”
Kilmore resident Ali Coombe moved to Kilmore 10 years ago to buy her first family home and was initially attracted to the affordable land but fell in love with its character.
“We looked all around in Wallan, Clonbinane, all around this area, and I got to Kilmore and thought this place has a heart, it’s got a soul, it’s got history, it’s got roots,” she said.
“There’s this substance to it. You’ve got locals that were born in the town and their parents were born in the town, I just love that living history.”
Ms Coombe said the country feel and community connection was what convinced the family to put down roots in Kilmore, with her children and parents also building homes in the town.
“We have a mob of 15 kangaroos that come up from the creek in the morning and go back down at night, we wake up to bird song, the trees beside us are full of lorikeets and crimson rosellas,” she said.
“I want to be here forever. We’ve put down roots here and one day we would like to think that our family would be one of those long-term locals.”