Making a tree change: 4 years on


It’s been a whole year since this post. So that means a whole 4 years since this post. 4 years today since we arrived in our house, cars packed up, goldfish sitting in the front seat, girls strapped into car seats. A teeny Harper, not yet 1, and a 3 year old Daisy ready to start our new family adventure. My goodness the things we have done over these past 4 years – the changes we have made each individually and as a family. Hands down it still remains as one of the best things we have EVER done. A truly life changing experience for us, and I can’t imagine NOT living in the country, living this blessed life that we do.

Last night I was at book club with a collection of people from the village – a group of us who have all been here from less than 12 months to 14 years ago. We talked about how each and every one of us (there were 5 of us there) had all discovered our village through happenstance and bought our houses (in a way) on a whim. I think this town chooses the people that live here – not the other way around. All of us told our stories of how we had either seen the house first, and then the village second and then instantly fallen in love and made the (often rash) decision to move here not long after. We did the same – I sat in my office job in North Sydney “working” with google maps and domain open looking at towns in a 2 hour radius of Sydney. I saw our house online, visibly took a sharp intake of breath, and sent it to Rob, who replied that he liked the white house. Man, so did I.

Living in a small country town is a wonderful thing. The sense of community, the feeling of belonging, being able to put in as much or as little as you want. The beautiful scenery, the freedom for our kids, the serenity. At times it’s like living somewhere back in time. Of course it comes with everyone knowing ALL OF THE THINGS about you, and discussing and dissecting it at length. It comes with people saying that you are taking over when at times you are just trying to breathe new life into old traditions. It comes with people complaining when you take a step back. It comes with gossip, and he said/she said. It takes balance, a fine art of working hard when required and stepping back at other times. The things I have learnt about humans and human connections and relationships over these past years – THAT would have to be my biggest learning about making a “tree change”. Sure there has been the benefits to us a family, my own self development, our beautiful home, feeling connected to a community…all that sure, but wow, the way my mind has opened up to how we connect as humans to each other. That.

Politics. Committee members. Social status. Friendships. It all gets magnified when you are in a small town. All the bits that make us work as groups of communities show up more when there are less of you. There is less chance to hide in our homes as we leave in the morning, and come home at night when you live in the city – head down, bum up, and all that. For all the learnings I know a couple of things to be true for me and my family. Work hard. Contribute. Be nice and kind to everyone. Give whatever skills you have to as many groups as you can. Talk to people. As many different people as you can. Have fun. Don’t take things SO seriously. Don’t bitch or complain. Know when to step up and when to not put your hand up (this one requires some more work on it from me). You get whatever out of what you put in.

And when we sit at an event (like this one) or the cake stall at the Easter MarketΒ or at the festival or the ballΒ or any number of them that we have in this village throughout the year I pinch myself that I get to call this place home. That these collection of humans we live with: retirees, farmers, artists, tree changers, all these GOOD people who all work hard for our village that we live in, we are ALL such good people. Lucky people.

And I’m so glad that this village chose us too.


This gorgeous Mozi tablecloth is called the Village and I am so glad that I managed to buy it for our table.

Have you made a tree change? What has been the biggest thing you have got out of it?
Live in a small town? What are your challenges?


  1. Gorgeous words Beth. x

  2. Just a little teary reading this.

    Our little village was so lucky the day you found that white house from North Sydney.

    Life changing indeed. Xxx

  3. Oh Beth, my husband and I have always planned to move to a regional area in Victoria, we haven’t decided which one yet. With 2 small boys (nearly 2 and 6 weeks) we talked recently how that move may come sooner than we thought, perhaps in the next couple of years. But just yesterday we decided to wait, to enjoy our little home in the burbs. We have a fabulous kinder and primary school close by, are about 200m from an oval, a playground, a creek, a walking track/bike path, and most importantly, we have our ‘village’ here, my mothers group, friends, family, so we are going to spend a little (more!) money on our home with the plan to stay a little/lot longer! But I read your post, and it rings so true for me…I know it will happen one day.

    • No, just move!! Regional Victoria is the best! We moved from Melbourne to West Gippsland and it has been the best thing EVER! I promise there is a new village waiting for you to join, and I must admit that it seems easier to join these villages with smaller children.

    • If it’s meant to happen it will – I truly believe that!

    • Just my two cents worth – it is harder to do a big change once kids have started school, kindy etc. Obviously it can be done, it’s just harder with a lot more guilt. I’ve done the move with a toddler and it was soooo exciting getting to know a new area, friends, community groups etc. Contemplating a change now is A LOT more weighty. But they say change is good for growth anyway. My husband moved country when he was 8 and remembers it as a pivitol moment in his life πŸ™‚

  4. We made the tree change 3 months ago from Leichhardt to the Southern Highlands. We have gotten to know the community more in 3 months than we did during our 5 years at Leichhardt. There is also a genuine interest and offer to help settle in that still blows me away. I’m also loving the space advantages. From a 2 bed semi to a home with enough room to have its own office and a backyard that means we can have chickens and a vegetable garden. I could go on, but I’ll stop!

