I found the perfect house. It has four bedrooms, a study, a freshly renovated kitchen and a laundry the size of a carport. And a carport. It has a huge garden and a swing set.
It didn’t just tick all the boxes on my “deal-breaker” list – it ticked boxes I didn’t even know I had. I was mentally unpacking our moving boxes before I reached the end of the photos. The best bit? We could afford it.
Of course there was a catch. The dream house, as I came to call it, wasn’t exactly in our desired postcode. It wasn’t even close. Living in the dream house would mean packing up our inner-west rental and moving 90 kilometres to the Blue Mountains.
There were lots of reasons to go for it. Comparing the dream house with similarly priced property in the inner-west was mind-boggling. Looking to buy in our current neighbourhood would probably mean squeezing our family into a two-bedroom unit, and even then we would be pushing the mortgage a little further than we comfortably want to go.
On paper it seemed like a no-brainer and I decided it would be crazy not to move to an area that we can afford. I felt the tug of the dream house and envisioned family life within its walls. The four of us around the kitchen table, the kids running wild in the garden, walking the dog (who would surely join our family once we had the space) and working from home. Everything would be perfect.
The Blue Mountains has a lot to offer. The scenery is magnificent and there are countless activities for outdoor family fun. Townships such as Leura, Wentworth Falls and Katoomba are heaving with cafes and shops and, despite the obvious tourism, there is a strong community vibe.
It’s a decision that many families have been weighing up. Although property prices in the Blue Mountains are increasing (the region has seen 12.5 per cent price growth over the past year), they are still attractive compared to Sydney prices. On top of this, transport links have improved and developments such as the new airport will bring more jobs to the area.
In my little dream-house fantasy we were all really happy living in the Blue Mountains. And maybe making the move would have been great. But my heart just wasn’t in it. Every time I found myself talking about a tree change I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Related: I made a sea-change at 25Related: The realities of living in the countryRelated: The new generation of country-dwellers
I suppose I am a city girl. I like to be near the action. I enjoy the fact that I can walk to local cafes, shops and the gym in under 10 minutes and only drive if I really have to.
My children are very happy and settled at their inner-west primary school and the thought of dragging them away from their friends made me sad. I know that had we gone the other way they would have adapted and made new friends, but staying put means preserving the friendships they’ve been cultivating since pre-school.
A tree change would have also given my husband a major commute. There are ways of lessening the blow; working from home a few days a week, working on the train and potentially sleeping in the city one night a week. But the cost to family life would be high.
Most importantly, for me, I couldn’t bring myself to leave my network. Since moving to Sydney (from London) 10 years ago I’ve had six different addresses in four different suburbs and I’ve never felt as settled as I do now. And it’s my community of friends and neighbours who make me feel at home. Yes, I could build a new network – but when I weighed the life we have now to the life we could have my instincts told me to stick.
I deleted the dream house from my Domain favourites and removed the Blue Mountains from my search criteria. If staying in the inner-west means downsizing then so be it – our home might be (a lot) smaller than it could be, but our hearts will be full.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.