2 years ago, my family and I moved to Pingelly in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. Pingelly is definitely a small country town, with just over 1000 people and 150km from Perth. Moving to Pingelly wasn’t one of my life goals! In fact, I only had 4 weeks’ notice, in which I had to move an entire family home and relocate 2 children – one of whom was starting year 1 and the other starting kindy.
So, what do you do when you have 4 weeks to cancel one school enrolment, re-enrol in another school in a small country town you have never been to, relocate all your belongings and your dog, postal redirections and so much more? Well, if you’re me, you decide to also start a new business, complete with website, logo, sending out introduction emails to all your work colleagues and set up of ABN, business name, quoting and invoicing processes and banking and accounting systems.
This was a crazy time. I suspect I put a Cadbury Executive’s kid through private schooling with the amount of chocolate I ate during this period. I did not stop doing things or eating chocolate for about 6 weeks straight. We literally had our furniture delivered on the day my eldest child started year 1 in a new school. There was no need for me to set up a website and the entire business while we were moving house. It could (and should) have waited. For everyone’s sanity and my poor, stretched pants that had to suffer through my chocolate binge.
How I managed to cope with moving to a new country town, losing my stable government job of 8 years (that had to be based in Perth), starting a new business, my eldest starting her first year at ‘proper’ school and my youngest starting kindergarten, I don’t know. But I did it and I survived. So did the kids, if you were wondering, so yay for me!
That first day while our furniture was being delivered and after I had dropped my eldest at school, I took my youngest to the local playgroup. While I was there meeting other mums, I asked about the local netball team and promptly joined that. So there I was, day one and now part of the playgroup and a sporting team. This might not be so bad…well, it was actually awesome.
Going to that playgroup and then turning up to a P&C meeting a week later where I did not know anyone and had no idea how I would be received was not easy. I didn’t know the dynamics of this small country town, the personalities, how welcoming they would be and how I would fit in. But the way I saw it was I could either spend the next few years sitting at home alone while my husband worked and my kids were at school, or I could try to make a place for myself. Now, 2 years later and I have found my home and my people. I am on the netball committee, the School Council and the P&C. I have a core group of friends that I absolutely adore and who are helping me to love my life every day. I’ve learnt to play tennis (not well, to be honest, but I play) because that’s what my friends were doing. And Pingelly will always be a place that I come back to and see as my home, even when we do have to leave to follow my husband’s work. Moving to Pingelly has been, hands down, the best thing I have ever done in my life (ok, yes, husband and kids are number one and awesome, but seriously, Pingelly women are something else;) If I had not put myself out there and
When we first found out we were moving to Pingelly, we thought I would be able to continue doing my job with the State Government. There is an office about 30 minutes away and we thought I could relocate my work there. However, this did not eventuate and I had to confront the idea that I would not be continuing in the job I had done for so long. I had never, ever considered starting my own business. I had no idea where to start and am generally a very risk-averse person. But in every conversation I had with my husband or anyone else, I kept saying “I’m sure it will work out. I will figure it out”. I don’t know why, but I just knew it would be ok – I would make sure it was ok. And I did.
I spoke to every entrepreneur contact I had and picked their brains. I implemented their suggestions and I networked with my former colleagues. Every suggestion that made sense to me, I did, no matter how much work it took or what I had to learn to be able to do it. The first year of my business, I made a higher income than I did working in my old job. The second year was better. There is no doubt I have been very lucky with the advice and support I have received. But I only received that because I asked for it. And it only worked because I acted on the advice. I am 100% convinced that the attitude I took in to starting this business is they key reason it has succeeded. Just as the attitude I took in to moving to Pingelly has made it a success.
I have never been as happy as I am in Pingelly. Part of that is because I now love my work. I have the flexibility to take my kids to and from school and go to all of their school events. But that will be the case when we move back to Perth as well. What I am dreading about moving back, is the lack of community. The fact that school drop off and pick up is done from your car – kiss and drop. I will literally not see a single adult acquaintance (aside from my husband) some days. In Pingelly, I see friends when I drop my kids at school, I have a chat to some of the teachers, I see friends when I drop in to the local IGA or post office etc. and then I see them again at school pick up.
It’s true, everyone knows what everyone else is doing in small towns. To me, that just means there are a whole lot of people keeping an eye on my kids to make sure they’re safe and behaving, there are so many more social interactions and I know where I can find a friendly face if I need one. Happiness is knowing that I could see the face of someone I love around any corner I turn or any place I go. If we could stay in Pingelly then obviously I would, but that isn’t possible for us. So I guess my challenge when we do move is to somehow create a community within the
Luckily, we’re not moving just yet! So, if you’re ever out Pingelly way, give me a shout and I’ll show you the sights…you’ll need to allow a good few minutes. Joking – once you come, you’ll never want to leave!