Well you are not alone – there seems to be no shortage of people wanting to make the tree change due to the high cost of housing in Sydney and many people not wanting to move away from the city to the burbs. I can certainly relate to that!
I am often asked about what it is like to live here after moving from Sydney almost two years ago now – what the pros and cons are. So I thought it was time I wrote a post to help people out.
Please keep in mind this is simply my experience and opinion and everyone is different, but this advice might just help you make a clearer decision.
It is such a great lifestyle down here – fabulous restaurants and cafes, lots of space and fresh air, lots to do and explore, plenty of golf courses, gorgeous drives, lots of vineyards, not to mention a great place to raise children. Generally speaking it is much more affordable to live (but don’t be fooled, there are also very expensive areas too) and it is still so close to Sydney – only an hour from the airport (in non-peak times).
So straight to business ………. if you are planning on commuting every day like my husband does, I won’t lie to you it is tough. That is the only downside about living down here.
Catching the train from here takes two and a half hours and the trains only come once an hour, so if you miss a train you have to wait a long time for the next – this is definitely the worst option. Most people either drive into the city or drive to Campbelltown and catch the train from there – trains run every 10-15 minutes and it only takes my husband two hours door to door each way. If he drives, he leaves round 5.30am and leaves work at 7pm to beat the traffic. If you travel in the main peak times, it will make a 1.25 hour journey take 2.5 hours!
Other options are to stay in Sydney one or two nights or if your company allows, work remotely!
Everybody is different and has different circumstances, but I wanted to throw the options out there.
City to country living
Other than that we love it completely and can’t see ourselves moving back anytime soon. From been such a city gal, I haven’t missed it at all. But I think the main factors contributing to the easy transition is that I met a lot of good friends down here early on, everywhere does good coffee and we have brilliant cafes and restaurants down here (some restaurants have SMH Good Food hats and would give Sydney fine dining a run for its money) – so I don’t feel I am missing out at all. Coffee/restaurant culture is important to me!
Say no the burbs!
I didn’t want to do the burbs thing in Sydney! We have 1,500 square metres, lots of trees, a four bedroom house that is completely renovated – all for the price of a 1 bedroom shoebox flat in Neutral Bay – not to mention a great, less stressful lifestyle! Of course – there are some hideously expensive parts to the Southern Highlands as well – an area not far from us ranges $4-8 million for a house – they also get 100 acres with it though!
All my friends in the Highlands have moved down from Sydney too – mainly northern beaches, lower north shore and eastern suburbs, who all moved for the same reason. We can’t afford to buy where we want to live and don’t want to move to where we can afford for the sake of having a house. So there are a lot of like minded people down here.
I met most of my friends through the kids – at the park, joined a few mothers groups, etc. I made good friends within a week of moving here and are still good friends almost two years on. It makes settling in so much easier – get involved! Everyone is so friendly.
Great place for kids
It’s a fab place for kids – great schools (private and public), an indoor soft play centre, lots of parks including the lovely Lake Alexandra, kid friendly country pubs, all the usual Kindermusik, Kindergym, etc. There are lots of kids clothes and shoe shops – ranging from the expensive Seed down to Target/Big W.
There are lots and lots of gorgeous boutique stores in the Southern Highlands catering to most people. If you do want big shopping malls and department stores though, the closest is 30-40 mins away at Campbelltown at Macarthur Square. Not the nicest place in the world, but good for a big shop. But apart from that we have everything here. I also have started buying heaps online.
Daycare is much cheaper as well! In Sydney we were paying $80-90 a day, whereas down here you will pay around $60 a day! Pre-school is about $34 a day. There are a lot of centres in the area, but they do vary considerably in quality. So the best thing to do is check a few of the centres out and make sure the one you choose suits your needs.
Surviving the winters
I was worried about the winters and how I would survive as I am a summer girl. But it hasn’t been bad at all – I actually found living in Sydney much colder as no where is centrally heated. Our place in Sydney was freezing! So I think having central heating has made a huge difference.
It is also about layering – get yourself a warm coat and you will be fine.
Business without borders
Living here has also made me realise how easy it is to run a business from home and not be based in Sydney. I run my own marketing communications business from home with six global clients (based in Sydney, Singapore or Melbourne) and it is great to know that life does revolve outside of Sydney!
All services (phone, internet, etc) are fine here – not as much choice, but the usual suspects are here Optus, Telstra, TPG, etc. I haven’t noticed a difference in quality with speed and connections.
Just do it!
We had tossed around the idea for a long time and eventually we just said let’s do it! We didn’t want live life always wanting to do something and then spend all the time talking about and never doing anything about it. Eventually we just said let’s try it. We are not making a huge investment in our house so if we decided we didn’t like living here then we can just sell up and move back. We now can’t see ourselves moving back to Sydney!