I just spent $900 to get home for my Dad’s 60th in February*. Yep, almost $1000 and I won’t even cross an ocean or international border. In times like these I like to remind myself why I live where I do and why most of the time it is an excellent decision.
1. The Expat Factor
Moving somewhere like Kalgoorlie, where lots of young professionals come to cut their teeth, you meet a lot of other fish-out-of-water types who have blown in from cities around the country. Nothing creates a bond faster than putting a bunch of people together in a strange location. Unless you never leave the house, you form an instant network through work, sport, randomly bumping into people. It’s nice to know there are always 20 or so people you can call on whenever you need.
I feel really lame for saying this but not having to deal with traffic or parking or public transport is life changing. It takes me five minutes to drive to work where parking is not an issue. It then takes me five minutes to drive home at the end of the day. If I forget my lunch it’s easily retrievable. I know it’s a first world problem but I found commuting to and from my uni jobs in Melbourne SOUL DESTROYING. Those hours spent sitting in the car or in a smelly train carriage add up. Before you know it that’s 5 hours of your life gone every week. Not the case in the country. In fact when I find myself trying to get from A to B in Melbourne my brain implodes from the logistical nightmare that ensues. How did I do it before?!
I have had many amazing and surprising experiences in my time here.
Had I not moved to Kalgoorlie, I never would have been to a rodeo on the edge of the Nullarbor, attended the funeral of a respected elder in one of Australia’s most remote Aboriginal communities, sipped champagne with mining magnates during a conference, stood on the whitest sand beaches or watched as miners put out a fire one kilometre underground or rescued people from a car.
It’s also amazing to experience crazy weather events. You really are at the mercy of the elements out here. It’s a good reminder of how small you really are.
4. Being a big fish in a small pond
I don’t know how to say this without sounding super wanky but it’s nice to be on a first name basis with the police superintendent, the local member for parliament and the mayor. It’s nice to be invited to events (where the drinks are always free!), awards nights and dinners. I’m sure this won’t be the case again so I will continue to lap it up while I can.
5. The Simple Life
This kind of follows on from the Convenience point above but things are kind of simple when everything and everyone you know are so close by. When it takes 5 minutes to get everywhere you don’t have to plan dinners or movies or catch ups. “Free now? See you in 5!” There are also limited restaurants and things to do so for someone as frequently crippled with indecision as me, this is kind of a dream.
I have made some incredible, life-long friends in a very short period of time. My housemate Bec and I have just had our 1 year housemate-iversary. We live together, work together, socialise together and even go on holidays together. I expect we’ll still be friends when we’re grey and old. The same goes for my recently departed (to another town) housemate Elly, Dearlo and Erin and Kara before them and Emma and Gloria before that. You also find friends in strange places, one I met at a carbon farming forum I went to for work, I’ve also met very many lovely people by joining an amatuer theatre club which I’m almost certain I never would have done in the city.
That is far too many photos and I have at least 100 more I’d like to post…
There are so many opportunities available to those willing to look a bit further than their front door step. I’m mostly talking about work, but it’s not just restricted to that. I moved here two and a half years ago because someone was willing to give me a job at a daily newspaper. Having done little work experience during my uni years (BAD mistake) there is absolutely no way I would have got a graduate job in Melbourne. A year after working at the paper I moved on and upwards to an online job at Australia’s most reputable broadcasting company. Again, never would have happened if I stayed home.
There are people I know that have found love, friendships they can’t live without, lifestyles they never thought they wanted and plenty of other surprising things by moving here.
8. Life Experience
I look forward to telling my Grandchildren about the couple of years I spent in a dusty mining town. I’m sure I will look back fondly at all the crazy adventures and nights out and the fact that I just did something different at one point in my life.
Before I moved out of the city, I’m ashamed to say I never gave a thought to people living in regional Australia. Apart from seeing the odd story on the news about farmers doing it tough I never considered the challenges of living outside one of the big cities. About how frustrating it is not to be able to see a doctor or the specialist you need. About how isolated and remote it can feel. About how it feels to be seemingly forgotten by government departments and their funding. Moving out here has made me appreciate the ‘luxuries’ of the city and appreciate the people that choose to live and work in the regions. We need them.
10. Appreciation for cities (and the people who live in them)
Going home now is majorly exciting: food! Culture! Entertainment! I spend a week eating all the exotic foods I love without sparing a single thought on calories. I get to see the people I love without getting bogged down in day-to-day issues. I also find I go home for big ticket events like weddings, milestone birthdays, concerts, graduation etc which means celebration galore. All these things would still be amazing if I hadn’t moved away, but they certainly have a bit more sparkle now.
I have no idea how much longer I’ll be here but I know I’ll always look back fondly at the time I lived in the middle of nowhere.
Where do you live?
(* thanks to Mum and Dad for chipping in. No thanks to Virgin Australia)