While these types of changes used to mostly apply to retirees selling up and moving to a coastal or rural area to retire, these days more people are choosing to escape the big city rat race by changing their lifestyles to achieve less stress and better work life balance. But this kind of major life change isn’t for everyone, so how do you work out if it’s right for you?
Over the Christmas break, up and down the coast of Australia, people will be gazing into the windows of real estate agencies, checking out property prices in their sleepy holiday destination. I know because I’ve done it before and stood next to others doing the same! We were having such a wonderful time in a coastal area on the northern NSW coast, and wondered how we could make it work as a place to live full time. We did do some research and seriously considered the move, but once those holiday endorphins wore off and we came back to reality, we never actually followed through for several different reasons. But many people will take up the chance to cash in on big city property prices and downsize their lives to achieve a better work life balance.
Achieving a successful sea/tree change is about defining exactly what is important to you in terms of lifestyle, then changing things to achieve more time, less stress, more fulfilment and/or a better work life balance. Thanks to technology, the options for people to achieve this dream while still earning a decent living are endless – it’s just a case of deciding what you can do and where.
Demographers estimate that of the 350,000 Australians per year that talk about making a sea/tree change, 20% will make it happen. Of those who do make it happen – 20% have major regrets and give it all away. In contrast, 80% are glad they made the change and wish they’d done it sooner – so how can you work out if this kind of change is right for you and avoid becoming one of the 20% with major regrets? Here’s some tips to get you started:
Tip # 1: Gain clarity about what it is you really want – ask yourself why you are making the move? What’s the main thing(s) you’d like to achieve or change about your current lifestyle – you could refer to our article this month on How to Create a Life by Design to help you gain this clarity. The biggest cause of failure results from people not being clear about what they really want or having unrealistic expectations about what the move will mean.
Tip # 2: Think about your lifestyle – how are you going to earn a living, how much do you need to comfortably do the things you want to do – and what will make you happy and fulfilled? Another major cause of failure is poor financial planning and under-estimating how much your new lifestyle is going to cost.
Tip # 3: Think long and hard about location – do you want to move to a coastal community to live by the beach? Would you prefer to escape to the country on a farm, in a small country town, or even a larger regional centre? Research and planning is essential when making such a major change, especially if you have children. Are there schools and facilities close by? If not, are you prepared for the travel that you/they will endure to achieve the kind of education you’d like them to have? What will you do for work? Are there the right opportunities close by or will you have to travel?
Tip # 4: Are you prepared emotionally? Not only will this be a major change to your day to day lifestyle, you will probably be moving away from friends and family. You need to overcome any fears you may have of the unknown and maintain a flexible approach in order to fit into your new community. You will have to make an effort to get to know people and small communities are often very different to larger cities.
This type of change is always going to be scary, with many decisions to make along the way. Fear, excitement, confusion, anticipation, uncertainty, eagerness, trepidation, hope – you’ll feel all the emotions as you go through the process. Just remember how rewarding a sea/tree change is for many people – it might be the perfect way to finally create the happiness you crave.
Life is too short to be unhappy – is this something you’ve been wanting to do? If so, you should explore your options and do your research. If you decide to go ahead, but you’re worried about your career opportunities, getting career advice from our Career Counsellors can help! Please see our Career Guidance Services for more information.