When we started talking about the possibility of moving to Australia, one of the hardest decision we faced was what to do with our beloved house. At first, we weren’t even sure moving was an option, as we had been homeowners for less than 2 years. Eventually we realized we would have to sell, as the rental market wouldn’t be profitable or stable enough for us.
I don’t have great attachment to many material possessions, but giving up our first home was painful. It wasn’t so much the actual building (and it definitely wasn’t our tiny yard) that I hated to leave– it was the memories, the love, the comfort of home. We started our home building process in November of 2013 when we signed the contract for a tiny little lot of hilly, muddy land. Over the next few months we painstakingly chose every finish and detail possible.
I’ll never forget the look on Donnie’s face when he realized that the only option for the (gorgeous) off-white cabinets I had my heart set on for our kitchen were in the highest price bracket of cabinets. Not yet married, we started navigating the challenge of balancing the practical with trying to make the one you love happy. I gave up an all-brick exterior and jets in my garden tub so we could have an extra living room upstairs and built-in speakers throughout. Donnie gave up fancy surround sound and opted for just the wiring, while doing the hard work himself. Together, we planned a lovely little first home for ourselves and our puppy.
It was exactly what we wanted: a large master bedroom, open plan kitchen, dining and living room all on one level, an extra living space for Donnie and his sports-watching, an office, lots of natural light, and a little fenced in yard for our pup to run around. We only had just over 2,000 square feet, but for our little family it was perfect.
We celebrated our birthdays (Donnie hid my present in the guest bathroom bathtub) and our first Christmas, which really made the new house feel like home. We had fires on our patio, planted new flowers, and completed an unknown number of projects around the house– including installing hardwood in our bedroom and building our farmhouse table (OK, Donnie really did most of the work on those two.) We came back to our house after trips to St. Martin, Charleston, Jacksonville, London, and so many other adventures. Every day, when I walked through the door, I was greeted by an overly enthusiastic pup and my husband, and I was home.
Leaving our home, selling it to another couple who would make it their own, was difficult. I cried my share of tears over the hours of packing and moving, already missing this place that was so very ours.
But giving up our first house brought us to Sydney. And our tiny little apartment on Wheeler Parade is already starting to feel like home. We live on a quiet, tree-lined street on the Northern Beaches, in a little town called Dee Why. When we came to inspect this apartment, I knew it was for us, and we decided the address was a sign! (Wheeler is my maiden name.)
We still have loads of decorating to do, but it’s slowly but surely coming together. We spend a lot of time outside on our balcony, as the weather has been gorgeous since we arrived three months ago. I cook, and Donnie grills, every night in our tiny little kitchen and on our baby grill outside. Our king-size bed quite literally takes up our entire bedroom, and we’ve gone from each having our own separate (and huge) walk-in closets to sharing a tiny robe (what they call a closet here.) We traded in our beloved chair and a half, couch, and 6-seater leather, reclining sectional for one little blue couch. We traded our granite and stainless steel, gourmet kitchen with a large island and so many cabinets and yards of counter space, for an L-shaped little nook with peeling grey benchtops (that’s what Aussies call countertops) and barely enough space for two people. And I couldn’t be happier.
We use our tiny kitchen more here than we ever used our large one at home. We spend much more time outside with just our balcony than we did in our yard at home. We gave up so many nice luxuries, but we’ve found a peace and contentment that we’ve never had. Here, alone, so many thousands of miles from everyone we love, we’ve had to rely on each other for so much, and this experience has already made our relationship stronger. We appreciate our little apartment so much, because it’s our little piece of home in this country. We may not have a lot of space, but we have a 5 minute walk to a gorgeous beach. We may not have a lot of clothes (or places to hang them!) but we have beautiful weather for months on end.
I always liked to believe that I wasn’t materialistic, that I appreciated experiences and travel more than “things,” but I had my doubts. It wasn’t until I gave up almost all of my material possessions that I realized how truly valuable experience is, and how lucky I am to experience this season in my life with my favorite person.
And, thanks to my Mama’s crafting skills, Nashville never feels too far away!