itchy

Anyone Done The Seachange Thing ???

21 posts in this topic

Hello all,

Hope I'm in the right place, and apologies if I'm not, but here it is...I'm here looking for info and advice. For decades now I have been leading a ridiculous life, working crazy hours just to sustain what was once the great aussie dream, you know... house, cars, appliances ... all that stuff.

I'm 50, have 2 kids, 7 and 3, and a partner I love. For quite a few years now we have been looking at our lives an thinking that the way we are living is less than satisfying, and for at least a couple of those years we have been planning our escape.

We want to scale right back, have time for family, and just for living life. We want to live in a less materialistic and more sustainable manner.

One thing I've realized having hit the half century is just how much of my life, percentage wise, has already gone. And just how little is left. I have so many colleagues in my game (travel intensive) who tell me that their greatest regret is not seeing their kids grow up. I'd hate to look back on my own life and feel the same way.

Our situation is this, we have recently sold our house in Sydney and have enough cash to buy a modest place on a couple of acres in our area of interest (northern nsw) we also have an income stream (very modest) that will cover our living costs if we're careful. I can make a few bucks remotely in my job, but not a lot. My wife wants to work but we're well aware of the lack of employment opportunities up there, and can survive (just) without any further income. We've spent a lot of time sussing out the schooling options and are happy enough with all that.

So we want to do the big escape, we're ready to go and excited about it all. But of course the dream is never the same as the reality, so I'm here to ask if anyone here has actually done it ? And if so, how did it go ? I have a million questions to ask, but won't attempt to inflict them upon anyone unless they show an interest.

What do you think guys, am I doing a sensible thing, or is it a crazy pipe dream ?

I'd be particularly interested to hear from anyone who has done something similar, and find out how it all turned out.

Thanks for reading...

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Only you can decide if it's right for you.

I'd suggest you don't sell your sydney property right away if you can afford to, and rent in the new location if possible.

even for 6 months you will see if it is right or not, and you have not thrown the old life out if you don't like it.

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Only you can decide if it's right for you.

I'd suggest you don't sell your sydney property right away if you can afford to, and rent in the new location if possible.

even for 6 months you will see if it is right or not, and you have not thrown the old life out if you don't like it.

Thanks for the response.

Yes, we will rent for the first 6-12months just to get a feel for the area and work out more fully what we want. That also gives us an easy option to bail out if we decide it was all a horrible mistake, which I doubt.

As for selling our Sydney place, too late on that. We sold it in the second half of last year as we felt the housing correction was on the way. So far that appears to have been a good decision. Being cashed up also puts us in a good place if the perfect property comes along, although I wouldn't move on anything until it becomes clearer how far the present contraction has to run.

Is there anyone out there who has done the city country move ? If so I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts.

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rent in the new location if possible.

I would definitely recommend this.

I grew up in a small country town, went to uni in Melbourne, spent a couple of years doing a couple of different jobs in the city, then moved to an even smaller (pop:300) country town. Then shifted to a large (pop>10,000) country town, where I currently live. Here's a generalisation of my experiences, which I'll add to if I think of anything else:

Economic

- Average incomes lower than in the city

+ Decent jobs relatively easier to get for above average employees (less competition)

- Public transport is non-existent

+ Short commutes mean I only use a couple of tanks of fuel per year

- Most living costs (groceries, rates, doodads, fuel, etc) are slightly higher

+ The big living cost (housing) is much lower

+ A lot of regional areas are growing fast right now, which means opportunities for jobs, investment, business.

- Rural areas tend to fare badly during recessions in terms of job losses, house price falls, business failures and population decline.

Social

+ Know more of the locals

- Locals know more about you

- Less tolerance of 'different types'

I'm sure this depends on you/your family's personalities and the area you're moving to. Some people find themselves isolated in small communities, I found city living very lonely at times (which was both good and bad for me).

Cultural

- Which sport do you like: footy or netball?

+ Make your own.

- Dining out is patchy. Good cooks don't seem to last long around here, so it takes some trouble to know where to go.

+ You _can_ get a good coffee nowadays. Five years back the nearest decent coffee was a 2-hour drive. Today half the cafes and takeaways in town can make a good cup.

Other

- If you've got 'off-the-grid' ideals or intend to live miles from the nearest store you might find that reality is a pain in the arse compared to your dreams.

+ I have a 2-minute drive to work and go home for lunch most days. Na-na-na-na-na-nah.

