After spending months in lockdown in Victoria and home-schooling her kids, Carly was yearning for a more balanced and outdoorsy lifestyle for her family.
They decided it was time to make the move from Melbourne to Palm Beach on the Gold Coast. Here's her story.
Why did you choose to move to the Gold Coast?
We already had loose plans to move to Queensland in a couple of years time, in search of warmer weather and to be nearer to the beach. The plan was, after the birth of our fourth child in 2020, to spend some time exploring the areas between Byron Bay and the Sunshine Coast and decide where we'd want to move. Covid hitting stopped us from doing this, but it also intensified our desire to relocate and it accelerated the move.
We considered the Sunshine Coast as my grandparents lived there for years. It is a beautiful area and not as built up. However we're both quite social and love going out to restaurants and bars, so we were afraid the Sunshine Coast would be too quiet for us.
Initially I wasn't sold on the Gold Coast, as I thought of the Gold Coast as Surfers Paradise and all the stereotypes that go with that...the people, clubs, drugs, violence. I had concerns about my kids growing up around that. But the reality is that those problems exist wherever you're, they were near us in Melbourne too.
We otherwise found that the Gold Coast offered a good balance; it has nice restaurants and bars, offers a laid-back lifestyle with beautiful beaches and great weather pretty much all the time. It offered a more balanced and outdoorsy lifestyle, which was important to us.
So which suburb did you settle on?
We settled on the southern end of the Gold Coast as it it has a nice feel and is very family oriented, and far away form the hustle and bustle of the tourist hot spots. We looked at both Palm Beach and Burleigh. I really liked the Palm Beach State School so we decided on Palm Beach.
What was it like moving during Covid?
In Melbourne we had spent the best part of 2020 in isolation and I homeschooled the kids for three quarters of the year. We weren't able to see our family or friends, go out, do sports etc. A lot of time spent at home meant we had time to really think about what lifestyle we wanted for our family. Which is what made us decide to push our move forward.
I then spent a lot of time researching online and even paid a buyer advocate $200 to pick his brain about suburbs on a zoom call. In early December I flew up to the Gold Coast and after 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine with my baby, I spent 4 days exploring Palm Beach and Burleigh and visiting schools. Ideally I would've liked to have looked at homes as well, but there just wasn't enough time.
Did you buy or are you renting?
We weren't ready to sell up in Melbourne just yet, so we decided we'd rent first. There are definite pros and cons to renting, in some ways I wish we'd had everything in order to be able to buy straight away. But considering Covid and the on-going border restrictions we would've had to buy sight-unseen, which would've made it really hard.
It wasn't easy to find a rental, but I got really lucky in the end and managed to find a nice house in Palm Beach, which put us in the Palm Beach State School catchment. Renting first and now having more time to explore the different suburbs has made us realise we probably want to be in Burleigh or Miami. Palm Beach is great, but it is a little too inconsistent. It's clear the suburb is going through a massive gentrification, but there's still a way to go.
What school are your children in?
Our two eldest are at Palm Beach State School. It is a lovely school, the principal and teachers all seem really nice and the facilities are great too, they're in fact putting millions into extensions and upgrades. One afternoon a week the kids get to walk to the beach and do all sorts of activities and next term they're doing a surf program - unthinkable in Melbourne.
Now having been at the school a few months, I do find the school is lacking in terms of 'community'. They don't have any way for parents to connect with other parents, like a directory or even through a class-rep for example. Moving from interstate, especially with kids in higher grades, makes it hard to become a part of the community and make friends.
Our eldest daughter is in child care at Kids on 4th in Palm beach, they have been really fabulous. It's a great centre.
How about employment on the Gold Coast?
My husband and I both work for ourselves. My husband has a real estate photography and marketing service business in Melbourne which he continues to work for remotely. Covid in a way has made that easier, as everyone is more accepting and used to people working from home.
I'm a professional photographer, but I stopped doing that a few years back. I'm now a crypto currency trader, which is ideal as I can do it from anywhere and I can work any time of the day.
Any challenges transitioning to Gold Coast life?
It's a different pace, you've got to slow down, oh and dress down too! The 'shoes' or the lack of, got me in the beginning. People are in thongs pretty much everywhere all the time, or bare feet, even in the supermarket!!
I remember the first day of school pick up and I was wearing what I would in Melbourne; a nice dress and wedge shoes. I looked thoroughly out of place. I adapted and I actually love it now. It means I can drop the kids in my active wear and flip flops and fit right in.
The other thing that was a challenge was finding my way around and finding services like the best supermarket, fresh fruit & veggie shop or a butcher. A gym and sports club. What dentist or GP to go to. Where to get the car serviced. Things you don't even consider when you've lived somewhere for a while, but when you're starting from scratch it takes some effort.
Is there anything you miss about Melbourne?
My friends and family for sure!! And like I said, being familiar with the place. At the moment it's all still very new, but I know this will change, it already is. Other than that...I don't miss the Melbourne weather and I don't miss the urban-ness.
What I love about the Gold Coast is the sense of space, being so close to the beach wherever I am. I can be driving around and catching glimpses of the ocean, or be down by Tallebudgera or Currumbin Creek in minutes, while in Melbourne I would be stuck behind a tram in city traffic.
Any advice for anyone thinking about moving to the Gold Coast?
If you can, get up here and have a good look around to get a feel for the place.
When you do move, you've got to be prepared to put yourself out there. I didn't know anyone before moving here. But I made a real effort chatting to people, for example at my Pilates class I would just strike up conversation. I have made some lovely new friends by doing this. There are a lot of people that have moved here from interstate and that have been in your position before, so don't be afraid to put yourself out there and say 'hey, I'm new here, would you like to go for a coffee or drink'.
The other thing is learn to slow down, it's a more relaxed pace of life on the Gold Coast. Which is actually one of the reasons we moved here, to get away from the hectic-ness of the city.