Say "Hi" to the Meurer Family
"We have more time to do things here. We can get involved in our community"
When Sarah Emms and Strath Meurer’s nine year old son, Louis, reached a height of six foot in 2017, they realised they were fast outgrowing their home.
‘We were living in a pretty nice house in Petersham, a Californian bungalow with a garage, but it only had two bedrooms and we just ran out of space,’ reflects Strath.
‘We looked at each other and thought, ‘Do we want to add a million dollars to our mortgage?’ and we decided that was definitely not what we wanted, at all,’ Strath adds.
They had their Petersham home valued in mid-2017, with the figures sparking them into serious consideration of relocating west of the mountains.
When asked to describe their relocation timeline from early discussions through to decision and actual move, they talk of casual consideration, then a relatively quick progress from commitment to the reality of the move.
In their own words, the couple had always flirted with the idea of living in Bathurst, with Sarah’s parents living in the region and her brother a well-known business owner, they visited family often.
The valuing of their house gave them the boost they needed, fast-tracking their decision to move.
‘The housing market was strong and I wanted to be closer to my family,’ says Sarah.
‘The move didn’t become a reality though until we gained enough courage to ask our employers how they’d feel about us working remotely,’ says Strath.
‘I was applying for my current job in marketing when we decided to move to Bathurst and I was ready to pull out of that opportunity,’ says Sarah, going on to describe her managers at CoAct as amazing, for being open-minded early on to the idea of her working remotely.
‘It’s a very flexible, very trusting organisation,’ says Sarah. ‘I worked for them for three months before we moved to Napoleon Reef and have been with them ever since.’
Strath’s move to regional living was similarly made easy, with his employer, American Insurance Group, assisting him to transition his city-based systems analyst job to a regional placement.
On the question of what they were looking for in their new life out of the city, Sarah and Strath are quick to note space: space in the house and space in land.
‘We wanted space and we were definitely craving less chaos. Just a break from the city pace of life,’ says Sarah.
‘We still really love Petersham and we love the Inner West, likewise we really love the simplicity and the slower pace of life here,’ adds Sarah, who often travels to Sydney for work and appreciates the proximity of Bathurst to the city and the travel options afforded by the Bullet train link between the two locations.
Good schools for Louis and his younger brother Otto were another key factor for Sarah and Strath.
Louis had been attending a large primary school packed into a city block, and the couple was looking for smaller classes.
Strath, a former St Stanislaus’ College student, knew Bathurst had a proportionately high number of good schools.
‘We did a lot of research,’ confirms Sarah.
Much of their information search was conducted online, using the local schools’ websites to connect with facilities and gain a better understanding of activities and the lifestyle on offer.
Decision made, they began their search for a home.
‘From valuing our Petersham home in mid-2017 to researching school options, we began looking at properties in October that year and had moved in by January 2018,’ says Sarah, who confirms it was love at first sight when inspecting their Napoleon Reef home.
‘We wanted something with character and space and as soon as I saw it’s quirky charm I knew it was the one. I rang Strath and told him, that’s it, I’ve found it!’ says Sarah, laughing at her conviction.
Prior to committing to the move though, they spent some time confirming the quality and availability of communication connections at the home with the previous owners, as this would be necessary for them to work remotely.
Sarah muses on the different meaning of community in a regional setting.
‘In Sydney, we knew our direct neighbours, but we didn’t have a sense of community until Louis started school, whereas in Bathurst it is more local, smaller and easier to get to know people, and Napoleon Reef is easier still,’ notes Sarah of the 100 strong population of their small village on the eastern edge of Bathurst Region.
‘In Napoleon Reef we have neighbours popping in and saying hello and all the dogs know each other,’ adds Strath.
‘We have more time to do things here; we can get involved in our community,’ she adds.
The family has joined a wide range of sports and community activities and groups including a cycling group, tennis club, sailing club, basketball teams, local Landcare group and their local Rural Fire Service which plays an active role in building a sense of community.
When asked what she loves about living in the Bathurst region, Sarah points to the space, the freedom, and the absence of traffic.
‘Here the boys go out into the bush behind our house for hours, and that freedom and sense of safety wasn’t something we felt we had in the city,’ says Strath.
‘They spend a lot of time riding their bikes,’ she adds as she watches the boys make their way around a local BMX track.
When asked to identify some of the key advantages of moving to Bathurst Region, Louis and Otto are quick to point out they now have a dog.
‘It’s true, we wouldn’t have had a dog in the city,’ agrees Sarah, noting it has been possible thanks to the extra space and time they have gained from moving to live in Bathurst Region.