TREE CHANGING TIPS // Making The Move To The Southern Highlands
1 // Stay for a weekend
Not only do you get to sneak in a weekend away – woohoo! - but you can also get a good initial understanding of a region in 48 hours. Come as a tourist but observe as a potential resident. Visit as many towns as you can at different times of day. Make sure you get out of the car. Walking through streets (and not just the main roads) are a good way to get to know a town. Eat out, grab a coffee, chat to shopkeepers, wander through parks, check out where train stations, bus stops, parks, libraries and other community facilities are. And talk to as many locals as you can – us Highlanders love a good chat! Here’s a list of accommodation options in the Southern Highlands to get you started.
2 // Choose a town that meets your needs
One of the awesome things about the Highlands is that each town and village has its own personality! Moss Vale, Bowral and Mittagong are the larger towns with plenty of facilities, shops and hubs. If you like everything close at hand, these are the towns for you. But if you’re looking for something a little smaller and quintessentially country, Robertson and Burrawang are great options. The southern villages of Exeter, Sutton Forest, Bundanoon, Penrose and Wingello have loads of community spirit. Berrima is growing with more young families making the move to this iconic and historic town. And the northern villages of Hill Top, Yerrinbool and Colo Vale are perfectly placed if a Sydney commute is still on the cards. On the western side of the Hume Highway, Canyonleigh and Joadja offer up open space and plenty of land. And if being tucked away is what you’re after (and not being super close to shops or facilities) have a look at Kangaloon, Avoca and Fitzroy Falls. Here’s an article we wrote about Towns of the Highlands to get you started.
3 // Rent for a year
The Southern Highlands real estate landscape is always pumping! We love the range of properties that are for sale here but before you go dropping the big bucks on a home, we suggest you rent for a year. Get a feel for the town you’ve chosen. It might not actually be right for you and renting means you’ve got some more flexibility if you want to make the move to another location. Storing furniture and household items might be on the cards too if that’s the case, until you find your forever home. Tankar Self Storage Centre can help you with that.
4 // School catchment zones
The Department of Education has recently cracked down on school catchment zones and schools taking students from ‘out of area’. If you’ve got a few schools in mind, give them a buzz to be sure about their catchment zones. And have a chat to local families with school aged children to get an understanding of what each school excels in – is it an excellent arts program you’re looking for? Or an academic focus, or a strong sports reputation? Local families will let you know!
5 // Join local Facebook groups
A font of information and opinions (sometimes VERY strong opinions!), local Facebook groups are great for getting an understanding of what issues locals are facing and are awesome for getting super helpful questions answered about logistical things - everything from hairdressers to schools to restaurants and more. Just Ask – The Southern Highlands & Surrounding Areas, Southern Highlands Mums & Dads are handy groups to start with.
6 // Trial life as a commuter
Many people in the Highlands work in Sydney, Canberra, Goulburn and Wollongong. If part of your move to the country involves keeping one foot in the city with work, then you’ll need to double check on whether you can handle the commute. One of our team at The Fold moved into a hotel in Bowral for a week and commuted to Sydney via the train to see if he could handle it – lucky for us, he could! Remember the northern villages are ideal for Sydney commutes, the southern villages work well for Goulburn and Canberra (at a stretch) and living in the eastern villages make commuting to the coast a little more palatable.
7 // Get involved in the community
Made the move? The first thing you can do to make friends and get to know us friendly Highlanders is to join up with social groups, sporting organisations, business networks, parenting catch-ups – whatever suits you and your likes. There are loads of organisations in the Highlands you can get involved with, and most of them are focused on the specific town or village you’re living in.
8 // Be prepared for your house to become your friends’ new weekender
Once you’re settled in, you may find that you’ll have your city friends wearing a track to your front door. And that’s awesome! Take them out and show them around your gorgeous new neighbourhood – the more the merrier!
9 // Keep an umbrella and a jacket in your car
While we have four distinct seasons in the Southern Highlands, we do tend to have them all in one day! Keep a brolly and a jacket or two in the car for when the weather turns. Oh, and winter is coooooold. Not a little bit cold. A LOT cold. Layering (and a good beanie!) is the key to not freezing your booty off. Ski socks will also be your friend.
10 // Follow The Fold
Download The Fold app onto your phone, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Insta and Facie to keep up to date with all the fab stuff happening in the Southern Highlands. If you’re searching for a local biz – from architects to art galleries, plumbers to pubs and everything in between – our Business Directory will get you started. And you can never get bored with our lists of things to do, see, eat and drink…whatever! These are also handy when you’re playing tourist guide (see #8!).
So there’s some tips to help you make your tree change to the Southern Highlands with confidence. Oh, and here's an awesome article written by local blogger, Baby Mac who did the whole tree change thing! Tust us, you will never look back……this is one special place full of amazing people and awesome businesses and things to do. Welcome!!
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