Sea change is the phrase of the moment around these parts. Everyone’s doing it or has done it or wants to do it. Have you ever wished you could just pack it all in and go and live a simple life on the coast? Did you worry that you would get bored and miss out on life in the city? That was me once. Then I did the sea change and I never looked back. Well maybe a few times! Read on to learn about how you can plan the move without it all going pear shaped.
I was the text book ‘city girl’ before going coastal. I had worked in corporate marketing for 15 years and was burnt out, bummed out and OVER.IT. My health was suffering. My finances were shot and I had completely lost my ambition to work, like at all. My husband and I had been talking for years about making a sea change but my career or his had always stopped us until then.
My husband, Hamish is a passionate surfer and was ready to launch his own surf wear label and open a store. I was ready for a career break and a new adventure. So we quit our jobs, broke our lease and hit the road for Barwon Heads.
Hamish launched his range, and online store. I took a pay-cut and worked in contract jobs in Geelong, while helping with the business. The business went quite well but after two years of trading we decided to close the doors. It just wasn’t yielding enough to be a full-time operation. We looked at it not as a failure but as a fantastic experience. We had a crack at something we had always wanted to do and it felt great knowing we’d tried.
After that we both went back to the corporate world for a while, but working locally. We had fallen in love with the coastal lifestyle and wanted to remain in Barwon Heads and start a family. We have been here for six years now, have two little girls and have made it our home. It took this long for us to find our place and carve out a niche but we absolutely love it now.
Settling into a new lifestyle out of the city is a slow process but ultimately very rewarding. Some of the benefits of living in the regions include:
- Affordability: housing, schools, rates etc.
- Liveability: less traffic, less crime, free parking and more
- Being part of a small friendly community
- Fresh, clean air and wide open spaces
- Local outdoor activities right on your doorstep
- Access to fresh farm gate produce and nature
If you are pining for the country life or having the beach right on your doorstep, why not sit down and make a plan. Get some clarity and confidence about what steps you need to take to get there. Here are five questions you should ask yourself before making the leap into the sea change abyss:
1.Can I simplify my standards and be happy with less?
This one was a big adjustment for me having lived in the city all my life. I was so used to having choices. From cafes to job opportunities, schools and friends, everything gets narrowed down when you move into a regional town. You have to be prepared to drop your expectations when it comes to variety. But in a way it’s easier having less choice, and you have more head space for other more meaningful things.
2.Can I take a pay-cut or am I prepared to commute?
Plenty of people commute to Melbourne for work from the regions. You need to see what the transport systems are like, and whether they are efficient enough for your career. Also ponder on how far you are prepared to travel and how that might affect your family and leisure time.
I chose to put my career on hold for a while, take a pay cut and re-assess. It took me 3 years to find a role that I was happy with locally. I did that for a few years and now I work for myself.
Finding a job in the regions for the same pay packet you got in the city is harder. You might have to make some adjustments to your career aspirations to get there. Work out a plan where maybe you work in a less than perfect job for a while and then maybe start something new.
3. Am I prepared to make new friends?
When I first moved here, I thought I would go up to Melbourne all the time and see my friends. This happened less as I settled into my new life.
You will always have your city friends, but it is so important to build a local network. Reaching out beyond the casual hello and goodbye, can sometimes feel awkward. But I know from experience that people love it when you do. If you have a kinder group or a play-group, suggest coffee with some of the mums. Offer someone a lift in your yoga class, start chatting to parents at the park. In the country people are more open and you will find that pretty much everyone is up for a chat and a cuppa.
4. Am I OK without family close by?
Leaving your support system is a big one to consider, particularly if you have young children or if your parents rely on you. All of my family are in Melbourne, but they fully supported our move to the coast. We just made sure that we got a house with a spare room so that they could come and visit regularly. My family have fallen in love with Barwon Heads now and rent a house every summer. It’s brought us closer together because we plan special occasions and events so that our catch-ups are really special.
5. Could I start a business?
This is the golden nugget of the story. Going regional means that your living expenses are lower which means your opportunity to start a business is less risky. With the NBN rolling out and modern technology such as Skype and email, working from home is a real reality. You can build your very own brand right from your dining room table!
Other useful links:
A fantastic resource launched by my friend Emma, about living and working in Geelong and wider regions.
This website is a wealth of information about planning and considering a seachange.
Caroline Cameron (no relation) is a Lifestyle Coach and she specialises in helping people to plan their sea change.
Other handy articles:
The truth about Seachange experiences
Have you made the sea change recently or are you thinking about it? What’s stopping you?