Wednesday, February 29, 2012

city limits

I was in Melbourne yesterday and was reminded how if you have never known anything else but city life, you either become desensitized to noise, traffic, pollution and the quick pace of living or tolerate it (or perhaps even like it!)

I moved out of Melbourne six years ago, first to live by the Yarra River in Warrandyte and now to the ti tree lined coast on the Mornington Peninsula. My visits back to the city have become less frequent and when friends ask would you ever move back, or do you miss it? The answer is no.

There is much to love about Melbourne, yes the coffee, the bookshops, the galleries, the diversity of people. Today though I witnessed stressful city living.

After one of those quintessential Melbourne cafe bites to eat, I returned to my car parked outside a supermarket in Elsternwick with my mother-in-law ( MIL) and Sol when we heard a commotion and turned around to see a young guy around 20 years of age being wrestled to the ground by two other guys about 2 metres from where we were standing. I ushered MIL into the car, put Sol in and quickly got myself in. I looked back at the three guys and slowly realised two were plain clothes security guards. The adrenalin pumping through the three of them was high, the security guys aggressively held the young guy down for a moment and then dragged him to his feet and marched him towards an office in the supermarket. One security guard then reappeared on a mobile phone, presumably to the police. I wondered what he could have stolen or done that warranted the level of force they used to apprehend him, he didn't appear to be trying too hard to run off. MIL and I were both feeling churned up by the scene.

I drove MIL home and as I headed to the freeway back to the coast I stopped into a petrol station up the road from MIL's house, put fuel in my car and when I came out from paying, just outside the door were a well dressed man and woman arguing loudly. Their voices grew to shouting, they were waving their arms in each others faces and slamming the doors of their latest model cars.

It was time for me to get out of the city.

The longer I live outside of the city the more sensitive I become to its pace and all that goes with it. That's not to say that shop-lifting, road rage and the like don't happen outside the city too, they do but the overall pace and quality of life to my mind is better by the beach or surrounded by trees.

To anyone dreaming of making a sea or tree change, I say start looking into making your dream a reality. It may mean being more creative about how you live and earn money, it may mean down sizing, it may mean changing your priorities.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Start spending more weekends outside of the city
Read the towns local papers and notice boards to get a sense of the community
Go to local markets
Research job opportunities and schools in the area you like
If you decide to make the move, renting a house before buying can be a better option until you settle in, particularly if you are planning to move and commute to the city for work (commuting not ideal in my opinion).

My top of the list reasons for moving out of the city, that I wouldn't trade for any amount of great coffee, art or fashion:

Clean air
No traffic
Slower pace
Clean air
Reduced cost of living
Living closer to nature is better for your health
Clean air
Smaller schools
Endless beach days
Watching my boys leaping the waves then rolling in the sand
Did I mention clean air?


  1. It's funny that you had that experience yesterday! I had the complete opposite today when I revisited North Carlton and felt, for the first time in 15 years, the urge to go and do some city exploring more often! It felt wholesome, cultured, vibrant and familiar! Ask me again next time I visit, but it was a welcome change to the usual irks that I find with a visit to the big smoke. I have to agree with many of your reasons for a tree or sea change in the hills is perfect for me :-)

  2. Oh yay! How exciting, thank you dear reader for leaving your comment you are the first. Lovely to finally be having a two way conversation here. I used to live in East Brunswick and spent a lot of time in North Carlton I relate very much to your description of that area. Great to visit. Thanks for your comment.


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