ABC's Escape From The City explores the appeal of regional living, so we asked a local how well the show sells the place he calls home

The hosts of ABC TV's Escape From The City, from left, Jane Hall, Simon Marnie, Del Irani, Bryce Holdaway and Dean Ipaviz.
The hosts of ABC TV's Escape From The City, from left, Jane Hall, Simon Marnie, Del Irani, Bryce Holdaway and Dean Ipaviz.

ABC series Escape from the City - based on UK show Escape to the Country - follows ordinary people searching for a sea- or tree-change property.

Actress Jane Hall hosts alongside buyer's agent Bryce Holdaway, finance journalist Del Irani, carpenter Dean Ipaviz and radio presenter Simon Marnie.

The new season begins on Thursday June 18 (at 8.30pm) at Shoalhaven Heads on the NSW South Coast, so we asked a local in the know how well the show sells big-city Australia on the region he's proud to call home.

By John Hanscombe, South Coast Register editor

Two things about ABC TV's Escape From The City have undermined this household's longstanding ban on reality TV.

One, we're property pervs and any opportunity for a lounge based house inspection is grasped with relish. We love a good sticky beak. "Nice house but what's with the blue furniture?" "These industrial style kitchens are so five minutes ago, now celebrity chefs have gone off the boil."

Two, we escaped the city years ago and this program, based on a UK series, vinidcates that decision - especially seeing what our city friends have endured during the pandemic.

It makes us feel a teeny weeny bit smug - actually, a lot smug, if truth be told.

The show follows a strict formula. Guest wants to escape the city grind and build a new life among the trees or the by the sea. Host profiles preferred region, picks four likely properties within stated budget. Guest visits all four, gives feedback.

The June 18 episode features the Shoalhaven, just in time to whet the appetites of the hordes of post-lockdown escapees who spent the long weekend in the region just two hours' south of Sydney.

Escape From the City host Simon Marnie guides western Sydney retirees Kim and Graham on their hunt for a house in the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast.

Escape From the City host Simon Marnie guides western Sydney retirees Kim and Graham on their hunt for a house in the Shoalhaven region of the NSW South Coast.

Kim and Graham are newly retired and keen to leave their western Sydney home for the South Coast. She's a beach-shacky type, arty and a little romantic. He's more practical. Into golf, he wants a maintenance-free, modern house.

She sees potential in the houses that clearly need work; he sees in them, well, work. Lots of work. Eye-rolling work. He's had more than 40 years of it and clearly has had enough.

We're given the tourist spiel about how wonderful the region is. Pull-focus shots of empty beaches, white sands, birdlife, all accompanied by cheesy promo music. We can forgive all that because it's pleasing to see the place in which we live showcased so favourably.

Again, the smug button is pressed.

Escape From The City hosts, from left, radio presenter Simon Marnie, actress Jane Hall, buyer's agent Bryce Holdaway, finance journalist Del Irani and carpenter Dean Ipaviz.

Escape From The City hosts, from left, radio presenter Simon Marnie, actress Jane Hall, buyer's agent Bryce Holdaway, finance journalist Del Irani and carpenter Dean Ipaviz.

Mind you, we do chuckle when Kim says about one house at Shoalhaven Heads that it will catch the sea breeze in summer. Locals call that breeze the nor-easter and it howls from 10am most days, rattling windows, singing in the powerlines, ruining the surf and blowing sand all through the house.

But it's the prices the houses are commanding that really interest us. Nothing under $700,000, which is a bargain by city standards but healthy in this region.

Property is like blue chip shares. You buy it, put it in the bottom drawer and let it grow. Watch prices daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly and you'll only make yourself anxious. But check it every couple of years and you're likely to be pleasantly surprised.

Might just organise some market appraisals now.

The July 2 episode of Escape From The City follows Mark and Phil, from Sydney's trendy inner-city suburb of Newtown, as they explore tree-change home options in the Macleay Valley of northern NSW with host Dean Ipaviz, left.

The July 2 episode of Escape From The City follows Mark and Phil, from Sydney's trendy inner-city suburb of Newtown, as they explore tree-change home options in the Macleay Valley of northern NSW with host Dean Ipaviz, left.

The June 25 episode of Escape From The City features a retired inner-city Melbourne couple seeking resort-style living on the Sunshine Coast and the July 2 episode follows Mark and Phil, from Sydney's trendy inner-city suburb of Newtown, as they embark on a career- and tree-change to where Phil grew up, in the Macleay Valley of northern NSW.

The July 9 show heads from Perth to Broome, the July 16 episode explores Byron Bay and on July 23, Jane Hall helps a Melbourne family with two toddlers look for a new life near the NSW and Queensland border.

Escape From The City, 8.30pm Thursday, ABC

This story When city folk go house hunting in the regions: What the locals say first appeared on The Canberra Times.