Why I loved my seachange: Opinion
A MOSTLY lovely weekend in Sydney with three of my closest friends emphasised to me the fact that I never want to live in a capital city again.
It's been 16 years since I left the 'burbs for clean country air and, while I have had to adjust in terms of doing without some services that others take for granted, it's been a pretty positive experience.
I moved to the Northern Rivers in 2003 and read with fascination how sea- and tree-changers were often quickly disillusioned with life at a different pace; surely the reason most moved in the first place.
The weekend mornings when I worked on my neighbours' farm as the relief milker saw too many tree-changers in their monster 4WDs who became incensed at having to wait for five or six minutes for the cows to wander across the road from the dairy to the paddock. The irony of the fact that they were going to be late meeting friends in Bangalow for a coffee was not apparent to any of them.
So many of the stories of how people had to sell up and move back to the city stemmed from the fact that they didn't want to give up any of the little conveniences to which they'd become accustomed, conveniences that all had to be paid for in some way.
So yes, people in regional areas have to travel for specialist medical services (undeniably a problem when it involves a life-threatening or long-term disease); shops that close at noon on Saturdays and don't open at all on Sundays (remember those, city-folk?); and deal with wildlife mauling their veggie gardens. But that's what life in the country is about - and we rarely have to face traffic jams, ridiculous house prices or smog.
And speaking of house prices, when I was enjoying a meal with my friends on the weekend, talk turned to my oldest cousin, about to turn 80. She's been targeted by a dodgy real estate agent who has cottoned on to the fact she lives alone - happily - in a glorious art deco garden apartment worth a fortune in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Luckily she's still sharp as a tack and has been playing along with his suggestion that she sell up and move to a ticky-tacky retirement community; he's gone so far as to list her property on his firm's website, not under a "For Sale" banner but as a place that will be coming up soon (it won't, mate). He's even taken photos- without permission - from a neighbour's yard and the street.
While I was telling my friends, without exception they all said: "Oh ... almost 80? That's not very old, really."