Making a tree change: The weigh up

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Last week when we were cleaning out the garage, I sorted through an un-opened box from the day we moved in down here almost 4 years ago now.  There were a few sheets of paper, along with the real estate sheet with the the for sale details of our home. On the bits of paper were both Rob’s and my writing weighing  up the pros and cons of both the new house we were thinking of buying in the country (in which we now live), and our (then) existing terrace house that we lived in the inner west in Sydney. I remembered writing these lists…trying to sit down and think seriously about the change we were thinking of making and trying to be grown up about it (apparently a list qualifies as grown up) rather than just using our hearts which we seem to do with all important life decisions we have made since we have been together for the past 10 years.

The lists looked like this:

For the Sydney house the pros were…

  • close to friends and family
  • good support network
  • close to things we like – shops, cafes, restaurants
  • proximity to Rob’s work and like-minded creative people (snort)
  • close to parks (ha!)
  • good Schools

And the cons for Sydney house were…

  • busy road
  • no parking
  • noise from planes/traffic/roads/neighbours
  • size of the house that we would grow out of
  • no sense of space/room to escape from each other
  • not feeling part of a community
  • Beth being unhappy (this was mine in case you couldn’t figure that out!)
  • Children being stressed
  • pressure to keep up the pace of Sydney – lifestyle/work

The country house pros were…

  • Amazing house & garden
  • Quiet
  • fresh air/scenery/location
  • change of lifestyle
  • chance to live DIFFERENTLY
  • commit to community & being part of a community
  • Build a live WE want to live
  • friends & family to visit for quality time
  • more family time together
  • be proper grown ups (this was mine!)
  • doing something I have always wanted to do (again me)
  • time/space/impetus to get involved in things…in life
  • sound of the driveway (this was Rob’s and it is indeed a very good sound)
  • healthier lifestyle/eating
  • pub (it is a great pub)

And the cons for the country house:

  • away from family
  • no friends/knowing NO ONE
  • politics of small town
  • getting back into Sydney if we wanted to
  • isolation

Interesting don’t you think? It was for us to look back on at least. All the things we were afraid of, were the things that we “thought” we  “should” be concerned with.  The niggling negative thoughts that get into your head about anything really that we listen to because we think we should. That self doubting voice that says “you can’t do THAT” only really because you haven’t ever done it before. Doesn’t mean you can’t now does it?

The move for us, as you all know, has been the very best thing we have ever done. It was scary and unknown but we have thrown everything we have at it – and it has rewarded us a million times over. We are part of a REAL community and we participate actively in it. We have a better social life than we ever had before. The kids are happy. WE are happy. If you had told me this time 4 years ago and Rob and I would be going head to head in the pickle category of the local show, if we would be the President of the P&C (Rob freshly appointed), part of the School of Arts and RFS, working on a local festival, all while looking after CHOOKS, a veggie garden, a garden that required a RIDE ON MOWER I would have laughed in your face.

Just because you haven’t, doesn’t mean you can’t.

Are you a pro/con list maker?
Ever made a big life decision based on one?
Just who will take out pickles in a clear sauce…Rob or I?!


  1. Corrie Sebire says

    love this post! it is such a big change and dream but I have to say that I’ve always known my dream was to have a few acres and now I’m searching gumtree for the best price on a ride on mower! Love it!!!!!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      If it’s meant to be then it will happen. So exciting for you Corrie – it’s been a long time coming. It’s funny, we stumbled across our dream. Had never even contemplated it and now it’s the best thing we EVER did! So long held planned dreams, or stumbled across ones can both be wonderful x

  2. I love love love this. I’m very keen for a sea change after our work contract is up here but there are an awful lot of cons and worries that go with making a big change. Sometimes you jut have to do it think later x

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Exactly! Imagine if you knew about the REALLY hard work that kids can be? No one would do it. Do it, think later. Great motto. Good luck Carla!

