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Making the right move

Words by Della Vreeland
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There were a few things that Liz Lo and her family of three needed before they could take the plunge. A few small nudges before they could confidently immerse themselves into the unfamiliar ocean that is regional Victoria.

Liz and her partner Didi had lived in Melbourne for more than a decade, but couldn’t quash their yearning to move back to Northern NSW and live by the seaside.

Due to a series of unexpected life events, their move interstate was not to be, and once COVID hit, it seemed a new life was even further out of reach. 

But it was the extended lockdowns and marked restrictions that actually acted as the catalyst needed for Liz and Didi to fully accept their shared desire to move to the coast pronto – particularly as a counter to Didi’s demanding job.

So Jan Juc it was.

“We won!” Liz says.

Most people who make the move from city to country remark on the concept of ‘space’. Space to breathe – both physically and emotionally – and space to simply be.

For Liz, Didi and their son Ziggy, living by the oceanside has made this space all the more expansive.

‘The access to breathing space and a much more adventure-filled lifestyle has, for us, been very beneficial for our mental health and satisfaction levels,’ Liz says. ‘Just this process of simplifying is making room for more play and exploration and a much more fulfilling day-to-day experience. 

‘The property we have purchased is also very responsible for a huge shift in how we spend our time. We have an acre to manage, room for animals we have always wanted, and we are in the middle of building a bike pump track.

‘We are also finding it much easier to have our son involved in after school activities which adds to the satisfaction. No bumper-to-bumper traffic to deter the idea.

‘What I would say to those who desire more nature, more space, a simpler existence, less overwhelm, less decision-making, is that it can be everything you hoped for and more. It certainly is for us.’

Keeping up with nobody

Heath Baker and his partner Amanda made the move from Melbourne to Gordon in December 2020.

‘We were always planning to move to a regional location,’ Heath says. ‘I grew up on a farm and was keen to return to a country life and my partner was also tired of the fast pace of city living.’

As an environmental engineer who mostly works from home, the move further enriched Heath and Amanda’s lifestyle.

‘Our community is awesome,’ he says. ‘The town is stunning, and there’s a very diverse range of age groups which call Gordon home. People are very welcoming, and the space and peace and quiet is wonderful.’

While the community vibe is certainly an alluring characteristic of life in Gordon, Heath says he is glad to have escaped the feeling of Keeping up with the Joneses so entrenched within those living in metro Melbourne.

‘People, in general, appear to be less competitive,’ he says.

Building community

The Lo family made the move to Jan Juc only 14 months ago. So the process of building community and forging friendships is still in its embryonic stage.

‘There is a little bit of my Melbourne life that I’ve been able to bring to new friendships here which is proving to be fresh and new – street and hip hop dance for example!’ Liz says.

‘I had been part of such a dreamy school community in Melbourne that I was looking forward to meeting new friends this way. Needless to say, new school rules due to COVID did not allow for me to be involved as I had hoped, and so that was my biggest challenge – hindering my opportunities to meet new friends.

‘I have found other ways though and am thoroughly enjoying the process of reaching out and staying open.’

And while there are bound to be growing pains as the family adjusts to this newfound way of life, there is no doubt in Liz’s mind that city slicking is a far distant memory. For now.

And that’s saying something for a family whose life very much revolves around good food.

‘We have a deep love of good food and so we weren’t sure how we were going to cope away from our Melbourne neighbourhood,’ Liz says. ‘But we have found so much joy in appreciating the stand-out venues here that are constantly evolving and very much staying on-trend here and down the Great Ocean Road.

‘We just cannot imagine giving this up. It has changed us forever and I don’t think there is any coming back from this.’

When Heath is asked whether he would ever move back to Melbourne, he echoes Liz’s sentiments. But much more succinctly.

‘Nope.’

 

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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