Our move to the country

Today we are in the Sydney Morning Herald talking about our move from city to country life which we did almost 8 years ago now. You can read the article online here. Such a small part of the questions were published, so I thought I would share my long form answers in case anyone wanted to read some more.

If you are new to the blog and wanted to get an idea about our tree change and lots of questions that I get asked about making a similar move, have a read of this post.

Here’s the questions that I was asked for this article and my longer answers….

Can you identify the moment you decided to leave Sydney? What were the major driving forces?

I remember the EXACT moment that we decided to take the plunge and move out of Sydney. We were away for a weekend with mates down on the south coast and had to leave early as our second daughter had a perforated ear drum. We had to head back to the ER at RPA (which had become our second home, funnily enough 2 mins from our actual home, at the time as she was sick ALL the time with eczema, asthma and all kinds of strange allergies) and I sat in the cry sobbing all the way home (I always have been a little dramatic) that our chance for a nice weekend away had been ruined and we were heading back home. I said to my husband Rob at the time as we were driving past the bends at Kiama “I don’t think life is meant to be this HARD” We were just so miserable, both working, having 2 kids in daycare (7am drop off before work and 5pm pick up at night) and having to pay for all that, plus having to take time off my part time work to look after Harper who was always sick…we were in a rat race and miserable but just kept going with it “because that’s what you do!”. Rob made a throw away line “maybe we should just move to the country” which I scoffed at, we were very much inner city people who went to galleries and sat in beer gardens and did cool stuff with our lives and we had NEVER even thought of living in the country. That following Monday at work I opened up Domain and Google Maps and drew a virtual 2 hour radius around Sydney. I stumbled across the Highlands, and Burrawang, sent Rob a picture of a house and the rest was history! It was all very quick – we were deep in the Sydney mindset of doing things FAST – especially with real estate and we had been looking to make the next house move up from Camperdown to a little further afield but it was all just SO expensive. To see HUGE houses with gardens and driveways for less than places we had been looking on the other side of Parramatta Rd, well it was exciting! So we travelled down to the Highlands that weekend and saw that house (our house!) and then maybe one more trip down and we bought the place and made the decision to move.

You left Sydney and moved to the Highlands in 2010, which was before city house prices went berko and the idea of Sydney being “full” was really covered widely in the media. Did people question your decision or warn you not to? 

We told no one about the first trip down, mostly because everyone would have thought we were BONKERS. When we finally did tell our families first, then friends they were surprised because its not like we we ever had a long held dream to make the move. Lots of people told us not to sell our home in Sydney, because we would lose our place  in the market (seriously the panic from some people about this!) others thought it would be better if we rented down here to “make sure” it was the right thing before doing it, but we have always been – give it your all, or not at all. The kids were still little (10 months and 3 years) before we started Preschool and school so we knew it was the right time. People were worried about not having help for kids, leaving Sydney real estate behind, not knowing anyone and of course work. I think that made me more determined as ever – to prove them all wrong. I think many people were also secretly jealous that we had the flexibility with our work to even contemplate this dream.

Was it important to you to stay within reach of Sydney?

We definitely wanted to be a few hours from Sydney as that’s where all our family was and with young kids and no help we wanted to be able to head up there easily enough if we needed to. Rob’s work (he has his own film & video production company) meant that he was out on shoot, and then it didn’t really matter where he edited and delivered work from, so our new house had a studio he could work from. He made a decision to not tell his clients in the first year that he had even moved – then after 12 months he told them and because they knew no different, they couldn’t have cared less. We have been extremely lucky with our careers to even make this work – if commuting was part of it, it would never have lasted. We always said we would be back to Sydney, and often, and then as soon as we moved we never go back at all!

You and your husband both have flexible jobs. Has that helped the long-term experience? Do you think people have to change their career expectations to live in a regional area?

We are both extremely lucky to be able to work from home and then if we need to travel have the flexibility to step in with the kids while the other is away. It’s a HUGE part of why we have been successful and are so happy with our move. Most nights we eat dinner together as a family, Rob can come inside and then once the kids are done with dinner, bath and bed we can keep working. Commuting is hard work and while the Highlands is under 2 hours away the train can be long and the traffic on the dreaded M5 always busy. My sister and her husband moved down from Sydney 2 years ago, she was in marketing for a big company and set up her own digital consultancy business – that shift in career was HUGE for her and hadn’t been easy at time – trying to convince smaller businesses here to work and her merits and of course the drop in wage. Her husband had a complete career change and started his own landscape business – he will never be out of work! It’s definitely a shift and one of the harder parts of making the move. I quit my job when we moved down here and was lucky enough to be at the start of the boom in blogging and so made my career from my kitchen table (again VERY lucky).

How did it feel in those first weeks after moving? Did you settle in to the community easily?

