Four years ago, Amber and Ross Moresi felt like they were living their dream life.
They’d moved from Melbourne to Queensland’s Palm Beach after Ross scored a high-paying role at a successful surfwear company, with a relocation package that involved a job for Amber.
Ross was travelling overseas regularly and interstate weekly, and being groomed to take on a global position within the company.
Then, overnight, everything changed. Every sales manager within the company was made redundant. Ross had just purchased an engagement ring to present to Amber in time for her 30th birthday.
“I was made redundant on the Wednesday, and I was going to pick up the ring on the Thursday,” says Ross. “I’d also just bought Amber a dog, and we didn’t even have a home to live in.”
What the couple didn’t know at the time was that this event was the beginning of a journey that would eventually lead to a greater sense of appreciation and deeper fulfilment than they could have imagined.
Unable to see themselves returning to the fast pace of inner-city Melbourne life, the couple decided to relocate to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. They bought a home in Rye, where the bay and ocean beaches are both just a stone’s throw away.
Ross got a sought-after job with another big apparel company in Melbourne but quickly realised that spending three hours a day in the car meant that he was incredibly stressed and had no time to spend with Amber or go surfing.
“We did move down here for the lifestyle, and we weren’t living that lifestyle,” says Amber.
The couple set about making some even bigger changes. Ross left his job and began a mature-age carpentry apprenticeship with a local builder. Amber, meanwhile, was immersing herself in the community through working in retail and hospitality.
Ross was drawn to carpentry not just because it was in the family (his father and sister are both carpenters), but because of the lifestyle it afforded him: instead of spending nights and weekends on emails, he could now be home and done for the day by the late afternoon. Plus, it meant local work.
With Ross earning less than half of what he had been before, there were sacrifices. But their mental health and quality of life started to drastically improve.
Ross started surfing every day, joined the local boardriders club and traded in his modern car for a four-wheel-drive. Instead of driving 1400 kilometres a week, he was now driving 150 kilometres. The couple made friends in the community and found a sense of belonging they’d never known before.
“You can’t actually describe how welcoming and happy and fulfilling it is to be part of a community,” says Ross. “You’re fully invested, and you get back exactly what you put in. We’ve never had the support and love and friendship we’ve been able to get since we’ve moved and invested ourselves down here.”
The couple attribute the friendliness and openness of the local community to the fact that there are fewer distractions away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and to the calming effect of the ocean.
“It’s so small, but in the mornings when I got to get my coffee, you see everyone, and I leave my car running with my wallet on the dash, order my coffee, have a five-minute chat and walk out. That there is country town mentality. I love that. It’s a country town by the water,” says Ross.
As self-described “foodies”, the couple do miss the plethora of food options available in Melbourne but love the peninsula for its glorious wineries, authentic pubs and stunning natural surrounds.
“On a freezing night we put our wood heater on and rug up and go for a walk along the beach, watch the ocean,” says Ross. “You’re not just caught up in some dingy little pub or bar. Or sitting on your couch watching TV in your one-bedroom apartment. There’s this rewarding aspect to being surrounded by nature.”
“There’s a lot of beauty down here, and there’s a lot to be grateful for,” agrees Amber. “To be able to have all of that at our doorstep – front beach, back beach, bush, even residential streets — there’s beauty everywhere down here. But the people here make it.”
Despite the challenges, the Moresis are happy with where they’ve ended up.
“Life is so much better now,” says Ross. “It’s so much more rewarding now. There are so many better moments.”
This article is part of a series about Australians who have created their dream homes and lifestyles, brought to you by Set For Life.