  5. I think I must have met you about a week after you moved. I remember baby Harpy in Nappies! Your village is lucky to have you and Rob. Now take a 6 month break and watch the Kardashians! xx

  6. I would love love love to but fear is still holding me back. Would my kids (and I) cope with the change after already doing an enormous move from England 4 years ago??? Will we miss the beach?? Watch this space …….

  7. Gibbergunyah says

    I’ve been in a large town (but small community) for 15 years. The biggest challenges have been work and limited options as a health professional. As my uncle, who also moved away from the city said; “You can have a job in the country but not a career”. I moved for the job and if I leave it, I would have to move again, as there aren’t that many around. The alternative is a long commute to the city. The small community is a blessing, although maintaining privacy for my children can be tricky because of my work. I’m and introvert and a fairly private person, which can be hard in a small place.

    The wonderful things are space, quiet, and freedom and independence for our children. We walk to everything; schools, libraries, shops, cafΓ©s, cinema, library, train station, swimming pool and my work. We’re not tied to a large mortgage, and Because of this I was able to have several years maternity leave. I love it and would hate to move.

  8. You two and the girls are like a breath of fresh air in the village.

  9. After returning from NZ where we visited my in-laws, who live in the country, I often think about whether my kids would enjoy it more there. I grew up in a very small town and I loved it, however all of the things you spoke about, eg about the dissection of who does what, is probably why I wouldn’t do it. I’ve been there, it was fine but if I can live reasonably anonymous then I prefer to, says she who blogs about all manner of personal things online. I want acreage 15 minutes from where we are now, it’s my goal and now I just have to work hard to make it happen, oh and there’s the small matter of convincing the husband! You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. x

  10. Katie clews says

    we sold up almost 5 yrs ago.. Did the big move from city Brisbane to Hervey Bay.. Best move ever. I grew up here so I was familiar with the place plus my parents still live here. We built our house and with the money we made on our Bris home we are now mortgage free and we just love the sea change .. The financial freedom is just awesome … Hubby is a self employed carpenter so no pressure to make mortgage payments etc.. We are very happy !

  11. I always get emo reading these posts Beth!! We moved just over two years ago from the city and just like you it was the best thing ever. Whilst I love visiting the city now, spending just half an hour driving in that traffic does my fucking head in!! How do people do that every day?!

  12. This is such a beautiful reflection on the past 4 years. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Beth.
    I’ve been getting a pang deep down in my soul for a sea change / tree change. I know it’s not destined in our near future, but I can’t help but think in years from now it will happen. And I look forward to our town choosing us. x

  13. I moved from Melbourne to East Gippsland 15 years ago. I’ve lived in various small towns since moving to this area, and have loved meeting the locals and not so locals and feeling part of a community.

  14. It has been 4 years for us too. Best thing we ever did, so many wonderful things have happened in 4 years. I still miss all the friends and family we left behind, but I love that we have lots of overnight visitors and vica versa. My kids are now country kids not city kids and they love the freedom they get to enjoy every single day.

  15. Lisa Mckenzie says

    I love this post Beth ,you made the right decision that’s for sure Xx

  16. Hi Beth, you may remember I emailed you around a year ago after seeing your house on Houzz and reading about your tree change. Been following your blog since and I really enjoy it, you have such a talent for putting into words so many of the things that I think with 3 kids under 6!
    We moved from Sydney to Tasmania one year ago and have not looked back. We’ve never regretted a minute and it has exceeded our expectation.
    Community – knowing and being involved with people from different places, different age groups, instead of the same ‘work’ crew or just the same age group or demographic.
    I will never tire of the space, beauty, fresh air and belief that life will deliver. We came here with no jobs etc, but it’s all coming together and in the most unexpected and wonderful ways!
    It is so worth taking the leap, our kids love it too, and the cities are always there to visit if we want a blast of consumerism, noise, colour and high energy!
    PS: For the lady thinking of making the change in VIC, have a look at Point Lonsdale/Bellarine – great schools, community, we lived there for 3 years and it was wonderful, just moved here cos we love Tassie and could get a lot more bang for our buck!

