Will I have to drop in salary if I move to the country?

TODAY I was lucky enough to record a podcast with Paul Benson of Guidance Financial Services. We discussed how – and why – my husband and I escaped the city, in favour of a small town in Central Victoria.

Inevitably the question of jobs came up.

If you think that there is no good, well-paying work in the country, you’re with the majority of the urban population.

The powers that be – mostly government – don’t do a great job marketing and profiling the opportunities that exist in the country. Magazines, as glossy and romantic as they are don’t help the cause either.

Neither give you a true profile. They certainly don’t give you a blueprint or strategy to build your own path.

I created Spark Rural as a platform to share the true and honest stories of the bush, with a focus on jobs, small business and lifestyle.

I’ve travelled more than 30,000 kilometres around regional Victoria and have visited over 70 towns and communities. I’ve met with more than 1,000 people about why they choose to live and work in the country.

While the country does have challenges (so does the city by the way), work and investment opportunities are there. It’s just that they’re not advertised or profiled in the same way as in the city.

It’s almost like regional Australia and urban Australia are two separate countries.

Up to 80% of jobs aren’t advertised.

This is as true in the country as it is in the city. That’s why getting on job boards like Seek and Indeed aren’t an accurate representation of what’s really out there.

As I explained to Paul today, the path to the great jobs is through a network. Once you know how, it’s possible to start connecting with people in the country without leaving home.

Job boards give you a good indicator as to where talent shortages may lie, for example, health, aged care, education, land management / agriculture, construction, property, transport, logistics, engineering.

That’s not to say there isn’t opportunity in other areas.

I’m a print journalist (albeit digital plays a big role), and I live and work in a town of 3000 people. The company I work for (4 days a week) has papers across Central, North Central Victoria and Southern New South Wales.

As mainstream and big media faces an uncertain and fragmented future, the opportunities for niche and local journalism are exciting – if you get the model right. It’s a fantastic world to be part of right now.

Since moving to regional Victoria I’ve worked for local and state government and general news media. While I never saw myself working in politics, it has been an excellent introduction to, and grounding in country life. I’ve learned about planning, budgeting, decision making, community consultation, and economic development. I’ve discovered new passions, all because I opened my mind to something new.

Believe in work to live.

My move to country Victoria was propelled by the kind of life I wanted to lead. I wanted to fit my career to my experience of the world, not the other way around. That’s not to say that you can’t have a high flying career in the country.  

Three women who instantly come to mind; Marnie Baker, CEO of Bendigo Bank; Jacqui Brauman, Victorian Regional Lawyer of the Year and owner of TBA Law; Melanie McCarthy, General Manager of Mandalay Mine (Costerfield).  

This is just three, and that’s just off the top of my head.

People CAN and DO have lucrative and successful careers in the country. I’m on a lower salary that what I was earning as an HR Manager, but I spend far less. I save more and it all comes out in the wash. Does the total amount on my tax return certificate REALLY matter? I don’t feel deprived, so I guess not.

Slowing down and making connections

Away from the city I have connection to land, the environment and community.

I can’t walk down the street without someone pitching a story to me for the paper. While this is a source of joy and frustration, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know my neighbours. I mean, I REALLY know them. Same goes with the friendships I’ve developed. In the country, the truths of life hit you harder. Things are more in your face (specifically I’m referring to rural road deaths and drought). I know that if the proverbial brown stuff hit the fan, I live in a community where people genuinely give a damn about me.

When life gets tough, for example, I feel frustrated with the isolation or small town politics, I remember the alienation I felt in the corporate world, the stress of KPIs, the cut throat nature of office politics and I know I’ve made the right decision. 

While the majority of the world’s population will live in urban environments and mega cities within a decade or two, it doesn’t mean that we’re chained to living a lifestyle that contributes to feeling overwhelmed, disillusioned, exhausted and disconnected.  

Tree Change is a way of life.

If you want to keep your six figure executive role and build ‘wealth’ for ‘retirement’, then a tree change may not be right for you. 

But if you’ve got a small voice inside, telling you that something isn’t quite right, do yourself a favour. Pay attention. It’s got the answers you need.

All you need to is the courage to question the doubt - and listen. The path unfolds from there.