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Today marks 12 months since we arrived in the Barossa Valley. As is often the case with milestones like this, in some ways it feels like we’ve been here forever, but at the same time, the year has flown.
When we decided to make the move to South Australia after our 3.5 years in Hanoi, we didn’t really know what we were in for. For me, it was about leaving a career of 15 years behind to do something new. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I knew I wanted a more flexible lifestyle and that I wanted to be doing something that made a contribution to my community. For Simon, it was about getting back into the wine industry after being the stay-at-home Dad for most of our time in Hanoi. For the boys, it was about embracing life in Australia, the outdoors, fresh air and friendships. We chose South Australia because the cost of living seemed low and there were numerous wine regions to choose from.
12 months on, I think we can honestly say we made the right decision. We’ve got some great friends, we’re doing work we love and we have 2 happy kids (and a happy cat).
Some of the highlights from the last year include:
- starting a business from nothing that I really hope will contribute to the local community
- making lots of great friends – from Mum’s at school to work contacts and friends of friends
- being involved in the Vintage Festival parade – being part of the community and connected to the history of the place
- getting involved with the Kindy
- starting this blog
- getting involved with the Spence Club – writing content for the blog and nominating for the board
- having time to cook, knit, sew and read
- having family and friends come and visit and love the place
- shopping local – the Barossa Farmer’s Market Facebook posts for about 6 months before we arrived were a big influence on my feeling that this was the place – and I love that we can buy local, meet the people we buy from and contribute to the community
- the power of social media – as in Hanoi, Twitter andInstagram have been great platforms to learn about theBarossa but also to connect with people and make friends
- the beautiful scenery and history that surrounds us – from old buildings and churches to living a 5 minute walk from the oldest Shiraz vines in the world – and of course, lots of great wine
It hasn’t all been sunshine and lollipops, and there have been some big adjustments.
- being at home – without the household help – and trying to balance studying then starting a business with cleaning, cooking, school pick-ups etc
- losing my identity – so much of who I was, was tied up in my job and it was strange to not have that
- not earning disposable income – and not being able to find the “bridge” job I thought I could have because
- stress of the early days – no one to call if I was running late for pick-up, crying myself to sleep because Xavier didn’t have many friends to invite to his party and feeling like an outsider at school
- doubts of starting a business for the first time
But the highs definitely outweigh the lows and there is so much that we’re looking forward to in our next year here. – Finding our own house – but given gardening abilities haven’t been as I’d hoped might need to find a compromise between the rural idea and the ‘burbs – but I do want chickens
- Getting my business off the ground
- More great adventures with family and friends as we explore theBarossa Valley and more of South Australia
- Getting to know even more of the fantastic people that bring us our great food and wine
- Seeing our kids continue to thrive
- More cooking, crafting and maybe even some preserving
- Getting my health and fitness back on track and running the Barossa Half Marathon next year
And for anyone thinking of making a big, bold lifestyle and career change, here’s a few things I have learned:
- it takes time – there will be good days and bad days but stick with it, and know some days you just have to cut yourself some slack
- knowing why you want to make the change makes it a lot easier to cope with the challenges
- be open to new stuff, say yes – but don’t completely overwhelm yourself.
- If you’re a planner, you’ll still need to plan. I realised I still need menu plans, to-do lists and I still need to get up early because even though I I’m working full-time and be flexible with my day, part of my career change was about having time to do other things like cook, exercise and craft – and there are still only 24 hours
- Coaching and networking is so valuable – especially if you’re starting a business. It’s great to have someone keeping you accountable and cheering you on, especially when you are doing something completely new and don’t know that many people.
- Enjoy it! Celebrate the little victories, get to know your new town and focus on the good stuff!