What to Consider When Making a Sea/Tree Change

Article by Belinda Fuller

iStock_000039589914Small (1)It might seem like a great idea to chuck in the stresses of city living and move to the country or coast for an easier and less stressful lifestyle. The idea of moving out of the city and making major lifestyle changes is a long held dream for many people. It’s fantastic to have dreams, but the reality of such a change can sometimes be tough. Many people’s ideas of getting back to nature and enjoying a quieter life lead them on a journey they didn’t expect.

I personally can think of several occasions when I’ve been on holidays and looked in the real estate window dreaming of a sea change. I consider it briefly, before crashing back to reality – I am a city girl at heart and know that I couldn’t move away from my friends, family and all that it has to offer – at least not right now.

A sea change (or tree change) is a drastic change from a city lifestyle and is really about evaluating what’s important to you then improving your lifestyle to achieve a healthier, less stressful environment. It’s about living life to the full and enjoying a more peaceful or meaningful existence. It doesn’t really matter where you go and is often more about downsizing (your house, your income, your expectations, your workload). Sometimes though, the desired calmer and happier lifestyle doesn’t just happen. Often the stress and anxiety that follows such a major move is more than people expect. If you’re considering such a move, some things to consider include:

1. Why do you want to move? Are you reacting to a stressful situation that could be changed with some effort? A difficult job or relationship or feelings of loneliness may not disappear in a different location. Try to resolve these issues first and then see whether the sea (tree) change still appeals.

2. Will you miss your support network? Friends and family won’t be close to where you move. Since moving is considered to be one of life’s most stressful events,  you may not feel an immediate sense of calm! Most people hate moving – packing, unpacking, moving, finding and establishing a new home, meeting people, making contacts, finding essential services, settling children into school, starting a new job, the list goes on. Will you be able to maintain contact with your family and friends from your new location and will proximity to those established networks be an issue for you?

3. Do you know the area? Many people holiday in an area and think they’d like to live there. Life as a resident is often very different to that of a holiday maker. For starters, at peak times, you might not be able to access services you normally take for granted. Shops will be crowded, doctors booked out, restaurants full, and other services simply unavailable. You should always consider a trial period first – rent out your home if you own it before selling up – and rent in the location you’d like to live. If that’s not possible, try to visit the location at different times throughout the year, so your view of the area isn’t based on the ‘best’ it has to offer.

4. Will you have access to essential services? These are your essential services and differ from person to person, but consider availability of hospitals, transport, schools, tertiary education, doctors, other medical facilities, entertainment, day care, nursing homes, children’s services (pre-school, playgroup, dance class, swim school, sporting groups etc.). Work out what’s important to you and find out what’s available.

5. Can you rent first? If you can, this provides a no risk chance to get to know the area. You could even find out about house sitting but try to give yourself at least 6 to 12 months to settle in because it will take at least this long to get to know the area and some people. A year is a great trial time frame since you’ll experience all the seasons, various holiday periods if it’s a popular holiday destination and all that the town has to offer (good and bad). Talk to local residents during this time about how long they have lived there and what they do to fill their time. Find out what the town has to offer and evaluate whether it suits your needs. This also gives you the added benefit of keeping your own house in the city (if you own) so you have something to come back to if the move doesn’t work out.

6. What work opportunities are available? Many coastal and regional towns offer fantastic job opportunities but many don’t. If you’re considering starting your own business, have you done your research? What jobs are available and is it possible to secure employment before moving? If not, how long can you last before finding a job? These are important considerations so that the stresses of seeking work don’t impact on your happiness and ability to evaluate truly how successful this sea (tree) change is going to be.

Clarify the lifestyle that you’re seeking and work out if the novelty will wear off after a short period. Taking a holiday by the beach is one thing, but living there is another. If you enjoy culture, the arts, theatres, cafes, restaurants and lively bars, then moving to the country may send you mad. Instead of a sense of calm and serenity you might just be bored and frustrated! Any place is completely different when you live there so take that into consideration when planning your move.

Are you considering a sea (tree) change any time soon? Would you like help from a Career Coach to establish a plan to identify your work options once you arrive? If so, see our Career Counselling and Job Search Coaching services.