Remember a couple of posts ago when I indulged in a country living fantasy? Well, it could be closer to reality than I expected. Luke and I have talked about it before in fairly hypothetical terms on visits to the country - would you want to live near the mountains or the coast, that sort of thing - but now we've started looking at houses and talking about how to go about actually moving to the country (or back to the country in my case).
In a quiet moment at work I looked up country houses to buy on a real estate website. I was surprised what you can get for the same amount of money you'd spend on a small inner city apartment. I mentioned this to Luke and we now spend time most nights scrolling properties to buy. Looking at houses for sale has become my new looking at shoes and dresses to buy!
I think we're serious. Or we're seriously considering it anyway. We've talked about where we'd like to move and how to go about it - jobs would need to come before a house, and it would be wise to rent first just in case we decide 'tree changing' isn't for us after all.
It's hard to believe because, as I said in the previous post, I never, ever imagined myself going back to the country - leaving my beloved Melbourne - after coming here as a 19 year old to go to university. I seriously love Melbourne, I love living close to the city and being in the thick of it.
But I've been building on my fantasy, imaging us walking our greyhound along bush tracks, ruddy-cheeked and gumboot-shod (us, not the dog); enjoying breathtaking mountain views from the loungeroom of our quaint little cottage, as we sit in front of our wood heater; growing and preserving our own vegies... But before I get carried away, we need to really to consider the pros and cons, and think long and hard about whether we really are suited to country life.
I read an old article this morning that claimed most tree-changers regret the move because country living doesn't turn out to be as peaceful and idyllic as they expected . Although the article mentions only two per cent of them did any research on where they were relocating to (duh!), this has given me pause. I hope that living on a farm and then in a very small town until the age of 19 gives me greater insight into the differences between city and country living, but I'm aware I just might be romanticising it.
So what is our current thinking? We have no particular place in mind we'd like to move to, but somewhere on the eastern side of Melbourne is preferable so we aren't too far from Luke's family. I'd like to be within two hours from Melbourne and fairly close to a large regional centre. We don't want to live on a hobby farm, but we also don't want to live cheek-by-jowl with our neighbours because we can do that in suburbia.
Somewhere that attracts wine-and-foodie day trippers from Melbourne would be good because there'd be greater likelihood of being able to get good coffee (for Luke) and gluten-free food (for me), and maybe some other tree-changers so we aren't the only former city slickers in the village.
Ultimately, our destination would mostly be determined by where we can both get jobs that would allow us a reasonable standard of living.
Anyway, some pros and cons...
- Cheaper real estate. Owning a house in the city is almost pure fantasy for us but in the country it could be a reality.
- A slower pace of life. We don't exactly lead a fast-paced life in the city (I can't remember the last time we went out on Saturday night) so it's not as if the change of tempo would come as a shock.
- Living closer to nature. Trees! Fresh air! Wildlife! Greenery!
- Less traffic.
- A decent sized yard (anything is bigger than we have now, which is no yard). We could have a vegie garden, or a lot more space for one than we'd ever have in the city.
- We could have pets (usually not allowed in city rentals)
- I will probably need to buy a car as public transport will be non-existent or very limited.
- Petrol and food can be more expensive (we'd use a lot more petrol, but could grow some of our vegies).
- We'd both be earning less (or I certainly would because legal secretaries in the CBD are much better paid than even their suburban counterparts).
- Fewer job opportunities. I'm guessing there won't even be many jobs for legal secretaries. I'm not too precious about what I'd do for a living, but I don't have the same breadth of experience that Luke does.
- We'll have to travel greater distances to work (possibly), to shop (even for groceries), to visit family and friends
- I won't be close to my doctors. I currently visit my neurologist every three months and my integrated medicine GP every month or two. It's unlikely I could find these specialists close to me in the country.
- Medical services in general are relatively limited. Hospitals and ambulances are further away. This will be more important as we get older.
- Having a yard and a garden takes work. I'm pretty lazy and chronically low on energy. Am I really going to make the effort?
- Internet and mobile phone reception might not be as reliable or fast.
- Country people can be...less than welcoming and...not very sophisticated (as an example - One Nation didn't get enough votes to win a Senate seat for Victoria, but the electorates where it polled best were all in the country.)
- Luke and I are both a bit snobby and enjoy gently mocking country people (I feel like I'm allowed to since I was one once!). We can keep our snobbery to ourselves, but could we develop genuine, rewarding friendships with them (if they would let us!)?
- I'll probably have to get rid of my purple quiff so I'm not the town freak.
- Greatly reduced (or non-existent) opportunities for cultural enrichment, but then it's not like we take full advantage of the cultural smorgasbord available to us now, due to laziness, lack of energy and advancing homebodiness.
- If we do decide to return, we wouldn't be able to afford a house in Melbourne with the proceeds of selling a house in the country.
The cons certainly outweigh the pros in quantity...but qualitatively? I don't know...More research, critical thought and discussion required.