What No-one Tells You; the Secret ‘Rules’ of Living in Regional Australia


What No-one Tells You; the Secret ‘Rules’ of Living in Regional Australia

There is no doubt the culture of many regional towns (particularly larger towns and regional cities) is shifting.

This shift has been happening gradually over decades as previous city dwellers shift for work relocation and more relaxed, affordable lifestyles. The sheer cost of living (and affordability of country living) indicates this will no doubt increase into the future.

Despite the changing culture, there is still a set of secret ‘rules’ which govern regional life. Unlike Commonwealth, State and Local Government rules there is no Hansard nor meeting minutes to tell the unsuspecting newcomer about the rules. In fact, as if decreed by a secret ‘cow cockie court’ the rules are generally only discovered by running slap bang into them and making mistakes.

So, what are these secret rules? Read on:

1. Business/social relationships are blurred but should not be exploited.

The smaller population size of regional communities can mean you bump into your service providers in the community as well as in their offices. Yes, it’s likely that the GP who administered your pap smear on Tuesday could be the parent standing shoulder to shoulder with you at the kid’s soccer training on Wednesday.

Hot tip: If you do run into your service provider at a social occasion utilise the opportunity to build the relationship, not launch into a business conversation.

2. The community is closer than you may think.

Need a recommendation? Ask anyone, it’s likely they will know someone or at least someone who knows someone.

Hot tip: Build a network of recommenders you can trust. You will identify these people as the breadth of their recommendations will extend beyond their family and friends and the services recommended will always be quality.

3. Family networks are as broad as they are deep.

There is every chance that your butcher’s mother is the second cousin once removed of your new neighbour. Mess with the neighbour and expect some special ingredients in your mince. Of course, there is always a chance the butcher actually loathes that cousin. The risk is in your hands.
Hot tip: Just assume everyone is related in some way and don’t make associated jokes about what that has done to the gene pool, that’s the privilege of the long-term locals.

4. Gossip is a commodity.

Don’t be misled by gossip you hear indicating a general tone of discord among two parties; it’s just as likely they are best buddies every other day. While country folk may outwardly irritate one another on a regular basis, they also have a strong sense of loyalty and compassion when a fellow resident needs help (or defence against an unknown entity).

Hot tip: Believe 36.5% of what you hear via gossip channels and 3% of the intent in which it is delivered and learn to nod more than speak.

5. Parochialism is alive and well.

Think your community could do with a change of any sort? While it may seem the residents of your community are oblivious to outside opportunities and change you are likely to find they are very aware, however, have avoided the conversation because of the battle they know will ensue.

Hot tip: If you are hell-bent on creating change in your town have others (note, more than one) on your side before you launch into action. If you are still confused, watch Leadership Lessons with the Dancing Guy.

6. Alcohol is one determining factor in your trustability.

As Australia’s relationship with alcohol gradually shifts, booze is still a go-to regional relationship builder. In fact, it’s likely imbibing on at least a few occasions will build trust with your chosen circle.

Hot tip: Aside from all health-related tips, don’t decide to snot (or snog) the wrong person and know your limits. Someone who ‘can’t hold their grog’ is likely to be as much of a social outcast as someone who didn’t start in the first place.

7. There is an underpinning sense of pride.

No matter what you hear people say about their community, just below the surface is a bulging sense of pride when activated you will notice a twinkle in the eye. This is where the good stuff lies and showcases what is unique and loveable about a community.

Hot tip: Ask people what they love/admire/enjoy about their community, their responses will intrigue and delight you.

So, what happens to the unsuspecting newcomer who falls foul to one of these rules? It’s quite likely first-time offenders will be adorned with a loving label such as ‘Johnny come lately’, ‘uptown’ or even ‘up yourself’.

But, never fear, there is always redemption, but that will be the topic of a future post.

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