by Rosalind Scutt, ninemsn Money
What is a sea change?
A sea change is a radical departure from a previous lifestyle in search of a more peaceful or meaningful existence. It’s about re-evaluating your needs and wants and enjoying life to the full — not merely existing.
If you’ve ever woken on a Monday morning to feelings of stress, isolation or anxiety as you mentally calculate how to survive another week in the city, then you’ve probably considered a sea change.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, regional and coastal migration continues to boom. The populations of coastal towns, such as Geelong in Victoria, the Gold Coast, Cairns and Caloundra in Queensland and, in NSW, Wollongong and Newcastle are experiencing some of the fastest growth yet. The trend is so great some commentators have labelled it ‘the sea change phenomenon’.
Psychotherapist Lenore Watts works at Mind Advantage in Balmain near Sydney’s CBD, where therapists specialise in human change. In Watts’ view there are many reasons prompting people to consider change but the most common reasons include escapism, life re-assessment, returning home, quality of life or health/environment.
“A sea change can be a positive and rich experience for those who have carefully considered the option in a realistic way and who have handled change well in the past,” says Watts who is quick to caution that a change in location will not necessarily provide a calmer and happier existence.
“Generally, those types of feelings come with being at peace with ones’ self, inwardly, which is then supported by lifestyle – where ever that is”.
Lee Maskiell is a specialist nurse who joined the well trodden trail north from Sydney to the NSW north coast.
“I was working at one of Sydney’s busiest hospitals and living in Newtown. Sydney was fun but I was always working, travelling to work or catching up with friends. I didn’t have any down time and no time to surf or read” said Maskiell.
Accepting a job at Tweed Heads hospital Maskiell welcomed the sea change. “Life in Tweed Heads was slower and I wanted that. I got to know my neighbours, ran the beach each day and had plenty of time to relax”.
For Maskiell, the dream wasn’t enough. “I stayed one year then moved to Brisbane. It’s smaller than Sydney but bigger than Tweed Heads and there’s just a little bit more happening. My new hospital services a greater population so I’m expecting more challenges professionally too.
“I don’t want to live in a big city but I don’t think a small community is right for me either. I reckon I’ve got right this time,” he said.
If you’re thinking of making a lifestyle change, psychotherapist Lenore Watts’ suggests asking yourself these key questions:
- Do you want to move as a reaction to something difficult like a stressful job, relationship issues or feelings of loneliness? Try to resolve these issues and then reassess your reasons for wanting to move.
- Ask yourself if you will have a support network in the new location. Establishing new social and support networks can be quite stressful.
- Be aware that there are some city services you might miss, like access to doctors, late night supermarkets and entertainment. How important these things are to you?
- Keep an open mind. If I don’t like your new location, will you be able to afford to return?
- Will you be able to maintain contact with family and friends successfully from your new location?
- If you have never lived in the area before consider a trial period. Two weeks on holiday in a beautiful location can be quite different to living there.
- If you need to work will there be opportunities in your new location?
- Do you have any allergies? Some people move to other areas only to find they are unable to stay due to allergic reactions.