What of our own personal experience of actually living in Tasmania?
Can it truly offer a fulfilling life after living in the big smoke?
How do we balance the peace, the sense of community and the gentle progression of our own lives, with the realisation that we’re now living in a place that doesn’t really have any impact on the world stage?
It’s not exciting like London, New York, Paris, or even Sydney. Hobart is more like a cosy armchair. It’s like visiting a favourite aunt, but as you really like her, it’s OK.
We’d worked hard all our lives, trying to stay one step ahead of fear. The circles weren’t always vicious, more like wearisome. And in Sydney we felt cornered; cornered by our own expectations, cornered by the perceptions of others, and cornered by the sheer volume of Sydney traffic, which is a very real, physical barrier to any sense of freedom.
So the scene was set. Well, almost. How could we make a living in a new location (not easy when you’re in your mid-50s)?
We trawled the internet for information, opinions, anything that might indicate to us where we might like to live. The trouble was that we didn’t even know exactly what we wanted, we just knew something had to change and that Tasmania might be able to provide the answer. We eventually chose to go for acreage over suburbia, but we still had no idea how we were going to support ourselves.
The answer, when it came, was a complete surprise to us, and neither of us can quite remember how it came about. The seed of an idea to run a mobile coffee van as our own business began to germinate. We were mindful of the risks of making too many major changes at once: starting our own business, changing our entire way of living, and doing all this in a new home, in far-off Tasmania. No more offices, no more bosses, no more office politics.
In many ways, our business feels like it is the child we never had, every day we plan how we’re going to present it to the world, expressing our personal business values, our customer service standards, how we can build a sustainable daily round, how we can become the best and most respected mobile cafe in Hobart?
It is in human nature to strive for personal significance. We find it here, not in high fashion, nor in the trinkets of wealth, but in warm and welcoming smiles. It’s only when we decided to release ourselves from the delusions of a high-speed life and accept that our humanity is more important, that we could feel ready to accept Tasmania as our new home, our new way of life.
When we made the move to Tasmania we also changed many things about our lives – perhaps too many: Mainland to island, hot climate to cool climate, familiar to the unknown, hectic to peaceful, residential to rural, a garden to acreage, and employed to self-employed.
We have both doubted and lauded our decision to change our lives in these ways. So it’s not just about Tasmania, it’s about all the things we changed, lost, or gained in so doing. That’s a challenge everyone faces when they move to a new location, far away from easy familiarity and comfortable friendships.
There are just two things I tell people when they ask about our life here in Tasmania (apart from the mountains and the water and the spectacular scenery). First I tell them that when I text a customer 25 kilometres away that I’ll be there in 19 minutes I’m usually correct to within one or two minutes. Try keeping to that schedule in any other Australian city. Secondly, I tell them that every morning we wake up to silence, punctuated by the odd sheep calling for its breakfast, or by birds gently greeting the day. We look out of the window towards infinity and quietly give thanks at having finally arrived at a place where we feel completely safe, where my heart feels it has finally found its home, our own slice of Paradise.
Attracted by the easier lifestyle and natural beauty of Tasmania, Mike Smith and Sarah Dawson-Shepherd moved from Sydney to Hobart in February 2012.
They have since established their own successful mobile cafe business, Espresso Allegro. You can find out more about their business at their website and Facebook page.
If you have moved to Tasmania and would like to share your story, then please get in touch.