Thinking Of A Lifestyle Change? Read This FirstDec 20, 2022
Is moving out of the city all it’s cracked up to be?
Sure the commutes are short, and the backyards are big – but are there some downsides?
Like everything in life, there are always tradeoffs.
We made a sea change (or a kinda tree change) in 2017 - We moved from Sydney, Australia to Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. From a sprawling, international city to regional province with a small population.
We have a good house, near good schools and grandparents, with tiny commutes, we even have the gorgeous pet Labrador.
We’ve got it all right?
It’s not that simple.
Less Variety in Services
When we first got here, one of the things I struggled with was the lack of variety of services available.
For example, it was hard to find a really good yoga instructor, or a music teacher for the kids, or find clothing shops I really liked. I could get the basics and everything I needed; I just wasn't exactly spoiled for choice. It was an adjustment coming from all the options available in Sydney.
Less Variety in Opportunities for Kids
That lack of variety in the services wasn't really an issue for our boys, initially because they were only two and four. But now that they are a bit older, there are times that I feel if we were in a metropolitan setting, they might have more opportunities. Say joining the local chess club or a drama group. There's fewer of those types of groups and fewer of those different people around for them to be friends with.
Less Cultural Diversity
The area we moved to, being in the regions, doesn't have much cultural diversity. And coming from a place like Sydney, which is very culturally diverse, I do wonder what impacts living on such a homogeneous culture is going to have on the kids.
One of the things that we have considered is travelling more so they get a broader experience of the world, not just regional New Zealand – an added expense.
Which brings us to the next point.
Further From Travel
A challenge of living in the provinces is you are so much further away from the international airports. So that always adds that extra bit of travel and that extra bit of cost and time to any trip that you want to do.
That may seem a finicky point, but when you’ve been travelling with kids for 24 hours to get back into the country adding another lay over for another flight (or a 5 hour drive) can be the final straw.
Further From Family and Friends (possibly)
We moved towards James’s family and away from Carly’s family – many couples may find that challenge unless you both grew up in the same place.
Moving closer to family is a HUGE “pro” but it often means there is a “con” of moving away from other family and friends. COVID was particularly hard when we couldn't travel, and we couldn't see family or old friends for a couple of years.
Real Estate Markets act differently
If you sell up and move out of the city, it may be hard to get back in a couple of years later, as the real estate markets move at different rates. Admittedly, the markets have come closer together in recent years with city people moving into new markets. But the capital gains in the country just aren’t quite the same.
It hasn't been an issue for us because we have no intention of moving back. But if you did move and then find, this isn't quite for us, it could be quite a challenge to get back into a Sydney or Auckland real estate market. It is always worth weighing up your options, and don’t sell if you don’t have to.
But it is not all doom and gloom – we do think we have gained more than it has cost us. Here are some advantages that make those tradeoffs worth it.
The slower pace of life has been a bonus – especially in the getting work and school area. Twelve minutes is a long commute now. Google usually predicts nine minutes.
When we are going to a local event, we're not sitting in traffic for an hour to get to it and fighting for a car park. There are less people typically at those events, so less waiting in long queues. And we can fit a couple of events in a day because you aren’t hitting the road to make it back before that traffic jam grinds you to a holt.
We have a much bigger yard for the kids to run around, our house is bigger and newer than we could afford in Sydney.
The kids can walk to local school, which is a good school. So they are close to their friends when they want playdates on the weekends. One would argue our kids have turned into free-range kids. They disappear for a couple of hours out in the street with the other kids living on the street. It is it is very different than living in the city.
We have time to coach the kid’s soccer team and cricket team, we are on the school board and able to be leaders in our local community.
Close Knit Community
We know pretty much everyone in the street. It's one of those places where if you needed your garbage put out while you were away, they'll do it for you. And they'll put the bin back in.
But people also watch out for the boys. If they're wandering home looking lost or something, people know them and walk them home if needed.
We don't have to pack up and travel for a couple of hours to go and see friends. We can literally just walk around the corner and hang out for the evening. Which does make the socializing just that much more fun.
Have you done a sea change?
Weighing up all the pros and cons, we are happy that we made the sea change in 2017. Because for us, all of the advantages mean we're a more cohesive family.
We would love to hear what your pros and cons are, if you're considering the change, or what your experience is, if you've done a sea change or a tree change recently!
Tell us in the comments below.
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