I was a Bondi girl. A a real eastern-suburbs type who would get anxious getting away from the city for too long. Then when I became pregnant with my second child I realised, with two kids under two, I needed more space with my family.
So where does one go to get that feeling of space?
It was a big step, one we were scared to do. But once we decided to trust our instincts and take the plunge, we never looked back.
I could probably think of eighty-thousand reasons why I loved leaving the big smoke in exchange for wood-fired smoke coming from our chimney. So here’s a list of why any family thinking about making the move away from the city to a simpler life in the sticks should do it.
1. Space. It’s everywhere.
That old (expensive) chestnut. You just don’t have it in the big city! I mean, when you’ve spent your life in a bedroom at mum and dad’s, a two-bedroom apartment seems almost palatial. So I loved my Bondi flat with its courtyard for a WHILE, but as I got older I realised it’s quite nice to organise the clothes you spend good money on with an actual wardrobe.
Now, we have a garage and office downstairs at our house. I hadn’t had a place with a garage EVER in my adult life! And it’s my favourite place to hang out when mummy needs mummy time. A plus is that our wine is now stored downstairs because we have space, and when I stand in the garage with a glass of vino in hand, I feel like I’ve won life.
Christie talks about moving on this weeks This Glorious Mess
Also, once you throw kids in the mix, you’re going to have to get more space whether you like it or not. They like to run and it’s fair to give them more than a couple of metres of a lounge room. Of course there’s the local park and things I did within my power to expand their backyard, but at the end of the day, it’s quite wonderful to have a backyard. Just like I did at mum and dads growing up. We even chop wood outside and have a CLOTHES LINE (yes, the mundane thing I love nearly as much as my garage.) Parents wash a shitload of clothes.
2. Financial gains
The price we pay for our lovely big home only 45 mins south of the city, right next to all the beaches and the national park, would cost about $1500 rent per week in Sydney. Granted, there’s only about four cafes in our beautiful small town of Helensburgh, but everything here- our wonderful local deli, premium butcher and providore – is cheaper than a few herbs, carrots and a juice from a Sydney grocer.
3. Safety and community is the name of the game
This is one thing I love most. It’s so safe (yes I know bad people and bad shit happens everywhere) but our town is kinda like Dantes Peak. (Minus the volcano and Pierce. Women might get a bit dangerous if Pierce was strolling around.) There’s hardly robberies, nobody picks a fight, everybody stops for you to cross the road no matter where you are. A local transport bus stopped for me mid-hill to let me cross the road with a pram, can you imagine that in the city? It’s a true community where everyone cares for each other. Not just the residents, but the well being of the little ones and our homes too. A neighbour will come and feed your cat whilst you are holiday, without even having met you and leave you a present on the kitchen counter (which is how I met my now friend Jess).
4. There is so much to do
A photo posted by C H R I S T I E (@christiehayes_) on Mar 18, 2016 at 4:19pm PDT
Don’t freak out thinking that you’re leaving and awesome city life behind to settle in woop woop. We’ve got the stunning beaches of Stanwell Park, Bundeena, Wattamalloa and Austinmeer which we regularly frequent. There’s the national park to take the kids out hiking on the weekend, long walks along the river, golf courses, wildlife parks, and of course the Scarborough Hotel for a long lunch with a view.
5. It takes ‘family friendly’ to a whole new level
I was Googling playgroups when I first moved to the area for my boys and was delighted to see it was only a 50-metre walk and it was free. How easy is that?!? All they ask for is a donation on occasion, and they spoil us with an abundance of toys, good food, activities and even a visit from Santa. When you live in a town pretty much designed for people with kids, you’re going to start to relish in the easy life. I could never go back from it now. Who doesn’t want to make life as easy as possible when you have kids too? Our town is so family friendly the local pool is FREE as well. It comes with a very well looked after pool, toddler pool and lifeguard. Not once cent is charged and you can take your kids swimming as much as you like. This was a God-send in summer. Oh, and our daycare centre is so much cheaper than the city. And you can find a babysitter at the drop of a hat should you need to. We all love kids here, we support parents, we enjoy having as little stress as possible! Should I keep going?? Surely your starting to pack already, yes?
Christie's baby boys Hendrix and Harley. Image via Instagram: @christiehayes_.
6. Say goodbye to traffic
Having a life within a small town means you can keep fit, save hassle of driving and walk most places. No sitting in traffic forever. I hate Sydney traffic with a passion, I always have, I just refuse to deal with it now. Why add more stress to your day? You don't need it. It took me TWO hours once, TWO hours, to drive from Bondi to Alexandria. Mostly 40 mins from Bondi Junction to Bondi on a Saturday. The traffic is one of the main reasons we said "let's get out of here!!" It's a joy to jump in the car, never worry about a parking spot, never ever ever get a parking ticket, cruise to the shops, beaches or wherever I'm going and feel relaxed. Makes a difference with screaming kids in the backseat who want to get out!!
7. There's an express train to the city if you need it
This was a biggie. My fiancée works as a wine broker in the city and needs to be there daily. He gets on an express train, has about five stops and arrives back in the big smoke without hassle. We didn't want him spending forever commuting to work and therefore lose precious family time. He doesn't. It all balances out. 50 mins to work is not such a problem considering it would sometimes take that driving from the eastern suburbs anyway.
If you live somewhere with public transport that is reliable and fast, leaving the city doesn't need to terrify you. It's not going anywhere. It's just an express train trip away. And whilst Dan loves arriving in the morning, what he loves most is coming home. That feeling you get when you arrive in the mountains for a long weekend. Fresh country air, an abundance of stars in the sky, peace and quiet, no stress. It's a nice way to live.
This Glorious Mess is the podcast with stories of family life. Hosted by Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright, subscribe in itunes, get it in the Mamamia podcast app, or listen here:
8. It strangely makes you way more productive
I am not trying to sound like a wanker so bear with me please. But, because most things are taken care of - Hendrix is in affordable daycare, I don't deal with stressful and time consuming traffic, I have a big house with space and I walk most places - I can get a lot of things done. I exercise more, I write a lot more, I drink less, I go to bed early and wake up early, I don't have loud construction outside my window at 1am, I invite friends down to stay the weekend.
If I need to go into the city for work it's no problem and I enjoy my quick trip in with a good head-space. I miss the city on occasion so I make plans to do productive things there and get stuff done.
The older I have got and especially now I have my boys, I have found there really is joy in having the best of both worlds.
If you're considering a move, I hope this helps you feel optimistic. I loved my city life but the move didn't alter who I was, the company I kept or the things I did.
Now, I'm just richer, fitter, and a lot less stressed. What's not to love?
Need some parenting hacks? Those two girls have you covered....
Would you ever consider moving to the country?
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