= A 'couple of acres' would be ~8,000m2 or 8-10 big house blocks. Don't forget you're going to need at a minimum a ride-on lawnmower and a day a fortnight to cut that grass, or if you turn it to garden, about 40 hours a week to maintain it. Or a couple of sheep. :-P

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Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply Max, a lot to consider there.

We're not trying for the self sufficiency thing but would like to have a bit more of a connection with the seasons and our food supply. Also we see it as an opportunity to set up a home that has less of an impact on the planet. Most importantly though, the move would also allow me more time with my family, which is the strongest motivating factor for me.

I certainly take your point about the time involved in maintaining even a small block. I've seen it first hand as a mate of mine bought 15 acres up at Possum Creek, it was beautiful when he bought it about a decade ago, but he still works pretty much full time, and now feels that he has become a slave to the place, and doesn't really have the time to look after it properly. It's quite disappointing to see a beautiful place like that so neglected. I suspect I could manage an acre or two, but perhaps I need to think that through a little more.

Can I ask, are you a family man, and if so what are your thoughts on raising children in the country ? I'm pretty sure it'll be great while they're little but I do wonder about the later teenage years. Having said that, we'll probably be less than 10 mins from a small town and half an hour from a large one...two and a bit hours from Brissy.

I've been thinking about this for probably half my life and it seems to me now that it's probably more achievable than ever before. My partner is as keen as I am. I guess the reason I'm posting here is to hear the horror stories as well as the successful ones, to find out the things I may have overlooked. It's one thing to have a dream, the reality may not be quite so rosy.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply Max.

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I haven't lived in the country but I do have a 2 1/2 acre property with the intention of doing so down the track. I've met lots of people in the local area, many of whom have re-located there from the city. They all seem to be very happy with their choice and all seem to have managed to find work locally quite easily. Often they are bringing skills and experience of the wider world with them and they tell me this helps to get them the better jobs locally. Another factor which aids the transition enormously is that the area has a good mix of lifetime locals and seachangers. This changes the culture and acceptance (of outsiders) of the place and you might find that locating yourself in this type of area to be a plus. I often read of people re-locating to northern NSW so such towns must exist.

Max Carnage is right about the land maintenance - it is always more time consuming than you think. However, you can help yourself in this regard by choosing your land carefully and doing some initial work to make it as maintenance free as possible. Just simple things like; is it flat enough to mow with a ride on? Can you cordon off some areas and have goats or sheep? etc are worth considering.

I think it would be very difficult to move older kids to the country but yours are young and so it's easier. Having said that there is no doubt they will be bored when older and you may need to allow for that. You would have to join sporting clubs, bmx/mini bikes etc and if not too far from the coast some water sports. Later you'd expect them to leave and move to the city. Maybe if the property market really drops you might be able to buy yourself a country house and a small flat in Brisbane. Rent it out for the meantime as your income stream and use it as a get away for the kids and/or you down the track. Maybe not practical but just an idea.

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Living on the land is great - I was brought up that way - but there are some things to consider.

Think hard about what what you want from your lifestyle.

Becoming a slave to your property is more common than not for treechangers.

People just don't seem to think about what their land will need to keep it in good nick.

Some people love to dig and fence and mow etc etc and so it becomes relaxation and lifestyle in one.

Others, most really, find maintenance a big drag and the place becomes an eyesore, or a slave-driver, or a fire-risk.

re kids, a lot of odd-bods tend to move to the country in order to find space and hopefully tolerance for their kids with differing needs.

So schools will have the usual kids, but there will be a few at the further end of the intellectual/behavioural issues spectrum.

Depending on the dynamics, this can be a great thing, or hell on earth.

Also the variety of options for friends may be more limited, which may be no problem if your kid fits right in, but which can also be really isolating for a kid who doesn't find a peer group that suits them.

People really will want to know all about you. You will find yourself pigeonholed, and it can be really hard to change that if you are not happy with it.

As I grew up I found it all a bit claustrophobic, and one of the few good things about living in the city is the relative anonymity. But YMMV.

Max raised a lot of good points. But I couldn't agree with the coffee thing <_<

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Good luck with it itchy. I'd love to do what you're doing. Especially in such a nice part of the world as northern NSW.

I'm hoping that the NBN will provide more opportunity for working remotely. I couldn't afford give up work yet.

Ruffian has done the off the grid thing before I believe. He may have some more useful advice than I can provide*.

PS: Nice post max.

*Beat me to it :)

Edited by staringclown

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I reckon it is a common dream and probably doubly common for folk on this forum.

