About three years ago my husband Jim and I began thinking about a move to the coast or country for our family. We were living in Sydney and had grown sick of traffic jams, crowded trains and 45 minutes to commute just 10 kilometres every day. With skyscrapers going up all around us, we knew life was going to get busier and that was not what we wanted ourselves or our two daughters.
We had a few things that were important to us in choosing a new place to live. Our daughters were very happy and doing well at a good school in Sydney. So, we wanted a town with good schools. And they were both very involved in music so we wanted to find a strong music community as well. I am an Executive Director for a global investment bank and wanted to continue my job as a Program Manager – working remotely some of the time so we were also looking for somewhere that was established on the NBN and an easy trip to Sydney. We took trips up the coast and inland visiting several towns in NSW.
We decided to visit Armidale and were welcomed by some friends who had moved their family from Sydney eight years prior and had never looked back. We soon arranged a second visit including an experience day at PLC Armidale for our daughters. They felt so welcome and enjoyed it so much, that they arranged to come back again the next day!
We have been here 18 months and are very happy. My husband easily found work as a primary school teacher. Our daughters are thriving at PLC and we cannot say enough good things about the music teachers and programs at both PLC and the New England Conservatorium of Music (NECOM). The standard is very high and with visits from composers and musicians from all over Australia and trips to Sydney to compete against some of the top schools there, I think they have just as many musical opportunities here as Sydney.
I have settled into my new routine working from home and travel to Sydney every second week. I look after the development of a number of our products and I work with people all over the world. I have an NBN connection and a HD video camera in my home office so it makes little difference that I’m in Armidale or Sydney when working with teams in New York or Mumbai. I can take a video meeting at 7am, drop the kids at school at 830 and be back home again for a 9am meeting. I don’t think I could have done this if we were still in Sydney.
My colleagues in Sydney have no problem with me being remote most of the time. Technology makes it very easy to work together. My phone rings straight through to my home office and with online chat programs, video conferencing and shared electronic whiteboards, collaborating over 500km is not much different than 5 metres. I have saved a lot of time that can be used more productively to do other things for our team. I save almost 2 hours per day commuting and on the days I do fly to Sydney, it’s two and a half hours door-to- door – that’s less than many people’s daily commute in Sydney.
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