They were definitely scary and at time I had full blown panics wondering what the hell we had done. I walked the streets of our small village listening out for kids or peering into backyards looking for hubby houses. The demographic of the village was very different to how it is 8 years later – since then so many others have moved from Sydney and around and there are kids everywhere now. Lots of people tell me to stop writing about Burrawang on my blog, it’s made the real estate prices crazy – which is good if you are selling, but not if you want to stay here! We threw ourselves into the local community knowing that we would only get out of it what we put in: Rob joined the Monday tennis competition, I went on the School of Arts committee (small communities are desperate for fresh blood and people that will put their hands up and we were pounced on) and happy to help. Going these groups was a great way to meet a cross section of the community: people that have lived here their whole lives, farmers, retirees, other people who had moved here from around. Now we couldn’t be busier with Rob in the RFS, President of the School P&C, he also is on the committee for our annual Easter Market and I help out when I can with school, the School of Arts and whenever it’s needed. It’s been a huge part of village life for us and how we have met so many wonderful people. Being a do-er and a go-er helps A LOT. Just don’t try and change the world while you are there…slowly, slowly…

As a whole, how has the experience of leaving Sydney been? Your extended family also made the move – that’s pretty extraordinary!

It’s been the best thing ever for our family. We are a strong family unit together now, and spend so many quality time together. We have made some amazing friends – the kids are lucky enough to go to a brilliant Public Small School where they are nourished and challenged and haven’t missed out on one thing – in fact they have gained more because of it. The girls can walk to school and stop in for afternoon tea at many houses along the way – people know who they are and look out for them (and us). We live in an amazing home and garden which we never could have dreamed of living in Sydney and for me, I have managed to have some of my family move down here. My Mum and Step Dad moved to Bundanoon 2 years ago when they retired (they joined some of their mates who moved here) and my sister and brother in law and their family moved 2 years ago. We have seen our family grow: we had Maggie in 2015 and I don’t think we would have ever done that had we stayed in Sydney. I have discovered a passion for entertaining that I can share on the blog and of course we have people come and stay and spend quality time with us. Most of all we are happy. SO happy. Surrounded by such natural beauty, and good people, there’s not a day that goes by when we are driving along, or looking out to the garden that I don’t think “how LUCKY are we?!”. The luckiest. But it did take a leap of faith which was scary – that old saying jump and the net will appear is true, and for us has been the best thing we ever did. I still get surprised when people ask if we are staying…of course we are! We will never move back to Sydney. The girls have a great Highschool to attend and then they will be on their own into the wide world…who knows maybe one day they will move back to the Highlands with their own families. Trouble will be they won’t be able to afford to live here!

So there you go, a little more insight into some of the questions that I was asked (and that I often get asked). I’d love to know if you have made the move out of the city…

How has the move been for you?
Or if you are thinking of making a move, what’s holding you back?
Any other questions you might have for me?


  1. Loved reading your story – we are 15 months into our move to the NSW South Coast from Sydney with our 4 boys. I am still in a stage of thinking about going back, its really draining as we are not sure if we will fit in if we go back, but if we don’t go back if our boys are missing out.

    I wish we made the move earlier with the boys as they are older (13, 10, 8 & 5). Again, nothing is easy as we have 2 whole love it and 2 who want to go back!

    We will get there – just a tad envious that know that it is your home x

  2. I loved reading this. Do you mind if I ask though Beth, what was your job before you moved?

  3. I too made a similar move 8 years ago to the beautiful Hunter Valley where we bought a vineyard. A new adventure with no prior experience and 18 month old twins; I’m sure everyone thought we were crazy! Now our children are at school, with so much space to run and play with many friends and plenty of wine for the parents to drink. Loyal customers, whom have become friends. With 8 vintages now under our belt, we have no plans to move anytime soon.

  4. We made the move 3 months ago after about 18 months of deliberating. Like you, we didn’t keep our Sydney house, so it was jumping with both feet into this new life. I won’t lie, it’s been (and still is) an adjustment! I don’t miss Sydney per se, but I do miss my friends very much and also just the feeling of familiarity. However, I love the space, and there is no way we could ever ever have afforded even half of what we have now, in Sydney. I love the very little traffic and always getting a parking spot within a few steps of where you need to go. My boys (5 & 7) have settled into school beautifully, hubby works 40mins away which isn’t too bad. I work from home so that was an easy transition. If I could move my family and friends down here, it would be absolutely perfect!

  5. I moved north on the WA coast about 11 years ago… wow I can’t even believe it was that long ago… feels like a lifetime!! I was city through & through and thought it would be a short term means to an end work wise. Then I met future husband, took a worldwide adventure and we landed 200km inland on the family farm a year later.

    10 years on I can’t imagine living in a city ever again, although I never say no to a city break, i always feel calm driving out of the city heading home knowing it’s the happy place for us and our 3 minis.

    The family community, the wide open spaces and lack of The ‘rat race’ have brought out the sense of adventure, belonging and peace for all of us. Like you said Beth it’s pretty hard to not feel lucky every day.

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