  3. Mandi Jones says

    Big list maker here! Partly OCD, partly trying to be ‘grown up’ about decision making lol.
    PS we just bought a little tractor. Game changer!!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Tractor! Rural!

      • Mandi Jones says

        Nah, just a single acre in the back blocks. But the wee tractor helps us get the hard work done a LOT quicker and saves the poor hubster from getting too worn down and broken In the process. Best bit is that the 11yr old can drive it and help in a properly useful way.

  4. Annette Hill says

    I do love a list, and the older I get the more I am able trust my gut, particularly when it tells me to do something right for me but perhaps “wrong” to someone who isn’t walking in my shoes. Guess I’ve trained myself to be this way through years of list writing.

  5. Emma Steendam says

    We’re both big list writers, and have subsequently jotted down many a pros/cons list in our many and varied movements in homes, communities and jobs. We wrote one when deciding to leave our little cottage and beef property we managed (and loved) to return home to my family farm, we wrote another BIG important one when deciding to walk away from the god-awful situation that was and head north to work on cattle stations, live out of our ute indefinitely, homeless gypsies for no set period. More pros/cons written whilst on the road for opportunities that came our way for ‘when we came home’, another list deciding to move to South Australia, more lists whilst we were there weighing up whether to stay or not, then another big deal breaker game changer pros/cons list for our most recent big life decision. It’s exhausting just thinking about just how many lists we’ve written – ha! I think I still have a few stashed away somewhere…

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      It’s an interesting exercise to look back on them – I’ll be sure to keep any further ones I make down the track.

  6. My husband and I aren’t good with lists, we just do what ‘feels’ right. Fortunately that’s worked for us so far. A move to the country/beach is in our future though, we just don’t know when. We’ll probably outgrow this house in 4-5 years, and we both know that will be the time to make that decision. My parents made a similar decision to yours when my sister and I were 5 and 7. We went to the hills for a Mothers Day lunch on the Sunday. Pretty sure they made an offer on the house we moved to on the Monday. It was the most fabulous decision, we grew up with all those things on your pro-country list!

  7. Reannon Hope says

    Big list maker! Right now its pro’s & con’s of Tim starting his own business- a big, giant idea we have tossed around for about 5 years. I’m ready to throw caution to wind but Tim is still fence sitting….more lists will be made.

    As for your pickle question- I don’t eat them so I have no idea what makes a good one but I wish you both best of luck x

    P.S Date loaf still going strong 2 days later. I think its my new fave morning tea- Blake loves it too 🙂

  8. Gail Virgona says

    What a great posts. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we’re so glad, full of admiration and just a little bit jealous that you took the plunge. Best decision ever. Just let me know if a fab house in your neck of the woods comes up for sale. Makes me want to move!

  9. Gibbergunyah says

    If either of you win you could sell the pickles on Easter Saturday…
    We wrote lists about having kids or not – they are fascinating to look back on.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      We’d need to get organised for Easter Saturday now! Maybe I can do some for the School cake stall..great idea!

  10. Cecily Maher says

    we did our tree change last September, love it !!! I made a pros and cons list too, I love them, I once made one about a boyfriend in my early 20’s lol

  11. Cecily Maher says

    ps I get that sound of the driveway one too

  12. Yvonne Duke says

    I love making pro/con lists !! We made one before we moved here from Scotland 7 years ago, but still didn’t know if we were doing the right thing. Our children now say that we made the right decision and sometimes you do have to just go with your heart !!

  13. Cassandra McCredden says

    Hi Beth – My husband and I have been dreaming about the tree change since we married just over 2 years ago. That dream may be a reality by the end of the week, as it all hinges on a great work opportunity for him down south. Your post has been another ‘sign’ for me… I’ve had these same pros and cons going round my head. Fingers crossed we get good news in the next couple of days and the dream is that bit step closer!

