The post below was also mostly written in November 2018. The furthest Mr. ETT and I had ever moved was 5km from each of our parent’s homes when we got married 2 decades ago. This move to regional NSW happened before COVID – it would be an entirely different story today. Enjoy the trip back in the Enough Time Machine.
We’re Moving House (November 2018)
In my last post, I spoke about getting a new job. What I didn’t tell you is that it is in country NSW! That’s right – Mr. ETT and I are making a tree change.
It’s hot, noisy and crowded. Or at least, that’s our perception. When I look at where we live from an outsider’s viewpoint, it’s pretty. It’s got plenty of trees, wide enough streets, and we are surrounded by parks. Everything seems quiet. There are newly built local shops within walking distance, and walking paths around the neighbourhood. The three bedroom house on an average block we bought 20 years ago has somehow become a “large” block in today’s market of 400m2, yet it’s in a suburb that is still relatively affordable (for the fringes of Sydney). But…
This year we hit 47^C in summer, and almost the same last year. This is surrounded by weeks of 40^C plus conditions, and months of mid to high thirties. We don’t like the heat. We want to go somewhere cold(er). Mr. ETT feels the heat more than I do, so it also means months of fighting about the air conditioner. Yes, we have one. That’s a value of ours, a non-negotiable. While in winter you can pile on clothes and coats and blankets to warm yourself up, in summer, once you’ve stripped to bare minimum, there’s not much more to be done (and going out sans clothes is problematic).
Dirt bikes. We hate them. Hate is not a word I use lightly, but I will stand by my judgement here. A minuscule number of people in our neighbourhood think it is acceptable to ride dirt bikes around the roads and through the parks. The roar of a dirt bike engine is intrusive no matter what you are doing. Even worse when it is multiple dirt bikes. Even even worse when it is at 2am. 3am. 4am. 5am… and so on, around the clock. I’ll just be drifting off to sleep, when a dirt bike drags me awake with a shock. Or I’ll be in a deep sleep, and bam! Awake. Those that have been following for a while know that sleep is extremely precious to me. I’ll admit to having had murderous thoughts when this goes on night after night. Not only is the noise pollution dreadful, they tear up the parks, and have been accused of menacing people walking their dogs, and having forced some kids playing to climb a water tower to escape. We call the local police, but they are rarely resourced to deal with the problem. A friend of ours is a policeman, so we know there are many more dreadful things constantly happening. Obviously noise complaints are super low priority, even when it is multiple people calling. However, for us, it was wearing. Day after day, drip, drip, drip. We’d find ourselves sitting on edge, wondering when they would come out. Even writing about it can raise a knot of anxiety in my stomach. Also, this has been going on for over 10 years. It waxes and wanes, but it’s always there in the background. Going on 6 weeks holiday made us realise what normal felt like again.
I risk sounding like an old person here. Things aren’t like they used to be! Fair enough. Suburbs grow. People need places to live. Unfortunately, infrastructure investment doesn’t always keep up the pace. My parents live 5km from us. In full peak hour traffic, it can take up to half an hour to travel to their place. Same for Mr. ETT going to work. I guess if we’d just moved here, we’d accept that as normal and would work with it. Unfortunately, we remember the days when… Luckily, with online shopping and the local grocery store, we rarely have a need to head into the big shopping centre in town. Still, we’ve decided traffic is an issue for us.
It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes each way for me to travel to work (door to door). If I could live closer to work, then I’d be able to use some of that time to do things I wanted to do, or even (gasp!) do nothing. Jobs in my field are rare in Western Sydney, and to move to where I work means spending more than we are comfortable with (and would then mean Mr. ETT has to travel, so negate the purpose). We like the security of owning our own home, so rental is not something we would prioritise.
We’re Moving to the Colour City
Due to the factors above, we’d been thinking about moving for a few years. However, we didn’t do anything about it. It took the job I mentioned in the last post to make our dreams a reality. We’d thought about moving to the country, but we aren’t country kids! Move too far out and we’d likely starve if there wasn’t a supermarket within 15 minutes. And the fact that we didn’t even look after a suburban backyard (we hired someone to mow the lawns) meant there was no way living on acreage was going to work for us.
The perfect job was located in Orange, in the Central West of NSW. We’d been to Orange a couple of times as tourists over the years, so we thought we liked it. Granted, visiting as a tourist is different to living there, so we also did some research. Aside from the job, there are lots of reasons why we chose Orange.
The climate in Orange is cooler than that of Western Sydney. In summer, it’s generally 5 – 10^C less. Of course, that means in winter it’s a lot colder as well. This may end up being a shock to us, for all we speak about liking the cold. We did just return from the UK, where we coped beautifully with days of 8^C, dropping to 1 or 2 each night, but it may end up being a challenge for us to live in it. We’ll have to see. (2021 update – we love it).
Orange is only 3 hours from Western Sydney, and 4 hours from Sydney. This means if we need to travel back and forth to see family and friends, it’s doable in a weekend (or even a day if you are a glutton for punishment). There’s also a train from Sydney to Orange, or flights between Sydney to Orange airports, so we aren’t limited to a mode of travel.
The size of Orange is much smaller than where we currently live – it has approximately 20% of the population. It is, however, a growing city. There are estates popping up all around the perimeter. However I researched the growth predictions and it’s not likely to reach the population levels of where we currently live in our lifetimes.
No matter where we live in Orange, we will never be more than 15 minutes drive from where we work (if we also get jobs in Orange). If I ever lose my job, or Mr. ETT can’t find one in Orange, Bathurst is 45 minutes away. Not ideal if you are moving to get more time, but still within commuting distance if necessary.
It was important to us to think of the future, especially growing older and the inevitable increased healthcare needs. Orange has its own large regional hospital, and a variety of specialists in town. On the social front, it has art galleries, a museum, a theatre, a library, hatted restaurants, cafes, and wineries (many, many wineries). It also has a range of social interest groups we could join, along with regular Farmers’ Markets, and various wonderful festivals – F.O.O.D. Festival, Wine Festival, Winter Fire Festival and a Banjo Paterson Festival to name a few. We feel our social and cultural interests will be well met.
Back to 2021
So, three years on, are we happy? Absolutely. I still love Orange. We got to know most of it in the 6 months we spent looking for a house each weekend. Pre-COVID I would enjoy taking a different route to work each day, just to look at the beautiful streets, and watch how things change each season (Western Sydney had 2 seasons – hot and not-as-hot. Actually visualising seasonal changes here has been an unexpected highlight). We also each joined a group, and have made some friends at work.
I think I’ll write one more post about my new job, then I can start getting into some FIRE topics again. Hope you are all staying safe and as sane as you can in the lockdowns. Remember these are extraordinary times, so cut yourself some slack.