Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Semi-Sea Change Subscription - and how to stay sane...

Starting to think it’s a little less overpopulated in your current capital city?  This could well be the reason why…

According to an article that graced the cover of Monday’s broadsheet, The Australian, our fellow countrymen are staging a “regional retreat” like never before, embracing the enticing notion of the sea and tree change with such gusto that it would appear we are fleeing our major cities in much the same way the Pied Piper cleared the rats out Hamelin!

Having made this daring leap of faith into the unknown 14 months ago, I’m here to tell those of you who are contemplating it that you need to dip your toes in a little first and think strongly about the pros and cons of embarking into such a brave new world before you plunge head first into the pool.  Sure, the glittering promise of the unknown and opportunity to start life afresh is tempting, along with the reality it’s great to live in a lovely big home with a mortgage that doesn’t required you to work 3 jobs to service it.  And yes, it is heaven residing in such close proximity to an uncrowded, picture perfect beach, not to mention, the sense of community and slower pace of life are all ticks in boxes too. 

But, if you are still straddling your old life of pre sea change proportions, and therefore are not wholly subscribed to it, then I warn you, this is not an easy feat to undertake – and still stay sane.

You see, The Husband and I both still have employment, social and family commitments in Sydney which sees us averaging 10 – 16 hours alone is possible commuting each week. 

Working so far from home has its challenges – besides amassing approximately 450 hours in public transport in a year (and that is only working 2, sometimes 3 days a week!) you are the last one in the office and the first to leave, despite having left home at 6.50am and wont grace the company of your loved ones for another 12 hours. But the thing I find hardest is only seeing The Husband 5 -10 hours in total Monday to Friday and that we cant ever plan any mid week family fun into our lives, without one of us missing out. Plus there is farewelling your husband at 6.30am and knowing he wont be back home again until 7pm – 9.30pm which can be a bit of a kill joy – them some long hours to kill amusing a toddler one on one!  Isolation can take its toll if you let it.  But I try to remind myself of the wise words of Michael J Fox, that the situation is what it is, and you get to chose how you respond to it.  

Even though we can claim to actually know and enjoy our neighbours (something we never could living all those years in Sydney) the trickiest part has been trying to establish new friendships and support networks.  Because we arrived barely knowing a soul in our new home town.

Making friends is something that fills me with fear; I rather loathe putting myself out there, as it gives me a crisis of confidence like nothing else.  I’m acutely aware of everything I say and do and cant help but think it all comes out wrong.  “Just be yourself” people say.  That’s a great idea but what if you don’t know who that is exactly?  Or if that person is far from riveting.  You cant help but miss your old established friendships, where everything is so easy and feel a little like you are on the outside looking in.

Tough as I found it all at first, it’s thankfully getting easier one year on, this semi sea change of ours – even with all the travel!  Harrison is thriving in his daycare, and from within those walls we have begun to cement some new friendships, along with my book club, and a fab new playgroup we’ve found.

So despite the fact it’s far from a fully fledged “official” sea-change, we do love our (oh so much more affordable!) home as well as the beach lifestyle.  And I have come to realise I am not so much a big city girl anymore... Of course there are things I miss (my sister!!!) but I know this where we belong.  With time I am optimistic that I'll eventually feel more like a "local" and less of an intruder or holiday-maker, and that this is where our "happy place" in the world will be.  Like a lust-worthy recipe, its got all the right ingredients to make the most delicious meal; I just have to per-fect my mixing techniques to make sure I serve it up to its full potential.


Be A Fun Mum said...

I've just finished my 10th move. It's the pits...starting all over...but I do like the adventure....just maybe not quite so much of it. It can be very hard to establish a support network. And you just HAVE to put yourself out there and that's hard for me. My best advice for making friends is getting involved in something.

I hope you feel more settled soon.

See you at the conference!

4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle said...

I love so many things about this post. Your honesty in particular. Having moved over 10 times I agree, it's takes at least a year to begin to settle in. The picture of you guys at the beach says it all though. Excellent decision!


Glowless @ Where's My Glow said...

We're very seriously considering a sea-change. It won't be quite so hard on us as a unit because Map Guy is from the country and because of that we've spent a long time there anyway. But it will still be leaving a lot of the old life behind and a four hour commute to get to the city.
But as long as I have internet connection I reckon I'll be fine :)

Marita said...

Setting up new support networks is the main reason we wont be making tree change / sea change any time soon.

I'd love to get out of the 'burbs and move to rural town where my girls have more space to run. Or move back to the Gold Coast to be closer to my parents.

But here we have such a fantastic support network, that I've worked for years on building. I don't think I could face doing it all again.

Dorothy said...

The lack of support networks is what scares me the most. That's why I want to make sure that at least the location, the house and the local facilities are right before making the move.

Yes, I'm making a tree change. I was tired of working my arse off for an employer who didn't give a damn and the only way I can pay any kind of mortgage on my limited income is to make a tree change. The trees have been calling me all my life, but it didn't occur to me until this January that I could actually make it happen.

I'm looking forward to the challenge....

claire Keipert said...

To the most wonderful Donna,
Just remember any circle of friends would be lucky to have you. You are truly the bubbliest and loveliest person that I know.
Secondly my hubby often leaves for work before 6am and although he is meant to be home early if he leaves early he is often home after 8pm due to some unforeseen meeting or deadline crisis or phone interview etc etc etc. And we don't have the beach to compensate for the affordable housing:) So being closer doesn't always mean you get to see hubby more:)
I am so happy to read that you are feeling more settled. Also when Harrison goes to school there is a rich source of potential friendships there just keep remember they are lucky to have you as a friend!!
Love your blog, on side note to the guilty blog I say tell the devil and angelto work it out on their own while you enjoy a tim tam and coffee and book time, they can get back to you later about how you should be feeling ;)
Love and hugs Claire

LIfe In A Pink Fibro said...

You know I can relate to this. The reality of the 'seachange' can be different from the dream. But time makes a lot of difference.

Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro.