'I followed my dream of moving interstate. Unpacking one particular box led to a meltdown.'

In September 2023, I achieved a long-held dream: I quit my job, packed up my life in Sydney and moved to Hobart with my partner and my three-year-old daughter.

Tasmania had been on the table for a few years, but it got pushed to the side for other main courses – having a baby, the lockdown era, going back to work.

Soon though, the pros started to outweigh the cons. Sydney was so bloody expensive, I’d been in the same job six years and needed a change, the rent for our tiny apartment was increasing, and we wanted to give our daughter the most wholesome childhood we could. You know, like an actual garden to run around instead of just concrete.

On paper, it was an overwhelmingly good idea – we’d have a house, a yard, and fresh air. I’m a realist, but I didn’t go into the move with my usual sensible reservations. I was so ready for the change that I skipped off that plane thinking my new life would be better than my old one on all fronts.

How do you pack a suitcase? There are two types of people. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia. 

I always knew I’d miss my friends, who were a huge part of my life. But after the move I made trips to Sydney and a couple of mates visited Hobart, plus I am the undisputed queen of the hour-long voice note, so the absence of friends wasn’t keenly felt. 

Until I unpacked a box and it led to a meltdown so powerful it was worthy of permanent display at MONA.


I’ll set the scene: as much as I enjoy the slower pace of Hobart compared to the go-go-go of Sydney, it takes forever to get anything. My partner and I love clothes, so we saved up and splurged on built-in wardrobes. The catch was, they would take four months to be installed. I basically lived in an old t-shirt and Lululemon tights because I had no idea where anything else was. When Wardrobe Day came, I excitedly grabbed a box to start putting things away.

The first few boxes were innocuous: undies, pyjamas, the aforementioned activewear, my hundreds of vintage tees. I poured a wine and put music on, thinking a night of unpacking would be fun. But when I dived into my third box and hung up a blue velvet power suit, a leather mini skirt, boho dresses and flared trousers, the vibe shifted.

I couldn’t pinpoint why I suddenly felt sad. These were some of my favourite clothes – dresses I’d worn out for dinner with the girls, the miniskirt I’d worn on my last day at work, the blue suit I had on when I appeared on an industry panel and had been funny and cool. 

As I rubbed the velvet between my fingers, I was horrified to feel tears welling up. I put my glass down quickly. Had I got through a bottle of Pinot Grigio without realising? It wouldn’t be the first time, but it wasn’t that. 

As I surveyed the rail of overpriced bohemian floral dresses, I said out loud: “When am I ever going to get to wear you again?”

Granted, the alcohol probably had something to do with me suddenly talking to my dresses as if they were people, but the feeling was real. I haven’t really made friends here yet, and as a freelancer I work from home, alone. 


For months I’d been a full-time mum to a three-year-old with big emotions, and not only did this mean I exclusively wore activewear, it also meant I hadn’t really dealt with my own big emotions at all. I was too busy trying to navigate her through the upheaval of moving states without noticing how it had affected me, too.

Josie with her daughter. Image: Supplied

Thanks to the delay in the built-ins, I hadn’t truly faced what a huge change I’d made to my life, because it had sat neatly taped up in boxes for three months.

Standing there, I had the sudden wild urge to pull every dress off its hanger and list them for sale. You’re never going to go out again, I told myself, cruelly. There’s no one to go out with. Why do you even have these? 


I looked at my old work clothes and thought the same thing. Oh, you’re going to wear that pantsuit to sit in your home office? You may as well sell everything and buy more tracksuit pants.

I was at the edge of a full-on spiral and, perhaps helped by the Tasmanian wine, I fell into it just as my partner came home from work. “I miss my friends,” I cried through a heavy helping of snot. “I miss my life!” 

He stopped and stared at the scene for a moment. But it’s been 14 years and by now he knows what to do. 

“Do you think we made a mistake coming here?” he asked, calmly.

It was a clever approach, because it snapped me out of it by forcing an immediate response – and that response was: “No". 

Sometimes you need the spiral to face the feelings you’d kept in a box. It just so happened that instead of a mental box, this one was made of cardboard and marked “Josie’s Dresses”.

Of course I knew that moving to another state had been the right decision, a good idea. If not for me at that moment, friendless and basically jobless, but for my little family and our future. 

I might work in an office again and meet new people. I might even be asked to speak on a panel, and be funny and cool. And my blue power suit will be ready, patiently hanging up in the wardrobe.

New friends will come, but I have to remember that it will take time. And when I graduate from the daycare “hello” to the casual drinks I’ll know exactly what to wear – an overpriced boho dress that I almost sold in a fit of self-pity. 

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