In 2004, writer Vanessa Waller and her family joined the growing number of sea changers and moved to the South Coast of New South Wales. Her story is a little different than most.
That's a tough question because I enjoy almost everything about where we live! The sense of community is extremely strong and better than anywhere we have ever lived, although I'm not sure if that can be attributed to our coastal location or the great people who live here. Most of us feel very lucky to be living in such a beautiful environment and are generally reluctant to leave, even for chores such as the weekly shopping which is easy to do without travelling much at all thanks to our friendly mobile greengrocer, our local IGA and Woolworths online. I love the fact that my husband Glen can take our son Kai out fishing and return with fresh flathead or calamari for dinner. There are so many water activities for them to enjoy too, from swimming and snorkeling to sailing and surfing. For me, living here has given me back some freedom and independence that I lost as my disability progressed. With my scooter, I can take Kai to school, get to the local shops, attend neighbourhood meetings and visit the beautiful Bay any time I want. These things would not have been possible for me in the mountains where a car was necessary for even the shortest trip. Living on the coast has opened up a whole new world of freedom for me in the form of sailing too. My local Sailability club gives me the opportunity to sail most weeks during summer and even makes it possible for me to volunteer to help others.
And the least?
There are quite a lot of holiday rental properties in our area that are empty for most of the year and this has the unfortunate side effect of making our town a target for thieves at times. We also have a problem with anti-social behaviour from some young people who are repeatedly vandalising property and breaking into shops, homes and cars. This of course isn't unique to the coast, however I am very annoyed by it at the moment as they broke into our car and stole my mobility scooter! On a very selfish note, I don't much like sharing our town in holiday season, though of course I do recognise that the seasonal visitors are essential for the long-term success of the local businesses.
As a writer do you find that there are enough professional opportunities on the Coast? If not, why not?
I am in an unusual situation in that I am no longer able to work in a conventional way so I don't really feel qualified to comment specifically about writing opportunities on the coast. I have carved out a tiny little writing niche for myself as a freelance travel writer specialising in writing reviews for wheelchair travellers (unfortunately this comes with a correspondingly tiny income!). Generally, I think that with connectivity to the internet and sites such as freelancer.com, writers are far less restricted in their professional opportunities that in the past.
My web site is www.wheelieplanet.com where I write travel and product reviews for wheelie travellers. I also write as 'The Wheelie Traveller' for Australian Traveller magazine's online newsletter AT Wire http://www.australiantraveller.com/our-favourites/blogs-by-the-wheelie-traveller. In the pipeline I am working on a book about my experiences with MS and also a novel set in Sydney in 1947.
Do you think that there are any misconceptions about leaving the city and having a seachange?
Even though we live in a beautiful environment and have a much more relaxed lifestyle, when it comes down to it, you still have to work! My husband works permanently from home and when we have visitors (you tend to have a LOT of visitors when you live near the beach!) they sometimes assume that because they are on holiday, he is too.
If you had your time again, what would you change about your life on the Coast?
We would have done it sooner!