Shifting from a tiny house in inner Sydney to a 12-hectare hobby farm has given us an alternative perspective on city living.
Cities are fantastic for entertainment, careers, and being in the centre of an exciting and diverse metropolis. But this buzz also comes with inconvenience, anonymity and compromise.
Here are a few things we didn’t expect we when we moved to the country.
1. When you have lots of room, people will stay
Our inner-city house was small, so overseas family and guests tended to stay just a few nights as space was at a premium.
In the country, our home is larger with more bedrooms, so people are comfortable and can stay much longer.
Our city friends enjoy the peace and quiet when visiting our home. We do not have neighbours nearby, are perched up on a hill with views of the countryside and are regularly visited by native wildlife such as echidnas, kangaroos, parrots and goannas.
2. Finding good tradies is easy
We are always hearing anecdotes and horror stories of renovations gone wrong and dodgy workmen from our city friends, but we’ve experienced the opposite in the country.
In smaller towns tradies with a good reputation are well known, in demand and charge honest fees.
We have met plumbers, electricians and builders who are so reliable and trustworthy that we give them our keys when we are not home and let them get on with it.
3. Shopping is so convenient
I remember our weekends in Sydney, being caught in traffic trying to get to Chatswood to shop. We would eventually locate a car space, pay for parking and then walk a mile to get to the jam-packed stores with long queues.
That is a distant memory, as here in the country it’s usually easy to find a parking spot right out the front and we don’t have to pay any parking fees.
Much less time is spent just getting to and from the shops which are not usually crowded. Plus people are friendly and service is personal.
4. Schools offer more than meets the eye
When we moved to the country, I was concerned our kids would miss out and not be exposed to the cultural experiences cities have to offer.
But in addition to the regional strengths and values, country schools can offer a variety of study, sport and cultural tours and programs to capital cities, plus overseas exchanges and the opportunity to host international students.
Consequently, they have gained a balanced view of the world with both an urban and regional appreciation.
5. You’ll learn weird and unexpected skills
Once we settled in the country, we quickly accumulated animals including two horses, two alpacas, a sheep, two dogs, two cats, six chickens and about 40 goats.
With the help of friends and neighbours we quickly learnt and developed skills we had never imagined. These include installing electric fences, hand-rearing, ear-tagging and bottle-feeding baby goats, shearing Matthew the cranky sheep and learning the intricacies of pumping water between three water tanks.
Meanwhile in the garden, every year we are ambushed when our tomatoes, apricots, peaches and citrus all seem to ripen in a rush, and we are left to frantically pickle and dehydrate the surplus, plus make sauce, pesto, and jam.
We know our lives would have been entirely different had we had stayed in the city. But when we balance the opportunities and experiences living in the country has provided, we are pleased we made that leap of faith, packed up our city life and found our slice of paradise.