I have been watching rural properties around here lately, just dreaming mostly. With land size my heart says "land lotsa land" but my head says "ya mad". I think the ideal is to have a small bit of usable land e.g. for fuit trees, vege garden, some animal friends and have the rest natural bush for privacy and for the soul/sole..... or have some other trick of personal space without responsibility. I had that a couple of years ago living on the outskirts of Melbourne. We had just under an acre backing on to someone else's 50 acres (which couldn't be subdivided) and views forever. The problem with that scenario was regular anxiety in summer over fires. Fire risk may not be such a problem up Northern NSW.

Kids disappearing when they get older is an issue. Chances are they will head off to the city for university and work. I know that's what I did. You expect kids to leave, but living in a city increases the chances that they will one day come back to live close enough again. I didn't/couldn't.

Edited by Ugg

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The other important thing is that nowdays you are never isolated in the country because you and the kids have the internet. My kids live thousands of miles away from some of their friends but still have a relationship that I wasn't able to have when I was a kid moving from Melb to Syd. Your kids can have the best of both worlds - rural and in touch with what is going on a long way away.

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Can I ask, are you a family man, and if so what are your thoughts on raising children in the country?

Not that I know of, and I intend to keep it that way!

My own education experience was pretty poor. I went to a small highschool dominated by small-minded students where good teachers were outnumbered by utterly incompetent ones. But from all reports, this is no longer the case even at that school, so there's no sense extrapolating from my story.

Something that hasn't changed is the difficulty experienced by country kids when it comes to tertiary education. On top of the costs of education, which apply equally to city kids, there are the costs of renting/boarding/sharing/eating etc. The governments don't give support for these costs.

That's something you'll have to plan for if it's 2+ hours each way to the nearest Uni.

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Clearly I posted my question on the right forum. What a great selection of thoughtful and intelligent responses. Thanks to all who took the time to reply. All the issues you folk have raised are great food for thought, and doubly worthwhile because they come from those who have some experience of that lifestyle. I have to say that many of your comments are the very things I have been pondering.

So thanks again one and all, very much appreciated. It's a breath of fresh air to find a friendly forum like this, hope I can hang around.

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Clearly I posted my question on the right forum. What a great selection of thoughtful and intelligent responses. Thanks to all who took the time to reply. All the issues you folk have raised are great food for thought, and doubly worthwhile because they come from those who have some experience of that lifestyle. I have to say that many of your comments are the very things I have been pondering.

So thanks again one and all, very much appreciated. It's a breath of fresh air to find a friendly forum like this, hope I can hang around.

Welcome itchy. It would be great to hear how your move goes when/if you choose to make it.

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Welcome itchy. It would be great to hear how your move goes when/if you choose to make it.

Happy to oblige, I think it's going to happen.

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Has anyone ever done the seachange thing to a houseboat?

It has always been a dream of mine to live on the water, but I have always considered it a distant dream.

I am wondering how much maintenance there would need to be and what paperwork and legalities are involved.

Currently I am in Sydney but am looking to the future at various options, after considering the posts i this topic, I am still keen, if not keener than ever to get out of the big smoke.

If anyone has any advice or experience, it would be appreciated.

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Has anyone ever done the seachange thing to a houseboat?

It has always been a dream of mine to live on the water, but I have always considered it a distant dream.

I am wondering how much maintenance there would need to be and what paperwork and legalities are involved.

Currently I am in Sydney but am looking to the future at various options, after considering the posts i this topic, I am still keen, if not keener than ever to get out of the big smoke.

If anyone has any advice or experience, it would be appreciated.

We have spoken here a few times about the contrast in value between what you get in boat v house in this country but I don't know of anyone who has taken the plunge and made the switch to living on the water.

There is a thread on a fishing forum which goes into some detail of the issues back from 2009.

http://ausfish.com.au/vforum/showthread.php?149208-House-Boat-Living

I cannot claim any experience in it but if I were considering such a move I would be sorting out the mooring side of it first, just finding a mooring for a boat is enough trouble especially in Sydney (bloody NIMBYS) let alone a mooring you can live at. The boat is kind of secondary in importance in my opinion, and the costs of the boat known anyway. The rules around the mooring and the fact those rules can change are what you want to get sorted. i.e. It would be best if you have more than one option so that if the rules on one change and you cannot live there anymore you are not left with a boat and moving around public moorings day in day out.

If I was retired I would consider it, but my 9 month old would be trying to climb out every chance she got... When you save them from falling everytime they just keep going back for more.

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I lived in a caravan on the banks of the Tweed river for six months. That almost qualifies in my book.

