THERE'S nothing quite like a walk in the brisk winter air for Teneille Rennick, after all it's a chance to get to know her new community of Orange a little better.
Along with her two young children, the trio made the tree change from Sydney to the Central West of NSW in January this year.
They're among a growing horde of people who are flocking to regional Australia, with Orange's population jumping by 14 per cent - from 38,057 to 43,512 people - during the last decade.
People living in regional areas are more hopeful, content and optimistic than those in the cities, Heartbeat of Australia Survey data shows.
Ms Rennick agrees, saying that she's found country people to be more welcoming and open to new friendships.
"I'm out and I'm wanting to meet people and I'm wanting to establish neighbours and friendships," she said.
"In Sydney I think I was so focused on living my life, that you don't go to a playground and strike up a conversation with the hope of striking up a friendship. Here people are more willing to exchange numbers."
It's not only Orange's wide open spaces and wintry atmosphere that appealed to Ms Rennick, its airport links, wineries and with two children - Harrison, 5, and Elsie, 2 - it was vital the city has good education facilities.
"The community and education prospects are really strong. There's the wineries and the food scene, there's patches of culture that are on par with the city," she said.
"Orange for me ticks all those boxes."
ACM research director Alex Mihalovich said the Heartbeat of Australia Survey considered what regional Aussies were planning to do within the next year.
"Regional Australians are much more likely to plan domestic travel, buy furniture, home appliances and renovate their homes in the next 12 months," he said.
Ms Rennick is among the 78 per cent of regional residents who plan to take a domestic holiday, compared to the 59 per cent of metro residents planning to travel in Australia.
While she's still in the planning stages, she admits her family's holiday will probably be to the beach somewhere.
Mr Mihalovich said affordable housing and good quality phone and internet connections are "the big issues among regional communities, on average 16 per cent and 14 per cent respectively poorer compared to cities".
Connectivity in Orange was key to allowing Ms Rennick to finalise her move to the area while keeping her job.
"Because of COVID, remote working was proven and I'm able to get my job done and get it done well," she said.
Survey results showed regional people want to see more big businesses supporting their local communities.
"For a long time local businesses have advertised directly to regional communities, however this study reveals there is a big opportunity for national brands to do the same in regional areas," Mr Mihalovich said.
"More than half of the respondents believe big brands place more value on people from capital cities [52 per cent] and as a result are seeing a lack of big brand local advertising, yet 67 per cent value those brands that support their community and 70 per cent prefer advertising that is localised."
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