Even at this early stage, I doubt the planning will ever really end. However, it did have a specific starting point. For us it began after the inspection at our new country home. The 2.5 hour drive from our then Brisbane house gave husband and I plenty of time to get the conversation underway. We started with some reality checks. Could we sell our house in Brisbane? Could we find work in the country? How would the kids and chickens adjust? We did not have the answers and agreed that we would just have to make the move and manage the situations as they came.
Husband got to figuring out how he would transition his business and I looked into my leave options. Looks like I’d be tapping into that long service leave… We made an offer on the country place and it was done. Suddenly we realised how much we had to sort out.
Selling our Brisbane house became critical. Our settlement on the country house depended on it. It was the start of a stressful and exciting chapter for us. The market was positive and we sold within 10 days. We seemed to do a lot of work to it within that 10 days but we were happy to accept an offer straight up without the hassle of major renovations (which we had no spare money for) and without the need for open house inspections.
We decided a staged transition was the best approach for us. We’d live with family for 5 months and remain in Brisbane and continue working. A shipping container of our ‘stuff’ would be stored elsewhere and delivered to our new home in the country at some point.
The packing phase began. Timing meant a few weeks between houses so we bought a reconditioned shipping container (we’d had success in doing this before) and slowly got packing. Packing with a 2.5 and 4 year old around was a challenge. Hubby and I were both still working so once the children were in bed our nights were spent sorting and packing. We sorted items into categories with plenty of things accumulating in the donate and giveaway piles. We also had to decide which items we would transfer to the shipping container (which we would not have access to for a while) which items we would use while living with family and which items we would need to store short term and take with us as soon as we got the keys.
Disconnection and establishment of services was an interesting task. Our choice was limited to only one provider for some services. We were moving to a property with an established family home, a separate self contained granny flat, a large shed, no town water supply, no rubbish collection, 7 water tanks, 2 dams and 2 bores, 12 solar panels, a gas oven and a wood oven that also acts as a back up to the solar water system. There was plenty of things to figure out.
We tossed up our options on what to do with the granny flat at the new place. There would be a big jump in stamp duty if we intended to rent it out within the first year of ownership. We decided not to. Instead we’d focus on dressing it up and opening up invitations to family and friends to visit and stay until we could rent it out and start earning money from it. The pressure was off in starting work on that project.
Our approach during the transition was influenced by the fact we were still working at our current jobs. We were reluctant to move the kids to a new daycare for such a short period but husband’s mother lived on the other side of Brisbane so a commute for drop offs and pick ups at their current centre was just too much. We had no problem getting both kids into care 3 days a week at a centre near her place. We anticipated some settling issues as they readjusted, but overall things went well.
I liked my job but I was not going to miss working in the city. Although I tackled the commute on my scooter and shaved off a stack of travel time and money compared to driving or using public transport, it was still a hectic start and finish to a work day. I told my boss as soon as the property contract was finalised. I was essentially giving the longest notice ever. I wanted to allow her and my team plenty of time to plan for my departure. I made it clear that I was happy to continue working – if working remotely could be considered. They were a forward thinking organisation and I figured planting this little thought seed couldn’t hurt. I started thinking about solutions to problems at the workplace that involved me working on them – remotely.
Management were thrilled for me. One of them, a mother, knew I was making the move for my children and she respected that. She encouraged me to use her as a referee and offered some job hunting tips and support on the spot. She gave me the longest hug I had had for a while. It was lovely. In fact, every work colleague I told was thrilled at the prospect. And almost every one of them had a story to tell of their visit to the town we were relocating to. No-one thought we were completely nuts. It was comforting.
Moving the chicken coop was a bit tricky but we managed to make a good sized run in our temporary home at my mother-in-law’s place and they seemed to settle well. Although they would not have free range reign there (no perimeter fencing) they seemed happy.
We are now halfway through the transition period and head out to the country place most weekends to explore, unpack, and generally get a feel for life away from the city. A lag in having the shipping container arrive with our belongings was a pleasant and unanticipated bonus that allowed us the opportunity of time with very few possessions. We could get to know the place and plan, plan, plan.
• Recognise it will be a stressful time, but extremely exciting. Whatever the balance, certainly a tiring time. Be mindful of the affect this will have on the family physically.
• Do what you need to feel in control. For me this was creating lists and allocating tasks.
• Splitting up tasks is critical. Sharing the workload reduces the stress.
• Setting up the children (and pets) with their familiar bedroom furniture helped them feel at home.
• Keep family and friends updated during the most hectic points so they understand what you are experiencing, but can be excited for you and offer support.
• Providing plenty of notice at work is not only a courtesy to assist in workforce planning it also means you can comfortably explore other employment options (hopefully with their support).