Is anyone else old enough to remember SeaChange?

Is anyone else old enough to remember SeaChange – where ultra stressed workaholic Laura Gibson moves from high living corporate life to the tiny town of Pearl Bay – where the bridge is down and the town is beautifully cut off from the world? It was my dream to leave the rat race behind and move to a fun little town like Pearl Bay…and you know what – since COVID-19 with the whole trend of flexible work and work from home it became a real possibility for people. Think of a place about an hour and a half from your capital city and you will see the rush of people heading for a tree or sea change. It’s not just the work-from-home crew either – there are so many businesses that small towns are crying out for – postal services, café’s, builders, bed and breakfasts…I am sure you will think of something, one of our friends has moved a whole house to a country town to decorate and sell!!

 

Maybe you want to make your way there slowly think of a buy as an investment or holiday let and then move later. That way you can dip your toe in (so to speak) and build up a bit of a community before you take the big leap. That sense of community and space are the reasons we look at going bush or sea. We have learned a lot since Covid took us by surprise in 2020, and maybe it’s got us thinking about what we really value. Or is it what we need, a slightly slower pace, a less stressful part of the world? So if you are really tempted to move to a place where there is no traffic, no stress, and lots of space where do you start?

Find the town. Do you still need to be sort of close to a major city for health care or schools or can you really be in the middle of nowhere? Plan on some day trips or weekends away to put your short list of towns to the test. Chat with locals, drive around the streets and people-watch to get a real feel. Think about whether the town is busy during the holiday seasons or summer or winter. Will your car be blocked in your driveway when there’s a special yearly event or everyday during summer?
Cost the property. How much do you need to spend on a home – are you buying or renting? Rentals can actually be really hard – towns like Byron Bay are inundated with holiday rentals and it means looking for long term rentals really hard. Know what’s going on and maybe look a little further out. Keep an eye on the property market – use realestate.com to star some of your favourite homes and track how much they sell for and how quickly. It’s also best to talk to a local property expert too.
What is the community ACTUALLY like – the small town my mum lives in was cute and beautiful until they built a couple of prisons nearby and that brought a new element to the town. Go where the locals go to get a real understanding of the people who actually live there rather than the cool café that everyone visits.
What is available for you in the community, my ideal seaside town has an artists’ society and a book club…and of course I meet and fall in love with the handsome bar owner (Whoops that’s Virgin River…or Gilmore Girls). Make a list of the must-haves, the wants, and the wish list.
Work and play – If you are still working, can you work from home (how’s the internet in the area) or are there jobs in the town that would give you income but also make you feel accomplished and satisfied? If you are retired, is there enough to do, to be a part of and contribute in some way? What’s the average demographic in the area, are there going to be like-minded people?
What kind of home do you truly need? You might be coming from a large house that was once full of children, or a small apartment in the hustle and bustle of the CBD. It’s time to think about how much space you really need as a shed to tinker in might become more important than the actual size of your house, or a garden to grow your own fruit and veggies in is more important than being close to the main shops.
Consider travel, long holidays, and nomadic life before you settle – after all, life is an adventure! We are currently obsessed with families heading out on the road (check out vanlife.com.au)

If the sea or the trees are calling your soul, listen closely.  Is this the change you are really after? What is causing this urge for change? What is it you need…even while you are in the rush of a big city during this discovery stage, find a little space for yourself. Walk in the park, eat breakfast in your garden, breathe, and stay grateful!

Contact Phoebe

Phoebe is available for interviews, guest appearances, article commentary, and talks on a range of topics relating to property, mortgage broking, and personal finance (particularly for women!).