Are Australian country towns depressing places to live?
No, but there is a lot of depression. I've spent heaps of time on the Far South Coast of NSW, which is the oldest (demographically) part of Australia and one of the leaders in elder couples without kids (ie, retired couples). Aside from the retirees, the forestry sector has collapsed, agriculture has gotten absurdly efficient and the fishing runs at a much lower level, but with a fraction of the workers.
Basically, it's different from a lot of regional/rural places with the seachange/treechange pensioners in force, but it's similar in that it doesn't have a thriving proportion of people 18–49 - and when I was spending time there as a guy in my early thirties I had the feeling of intense loneliness because there was no one in my age group.
In being alone, though, I wasn't alone. While the kids had a fairly stark choice - leave for education and work (and probably never come back) or take your chances on seasonal tourism and spotty service work, hoping for a council gig - the older folks faced the slow extinction of the world they knew as kids. A much less efficient rural economy had room for a lot more jobs, and a much more varied life, with pubs and clubs and more amenities and opportunities for socialisation and interaction.
A lot of that life has now gone, and aside from the summer season, these rural towns are very, very quiet. Outside the bigger towns (say, over 3000), you're probably only going to get a village with an RSL and a school. There just isn't much to do, and as the population get older and less mobile, the death spiral sets in.
It's too bad because I've met some of the best people and had some of the best times of my life in country towns, but it's a way of life that's under threat. If you're on to a good one (one that's latched on to some economic and social development), I'd say it could be the experience to make a lifetime - but those towns are increasingly hard to find.
Having lived in both Sydney and Melbourne ... now living in rural area of NSW for over 25 years.
It does depend upon what you are looking for.
Want a place to hide.. blend in with the background and massed crowds and be unnoticed.. then don't come to a country town !
Country towns are places where everyone will know your business soon enough. They are open and warm to new arrivals and do like to encourage them to take part in community. Best way to be with it..is go with the flow !
They do have a spirit of community and it shows just as much in good times and in periods of adversity.
Country folk do certainly look out for each other. Don't have family nearby..? Be prepared to be "adopted".
Be a loner and don't get involved...or heaven forbid....cross the locals and upset them, then it certainly will become depressing.
I live in a small country town in NSW and find it delightful. In the past I have lived in major cities - London, Manchester, Toronto, Montreal, Sydney, Chicago, Singapore and Hong Kong and they were amazing places, full of life, excitement and culture, perfect for a younger man engaged in a hi-tech profession.
But now, retired, busy as a writer and publisher, this small, arts-oriented town is ideal. I greet people when I go in for shopping or a haircut and occasionally at one of the really first class restaurants for breakfast or lunch and I feel very much at home. There's a lot of life, with markets of various kinds, schools where I do literacy projects, an arts and craft store that displays a remarkable range of artistic products from paintings, furniture, metalwork, leather products and books, mine and many other writers.
I would never go back to living in a city again.
I have recently been to Australia mainly NSW and stayed there for 2 months. I stayed in country town and city as well.
According to me Country towns are not depressing at all. People there are generous and more courteous when compared to people you meet in city( may be due to busy lifestyle). Whenever you pass by nearby streets, people greet you, people from your local supermarket start recognizing you. Once I was waking through next street, I remember one of the old guy, he was entering his house and then stopped after seeing me ( I was like 100 meters away), the only thing he intended was to greet me.
I've lived in city as well. People are nice there but a bit busy to really care about their neighbors. If you want happening nigh clubs and casinos, then city is the perfect place for you.
This is quite an interesting question. First of all, one must ask another. Why do people live in country towns? After all, we live in a huge country, with very large state capitals, two of which are Megapolis sized.
Life is what you make it no matter where you live. Defining your life by your surroundings seems a futile exercise. Surely if the things you desire in your life are not available where you live, then move. Unless you are somehow trapped. But then, make your world interesting where you live.
I moved from a very large city in Europe twenty years ago to a smallish coastal town in Queensland. Although there aren't the facilities offered by a huge city, there's plenty to keep me happy. Life is what you make of it. The bonuses of living in rural Australia are numerous, the cost of housing for a start.