moving-to-australia

Where to next???

When we first set off, now 15-months ago, we had very clear motivations for pausing our busy city lives and stealing away with our kids. The very first, the inspiration for the naming of this blog, was to slow down our lives and devote more time to our children. We wanted to really be present with them and to soak up the precious and fleeting moments of their childhoods, when family is the centre of their universe and life can be enjoyed for its most simple qualities.

We were also feeding our wanderlust. We’ve always loved travel and we wanted to experience more of it with our children. We wanted to explore farther reaches of our world, take in new cultures and make new friends. We hoped to find, and I think we achieved, a better understanding of our place in this great big world.

Now, looking back on it all, I think there was another, subconscious motivation: we were seeking inspiration for how to live in the years to come. We had had twelve wonderful years in London, full of adventure and excitement in their own way, but we were at a point where we could quite easily envision what the next 12-years might bring, and the 12 after that. We shared a secret desire to pen a new chapter — could we enjoy living outside of the city, on a farm or in the countryside? Would life be more fulfilling (and simpler) if we lived closer to family? Could we find a small town somewhere in the world with the slower pace of life we desired, but a smidgeon of the big city sophistication we had become so accustomed to?

Over the past year we have visited countries both new and familiar. For the most part, we gave ourselves ample time to experience them, to settle into a routine and to live, in a small way, like the locals lived. We developed a genuine connection to most every place and got a feeling for the town, its people, culture and customs. Granted, you can only learn so much in three weeks, but we experienced enough to wonder, and imagine, what our lives might be liked if we lived there permanently.

Some places captured our hearts more than others. We fell so in love with the pretty Brazilian beach town of Trancoso, for example, that we started looking at real estate and dreaming up ways to start a business and raise a family there. We felt so completely at home and welcome in Uruguay that we could have easily ended the adventure there. It was decidedly different yet wonderfully familiar, even European, and we came to know an inspiring group of expats who had settled in charming towns dotted throughout the small country. We couldn’t stop ourselves from enquiring about schools, property and visas.

We left each country with butterflies of excitement in our stomachs. Had we just discovered our future home? What would our lives be like there? What might we find in the countries still to come? It was all really exhilarating. We felt utterly untethered from our former lives. With each passing week the pressures of school and work and finances melted away into new possibilities. We saw people like us, former big city people, living happily and simply, a world away from it all. By December, it’s fair to say, the prospect of simply re-entering our former lives was growing more and more remote.

It wasn’t until April, however, that we were certain. Could we live in Trancoso, Brazil, La Barra, Uruguay, Pichilemu, Chile or Raglan, New Zealand? Yes, yes, yes and yes…. BUT, we had found somewhere that spoke to our hearts even more. It was Byron Bay, Australia, and we were smitten.

Within one month of exploring beautiful Byron Bay and the towns dotted throughout its hinterlands, we all agreed that this could be our spot. We had quickly and easily made dear friends and found a rhythm and routine that was incredibly natural for our family. We felt an undeniable connection to the natural beauty of the area and were drawn to its infectiously happy residents. Of course there was also the surfing, the sunshine, the good food, the creative community and the bohemian lifestyle that’s always appealed to me. We had fallen in love and could not deny our deep attraction to this place. We quizzed the kids – could you live here? Their answers were always, and unambiguously, ‘yes!’ At the end of our month-long stay, we couldn’t wait to return.

In just a few weeks we’ll be boarding a flight for Australia, stomachs full of butterflies again, with dreams of making a home there. There will be much to do, especially with visas and the logistics of emigrating, but we will be exploring all of the options and are hopeful that Australia may take us in. We’ll look forward to a day when we can really unpack our suitcases and start to build a nest again (to light candles, buy flowers, stock a pantry, hang up children’s art – the simple things we’ve missed). We’re also looking forward to sending the kids back to school, signing them up for activities, and finding a routine for our family again. Michael and I can’t wait to go on dates again, to take yoga classes and to focus on our careers. Of course there will be the challenges, but we’re even looking forward to those!

Thank you, as always, for following along and supporting us on our journey. There is much to come and I am eager to share our experiences along the way. The adventure continues…

88 thoughts on “Where to next???

