Saturday 3 June 2017

When reality exceeds expectations: moving to a small town

When we found out in October last year that we were going to be moving to Burnie this year, I have to say, I wasn't that thrilled with the idea of moving to a tiny town with hardly any cafes, restaurants or shops. Having gone through the moving process just 10 months before, I was also dreading the whole packing up our lives and starting afresh again. When we moved to Launceston from Sydney, I found the adjustment quite hard, and thought it would be the same all over again. However, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how much easier it was, and that after only a few days in Burnie, I really felt like it was home. I think this was down to a few things, which I've nutted out a bit below.

Having experienced it once already

I think that one of the reasons I found the move from Sydney to Launceston so hard was because I'd never experienced anything like it before. It really is quite a challenging experience to go from living somewhere that is so familiar (I'd lived in the same suburb all my life), to a place where you don't know anyone and have to use Google Maps everywhere you go for the first month or so before you finally start learning the street names. However, when we moved to Burnie, because we'd already gone through that all before, and were expecting to feel the same emotions and loneliness, the reality was actually not nearly as bad.

 Social circles in small towns

Something else I've learned is that people in small towns really are a lot friendlier (and generally less stressed) than in big cities! It's pretty common in a place like Burnie for people to say hi to you as you walk past them in the street (having a cute labrador puppy definitely helps with that), drivers are very patient on the roads (it is so rare to hear a car honking a horn), and everyone seems to know everyone. Linked with this, is the fact that since there isn't a huge amount of stuff to do in a small town, everyone is a lot more keen to hang out and socialise after work. It's been so lovely getting to know a whole bunch of new friends this year through church and Dave's work, and being able to catch up with these friends multiple times a week. Given that everyone lives within about 5-10 minutes of each other, and generally everyone's commute to work is a pretty similar length of time, spontaneous catch ups are pretty frequent.

Getting into a routine

One of the most important aspects of settling into a new place, whether a small town or a big city, is getting into a routine that you're familiar with. As I've been working from home for about a year and a half now, I feel like I have my work routine down pat, and so when we moved from Launceston to Burnie, I made sure that I kept my work day looking pretty similar, so that I would at least have that regularity. I also made sure I signed up to the local gym so I could keep up with some familiar gym classes, and we spent a few weeks looking for a new church home, which, once we found one that felt like the best fit for us, really made us feel more settled in Burnie. Once you get into a routine in your new town that you are used to, you really do feel a lot more at home. Also, finding that local cafe that serves the best coffee and brunch in town, which you can call your second home, definitely helps (shout out to The Chapel).

 A few other things that have helped

There are definitely a few other things about this year that differ from last year, which have helped in making the transition to Burnie a lot easier. First, the fact that my work didn't change at all, meant that I could just pick up my laptop in Launceston, set it up in Burnie, and carry on. Also, living within a 2 minute commute of the beach, where we are able to see the ocean rolling in from our balcony, really has made me feel more relaxed and at peace each day (I did make the most of the surfing for a couple of months, though the current water temp of 15 degrees is putting me off a little at the moment). Finally, I couldn't write this post without mentioning Moose. Having a puppy really has benefited us in so many ways (as I discussed in this post), and his presence when I wake up in the morning, and while I work, cook dinner, watch tv, and get on with life, really has made such a difference in happiness levels this year.

So, with about 4 months down, and (at least) 8 months more to go, I'm so happy that I can say that the reality of moving to a small town like Burnie really did exceed my expectations, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of this year (and beyond) holds.

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