City vs. suburbs vs. countryside

Finding the right work / life balance is hard

It’s now five months since I moved into my current sharehouse, and five months since I started in my current job. I’d like to move to a different place sometime soon, but once again the main problem I have is too much choice with everything.

For most people who grew up here in Australia and have family and friends here it might be hard to understand what it feels like to live in a country where you don’t have any roots. Anytime I could easily move anywhere. What may seem exciting can be a real burden, because I’m constantly thinking whether I might enjoy it more somewhere else.

I’m absolutely sure that I would much rather live in the tropical North of Australia, that’s the one thing that is certain. I don’t like the dry and unpredictable climate here in the South, and in a few months it will be winter and cold again.

The main thing that prevents me from moving is career. I’ve got good opportunities in Melbourne, companies are modern and people have high standards here. Without a safety net in the form of family members here in Australia, it would be wise to take advantage of that job security at least for a couple of years. My job situation looks stable and promising right now, so there might be longterm prospects. If I left now and moved to Brisbane, Perth or Darwin, I would have to start from all over again.

So I’m trying to accept that I should stay in Melbourne for the next couple of years, purely for career and financial reasons. The next problem I’m then trying to solve is where to live in Melbourne. Honestly I’m tired of living in the city, it’s expensive and the traffic and noise annoy me every single day.

Last weekend I helped one of my colleagues moving into his new house. He used to live in a suburb called Burwood but has now bought a house near The Basin, right at the edge of Dandenong National Park, about 45min drive from the city. I helped him moving and stayed over the weekend. It felt like being on holidays, a fairly large house and property in the forest, amidst gum trees, kookaburras, lorikeets and rosellas. I spent 6 hours on Sunday just bushwalking in the area.

Dandenong Ranges
Dandenong Ranges

It’s a beautiful place to live and it made me realise how much I dislike the city. And for the rent I pay for my room at the moment, I could rent an entire house elsewhere. But like I said, it’s about 45min away from the city, so 45min away from where I work. Relying on public transport sucks, the longer the trains go, the more unreliable they seem to be in Melbourne. This brought me to another realisation: I need my own transport.

I could maybe get away with living in one of the many close suburbs around Melbourne and take the train to work, but I’m not really a fan of suburbs. It always feels like being in the middle of nowhere. Not in the city but also not on the countryside.

I was thinking of maybe buying a motorbike and commuting between my future house in the mountains and my job in the city. But winter is coming, and so is the rain, so it would only be a solution for nice days.

Having a car would make more sense. I could easily move houses and right now I can’t even go to house inspections outside the city, because of a lack of transport. My colleague solved his commuting problem by picking up a brand new Volkswagen up! with an attractive financing deal. Repayments together with a low fuel consumption of only 4-5l/100km will cost him much less per month than he would otherwise pay for fuel only with his other car, a Land Rover Discovery.

I’m more and more convinced this would make sense for me too, as much as I dislike Volkswagen for it’s uninspiring designs. I think I’ve reached a point in my life where fuel economy matters more than the looks of the car. A tiny city car for $12k with finance, to keep the monthly expenses low, that would solve my transportation problem and I could move into a hut in the mountains if I wanted to. Interesting weeks ahead. I might buy my first car in Australia, and look for my own house.

Hiking-wise, I’m going to spend two weeks over Easter walking the Great South West Walk in Victoria, near the border to South Australia. It’s a beautiful 250km walk. It will be my first holiday in 6 months, so I’m really looking forward to it. Much of the walk is near rivers and beaches, so I’ve organised very lightweight fishing equipment to carry on the walk.