  14. michelle barrington says

    Very timely post Beth as we are considering a possible tree change moving to Tasmania

  15. I made the move out of Melbourne to NE Vic which was and is a 2hrs drive away. Best thing I have ever done and I now I have 2.5 kids and counting…I love the people, the town, the slower pace, being able to walk everywhere and all the new friends I have made. I love my house and my little garden too.

  16. Chrisy Clay says

    Great post Beth. Really interesting to hear what you thought were the pros and cons of your tree change.
    No major moves or changes planned here, but agree that some reflection and writing always helps to clarify a situation or decision.
    Really glad that your move achieved everything you wanted ….. and more !!

  17. Sarah-Jane says

    We left Australia 12 years ago to join the life of an expat which turned out to be the best big life decision ever. I too would have laughed in faces if I was told 12 years ago that I was going to move to Indonesia, India, USA, Russia, Nigeria and then back to Russia. I have found the expat community very similar to my original small country town life in that you support each other, become like family to each other which gives you a great sense of belonging to a community in every place we have lived.

  18. I’m a big pros and cons list maker, but always end up going with my heart.

  19. I wrote a list like that quite recently. Happy to say the pros outweighed the cons and I made the leap! Yee-ha!

  20. Yep, we wrote a similar list when we were contemplating our big move. It never entered my head that we would live in the Middle East and that we would be HAPPY! The happiest we’ve been in our family life. Such a big scary leap, but oh so worth it. Our life in the inner west of Sydney seems like a million years ago. We were definitely looking for something, we just didn’t know what that something was until it was presented to us.

    I can’t wait to hear who takes out the pickles!

  21. Linda Jenkins says

    We only have 1 of our kids left at school so when he is done in 3 years time ,my husband and I want to make a seachange. We chose to bring our 3 kids up in the suburb in which we both grew up. – partly for family and schools. I love a list so I will share some of your thoughts with my husband as we work towards this new phase of our life. thanks for sharing.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      No worries Linda – good luck with your decision making. Even if you don’t go one way it’s fun to have a dream and a what if about it!

  22. MotherDownUnder says

    Nothing like a good list!
    It would be so interesting to take a look back on a list like that…to see what I was thinking at the time.

    Good luck with the pickles!

  23. I’m a pro and con-list girl myself although I have made some fairly scary decisions using my tried and true; eanie, meanie, miney, moe. It hasn’t let me down yet. Have fun canning!

  24. Alli @ ducks on the dam says

    No list making here for our move – 7 weeks from “should we?” to moving into our new rental house in the country. Love that you kept the list

  25. SUCH a pro/con-er. Although I didn’t do one for Melbourne, I just knew it was right. Looking at this list, the answer was glaringly obvious 🙂

  26. Keep Warm (Danielle) says

    I kind of love this. The idea of doing something differently than you ever had before is terrifying and freeing.

  27. We’ve been doing the hard slog…trying to buy in the inner west for about 18 months (we currently rent in Summer Hill/Leichhardt)…anxiety riddled weekend after anxiety riddled weekend; prices are now off the charts. BUT…we spent this weekend inspecting properties in Bowral/Moss Vale/Mittagong and we’re super close to making an offer. The tree change list was only written a week ago! I think it just feels right…plus can’t wait to win the meat tray at the pub 🙂

  28. Coming to this post late. If you’re still reading the comments, how did you find the right small town? I’d love to move my family from the city but I’m a pretty left-wing, crunchy person (I sense you are too). My family is also multi-faith, and really more spiritual than subscribing to any one institution (read: non-churchy). I didn’t grow up in Australia so my home city is all I know. My husband grew up more in the country and says that he remembers the smaller towns being pretty closed minded communities, which scares me.

    How did you get a read on your village? Besides the house, what spoke to you to say this was the right fit?


    • We totally winged it. We literally had no idea and really did no due diligence at all on it (which in hindsight seems crazy but it seemed to work). This village is VERY conservative but you make do and try not to get too frustrated. All the other stuff makes up for it!


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