Three months ago we moved our family to Kiama from Sydney. I quit my job, took up a little freelancing, rented out the Sydney house, packed up the kids and the dog and headed south to the beach.
This sea change has been one of the best things we have done and I am certain from reading others’ experiences that three critical things have contributed to the move being a success: friends, finances and faith.
1. Friends (and family)
This is the biggest surprise for me as I had read other sea change blogs and fully expected a level of isolation being new in a regional community. I could not have been more wrong and I am sure being a young family and getting involved have been key to a successful transition.
Having a young family helps greatly because there are just more of us doing things to get us out there. We have joined the local church where we have made friends as well as school, but each of us have done new activities and in doing that we have made new friends.
The kids have joined Kung Fu classes and Soccer as well as the youth group at church. Through these I have met a group of mums who, like me have mostly moved to the area from other cities for similar reasons. I have joined Zumba and QiGong classes, and am helping at canteen and school as well.
I have quickly learned that as the community is so small the people you meet through work can also bump into you at Woolies or the vet, so feeling connected to the wider community also just happens. There are actually a lot of events that small businesses, government and Chambers of Commerce organise and becoming involved is helpful in feeling connected.
I have also made an effort to be a good neighbour. It may sounds trite, but sharing a cutting from my garden with the old lady down the street lead her to bring me lunch while I was gardening and a friendship has grown.
Choosing a town where there is a large base of other sea changers has meant that the people I have come across are also so grateful and content with living life at a different pace that the net result is nicer people with more time for their families and friends and seemingly less stress.
Finally, we are not so far from Sydney that we can’t visit friends, share birthdays, invite them down and continue the dear friendships we have already. In fact, the extra time I have now means we have more time to invest in old friends too.
I had also read before we moved that when people relocate and quit their jobs they often either can’t find work or are disappointed by their diminished earning capacity in a regional town.
My husband James and I both were able to keep city incomes (though I severely cut my hours). We chose a town that is close enough to Sydney that we can pop up easily. We also rented our Sydney house so we have the income from there. Of the families I have met several of them telecommute, partially commute or travel for work.
3. Faith (and Fearlessness)
One of the great things of having a faith (you know, aside from Heaven!) is that I know that my life is in His hands. What can happen to me and my family once I know that God already knows the outcome? Terrible things of course, the world is full of sadness and there is plenty of things to fear. But I can go forward confidently because I have asked God for me to find my way to knowing and serving Him better, that He is in control. It really isn’t an unknown move.
Whether you already have a faith or not, you can always ask God to lay the path clear for you to follow his plan for your life – you never know you may find he does just that!
More time. Less Expectations. Less Stress.
We moved to our old beach house which has an original 70s kitchen and shag pile carpet and I spent the first few weeks apologising to anyone who visited for the datedness of it all. Then it dawned on me that no one was offering ideas for renovation, contact details for their decorator or commenting on colour schemes because they just didn’t care. The expectations are gone, and we can just get on with enjoying each other.
It is true. Life out of Sydney is lived at a slower pace. I was a notoriously fast talker, but here there just isn’t the need to go at such a pace, let alone multi-task. I walk or swim each day and have the enormous blessing of more time with the kids. More time to listen, to read and to just hang out together. I have seen the change in them as a result and the reward has been mammoth.
My daughter has just popped in to give me a hand-made voucher for a 15 minute neck rub. So I will stop writing now and spend the time with her and paint her nails in reply!
Considering a sea change? Throw up a prayer, prioritise friendships, plan sensibly and move forward without fear.