Why we chose to live where we live

SAMII the motorhome and Combo the van

SAMII the motorhome and Combo the van

In 2006 Mandy, Tessa the mini Foxy and I (Sean) left Bathurst, NSW, in our motorhome for further travels. We are both in our 40’s and had decided to do some more travelling of this great Australian land. We had started our journeys in the mid 90’s originally and become sidetracked in Bathurst for a few years and decided the time was right to continue.

We have no children and our professions enable us to work as we travel. Mandy is a radiographer and Sean a puppeteer and community artist who runs his own one person puppet theatre Pelican Puppets. We left in February 2006 and travelled down to Victoria and then up to Cairns for  the winter. Always on the look out for the place that felt right to maybe settle one day. In November 06 we crossed Bass Strait to Tasmania and spent 5 months exploring the island. We came to the realisation that we felt a connection to the Meander Valley in Northern Tasmania. This fertile area is under the protection of the Western Tiers and centres on the township of Deloraine and several small villages including Westbury.

April 07: We left Tasmania and wend our way to Darwin for the winter months.

Oct 07: Mandy flies from Darwin to Launceston for a five week locum. Checks outreal estate. Sean and Tessa drive motorhome, towing our Combo van back to Bathurst in NSW.

Dec 07: All ready to head to Tasmania. Get to Bendigo in Victoria and Sean taken crook with heart problems. Back to Bathurst to recuperate

Jan 08: Whilst Sean was recuperating our dreams coalesced and we decided that it was time to settle down for a while and that Tasmania would be the place to do it. Mandy & I felt that we would like to build our own place out of recyclable materials and live a slower, greener life.

We decide on our criteria for land as follows:-

  • North facing aspect
  • between 1 & 10 acres
  • close to village or town with Doctors, banks, supermarket etc
  • trees
  • reasonable access to block for motorhome
  • within 50 – 100km’s of large town or city
  • Next G reception
  • Local ABC reception
  • Dog friendly Council
  • Some infrastructure on the land
  • Recycling at Council
  • Reasonable soil
  • No traffic lights

We then started to look and dream on the internet to get an idea of price etc. Looking all over Tasmania at land that we could afford.

March/April 08: Mandy takes on Locums in Victoria as she is going slowly stir crazy. Sean goes along for the travel and continues research on the internet. Ah the wonders of wireless broadband.

May 08: Sean on  the mend. Attend a Straw Bale house building workshop at with Huff N Puff Constructions, Ganmain, NSW. Mandy offered more Locum work through BreastScreen Tasmania. We feel that the North of Tasmania is where we want to settle.

June 08: Sean much better so head back to Tassie on the Spirit of Tasmania. Landfall at Devonport and feel immediately at home. Spend first week in Hobart for Mandy’s work with BreastScreen Tasmania. After a little while and as Mandy’s job prospects gelled a little more and we watched the cost of fuel skyrocket we started to think along the lines of buying a house, rather than land, and in a village, rather than close to one, and renovate it in a “green” way if we could not find suitable land.

Week 2 June 08: Mandy to spend three weeks in Launceston BreastScreen before heading to Devonport to work on the mobile bus until end of September. We arrive in Longford Caravan Park, close to Launceston on a long weekend.

We spent a day driving everywhere within a 30km radius of Launceston to see where we would like to settle as Mandy had been told that there is full time work for her at Launceston after working on the bus for a while. The Meander Valley still had a very strong attraction and we came to the conclusion that Westbury would be the place to look for a number of reasons.

  • Within 30km radius of Launceston
  • 35km’s on Bass Highway to Launceston (25 minutes easy drive to Mandy’s work, three sets of traffic lights, one roundabout)
  • Very friendly community of approx 1500 people
  • Self contained village with Doctor, Chemist, Supermarket, Restaurants, Bakery, Rural Supplies, Pub etc
  • Good dog walking area
  • Good Next G mobile phone reception
  • Local ABC reception
  • Positive local Council
  • Beautiful surrounding countryside
  • Deloraine, a larger centre only 17km’s away
  • Central for Sean’s work as a community artist/puppeteer
  • Views of the Western Tiers
  • Great recycling and buy back shop at local tip

Well then decision made as to where to live, now we had to find something suitable to live in. Plenty of houses for sale at all kinds of prices. We had decided that we would try and buy the house and renovate it all within the selling price of our house in Bathurst, approx $260,000.

Another list. This time what we were looking for in a house.

  • Three bedroom
  • Needs TLC (tender loving care)
  • Around $200,000 or less
  • Large block
  • Close to village centre
  • Preferable weatherboard and tin

Guess what we found it very quickly !!   It was for sale through Woolcock Partners Real Estate, a Launceston Real Estate company that gave very personal and professional service throughout the purchase. Many thanks to Kathy Padgett and also to Amy at Sproal & Associates, conveyancers, that we chose rather than solicitors to handle all the legal aspects and to Michael at RESI Homeloans for the money !!

A couple of inspections later and we made an offer which was accepted. 30 days later it was ours. July 17th to be precise.

A two year time frame to renovate in a totally green way has been self imposed. Research is under way and we have started work. All within the sale price of our Bathurst house. Could be a challenge!!

Positives:

  • A three bedroom house built in the 1950’s
  • on the old highway
  • two minutes from the village centre
  • good size rooms
  • needed work but livable in
  • on half an acre on a corner block
  • Sound construction. A builders report had previously been done on the property and the builder kindly gave it to us for no charge.
  • The garden was a blank canvas of grass and few trees, good soil
  • Good access for motorhome
  • Wiring and plumbing updated
  • Floorboards in good condition
  • Rear North facing

Negatives:

  • Only a single garage and small garden shed for outside storage
  • Diagonal sewer main easement cuts across land
  • one fence a little rickety
  • Roof and gutters and fascias need replacing
  • Weatherboards need repainting
  • Window frames stripping and repainting

So with the positives outweighing the negatives and a mortgage approved through Resi we were in the waiting zone.

Not much to be done whilst waiting for all the paperwork to go through except research and make more lists of things. Check out our research page for what we decided to do and in what order etc.

In the mean time we learnt that Mandys employer, Tasmanian BreastScreen, no longer required Mandy to work on the mobile bus in Devonport from July to September as they originally had wanted as another locum had been found, just a couple of weeks in August. This meant that we could put the motorhome in the grounds and start working on the house alot earlier than anticipated. Yahoo!! Mandy would be working in Launceston instead. No matter that most of our tools and furniture etc is in Bathurst, we could start.

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