Making a sea or tree change is often talked about by city dwellers. Ultimately we convince ourselves that our current situation is just fine for now and settle for a weekend away somewhere. Three months ago, after a decade of tossing the idea around I made a sea change with my young family.
We have moved from a two bedroom flat on the lower north shore of Sydney to a four bedroom house on a quarter acre, two hours drive from Canberra on the NSW South Coast. A city girl my whole life, there’s been some big adjustments to make.
Until now, my longest trip back to Sydney has been two days. A whirlwind of quick catch ups with family, a few choice meals and an event or two. I’m now on the tail end of a weeks’ trip back “home” solo with my two and four year old sons and have been able to really reflect on what we’ve gained and lost in our move, what we do and don’t miss.
What we Miss:
Living in Chatswood we were spoilt with so many great food options in easy reach. We are absolutely dumpling and roti snobs, and although we now have vintage 1980’s style Chinese take away it pales in comparison. Living in an international city you can pretty much take your pic of cuisine and be able to find what you want. No trip is complete now without a New Shanghai dinner or a stop past Mamak.
There is much less variety, and far less accessibility once you leave the city. Our closest dedicated children’s shoe store is now two hours drive away, the closest toy store is 45mins away, our only department store is Kmart and gone are the days of seven major shopping malls within a 30min drive.
There is always something to do in Sydney. There are markets, galleries, museums, exhibits and activities every day of the week. There are cultural events like Festival of Sydney and Vivid, international events and expos. There’s bright lights and new developments, fireworks at least once a week and so much for little boys to gander wide eyed at.
This was not something I expected to miss and is probably what I’ve struggled most with. I spent a lot of the past few years finding all the new fun things to do with kids. But at the heart of it, my entire life until now has existed within a 10km radius. Everywhere I go on the lower north shore has a memory attached. Of a friend, an experience or a loved one. Being back this week has made my heart ache just a little for the personal history I’m not sharing with my children on a daily basis.
We definitely don’t miss:
Always somewhere to go, something to do, someone to see. Busyness for me was definitely something I created, particularly raising children in an apartment. I struggled to have home days because it just got so messy so quickly and it really set off feelings of anxiousness for me. We had activities most days, because that’s what you do and had usually one social outing each day.
Oh. My. God. So many cars, so many bad drivers, so few people aware of road rules. The stupid stunts Sydney drivers pull blows my mind. It took me 45mins to travel Bellevue Hill to Redfern last week. All of about 8km. In our new town, that would take about 5mins thanks to the 100km/hr speed zones.
Not My People, I miss them more than anything. But the people generally, as a whole. In a sweeping generalisation, city dwellers are often rushing and hurrying places. They don’t have time to chat, exchange pleasantries or appreciate the everyday man so much. The ew existence of apps which facilitate less interaction such as Hey You and UberEats have added to that in the last few years I feel too
There’s definitely a greater financial cost living in the city. Property is definitely the most noticeable saving for us, with our current home worth roughly half the value of our rental apartment and a weekly saving of $150 in rent. We also pay roughly $0.20 per litre less for diesel for our cars and because of the region we’re in, produce is generally cheaper or on par but is much fresher and often we have the option to buy from the supplier at the weekly farmers market, local butchers and fisherman’s co-op. that said, we have seen inflated costs in medicines (our closest discount chemist is 1.5hrs away), and I know Kmart prices are higher too (though they’ll price match the website/city stores if you raise it). Aside from all the basics, our socializing and activity costs in Sydney were much higher.
I so badly miss my family and friends, but I know that as a family we are immeasurably happier where we live now. The Husbands work/life balance is better, and I feel I’m a more balanced, attentive mother and wife without all the hustle and bustle each day.
Have you considered making a lifestyle change? What has held you back?