- The stated goal: At the very least, make a concerted effort to assess the real feasibility of this idea so we can get to a 'go / no go' decision.
- Status: Achieved - but not in the way any of us expected
For a long time now we've had a family plan of getting onto some 'land'. We've been looking for 5+ acres just outside of Sydney. The plan was for both us and my parents to sell our homes in Sydney and combine forces to build a family farm somewhere. We'd looked in the Hawkesbury, Kurrajong and finally focussed our investigations in the Southern Highlands around the Robertson area. We were getting pretty serious about the Southern Highlands. We'd spent a few weekends down there to explore and we'd even done a school tour and put our kids names on the waiting list.
Very recently a few blocks of land came on the market that, although quite different, seemed to tick all our boxes. See here and here for example. I went to visit all these properties when I was in the Southern Highlands recently to attend a week long residential program at Quest for Life.
One of the properties I was most excited about
With specific properties to consider for the 1st time I started planning out the practical logistics of the whole idea, and my conclusion was a little depressing. I realized that I really couldn't ignore the fact that I've only been given a 50/50 chance of being alive in 5 years, and that a scenario were I die sometime soon could potentially complicate a move South, a lot. Selling up two family homes, getting kids to change schools, figuring out how to handle work in Sydney when you live 1.5 hours outside Sydney etc etc is complicated enough, but it's much worse still when the main proponent might cease to exist before the whole plan is fully realized. Also, because of the complexity such a move would entail we probably wouldn't attempt it until after my PET scan results in March / April. If the results we're bad we'd keep delaying the whole move plan, perhaps indefinitely.
And then something funny happened.
For many months a property adjacent to ours in Sydney has been for sale. I'd been to look at it as a curious neighbour but it was on the market for a crazy price and, well, I was looking for a 5+ acre farm, not a suburban block.
However not long after returning from the Southern Highlands I had a sleepless night and my mind turned to coming up with a new 'Plan B' land plan. Then I remembered the neighboring property but this time I thought about it very differently. After chatting to Madé in the morning I called the estate agent to get an update on it. Turned out the price had come down but also that an offer had already been made. I made a spur of the moment counter offer and to cut a long story short it ended up being accepted. We then endured a nerve wracking couple of weeks because we discovered that banks don't like to give mortgages to people with cancer, even those with good insurance. But just yesterday we got confirmation that our finance was approved, albeit with a few conditions that we still need to work through.
Many would describe the place we've bought as 'raw' at best - the cottage needs a lot of work and the land itself is pretty overgrown. There is little doubt that almost any other buyer would have immediately demolished the existing structures, but we have very different plans. We're going to try and create our own urban farm. We plan to renovate the cottage and rent it out. We're going to demolish the fence between our property and this one and create a new fence to separate the cottage from the land and garden shed, then we're going to completely overhaul the combined gardens.
This is absolutely a compromise plan. We're not going to have the many acres and rural vistas that we craved, but given my health this is plan that ticks a lot of boxes.
- We live in an area with fantastic public schools within walking distance and a great community. Now we don't have to leave it and it gives the kids stability over a period that might end up being challenging enough in other ways.
- We can realize at least some of our acreage plan - chickens, bees, fruit tree grove and an expansive vegetable patch and herb garden.
- We're 700m from a metro train station. This gives us several commute options but it also gives the kids freedom to explore Sydney independently when they're older.
- We can start on the project quickly and proceed irrespective of what happens with my PET scan in March / April. It gives us something positive and exciting to focus on.
- It's far less complex and risky than the Southern Highlands plan which gives me greater peace of mind regardless of the scenario we find ourselves in.
We'll share plans and progress updates once we have them, but in the meantime, here are the 'before' photos of the place we've bought.