Thinking of making a sea/tree change? Read this!

Each and every week (almost day at the moment) I get questions from readers about making tree changes. They ask all kinds of questions…how do you make the decision? How do you choose an area to live? What about school? What about missing the city? What about this? Or that? THIS! DID YOU THINK ABOUT THIS BETH?!

I don’t have all the answers of course! But I do have my experience to go off, and now that we are coming up to almost 7 years of living here, and 7 years on the weekend to the day that we bought this house, I thought I might try and help some of you out with those questions.

When we left Sydney and our inner west terrace in Camperdown we looked like this:

And now we kind of look like this. But bigger. This is almost 2 years old now too.

Yes Daisy is pretty much the same size as me now (we can share shoes) and Harper is about to turn 8. 8! Somehow we have 3 kids, and have now lived in our small country village for 7 years. Maggie & Harps wouldn’t know any different than living here. But I guess it all doesn’t seem that long ago for me now that we were working out what to do.

Why did we make the move?

As I have shared recently at my events we made the move for a variety of reasons but mostly because we were unhappy. Life was not enjoyable in any way, we were living but not really living you know? Days were a blur of early morning daycare drop offs, working in corporate world and then rushing to get to daycare and get home only to do it all again tomorrow. So much rushing, but getting no where. You can read some of the back story from the blog in these posts:

THE ONE WHERE I QUIT MY JOB
THE ONE WHERE THE SEED TO MAKE A CHANGE WAS PLANTED
THE ONE WHERE I GOT REALLY EXCITED ABOUT MAYBE MOVING AND FEELING ALIVE
THE ONE WHERE WE MADE AN OFFER ON OUR HOUSE
THE ONE WHERE OUR DECISION WAS MADE…WE WERE MOVING!

And then once we were down here I have written some posts on how it has gone for us:

THE ONE WHERE WE MOVED IN
THE TREE CHANGE 1 YEAR ON RECOLLECTION
THE TREE CHANGE 2 YEARS ON RECOLLECTION
THE TREE CHANGE 3 YEARS ON RECOLLECTION
THE TREE CHANGE 4 YEARS ON RECOLLECTION
THE TREE CHANGE 5 YEARS ON RECOLLECTION
THE WEIGH UP

For us, it’s been the best decision we have ever made and there isn’t a day that goes by when I am not thankful that we completely jumped in the deep end and just did it rather than um-ed and ah-ed and wondered and overthought it…we just did it. Thank goodness we did it!

But that’s not for everyone of course! Rob and I have always just jumped and waited for it to work out later, that’s who we are. There’s SO much to consider…distance from friends and family, job opportunities, where to live, where to send the kids to school, what about what they miss out on etc etc etc. But for all of those questions, there is always an answer, maybe it’s not there right away, but eventually you will figure it out.

We were able to make the move because of Rob’s work (he works in video production and can be anywhere for a shoot and it doesn’t matter where his studio is as long as the client gets the files) which can be done online. I managed to make a career from writing (on the blog, freelance etc) so I am lucky enough to work from home too. We are LUCKY in that respect for sure and was one of the reasons we even considered the change in the first place.

There are so many things to consider before making the move but here are some of the things that I usually get asked and points that I bring up in those emails.

Solo or both of you?

Lots of people (moving down to the Highlands at least) have partners or themselves who will still be working in Sydney due to the short distance being away. I guess when thinking about that you have to consider what that means for YOU. Will you be home alone with the kids all the time? How would that make you feel? The novelty of being in the country collecting eggs could soon wear off when the septic fills and you are home alone and know NO ONE. Think about how your week will look: how many days you will be alone and how many together and have a think about your coping in that arrangement. There are more and more women living solo down here in particular during the week and loving that so you never know what the right thing might be for you…and your ability to cope will grow ten fold as you build resilience and start a new life.

Choosing a place to live

I get asked a lot from people coming down to the Highlands how do you know where you will live or which village to choose? What’s right for us might not be for you – it’s definitely something that depends on closeness to highways, schools or any specific communities that you may want to move to. I would HIGHLY recommend coming down to the area that you are interested in and staying there for a few days to weeks even if you can. Without staying in the area it’s hard to know who the people are that live there (younger families in particular) what the amenities are, what the school is like etc. The more times you can come and check in the more idea you will get it. Have a think about your commute and how much extra time your location is to the highway. Our village for instance is actually  30 mins before you get to the highway and sometimes that extra difference can make all the difference – too far for some.

