Why a Sea Change Was the Best Decision I've Made Yet

Updated 02/23/18
@kellymuller_

It’s been five months since my husband and I waved goodbye to the eastern suburbs of Sydney and headed north to make Lennox Head our home. The decision to move was considered and deliberate—but it wasn’t because we were unhappy. Bondi had been our home for four years, and Bronte for a year and a half before that, and we truly loved them both. Sydney was where we both furthered our careers, where we got engaged, where we had our first baby and where we came home to as husband and wife. The friends we had, the memories we made and the life we lived all brought us so much joy.

So, why the move?

My husband and I both grew up in beach towns in New Zealand so when we moved to Australia, living by the sea was our only non-negotiable. Bronte and then Bondi served us well over the years and when we had our daughter, our small apartment right on the beach was more than enough for us.

The decision wasn’t about having a bigger house or a backyard (as many would assume), more that we wanted to be part of a community that was more relatable to our lifestyle. Sure Bondi is filled with kids, but not within our friendship circle. As Sunny got older, we had to start turning down social invitations as they didn’t fit with her bedtime routine, and we couldn’t host people at our apartment because it was just too small. We were also juggling work and family life, and mixed with the hustle and bustle of Sydney, we started to yearn for some calm in our chaos.

We threw around a few ideas: Back to New Zealand? The South Coast? The Northern Beaches? But after visiting friends in Byron a couple of times a year, there was just something about this place that felt right. So, with a looming expiry date on our rental, we decided to go all in, and just do it. 

Of course we experienced the usual anxieties that come with change. I worried about finding a house and my husband worried about finding a job. Turns out both are a little scarce up these ways. While there is less competition for rentals, there is also less availability. And don’t be fooled, it’s no cheaper to rent, but you do get more for your money.

When it came to jobs for my husband, it was even tougher; the area has one of the highest rates of unemployment in NSW. My husband has worked in local government for six years and is highly skilled but the opportunities in his area of expertise have been few and far between. As fate would have it, this particular challenge turned out to be one of the best parts of our move. It forced us to stop and to consider what we wanted our life to look like. Because I have my own business, we realised we actually had a little more flexibility around what that was.

In Sydney, I was in the office three and a half days a week and then after Sunny’s bedtime, working well into the night. Josh was working four and a half days and sharing the entire load with Sunny and day-to-day home life. We thought we had balance, but all we were doing was burning ourselves out.

So, we decided that Josh would be a stay at home dad. I stopped saying yes, took on less and am producing some of my best work to date. The move has shown us that you don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done when it comes to work and your family. One of the best parts about living up here is that everyone else has realised that very thing too. It is a thriving hub of young, creative, motivated and ambitious business owners and entrepreneurs trying to live their best lives with their families.

Up here, we’re giving Sunny the childhood we both had in New Zealand (in a much better climate) and we’re proving that change can be as good as a holiday.

 To get the Byron Bay aesthetic in your own home, here are five of my favorite local shops to go to. 

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