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"It has been difficult." 5 women who had a 'pandemic sea-change' on what it's really like.

As our realities have shifted over the past 15 months living amid a global health pandemic, so too have our priorities.

Bosses have become more lenient to the idea of employees working from home in the long term and wide-open spaces have become more sought after thanks to time spent in lockdowns. 

I don't know about you, but moving from the city to the seaside or the country has been a topic of conversation that's been lighting up my WhatsApp conversations for months now. And I am not alone. 

Moving house? Here are some interior decorating tips for dummies. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

New research shows Australian families have been taking part in an exodus. Four in 10 families are either considering relocating or have already moved away from metro centres.

The 2021 Real Home Shift study found cost of living was one of the strongest motivators, followed by the desire for a more relaxing lifestyle, with Queensland the most popular destination. 

As Chris Leishman, Professor of Property and Housing Economics at the University of South Australia, explains, the desire was always there, COVID-19 simply sped up a lot of Australians' timelines.

"What we are seeing in this survey is very clear support for the emergence of lifestyle-driven relocation decisions. Such choices were beginning to emerge before the pandemic, but living through COVID-19 seems to have strongly energised a growing cohort of Australians who highly value some of the attributes offered by living in regional locations."

For those still in the 'considering it' category, we've got you covered. Here are some of the pros and cons of making that sea or tree change from five women who've already taken the plunge. 

Tamara.

We moved to Gerringong - 1.5 hours drive south from Sydney on the South Coast - to purchase a house near the beach. That was always the long-term goal, but early in the pandemic we realised it was going to be viable sooner than we'd thought, with the opportunity to work remotely. We were lucky in that we bought the house before the 'covid boom' so property prices were still really affordable in the area. We snapped up the 'worst house on the best street', with an intent to fix it up slowly. 

We've been fortunate enough to meet a lot of like-minded couples and young families who did a similar thing to us. But I didn't anticipate the sense of grief or mourning for my 'old life' that I felt in the initial few months I moved here. Now I don't feel that way anymore; I absolutely love living in a coastal town and the lifestyle change that's come with that. But you do have to be prepared for the sacrifices you're making - they're mostly sacrifices of convenience (like having your favourite stores or cafes, or your family and friends close... even things like finding a new doctor and dentist).

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You become aware of the comfort of community moving from the city. In a small town, it's a cliche but it's true - everyone knows everyone. We've been here for close to a year and we've made some incredibly close connections, just through striking up conversations on the street or at the dog park. People greet you in the morning on their walk; people just generally seem to be happier in their disposition. It is, however, harder to go incognito - to pop up the street for coffee - without having a few conversations along the way if you're not in the mood to socialise.

Megan.

It was the best thing we ever did. My family just relocated from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast. I was already working remotely but my hubby’s boss is a bit old school, even though he’s been with the company for 13 years and is a software developer. Begrudgingly, his boss allowed remote working with travel back to Sydney for a day every two weeks. This works okay. 

The kids are so happy. I moved them from two expensive private schools in Sydney to a local Catholic high school. They love it! Shorter days for them and warmer weather and everything is so close they bike everywhere. The lifestyle is amazing. 

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Just make sure you’ve got good internet...

Claire.

My husband was offered a very good job opportunity in regional NSW, and the opportunity was too good to say no to. Even though it meant uprooting our family from Sydney, and taking our daughter out of a school she loves surrounded by friends she adores to move to a country town with a population of less than 20,000.

I was half excited, half daunted. But can I be honest with you? Moving to the country has been a little difficult. For starters, the town we have moved to is in large part populated by people who work at the nearby coal mines so finding a rental property was extremely difficult. We applied for about 20 homes and only got a call back on one. We had to pay a deposit to secure it before we even saw it in person.

That competitive market means we didn’t save that much on rent either. It’s $200 less per week than what we were paying in Sydney, not a huge drop considering the high cost of rentals in the city.

The day we moved in we didn’t realise that the home was already occupied - by mice. The mouse plague isn’t just happening on farms out in the middle of nowhere, it’s happening in towns across regional NSW, Victoria, Queensland and NSW.

I tried to sign my daughter up for soccer and gymnastics when we arrived, only to find out that the teams and the classes are full. The level of mum guilt I feel for moving her here and now not being able to get her involved is causing me some very real anxiety. Trying to get into a new GP was a similar story, we were told there would be a four to six-week wait. 

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But it’s not all doom and gloom. The school my daughter goes to is wonderful, the teachers have been very welcoming and the kids took her by the hand on day one and really helped her settle in. My husband’s job is going gangbusters, he’s really in his element and it shows. I was also granted the privilege of keeping my job at Mamamia. Perhaps two years ago a request to move to the country and still keep my position would be unheard of but thanks to the pandemic, I’ve been able to maintain a role I truly love.

My tree change won’t be the same as everyone’s, but if you are considering a move out of the city - know that it’s not all wide open spaces and cheaper rent.

Susan.

We moved to the Southern Highlands and love it. We're still close enough to visit Sydney but have lots of room for the kids to run around on our five acres and the schools are amazing. 

My husband moved his business down here as everything is now happening electronically, so it doesn’t matter where his clients are, and I found work here. 

Best thing we ever did.

Krissie.

Best decision we ever made for our family. 

We luckily did it literally just before the pandemic, so we both had jobs. We moved from Sydney to Newcastle. Close enough that we still see family and friends but a much, much, much better lifestyle and happier living for our family. 

We have discussed it at length and would never go back to Sydney there is literally nothing for us there anymore.

Feature image: Getty.

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