Driving

The biggest surprise to me (and to my sister too when she moved down here) was how much time we spend in the car. SO MUCH TIME. SO MUCH TIME. To get to the shops it can be a 1 hour return trip. When the girls were at Preschool outside of the village it was even more trips…you can do well over 500kms a week without even thinking about it. If you don’t like to drive…don’t move down here to the Highlands that’s for sure.

Work

Have a think about work opportunities in the area. Are you looking to work perhaps in a few years time when the kids are back at school and is there opportunities that will allow you to jump back into your industry. Rural communities can have less areas (and as I said earlier the reason we were able to make the move that we have because of our flexible work). These communities are on the move though…in the 7 years that we have been the place has changed SO much (locals may say for the worse and blow ins like me for the better) and there’s at lot more opportunity where we are than there ever used to be.

Making friends and starting again

When we moved down here we knew NO ONE. Like not one person. I was the crazy woman walking down the street listening out for the sound of kids so I could stand there (casually) of course at their front gate and make conversation. So natural! It can be tough starting out again and making friends from the start but it’s also exciting. My advice is to not turn down ONE invitation. Even if it’s with people that you would never usually hang with GO. You never know when you are going to meet your next best friend. If you are worried about leaving your group of friends know that whenever you start school, your social circle changes anyway. I reckon the older that you get the more you change social circles every 5 years or so. Put yourself out there – turn up – you never know who you are going to meet.

Community: you put in what you get out

One thing that Rob and I decided from the get go was we were going to throw ourselves into our community. That meant joining local community groups, getting involved as much as possible and throwing ourselves into socialising as much as possible. I joined our School of Arts committee and it was the best thing to do to meet everyone that lives in the village: from blows in and locals to young and old, it was fantastic. I am a worker, and always someone who puts their hands up for everything so it was a good chance for people to see that I am here, I will turn up, I’ll make cups of tea, stack chairs, sell raffle tickets. Turn up and do the jobs and people can see that you want to get involved. Or not! You may want to stay in your house and do your own thing…but for us the more we have put in the more we have got out and that’s why we moved here in the first place and why it’s been as rewarding as it has been.

Missing out?

I was interested as some of my events earlier this year the same question came out over and over again: “Don’t you feel like your kids are missing out down here?” Huh? Seems so weird to me that that’s even a question. I feel like the kids have got so much from this life. We get to spend so much time together as a family. We have A LOT of quality time together. The time we have with visitors too is quality because they are staying with us. The girls are able to walk to school and know that everyone in the village is looking out for them. People are always watching and knowing your moves – the joys of small towns! But they have a great life, they go to an amazing small school and we have enjoyed so much the small school education. So many opportunities and facilities and I love that the girls socialise with people across years. But like in any small school/town/whatever everything is under a microscope: when it’s good it’s SO good and when it’s bad it can be baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. There’s no where to hide and it can be tough with personality clashes etc. But overall I think the girls have a wonderful life with so much on offer and that whole big bad world will be waiting for them when they leave school right? Why rush it?

You will run a B&B

Know this: people visit. People come and eat and drink and leave laundry and you will run a B&B. Long weekends and holidays like Easter and Christmas will be times that you might like to rest but oh no! Visitors! It’s wonderful and it’s exhausting and frustrating and the best all rolled into one. Don’t like to do those things? Re-think a move!

That’s what I can think of for now. I will continue to add to this post as I remember things or have ideas from you guys about making the move to the country or the seaside. As I said and will continue to say forever…this has been the very best thing we have ever done. Not a day goes by when I don’t look at our house or garden or friends and family and don’t feel like the luckiest person in the world. Dead set. How lucky?! I love our life so much, I love our village, the people in it, the complexities and frustrations and exhaustion and challenges that have come with the move and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

While I say in life jump and the net will appear, when it’s making a move like this with a whole family involved there is a lot of think about. Support, work, travel, home so much, and while you can talk yourself in or out of anything I think sometimes that you should listen to your gut and your hearts desire. Take the leap…nothing good ever came without some risks.

So tell me about your questions?
Anything that I missed?
What about your own experiences?
What’s been the hardest part of your move?
And what’s been the best?

Comments

  1. I can relate to so much of what you have written. We moved from Sydney to Waiheke Island (NZ) just over 18 months ago. I laughed when you mentioned how much time you spend in the car … I feel like that too now!
    but we love it here, and I love that my children can grow up somewhere that community means something and where they can still be kids who climb trees at school and who don’t worry about wearing shoes …
    It was hard to leave friends and it takes time to make new ones but every day I feel more and more content here.
    thanks for sharing your journey!

  2. Gibbergunyah says:

    For me the experience has been a bit different. I moved to the Highlands for work 18 years ago. I hardly drive because everything; work, preschool, school, Dr, cinema, train station, shops etc is within 1km if my place. I used to have more visitors but space got tight when I added husband and kids to my small house. What was I thinking? So while my town based experience has been different, it has been equally lovely in terms of a less stressful life, with enormous freedom for the kids and sense of being known to so many in the community.

  3. Oh but the pay-off(s) from a big change/move can be immense! I don’t have the words to describe the magic that the right move can create in your life, but it is magical. Somehow when you live in a new place, a good place, a place that fits your life/personality/spirit, you live in a different way. You embrace more, you notice more, you have the energy and time for more! I can’t explain it in an eloquent way, but it just nourishes you, doesn’t it?

    • Kate. I couldn’t agree with you more. We arrived in the Barossa 3 years ago today for our “vine” change and you have described how I feel. This place is just right for us and it makes us feel good!I’m actually just trying to write a blog post that sums up exactly how I feel.

    • It sure does Kate. I have LOVED watching you enjoy all these things in your gorgeous part of the world…the best!!

  4. I’m actively planning it – on my own on the brink of retirement. Scary, but I’m going to jump!

  5. Thanks for this Beth. I’m actively planning to move down your way in the next year or two. On my own, and on the brink of retirement. Scary, but I’m going to jump!

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Mim-congratulations on your impending retirement!
      One thing to factor which I am sure you already are…is Medical Facilities. Sounds negative BUT I use to work in Canberra and the number of people I looked after in their 60s plus who had retired and moved to the Coast and then got sick and then had to travel back to Canberra for treatment gave me pause. I swore I will never move away to a place that doesn’t have extensive medical backing.

    • Jump away Mim and enjoy the ride!

  6. Kristie says:

    I love this Beth. We made the sea change from a city life life three years ago and haven’t looked back. The pace is divine and I never tire of the school run overlooking the bay.
    Driving yes is longer time for greater distances but when driving in Melbs we would stay in the car for ages and not move very far due to crazy traffic lights and crazy road rage.
    Connecting is slower than I thought but at each playgroup, kinder committee, kinder group and now school you pick up some lovely people who you connect with.
    The salty sea air, the nature in abundance and the general slow pace is what we love and the small community is what we are building. Love the life you live indeed

    • You will get there for sure with people – it takes a few years I reckon. Sounds like you are in a gorgeous place though…enjoy!

  7. Victoria says:

    Wow this resonated with me so much, when describing you and your hubby’s philosophy of jumping and working out what and why later THAT’S US! We’ve always made decisions on impulse and then sorted it out later (we moved to Vietnam together after knowing each other 6 weeks!) and have recently moved to Wellington after living in redfern, Sydney for 10 years. We have no house to live in so are living in a tiny Airbnb (2 bedrooms with 3 kids!) whilenwe relentlessy house hunt! BUT we are loving the adventure, everything is exciting, good bad and ugly, but exciting none the less! The unknown, the discovery, the challenge and change are all addictive elements to moving and I can’t recommend it more. Pushing yourself is the best, thanks for the post Beth! I hear ya! X

  8. We moved from Melbourne to Tamworth and yes, driving, driving, driving! I miss public transport, among other funny little things, but the pay back is immense. Re career, my husband and I found MORE opportunities, not less. We both found jobs that we feel we may not have got in the city – we weren’t totally qualified for them but the pool is smaller, so we got the jobs, got in and faked it ’til we made it. We have a large and wonderful group of friends now but I would agree, say yes to every invite and expect it to take 18-24 months before you really find your tribe (and they find you).

