Sea change basics: Things to evaluate before you relocate
With a sea change on the agenda for many Australian families, researching your options before you relocate will ensure your sea change is a success.
Thinking of swapping city life for a slower pace? These 7 insider tips will help you weigh up the short and long-term benefits before you relocate to the beach.
1. Support in numbers
Moving further away from friends and family is a big thing to give up, especially if you rely on your support network regularly.
The upside – A bigger house and an awesome beach locale means you're likely to see more of your friends than you did in the city. Hint: Invest in an extra guest room!
The downside – Limited access to family and friends means you won’t have a babysitter on tap or friends nearby to assist in times of need. This may put a strain on your relationship so it’s worth considering before you make a big move.
2. It won’t be a holiday every day
Just because you like a place while on holidays, doesn’t mean you’ll love it as much once you live there full time. Take the time to explore your options, so you don’t end up viewing your favourite seaside spot with rose-coloured glasses.
The upside – Living by the sea means spending lazy days exploring rock pools with the kids, kicking the ball on a virtually empty street, riding your bikes and climbing trees like you did when you were a kid.
The downside – With no new cafes, a wait-time longer than five minutes for a (below average) coffee, limited access to museums, sharing the beach and car park with thousands of others in peak season, and fighting for the last chicken at the local IGA - not every day is a holiday in Australia’s small coastal towns.
3. Whether the weather
If you visit somewhere during summer, be prepared for the reality to be a whole lot different in winter.
The upside – With the beach so close, you can spend every sunny day swimming, surfing or walking along the beach (instead of sweating it out in the city).
The downside - It still rains. It gets cold. You’ll need a home with adequate heating (open fires and combustion heaters are popular on the coast). If you feel the chill, you may struggle with those bitterly cold winds that come with coastal life. Also, the threat of snakes and fire in summer is real if you’re living near the bush. Have a first-aid kit on hand at all times and buy home insurance to safeguard against unpredictable events.
4. Easing into it
Moving house always involves a certain amount of stress, but a major move like a sea change can be more challenging if you’re not prepared. Consider renting before buying so you can try out the new lifestyle and area before you commit.
The upside – There are plenty of resources and tools to make your move run smoother. Make the move easier by managing your mail online. Use pre-planned checklists and get removalists to help with your moving boxes.
The downside – Moving house is stressful, especially to an area outside of your comfort zone. Make things easier by choosing to reduce all your belongings – from major furniture to clothing - otherwise the cost of hiring removalists will skyrocket (as will the number of moving boxes you’ll need).
5. Learning experience
Moving house with your children adds a layer of complexity to a sea change, so do your research into schooling options before you move.
The upside – Living in a smaller community means getting into daycare can be easier and community hubs offer services like occasional care. Schools on the coast are generally more likely to offer outdoor activities and programs like surfing, which is a bonus if your children are the active types.
The downside – You’ll have limited options when it comes to daycare and schools. If you’re after a particular type of school or have children with special needs, then you’ll probably need to travel longer distances to drop the kids off each day.
6. Work it out
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when embarking on a sea change is employment. Research your employment options before you move to a particular area before taking the leap of faith.
The upside – Getting the country train to the city is easy and great for email catch-up. Alternatively, think about negotiating flexible workdays with your employer to see if you can work from home. For the self-employed, there are fewer distractions out of the city so you’ll be more productive.
The downside – Logistics like getting to work might be a deal breaker for some people. If you need to be close to public transport then your options may be limited. A career change or starting your own business is a popular choice for people who sea change but does add pressure to a big move.
7. Adding it all up
Moving house is always going to cost money, but a sea change can end up being more expensive if you’re not careful.
The upside – Without all those new cafes and bars on your doorstep, you’ll save in the long term just by eating at home more. In general, you’ll also get more for your money's worth with a bigger house for a lesser price.
The downside – It’ll cost you to physically pack up and move, so budget in a buffer. You’ll need to buy a car if you don’t already have one, so factor that in too as well as extra petrol costs for travelling longer distances on a regular basis.