Our biggest dream manifested into reality, when in January 2018, after 10 years in Dublin, we moved to a place where the Atlantic ocean touches the land.
To finally live in Sligo town where unparalleled energy is emitted in the surrounding landscape is a gift we get to enjoy every day now. There is rugged coast, shaped over thousands of years by heavy winter swells. There’s the smell of chimney smoke on a cold winters day, there are beautiful woodlands and soft rain.
Yes, after years of dreaming and after a year of meticulous planning and researching, we finally began the journey across the country and slowly settled into a two-storey house with a rustic fireplace and a small garden.
Packing boxes and looking for accommodation on the other side of the country while preparing for Christmas with Valters parents who came to visit us in Dublin wasn’t without its twists and it wasn’t without moments of doubt. This wasn’t our first time moving; between the two of us, we lived in Sweden and Scotland and had wonderful opportunities to adapt to different circumstances.
We’ve always been those people who intentionally looked for a change and challenge, both to occupy our restlessness and to undergo experiences and to make it to the next evolution, subconsciously diving into the unknown.
But this move was more extreme. We’ve had no jobs waiting for us in Sligo. We’d be living further away from our family and friends than ever before. We had a two-year-old child to look after, and we were giving up a very convenient life in the Dublin suburbs. All for what? A quiet life on Ireland’s West coast?
Our dream with this move was to tune in with our intuition and live somewhere that feels right for us. For years we suppressed unrest in our souls that was impossible to get rid of; city and suburban living never satisfied us. Even though we lived in close proximity to our family, had great jobs, something didn’t feel right.
We longed to have the best of both worlds. We wanted to live in a small city on Ireland’s West Coast with a fair amount of amenities and to have easy access to beaches and mountains. And, that’s why we chose Sligo that offered and delivered a vibrant cultural scene, serene vistas of nature and world-class surf.
Starting our lives from the scratch, we realised that there is always room for growth and that finding the right path in life is a forever evolving process.
But when I look back at the moving process, it struck me that it’s so much more than the physical moving, and it’s so much more than a new chapter. It’s a lesson in the art of letting go. It’s a new book. It’s moments of pure excitement and extreme worries at the same time.
Three years later, and I am writing this beside the roaring fireplace while listening to the soft tapping of the rain. I can confirm, we are happy with the move, and I can confirm that some of the concerns we had weren’t a bother at all whereas new ones we’d never even considered arose.
There’s an extended circle of spiders and other crawlies we can’t seem to get rid of. There’s gathering and splitting firewood and keeping it dry. There are power outages and getting used to the new surroundings.
West Coast Living: 6 Things to Think About Before Leaving Dublin Behind
Three years ago when we packed up and moved from Dublin to Sligo in search of a better life/work balance with easy access to the outdoors, we had no idea how much we would get out of our decision. The lifestyle beyond city limits proved to provide more affordable housing, fewer people and a never-ending amount of green spaces for us to roam around.
Have you ever made a big, life-changing move? Have you had a chance to evaluate your life while living in lockdown and working away from your kitchen table? Do you love the idea of packing up and leaving the expensive and cramped city behind?
Moving countries or cities is no small feat, but Ireland seems to agree with us, and we settled in comfortably, both in Dublin and in Sligo. After a very busy year with moving and settling in, we decided to share a few useful tips to consider before you make a final decision.
Here’s where to start.
#1. Have a clear focus on your mind
People move for different reasons. Some do it for love, some for a new job, some do it for a clean slate and sometimes it’s taking a leap of faith. Are you looking to press the reset button and start fresh in a new place? So many of us are dreaming of a different kind of life – a slower-paced one with nurturing nature on our doorstep yet the one where we don’t have to give up the pleasures of the 21st century.
Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from verbalising your dreams, but also don’t expect your life to change just because you are moving to the countryside, you have to put your mind and soul to make it happen. Our advice: let go of your expectations and fears, and allow yourself a wild new adventure. You’ll figure it all out as you go.