  17. We made our tree change just over a month ago. I’ve always wanted to live on a nice size block away from the city. Hubby & I started talking about it earlier this year, as something we would look at doing in the next few years. Well, after looking at prices in “semi-rural” areas nearer to Brisbane, I randomly started looking on a little further out. Took a drive to Gympie one public holiday and fell in love with the landscape and the main street. Came up a couple of weekends later to check out a few properties and ended up falling in love with a lovely little 3bedroom house on 5 acres, about 15mins from town.
    Loving the quiet & peacefulness we get here, plus the abundance of wildlife, which for some keen nature photographers and bird watchers is a bonus!
    We’re 2hrs from Brisbane which isn’t too bad when it comes to visiting family & friends, but have everything else we need right here πŸ™‚ Couldn’t be happier! I can’t wait to be able to raise my family here πŸ™‚

  18. Nearly 7 years ago to the day my 4 year old had to have a party in the local park after preschool with the world’s most expensive bought cupcakes because our entire house had been packed up and was on route to the Southern Highlands. There is not a day that goes by that I am not taken aback by this gorgeous place and am so grateful for the community that welcomed us with open arms. Five years in London and I barely met a soul and after 2 weeks here people were saying hello in the street, and now my kids and husband refuse to come to the Farmers Markets with me. I am so glad we plucked up the courage and closed our eyes and just hopped on that freeway down here.

  19. Beth, this story and the stories your readers are sharing here give me a wee pang of something – not jealousy, maybe a pang of wishing I had courage like this. I have toyed with moving to a regional town, but I’m in no position to up sticks and do it. If I moved for a job alone, that could go so wrong, and being a single gal and a homebody, I’d worry about being a introvert and a newbie. I love that I get to see out your windows, see your lives flourishing in the village that chose you. It’s beautiful.

  20. We did a bit of an extreme tree change – we moved from Sydney to run the family farm where my husband grew up. As a city girl, it has been quite an education for me, learning all about farming (still lots more to learn), and living in a very small rural community. I have a rule that I never say anything to anyone unless I am happy for the whole town to know what I said because the bush telegraph is working well out here.

    3 years in, and I can’t imagine going back, though 4 hours is a long drive to visit my family. It really has been the best thing for our family!

    • Ha! Sounds amazing Jo. I also try and say yes to everything because you just never know who you might meet! Good luck with your adventure πŸ™‚

  21. Hi Beth, this is not really related to this post, but I am trying to figure out Mac Photo book and wondering how you save your project along the way without deleting everything. I seem to be able to go back, but lose the photos I haven’t put in yet. Thank you. Have a great evening. Georgia

    • I think so – if you just leave the book it does save it I think – I most definitely have done that and come back to it over the course of a few weeks. Good luck!

  22. I discovered your blog two years ago when I made the tree change from Sydney to the Highlands. We started in Bowral but have just bought down the hill from you in the next village and it is the best thing we have ever done! I love living here and moving from “Town” to a smaller village has made it even better:) I love my new garden, I love the schools and neighbours, I love that my children are growing up surrounded by warm, generous people and beautiful views. And a pub that welcomes children!! We spend so much time outside since leaving the inner west in Sydney. Our cramped courtyard filled with cigarette smoke and cafe fumes and the noise from buses and drunk pub goers drove me mad!! Now I listen to birds and trains and lawn mowers and I love it. My kids life is just what childhood should be- trees and flowers and seeing cows and sheep and horses out the car window! I came to the festival and it was brilliant! I wanted to buy everything!! I agree that your beautiful village is lucky to have you and although I’m sure it was exhausting it was so worth all your hard work and enthusiasm. Thank you for sharing your journey- I love reading your highs and lows and picking up the local hot tips:)

  23. It is a beautiful, beautiful place and it’s perfect for you, Beth. x

  24. Hi Beth, I came across your wonderful blog as my husband and I (and our 2 little girls; Viv 8 months and Maddie-4) are thinking about making a change from Sydneys lower north shore to Bowral/Mittagong area.
    I do have my reservations; I wonder if a country town can fulfil me as i’m quite a social person and like cafe, shopping lifestyle as well as a good chat with good friends. We won’t know ANYONE in Bowral!

    I’m quite a social mum but am worried that I will be ‘bored’ somewhat. I know there are decent high schools in the area but is it a good place for kids to grow up or is the demographic still majority retirees?
    Its crazy we are even thinking this, but its looking like a very doable option for us.. escape the rat race and start living.

    • NO! There are so many wonderful and interesting young people down here – I can’t keep up with our social life down here…seriously. I love it and can’t recommend the area highly enough.

      • Thanks for the reply Beth. Are there particular suburbs in the highlands that are more popular with younger families? Good news is we have decided to pack up and rent next year to see if we like it enough to commit to buying!

        • No they are all full of young families…each of them. If you wanted to be near more of activity and shops Moss Vale or Bowral are good places to start! Good luck πŸ™‚

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