From the Suburbs to the Paddocks
Well, I for one made that change more than thirty years ago, in a country about as far away from Australia as you can get. I moved from London to the back blocks of Wales into what was then known as Pembrokeshire and now is known as Dyfed. To say I was green about country living would be an understatement! But it wasn’t long before I started to help Kim’s cousins milk their cows, feed day old calves and even grab a pitchfork and build up walls for the silage pit. And I have never looked back… I’m now country, through and through.
Now, I know that isn’t exactly the same as moving from Perth into a small rural town in the South West of WA but I have been living in Nannup for nigh on 25 years and watching others make that same journey. And it is a journey, a journey of discovery of how country people live, being part of a small community, actually counting as a person within that community but probably most of all a journey of realization of who you really are and where you fit in.
In London, I knew no one apart from my own family, friends and work colleagues. I didn’t even know my next door neighbour or anyone else in the street for that matter. Of course, it won’t be quite the same in Perth, after all it’s small enough to still be known as a large country town and even WA is not that big when it comes to knowing people. But making the tree change is still a very big issue. There are three major ways people do or don’t do it and these are:
- They move lock, stock and barrel, sell the house and buy a block or an acreage
- They buy a weekender, get to like the place and sell the house in Perth
- They buy a weekender, use it for a few years and then sell it and stay in Perth
The first lot have already made their decision. They are moving to the country come hell or high water and don’t worry about it until they get here.
The second lot, take it slow… spend time in the community, get the feeling of belonging and finally make the move.
The third lot, never really wanted to move to the country anyway, they only ever wanted a holiday home or it suited them for a whilefor a break but couldn’t actually live down here, away from their family, the shops, their jobs or whatever else is keeping them in the city.
So the first decision you need to make about your tree change is which one of these is it going to be. Are you tree changing permanently because you want to bring up your kids in safer environment, the larger towns are getting too busy for you and you seem to be always rushing and not getting anything done, or even that you want a meaningful role in a small community. If it’s any of the above then you a definitely one of the first lot.
What if you want a bit of a hideaway, a rest from the city from time to time, somewhere to just bring the kids so they can learn about country things or just to relax with friends. Well, you could be either of the second lot or the third lot, depending on what happens and how much you get involved with the locals and the community.
Anyone who moves lock, stock and barrel to the country and has never done it before is brave. It’s a big move! You have to find new jobs and sometimes do two or three smaller jobs, or learn to work the land, start a business or just live off your super. You will be leaving family and friends behind, the children will have to go to new schools and you will need to make new friends. You may worry about whether you will be seen as a local in this lifetime or worried about making new friends or whether its really financially viable.
We all have those thoughts and that’s why so many of us prefer to the two stage move. However, some are so fed up with the city that they are totally motivated and just want out. These are the lucky ones because they just get on with finding a new home in a place they like and to hell with the rest! We’ll manage and find something to do they say to themselves and guess what… incredibly they do.
Once, you have made the big decision to make a move, even if it is only a holiday home for the time being, you need to start looking at properties and finding out about areas. Country agents are great that way, they will take you around on what I call reconnissance trips, showing you different properties in different areas. This may include properties close to the river, among rolling hills, in the bush on subdivisions or isolated areas. You need to get a feel for what will suit you. So many times clients ask to see a bush property. “I want to live in the bush” they say, and when you take them to a bush block, the very first thing they say is “There’s no view”. Well, of course there isn’t the trees kind of get in the way!
After your agent has taken you around a few properties they get a feel for what you like and what you don’t like and then everyone starts getting somewhere. Like most things in life there are compromises to be made, stunning bush surrounding you – no views, great views – well it’s likely to be on a hill, no neighbours – well it’s a long way from the shops, you get the picture…
Country communities are different too. Some are opening and welcoming (like Nannup of course) but others can be a bit different. You need to walk down the main street and see how many smiles you get from total strangers, pop into a couple of shops… do you get a welcome smile or not? Are they your kind of people? Can you see yourself living amongst them? Check out the school and other facilities are they adequate for you and your family?
Once you have done those things and if it still feels right, then probably you are good to go with choosing your property 🙂