Failures and difficulties will always be part of moving cities and countries, leading to valuable lessons and experiences, but you have to ask yourself: would my quality of life be improved or compromised? The key is to do your homework in advance, to ensure you know how the change would affect you and your interests specifically.
#2. Sort your accommodation in advance
There are a couple of decisions you need to make when it comes to accommodation. A recent statistic shows that to rent a 1 bedroom apartment in Dublin city can cost up to an eye-popping 2,800 a month that often comes with constant noise, endless crowds and a hectic lifestyle.
If you find yourself leaning towards a quiet life in the countryside, draw up a plan and decide on your budget. Figure out what rent/mortgage will cost and make sure you have enough savings to support yourself for at least 4 months (unless you are moving for a new job and starting right away).
Homes in the country are more affordable than homes in urban areas and to get the best of rural property, listen to word of mouth, find a decent letting agent and check out commuting times to the bus/train station and your workplace.
#3. Do your research about employment
If you are serious about living the good life and escaping to the countryside, then you need to find a way to make a living. Unless, of course, you already have a job and that’s why you are moving. Then you can skip this part.
Relocating to a quiet town might be an exciting prospect, but you have to remember that larger cities provide ample opportunities for employment, but smaller towns may have less varied job options. While your employers may be happy for you to work from home during the pandemic crises, that all can change in the future.
Are going to stay in your current job? Are you planning on working part-time? Are you gonna start your online business? You need to be honest with yourself and work out how much money will you need to comfortably live on your rural property.
Farming is just one way to earn a crust in the countryside. In remote communities, many people work a patchwork of jobs. They run a B&B in the busy summer month, work a few hours in a local shop plus do something that they are passionate about – making soaps, baking bread and selling them at Farmers Markets.
The key here is to be open to new ideas and constantly invest in your future.
#4. Give yourself time to acclimatise
When I first arrived in Ireland, there was a lot of discomforts that came with the culture shock and learning to live life differently from the way we do in Latvia. But adapting to our new lives turned out to be an undeniably enticing experience that made us reinvent ourselves and grow in a way we never imagined.
Moving is hard. Moving to a new place, where you don’t know anyone is even harder, especially in the first few months when you are in transition. Give yourself time to adjust to new surroundings and start by slowly exploring your neighbourhood. It can take months to settle into a new home and it can take a while to adapt to lifestyle changes.
Being able to adapt and integrate into a new place is the hardest yet the most rewarding aspect of moving. Expect to feel awkward at the beginning, You are an outsider looking to learn about the new place you are living in. Don’t be afraid to approach locals and ask questions.
#5. Sort your stuff in advance
We all know that moving house is expensive, difficult and time-consuming; you can’t just up and leave. Trying to juggle packing up everything you own and staying sane through the process can be challenging. That’s why you need to need to plan effectively as the big moving day draws closer.
Depending on the size of your household, you may need from several days to a couple of weeks to sort out your belongings. Start packing as early as possible and make sure you have plenty of packing supplies
One of the first steps is to find a new home to move to. It takes time to find a perfect house in a location you desire. Start by researching housing options in the new area and view a good few in order to choose the most suitable one.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to:
- Cancel of memberships, subscriptions etc
- Transferring of utilities
- Changing of address
#6. Give yourself time to find new friends
There are millions of people on the move around the world; for some, it’s a conscious decision to become a foreigner, for some it’s an opportunity to live a better life. If you are willing to start fresh in a new place then you need to know that building a new community while being a fully-fledged adult can be challenging; friendships take time to develop.
A move to the countryside will involve a loss of one’s existing social network. Wherever you move, it is likely that you will need to be proactive for a while to ensure you meet new friends. It will take a little time before your new network will be established, because some social circles in some small communities may be difficult to break into.
Depending on your hobbies, you can sign up for yoga classes or local volunteer programmes. This way your network will expand naturally and you might even find new friends.
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Now, over to you!
Have you ever moved cities or countries? Let us know in the comments!
Let us know if you are planning a change in lifestyle or have a travel-related question