Back in the 90s, it was almost cliched – everyone looking for a treechange wanted to buy the small community church and whack a mezzanine in it.
Twenty years later, it’s not such an ideal situation, this rural life. Especially with families caught in the vicious circle of having to work in the city to afford a mortgage, which, due to the fact it’s on a home located near the big city, requires both partners to work in order to pay for it.
But if you’re one of the lucky ones weaning themselves off the office for a desk at home or in a regional co-op workspace, it’s a great time to reignite your fantasy for divine digs.
In Victoria alone, nearly 150 churches have shut their doors forever since 2009. That’s more than one a fortnight, across all denominations, and a quick search of any real estate site will pull up a surprising fruitful selection.
Reality TV’s made everyone an interior decorator these days. And there’s no better place to start than a big empty room with dark wood and hopefully some lovely stained glass.
Here’s some great examples on the market right now.
Middlingbank, NSW – $160,000
It’s tiny and lacks sandstone grandeur, but you get three acres and a short walk to Lake Eucumbene. Remember, Jesus was a fisher of men, so you’ll have God on your side every time you cast a fly. View listing.
Campbell Town, Tas – $295,000+
Religious bang for your buck doesn’t get any better than this, although you are stuck halfway between the Tasmanian cities of Launceston and Hobart roughly an hour either way. That said, Campbell Town is a busy little stopover, and early Victorian Gothic Revival sandstone church (c1857) is both stunning and comes with 1.34 acres in the middle of town, beautiful stained glass windows and an extra sandstone outbuilding. View listing.
Tarnagulla, Vic – $350,000+
Just west of Bendigo, this is a beautiful red brick Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church dating back to 1864. It’s bang in the middle of the goldfields and with three bedrooms and an altar, it’s ready to go as a residence or holiday accommodation. View listing.
Talbot, Victoria – $365,000
Another goldfields bargain, St Andrews Presbyterian sits on the edge of the Golden Triangle between Bendigo and Ballarat. It’s a 150-year-old two-bedder that has some stunning original features inside and out, but with a modern kitchen and bathroom. On half an acre, it’s already an established holiday rental brining in around $15,000 per annum. View listing.
Crystal Creek, NSW – $390,000
This one’s a bit further into the interior, located a short drive west of Murwillumbah in Northern NSW. But it’s very pretty and is on the day-trippers’ tourist route out of the Gold Coast and Brisbane if you’re keen to run a cafe. The hall is virtually untouched and well maintained, with all the living quarters upstairs. View listing.
Ballarat, Vic – $780,000
St Cuthberts Church has had all the modern hard work done inside and still looks the biz on the outside. Your right on the edge of Lake Wendouree and surrounded by some of the best schools in Victoria. A steal in comparison to Melbourne prices and just over an hour away by train. View listing.
Portarlington, Vic – $1.25m
Located on the tip of the hip Bellarine Peninsula out in Port Phillip Bay, here’s an 1800s Methodist Church with views of Melbourne and just a short stroll to the ocean. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, the mandatory mezzanine level and exposed beams, all within triple brick rendered walls to keep the southern chill out. The surf beaches of Torquay and the Great Ocean Road are an easy escape if the sanctity of living in your own church isn’t grabbing you. View listing.
Lalla, Tas – $1.9m
The church is small and expensive by Tasmanian standards, but it comes with a vineyard producing six varieties of cool climates, a tastings and function centre and a lakeside marquee area. The Leaning Church Vineyard is just 20 minutes out of Launceston on the celebrated Tamar Valley Wine Route. It includes a new four-bedroom home and, in their own words the sav blanc is “as mindblowing as your first morning glory or a squirrel grip after a vasectomy”. So there’s that, too. View listing.
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