A small town in the Australian Outback offered free land to draw in new residents. It worked almost too well.
Officials in the rural town of Quilpie, Queensland have been overwhelmed by more than 250 inquiries from as far afield as Britain, India, and Hong Kong, although only Australias or permanent residents are eligible, according to the Associated Press. Quil[pie, home to just 800 people, launched the program two weeks ago,
The Quilpie Shire Council is offering a grant equivalent to $9,400 to anyone who buys land, builds a house there for less than $560,000 and lives in it for at least six months. Quarter-acre blocks of land sell for about $9,400, so the land is effectively free.
“If we could get five new families to the shire, for us that would be a massive success,” said Quilpie Shire Council Chief Executive Justin Hanock. “To see the interest, it was a little overwhelming.”
Hancock conceived of the idea soon after he moved to Quilpie and lived in a retirement village for six months because he couldn’t find any housing. The council’s goal was to boost housing stock, the lack of which has made it hard for local ranchers to fill jobs.
Most interest came from the Queensland capital of Brisbane, about 600 miles east on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
Towns across the world have turned to similar novel programs to attract residents and boost their economies.
Curtis, Nebraska and Marne, Iowa each offered to give away land to anyone who builds a house there.
Kansas is offering income tax exemptions for people who move to a select 77 counties in the state.
The Pennsylvania town of Monessen, outside Pittsburgh, recently offered to wipe back taxes on any vacant property if a new owner commits to renovating it.
[AP] — Dennis Lynch