  9. Hi, Always love your posts. I haven’t moved – although did so almost 30 years ago to the Highlands from Sydney. I just wanted to say how encouraging this article was in that I recently made a HUGE decision for me, and resigned from my fantastic job of 20+ years. This is my first day of not knowing what is going to happen next. A sea change of sorts. I am very much a routine kind of a gal so that will be my biggest challenge. That’s why I particularly loved this article. It was so encouraging to welcome, embrace and find joy in change. So thanks.

  10. Oh the driving thing is so true! I hadn’t actually thought about it but you’re right. I have a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old. In Perth I used to walk them around the corner to the park, but now in NZ it’s the car. Always the car. Some days I drive down the hill four or five times.

    But then, other days we just pull on our gumboots and go say hi to our cows, or pick daffodils and apples in the orchard. I wouldn’t go back to Perth for anything.

  11. Brianna says:

    Oh Beth! Awesome post! We are a week away from moving from inside Canberra to 75km outside it. We bought a gorgeous old house. While we will be doing many, many more km (700km a week!) we think it will be worth it. At least the driving won’t be in stand still traffic anymore!

  12. Everything you say here is so true! I also moved here to the Highlands 7 years ago from the Northern Beaches but there was one thing I wasn’t prepared for….. WINTER! lol

  13. we are think gin of a move.. where a bouts did you actually move to? feel the same, somethings missing its all rush rush:(

  14. Merilyn says:

    Best move beth! … just lovely!
    Here i am sitting up in bed, with my pod coffee at my daughter’s
    Listening to all of the different bird calls from the forest … omg gorgeous country!
    Ofcourse we had a sea change many years ago … the best!
    We’ve had a few days in brisbane ofcourse fabulous but then need th space of the sea or country!
    This weather is perfection!
    Have a good one hun!
    Love m x😎

  15. My husband and I moved from Melbourne to Leipzig (2014) then Berlin (2015). I can relate to a lot of these. We move in different circles as we don’t have children and nor do any of our friends but I can definitely relate to some of what you say.. For us, the number of friends of friends who you’ve never met who want to come stay was a big negative in a 1 bedroom apartment when you work from home half the week-it’s ok to say no!

    We’ve been lucky to make some great friends through the local tech scene and attending meet ups and social events, and have a couple of friends living here from back home. Unlike your situation people come and go from Berlin regularly so its easy to get tired of meeting new people that you may never see again or cement a friendship with, sometimes it’s hard to work out who will become friends or merely acquaintances.

  16. I can relate to so much of this. I moved overseas (to South Korea) about 7 months ago because we were financially going backwards in Melbourne. My husband is Korean and I’ve lived here before, so that definitely made things easier for us. Our little boy is now 4 and learning the language and culture and spending time with the other half of his family. I’m a copywriter and run my own business, so I can work from anywhere we choose. Sometimes it’s tough to be so far from family and friends and all things familiar, but I think it’s the best decisions we could have made. It’s not forever and we’re already planning our return to Australia for early in 2019. We’ll be moving to the country, too! We’ve found a brilliant school for our son, so our decision to move there was based on his recent acceptance.

  17. Michelle Ingham says:

    Hi Beth, glad I found your blog, we are in our 3rd week of selling up house and business and diving into the deep end of a tree change from Sydney to Southern Tablelands.

    Whilst I’m sitting here on my verandah soaking up the sun, procrastinating the unpacking of way too much crap we don’t need, (where did this all come from), kids love their new school, (phew), we are still in holiday mode and it’s a bit surreal. Hence my surfing the net on my phone under ‘how to make an income from land?’, and ‘how to make a tree change work?’

    I love reading other people’s experiences and it makes me feel not so alone, so thanks for the read.

    We don’t know where to start, but trying to deter the brown snakes is a good place. 😬

    Will keep reading xx Michelle xx

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