I think you're right tom. Residential moorings can have some arduous conditions attached.

Houseboat rules on the Noosa River

Living on board approval

Queensland Transport enforces various legislative requirements for people living on board

watercraft. Further Information is available from the Queensland Transport office at

Mooloolaba or DPI Boating and Fisheries Office, Russell St, Munna Point. Requirements

include:

• A Living On board Approval is required if a watercraft is permanently occupied for

more than 48 hours. All Living Onboard Approvals have conditions.

All sewage and sullage is to be contained onboard. The operator of a watercraft must

ensure a fixed or mobile pump-out facility is used to empty the contents of the waste

holding system. Records of pump outs must be kept on board for inspection by

Authorised Officers. (Current pump-out facility providers in the Noosa Area include

Noosa Harbour Noosa River Marine Village Ph 5473 0166, Noosa Yacht and Rowing

Club Noosaville Ph 5449 8602 and Sutton's Cleaning Service, Cooroy Ph 5447 6477)

And it's not possible anymore in Noosa at least if I'm reading this correctly.

New Private Watercraft brought onto the River after April 2005

Watercraft brought onto the river after April 2005:

• All applications for a permit to live on board a watercraft will only be approved for a

maximum of 2 months, with a non renewal period of 3 months

• The intent is to prevent the permanent occupation of watercraft brought onto the

Noosa River after April 2005

You may have missed the boat blowin, pardon the pun.

There may be other places around the country. The Murray river has a few sites. I was in Mildura last year and they have just completed a big marina project. I think I could do an extended holiday on a houseboat but if I was permanently moored in a marina somewhere it would feel like living in a caravan park.

Edited by staringclown

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You may have missed the boat blowin, pardon the pun.

There may be other places around the country. The Murray river has a few sites. I was in Mildura last year and they have just completed a big marina project. I think I could do an extended holiday on a houseboat but if I was permanently moored in a marina somewhere it would feel like living in a caravan park.

That would be right. The only way you can get around government beuracracy around land release, and they have decided to move in and take that option away.

You would probably find the local members all bought a few houseboats pre 2005 and then to get instant equity banned new ones but of course their will forever be in a monopolistic position.

Sounds like this might be in some cases blowins only way forward. Buy a boat with "dwelling rights" already established. Like one of the ones already moored in Noosa. Probably like houses cost a bomb now this has even been regulated. :censored:

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That would be right. The only way you can get around government beuracracy around land release, and they have decided to move in and take that option away.

You would probably find the local members all bought a few houseboats pre 2005 and then to get instant equity banned new ones but of course their will forever be in a monopolistic position.

Sounds like this might be in some cases blowins only way forward. Buy a boat with "dwelling rights" already established. Like one of the ones already moored in Noosa. Probably like houses cost a bomb now this has even been regulated. :censored:

You are a cynic tom. :D But all the same you're probably correct. It's hard to be a modern day swagman. Have you seen those guys that built the shacks in tassie? I saw a show on the ABC about these. Built illegally on crown land. There were inspectors checking whether they complied with the building code. If not goodbye. What ever happened to squatters rights?

You will comply.

Edit: full stop

Edited by staringclown

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You are a cynic tom. :D But all the same you're probably correct. It's hard to be a modern day swagman. Have you seen those guys that built the shacks in tassie? I saw a show on the ABC about these. Built illegally on crown land. There were inspectors checking whether they complied with the building code. If not goodbye. What ever happened to squatters rights?

You will comply.

Wait for another round of anarchy.

Bureaucracy is only effective when people are compliant.

If we ever have a truly catastrophic global meltdown, (economic, social, etc) I suggest all the rules will change.

Conan the barbarian/Mad Max style.

Can't see it happening in my life-time.

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Wait for another round of anarchy.

Bureaucracy is only effective when people are compliant.

If we ever have a truly catastrophic global meltdown, (economic, social, etc) I suggest all the rules will change.

Conan the barbarian/Mad Max style.

Can't see it happening in my life-time.

I and my family were caught in Mt Isa during the '74 floods. Food ran out within three days. My old man went down to the shops and did battle with a bunch of desperate mothers. He only managed to score a few sticks of celery and a can of carnation milk. There is only ever really three days between now and revolution. Luckily, it would take a pretty big natural disaster to affect the entire country at the same time. Economic disasters however...

As long as the distribution system stays up we're ok. Be nice if we could continue to produce enough to feed ourselves. Hence my climate change bent. The murray darling system can't be allowed to die. It's not my lifetime I'm concerned about sol.

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