My husband and I lived and worked in Sydney full-time for 11 years. We always wanted to buy our own home, but the price of property near the coast where we wanted to enjoy the active outdoors lifestyle always seemed out of reach.
So we continued to rent and had to move seven times during those 11 eleven years, each time a rental property was sold. We watched as many of our friends and colleagues took out million-dollar mortgages to be able to afford even a small-sized home in an area they wanted to live in. The stress and pressure this put them under was something we wanted to avoid.
As much as we hankered to have our own place to finally hang up our paintings, which had been wrapped up for 10 years, we weren't prepared to put ourselves under the stress of paying off a huge mortgage for a small place, and never having time to enjoy life.
So, last year, we started to look at other options. We visited the Sunshine Coast several times for work, and were blown away at how affordable housing was compared to Sydney. We thought it might be a good move to buy a property there as an investment.
We gave up the stress of trying to save to buy a property in Sydney that would put us under huge financial and emotional stress.
My husband flew up for one day, looked at several properties and flew back to Sydney. The very next day he sat me down and said "this is the one we should buy". I was still thinking he meant as an investment, but then he added "to live in".
Short of accusing him of a mid-life crisis, I thought about it and couldn't find a reason not to. Pregnant with our second child and knowing the rental property we were in wasn't going to be suitable for a baby, I said "let's do it".
We put in an offer that day. I hadn't seen the property but it backed on to a National Park, close to the beaches, had a pool, four bedrooms, was newly renovated and was going for $580,000. We couldn't have bought a unit in Sydney for that.
So we packed up our things, made plans to work remotely from our new home, sold a car, found a school for our son, ignored all the people who said "you are mad" and "you shouldn't move house when heavily pregnant" and made our way to our new home.
It's always hard to leave friends and family, and they are what I miss most.
I still wake up each day and think I'm in someone's AirBnb property and can't believe it is our home. We've only been here a few months, but in that time we've had a baby, our son is settling in to a new school and we are making new friends and becoming part of the local community. The people here are friendly, there's no traffic jams and we get to swim in the ocean most days before school and work.
It's always hard to leave friends and family, and they are what I miss most. But now we are here many of them are making the trip to visit us. I will always love Sydney's beaches and National Parks, but I got to enjoy 10 years of them and feel like I made the most of it.
As the years passed, I became aware of the mounting traffic issues, the rising housing prices and the rush and stress that comes with that. I found myself run ragged, with a busy schedule and spending way too much time in a car every day.
Making the decision to move interstate meant we gave up sitting in traffic jams every day trying to travel 10kms in 45 minutes to school or work. We gave up the stress of trying to save to buy a property in Sydney that would put us under huge financial and emotional stress.
Instead we have gained a beautiful home that needs no work done to it, birdsong in the mornings, ocean swims every day, opportunities to meet new people and many adventures to be had exploring the National Parks around us.
We spend less on our mortgage than we did on rent in Sydney. We spend less money altogether because we spend more time at home and prepare more home-cooked meals. We shop at the local markets instead of the big shopping outlets.
Our son is way more active than he ever could be where we lived in Sydney. He now surfs, body boards, rides his bike or scooter every single day, if not twice a day, and often even before school. He's learnt so many new outdoor skills since we arrived here and he's thriving.
I am excited that my kids will get to have a childhood similar to mine, where we played outdoors most of the day and had lots of neighbourhood friends. I'm excited that I can be so much more productive with my work output as I spend no time at all in traffic jams. We spend time on educating ourselves, researching, writing and on our fitness. We spend more quality time together as a family because we aren't commuting.
It's not the physical house that has made the most difference, it's all the mental and emotional health benefits that we are gaining from a quieter, calmer way of life.
I'm grateful that just before our 40th birthdays we can finally say we have our own home. And not just for the sake of it, but a home we love and cherish, beautiful surroundings, and without the financial stress we would have if we'd stayed and tried to buy something in one of the big cities.
But for us, it's not the physical house that has made the most difference, it's all the mental and emotional health benefits that we are gaining from a quieter, calmer way of life, that means we aren't running ourselves ragged for an end goal that may or may not have been achievable -- to own a home in Sydney.
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