Take me to the sea: How to make a sea change

Written by Caitlin Costello in Buying

A couple relaxing after making a sea change

With the days of summer not long behind us, it’s already time to start missing beach holidays and the relaxation they bring. It’s easy to long for it so much that the idea of a sea change can quickly shift from a dream to a possibility, to actually saying out loud,  “maybe we should just do it.”

It’s a dream of many Aussies to live by the beach. Long days spent on the sun and warm, balmy nights spent walking on the sand. The blissful, stress free life of the seaside where every day is ice cream and every night is fish and chips. Where traffic is at a minimum, you can hear the ocean, and in the evening, you can see the stars.

Who wouldn’t want to make a sea change?

But while the beach is a place of relaxation, of rejuvenation and restoration, the pursuit of a sea change is not one to be considered lightly, nor is it a decision to be made on a whim while longing for a summer holiday.

So, when should you make a sea change, and if you’re making one, how should you do it?

Plan to succeed

Like with any big life decision, planning is imperative. If you are looking to pack up your city life and head to the ocean, this is no different. Things to consider include employment opportunities, which can be fewer and far between in coastal areas, access to healthcare, leisure activities, proximity to friends, family and more. If you are moving to a coastal town far from your current home, it can mean starting from scratch in many aspects of your life. So plan ahead to avoid feeling lost and alone when the move happens.

Assess the market

While property prices in beach side towns are often significantly less than inner city abodes, and you can get much more for your money, it’s important to consider the rate of increase in the city and the difficulty of getting back in, if the sea change doesn’t work out. There is no crystal ball that can help you with this, but taking time to research before jumping in can help you make educated risks, instead of blind ones.

Cost of living

While purchase prices and rental rates may be lower than in the city, it can be easy to accumulate expenses in other ways. For instance, access to supermarket varieties can often be limited, frequently with a local, independent grocer being the main food source in town. While this will often mean fresh, local produce, it can also result in higher food prices and the major supermarket chains could be a half hour drive away, so you may need to say goodbye to your grocery specials!

Community focus

Seaside communities are known – and loved! – for their small, close knit communities. Where dwellers are few but all know each other by name. This can feel comforting for many but isolating for others. Consider your personality preference and if this lifestyle will suit you in the long term.

It’s not always a holiday

It’s easy to imagine living at the beach when you have such a great time there on holidays, but when it’s your permanent place of residence, this sentiment may not remain. Everyday things like chores, cooking, cleaning, bills and more will still exist at the beach – though might be easier to deal with when you’re looking out at the crashing waves!

Lead with your head

Try not to fall in love with the first house you see, hard though it may be. Buying at the beach is no different to buying city-side: you need to research, evaluate, consider. Keep an impartial mind and take your time to ensure you are making the right decision. Don’t get carried away with the process and buy a beach property on a city budget, value for money may seem better relatively, but don’t overpay for what you are getting. Play it smart.

Test the waters

There’s no harm in taking a hesitant approach to your sea change. Instead of taking a punt and making the move, you could consider renting in the area for a while to get a good idea of whether or not it’s right for you. This means you can live the seaside dream without the risk, get amongst the life you think you want and if after a few months everything feels good, then look at purchasing your own little piece of paradise knowing well that it’s the right decision.