SYDNEY, Melbourne and the other capitals can take a hike.
Wagga has been named as the country's most family-friendly city, according to a new Suncorp Bank report that analysed employment levels, schools, volunteer work, health and family income levels.
Wagga beat the nation's capital Canberra, ranked at number two, and regional rival Albury-Wodonga, which ranked third in the widely regarded survey, with our city the frontrunner in three sub-categories including community involvement, community safety and road safety.
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Yesterday, KPMG demographer Bernard Salt said he wasn't surprised by the rank, with a work/life balance becoming increasingly important to Australians, especially those with families.
"Nowadays regional cities are offering a great quality of life," Mr Salt said.
"They tend to be on equal footing with the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, which is definitely the case in Wagga, which has Charles Sturt University, Kapooka base, and a range of public and private sector jobs."
The report shows Wagga gained a 45.4 per cent rate of community involvement in not-for-profit organisations, beating Albury-Wodonga which sits at 44.5 per cent, while 54.8 per cent of residents feel safe walking home at night only narrowing beating Hobart which sits at 54.5 per cent and road safety, with only 3.3 deaths on roads per 100,000 people, compared with Sydney at 3.4 and Melbourne at 4.
After a stint in Canberra, the report doesn’t surprise Matt Snowden and Teisha Robinson, who along with their son Khan, 1, each enjoy the benefits of life in Wagga.
“Wagga is a relaxed place – which we enjoy as a family,” Mr Snowden said.
“We want Khan to feel a connection to the place he grows up in, and the older he gets we want to be at his school, know his teachers, and participate in his life,” Ms Robinson said.
Released yesterday, other figures in the report show Wagga has the third-lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 per cent, beaten by Darwin at 3.8 per cent, and Sydney, at 3.9 per cent.
While in the mortgage stress ranking placed Wagga 10th – still with only 7.6 per cent of families under mortgage stress – it failed to make the top 10 in the income category, with Canberra taking the top spot, with the average dual-family income earning over $3000 per week.
Suncorp Bank general manager Russell Harrison said the report found that residents who opted for a “tree change” didn’t have to make a trade-off with their careers, or lifestyle.
“Historically if people wanted a better work/life balance they would need to make a sacrifice but that isn’t the case for Wagga,” Mr Harrison said.
“You can still have a great job, great income and relaxed lifestyle.”
The city’s public officials, mayor Rod Kendall, member for Wagga Daryl Maguire and member for Riverina Michael McCormack were each unanimous in their responses to the report.
“Everyone else is starting to figure out what we’ve known about this city for a long time,” Mr Maguire said.
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