Reducing to Island Size

 I’m reluctant to blog too much about this island wonderland we are moving to – some see it as bragging and I don’t want anyone to feel that we are rubbing it in (much!!) I have however been asked by multiple people how we manage to move around so freely uprooting our lives at will – trust me, not as easy as it may seem but also not as difficult as people think either.  It’s not like we planned to turn into nomads but military backgrounds help – we were used to being shoved around the countryside like chess pieces from our younger years in uniform, but back then all our worldly possessions fitted into one room on a RAAF Base..which was a lot of fun when young and free and meant it was incredibly easy to pack up and leave – especially when the military footed the bill for you and then stuck you on a plane or bus to your next destination!

That is the key to the whole thing of course, minimising what you have to lug around with you – things changed dramatically when we returned from a very exciting year in Canada to settle into our own house in Brisbane.  Acreage and a pole home with an entire under house storage area turned us (almost) into hoarders – more space you have the more you fill it apparently. By the time we had to shift into a little defence home in the sunny town of Sale we were drowning in stuff.. house, shed, garden, pool, dog, kids, grown up people’s things… you name it.  So we had the garage sale to end all garage sales and still filled a four bedroom house with the garage so overflowing the cars were in our driveway…

There are plenty of others out there talking about how to downsize, minimise, do less with more etc etc I’m not really qualified – but I can talk about our journey and how it really isn’t a one off job, it’s an entire mind shift that can take years.  In a way our trip around Australia is where it started, there is nothing like having to pay for storage of all that stuff to motivate you to minimise – we thought we had minimised anyway, in reality it was a tiny start.  It did dramatically show us how you can live indefinitely in a tiny space with very few belongings, even if it’s only on holidays and camping, it was a great lesson.It has literally taken years to get where we are now, owning about 30% of what we had in Brisbane – multiple garage sales, giving away things through pay it forward pages, selling items on gum tree and slowly, slowly having less and less and moving into progressively smaller houses which sort of forces the issue. The last bastion has been personal items – easy to get rid of furniture, toys (well if you aren’t seven but the little people are slowly getting on board with this business) but when you are talking treasured magazines, photo albums, knick knacks, CD’s, collectibles… it gets harder.  Then you get to ask the difficult questions…

  • why am I hanging onto it?
  •  Is it really treasured or just an unnecessary reminder of something or someone you would never forget anyway?
  • Can I scan these photos, keep the digital image or just get rid of some of the hoard without missing them?
  • Do I love this thing or do I need it?

The more you answer those hard questions though and the more you put aside, the easier it gets – it’s like an addiction, you walk around the house looking for the next thing you can remove and everyone else in the family starts aggressively defending their possessions because if it’s not tied down it’s likely to go! It’s a feeling like nothing else though, knowing you don’t have drawers of stuff or cupboards overflowing – even if you open a door you see space and air and it’s freeing.

I know now when we move to that little place on Straddie (not talking myself up too much as we are building an extension out the back – but we even downsized that from the original plans!) that the pain of packing and unpacking will be minimal and we don’t need to allow for a tonne of storage space. The other bonus is it will be near on impossible for us to increase our belongings again, we just won’t have anywhere to put it and we will be living far from main stream shopping centres and temptation to buy.

So that’s part of the secret to a mobile life, don’t have things…. collect experiences instead and that’s what we are (still) working on….

Try it – you might like it 🙂


Why ?????

Why are moving to Stradbroke Island ?
 There have been a lot of questions asked since we returned from our Christmas break announcing we were moving to Strandbroke Island (I would be lying if I said the shock factor wasn’t just a bit fun!) Why would you move, why to an island, why away from family…. The flippant answer is because we can – of course there is so much more to it than that, but also it sort of sums it up nicely.  Also I’m not particularly superstitious but sometimes the universe does seem to put these opportunities smack bang in your path that are impossible to ignore.

We have visited Brisbane and caught up with our family and friends often since leaving to do our around Australia trip in 2013 (that turned into an oops we aren’t coming back now situation).  Christmas last year shouldn’t have been any different, fly in, feel surrounded by people we love, get really sad about leaving and then come home and get on with life while marvelling at how beautiful the Mornington Peninsula is and how lucky we are to live here.

Except this time my beloved best friend had moved herself and her family….to an island….. a decision which baffled and bemused us.  Although beautiful, it was isolated, difficult to get to, had limited services and what on earth do you do there? Don’t get me wrong, we have camped on Straddie in days gone by and it is truly one of the most spectacular spots in Australia, but that’s a completely different kettle of fish to living in a camping destination full time.

So we all squeezed into her tiny little house and hung out with people we loved. We piled the kids into the car and went to amazing beaches with rolling waves, rock pools and sand slides, walked around the Point trying to spot dolphins and turtles, had the most amazing Gelati (that could have been the deciding factor come to think of it), bought coffee at the groovy whole food cafe right across the street and watched the kids play on the access road under the Poinciana trees.  It recaptured some pretty warm and fuzzy feelings of how much we loved this place before and how far away the ‘real world’ felt when we were there. Admittedly we were on holiday and life always has that warm haze about it that causes you to start fantasising about giving it all away to live on a desert island (or even a dessert island – don’t forget the Gelati!)  

Then we left – waved goodbye and hopped on a plane to Vanuatu (yes I know, we were having a horrible time of it). Maybe it would have been a different outcome if we went straight home to reality – it might have just been another holiday pipe dream.  Instead the idea took root and grew while we had time on our hands to contemplate it. An opportunity for our kids to spend some of their most formative years in a beautiful natural environment that would encourage them to be outdoors and active.  To learn about aboriginal culture in a way most kids would never experience – by going to school with them, living next door, participating in their customs and traditions. To separate from our spiralling involvement in all things materialistic and online – no shopping centres or even much of anything retail, a smaller house, cheaper car, less possessions, more focus on the environment, friendship, connecting with people around us.  Kids able to walk to school from home, play in the street and be three doors down from their oldest and dearest friends in the world, everything you could see or do no more than a fifteen minute drive away. Less stress, less hurry, less spending, less busyness.

The question slowly became why wouldn’t we do it. You’re not always in a position to take this kind of leap but right at this point in time, we could. We both work from home, our kids were delighted at the thought of being near their mates and living on an island and we could make it work – so why not? It still might have slipped away from us – but we came home and without even really having that final discussion of ‘are we doing this’ we just made it happen. That’s seems to be a source of fascination for everyone as well – I’ve been told we are the most portable family ever and how on earth do we do make this work, packing up the family and moving all over the place.  I’m not even really sure, we just seem to do it – but I will try and explain that too.. but in another post as it’s late now and I seem to be keeping our ginger moggie awake – the only member of the family who doesn’t care where we live as long as there is food (although possibly that applies to our kids as well…..)