  1. Thank you for share all this things with all of us!
    You are such an inspiration for me that I’m already trying to convince my boyfriend to take a year off once we have kids.

    AUSTRALIA! What an incredible way to end your adventure!
    I wish you all the best from the very deep of my heart

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    • Me too!! I’m not even married yet but when we talk about kids and travel, I always use Courtney and her family as an example! Love your story and you’ve seriously inspired me to someday travel with my kids and show them the world like you have ❤️❤️

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  2. Unbelievable! I’ve been following your journey from Melbourne and you’re moving to my home town! In had an inkling you couldn’t resist it when you said you were moving somewhere new 🙂 all the best with your move and settling into the hippy place in the sun!

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  3. This news has made my day. We live in Australia & everyday we feel blessed to do so and we love our lives BUT for years I have followed your instagram acct and despite lots of experience traveling it has been one of the only ones that made me wonder and ponder what a permanent life in London or Europe or or or would be like. You have made it look so very appealing but I am also comforted to know you chose Australia to raise your family. Welcome to the lucky country. I’m sure you will be very happy here. X

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  4. Fantastic and exiting news guys it was somehow predictable you really suit Byron vibe. I hope one day to move there too with my family but for now far south of New Zealand is home. All the very best for your new happy chapter.x

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  5. I can’t even express how excited I am for your new adventure! Keep up the postings and the fun times! Good Luck to all 7 of you. X

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  6. Congratulations Courtney! Your adventure has sparked plans for my family to take time out to travel around my country (Australia) for a long trip too! I’m so happy that you have decided to settle in Byron bay, it is a truly special part of the world. I look forward to following your adventures now that you are closer to home.

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  7. So exciting !! Byron is pretty glorious 🙂 how wonderful for you & your family Courtney — can’t wait to keep up with your beautiful adventures! (Just a word of warning that if you’re coming in the next few weeks you’ll prob be here for schoolies season … it’s over quickly, I promise, and Byron returns to its usual magical state !!) xo

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  8. Such wonderful news! You have been a complete inspiration to me. So much so that today my husband requested to work from home permenantly so we could go on our own adventure and this has been granted. So we are off to taste some different lifestyles, tread on some different soil and to soak each other up.
    I hope you will be very happy in Byron Bay. I will continue to enjoy watching your magical adventure from afar!

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  9. Wow, super nice choice!!
    And jetsetmama is around and so many others!!
    One question I was wondering: I don’t mean to mind your business so mine is just a kind of technical/practical question, because I would like to move there too one day. I’ve heard that applying for a visa is quite hard unless you’re sponsored by a company there or similar. Is it that true?
    All the best to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment Giuls. A lot of people have asked similar questions about visas. There are different routes into Australia in this respect. None are easy or a sure thing, but we are exploring a few options and will choose the one we hope gives us the best chance. It’s likely to be a lengthy process and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed the entire time.

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  10. Hi Courtney!

    Very happy for you and your family! Congratulations on the baby! I had my fourth baby on November 2015 and you were visiting Uruguay! What a shame you did not choose La Barra or Jose Ignacio! But I must say Byron Bay seems perfect for you! I wish you all the best in this new adventure and take care of you and little baby! Besos y abrazos! Jenny Hennebert

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  11. Wow I’m so happy for you all! I was actually just in Byron 2 weeks ago for spring break on your recommendation, and it was gorgeous and relaxing – just what I needed. I’m still in Australia on study abroad (from Kent, so London is very close to my heart!) for another 9 months and I think I’ll definitely be heading back to Byron Bay. It would be amazing to actually get to meet you after following along on this journey. I wish you all the best for the future

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  12. You must have an amazing soul Courtney! Wishing you and your beautiful family a very happy days/ months/ years ahead!
    You are an inspiration to live simply , more fully!

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  13. That is incredible news!
    One of my other FAVOURITE people on instagram spends 50% of her time living in Byron Bay.
    Perhaps you already know her but, if not, I hope you bump into her.
    She goes by jet set mama.
    All the best for this exciting new chapter!

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  14. So amazing – congrats. We’re moving to London in two months time – from Hong Kong, sadly neither are at a Slower Pace as you but I hope someday!! Australia is a special place for us and I can’t wait to see more of your adventures there.

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  15. Ohhhh, Courtney!! The first I thought when you said you were moving to another place was “they will move to Byron Bay”… It’s exciting!! It must be a wonderful place, a quiet town with amazing beaches and views!! Please tell us how is the settling process (the visas, the school enrolment, what are you thinking about jobs…) Thank you for sharing your adventures!! I love your family!

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  16. Fantastic! What an exciting time for you all. We live in Sydney but take our annual holiday to Byron Bay, everytime we visit we talk of moving there permanently.

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  17. You inspired my family and I to take a break from normal life (3 months though instead of 15!) and we also spent time in Byron Bay and I can see exactly why you would want to start again there and also the way travelling with your children makes you reevaluate your lives. Amazing decision and good luck! Very good envious! X

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  18. Good luck ! I have chosen cape town in south Africa for 14 years, am i consider myseft lucky still. Its a great feeling to be able to make a choice! Lots of love

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  19. Brilliant news! We could tell how much you guys had fallen in love with Byron! Perhaps you will be able to give a workshop or pointers to those of us that have been trying to relocate to Australia as well but due to restrictive immigration, have yet to find a way! We cannot wait to hear more about this next chapter of your lives. Your family truly is inspiring.

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  20. Congratulations!! I cannot wait to see were this new journey takes you and the family! I would love to know the settling process too! ( visa’s, school enrollment, jobs) take care!

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  21. I can across your page when googling “family gap year”, thankyou for sharing your journey and providing so much inspiration. Congratulations on your achievements and we look forward to welcoming your beautiful family to Australia!

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  22. I keep coming back to this post. How fortunate you are, to freely choose where you want to live in this world. On an island before Australia refugees are detained in terrible camps for wanting the same. The best for their families. I don’t want to blame you. It just reminded me how privileged we are.

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    • Wishing your family all the best, in this new chapter.

      As Diana said it does make you think about those being held for wanting the same life for their families in Australia. I just wished there were no boundaries and lines drawn on maps etc.

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  23. I have loved following your Journey, both here and on instagram. Hope you will find Byron Bay as pleasant as you did on your last visit and will settle in nicely with your baby to come. Your journey have inspired me to dream about a leap year later on with my husband and baby. Thank you and all the best!

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  24. I think it’s very special to be able to give your children a chance to choose where they want to live. We often don’t even think about it, and we just follow what was probably a very rational and practical decision by our parents… I know that was the case for me, and I imagine that being able to say where I wanted to spend my life would have made a big difference. Good luck with your new adventure!

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  25. Hi Courtney, oh what a wonderful choice ! I ´ve never been there but I have heard is amazing. Such a shame you didn´t get to visit Ibiza yet, or have you? you would love it and definitely consider it 🙂 🙂 Wishing you all the best on this new chapter and hope to finally meet you and your beautiful family at some point ! xxx Catalina

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  26. What an exciting adventure! You’ve inspired me to keep an open mind and think a bit outside-the-box when it comes how my husband and I bring up our family 🙂 We’re currently living in London with our 7-month old but move back home to New England this December… I hope we’re able to keep the adventure going like your family has! 🙂 Safe travels!

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  27. I have been following along with all of your adventures – prior to the big trip and over the past 15 months. I love seeing your posts to find out where in the world you are now! I read this post with tears in my eyes – so very excited for you and your (growing!) family to be settled in such a beautiful place! Congratulations!

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  28. That is amazing! I have been following your blog from Sydney, I’m a pom, been here 8 years, you will not regret it. I haven’t been to Byron for such a long time but we need to get up there soon. My husband and I have started discussions around a family gap year too, in a few years when the baby is a little older. I cannot wait!!!! good luck with the move.

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  29. Courtney, I literally got goosebumps reading this. My husband and I are in the beginning of our lives together, only being married three years, with one little one. I feel like every night is made up of us dreaming about what we can do to live a fuller yet simpler life. Not to get locked in with the golden handcuffs, but to do things we really love and are passionate about. This is SO inspiring to me. You have no idea. Thank you for doing what I want to do. Thank you for showing me and sharing that it really is possible to go against the grain and do things differently than the world says we are supposed to. A 9-5 job in the city just won’t cut it for us for the rest of our lives. Thank you.

    Nicole | http://www.bynicolegeorge.com

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