One year of commuting

by Farmer Liz
Nearly a year ago I quietly announced that I would be working in Brisbane and staying away from the farm during the week (to recap, I drive down to Brisbane first thing Monday morning, stay at a unit under a friend’s house through the week, and leave work early on Friday to drive home again for the weekend, its about 2.5 hours drive each way, I’m lucky that my company allows this flexibility in my working hours). You might have missed this because I kind of buried it in a post about an excellent book I’d just read. I wanted you to know about it, but I didn’t want to make a big fuss. I didn’t want you to worry about me or feel sorry for me. Even so, the reaction from some friends and acquaintances has surprised me. People have worried that our marriage was in trouble, but as you know from my post last week, we just celebrated our forth wedding anniversary and I can't wait to go home every weekend. Where else would I go? I don’t want to be in Brisbane! I miss Pete and all our animals and our farm life, but this is something we have to do at the moment, short-term pain for long-term gain!

Maybe it would be different if it was Pete who was leaving during the week, or maybe I’m just so used to people doing odd rosters I don't find it unusual.  We know plenty of people doing FIFO, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, even up to 3 weeks on and 1 week off.  Unfortunately this is pretty normal in the type of work Pete and I do.

At least my rent includes visits from this tiny mini foxy called Pheobe

stop taking my photo!

Since I started this job, one thing that we have both go better at is dealing the change and feeling resilient and confident. The reason I left my job close to the farm was that we both felt it was a very unstable situation. We were both working for the largest employer within 200 km, and we had just gone through two rounds of redundancies, general spending cut backs, uncertainty and absolute unpleasantness. We had this feeling like everything we were working towards could crumble at the whim of a government official or company manager sitting in Brisbane. So, like a good farmer, we decided to diversify our income base, and I got a job with a different company. Now we have options.

We have also had time to become a whole lot more comfortable with our financial situation. A year ago we were still working on our new/old house and trying to get electricity connected. Now our house has council approval, we could live there right now, but we want to do a little more work first. We at least know we are in a good situation with plenty of savings and far more equity than debt. If we lost our jobs tomorrow, we would be in a far better situation than 12 months ago and we've both worked hard to get here.

My new work has just started a restructure exercise and I feel far less stressed than last few I have experienced! I feel like we are better prepared and have more options this time. The people who are stressed are the ones who have over-committed to debt, not realising that the high-paying resources jobs will not last forever. At least for now, we are both happy earning as much as possible while the jobs are around, paying off our debt, expanding our savings and getting ourselves in a better position to live together on the farm in the near future. We aren’t setting any deadlines, we are just working steadily towards that goal. In the meantime, I’m trying not to hate spending time in Brisbane.

oooooh looks how cute I am

Its not that Brisbane is a bad city, I just don’t like cities. I don’t like all the traffic, the people, the buildings so close together and blocking out the sky, the concrete, the consumerism and temptation to waste money. Most of all I hate that so many people stand around smoking in the parks I use as short-cuts on my way to work!

This past year in Brisbane I told myself that this was a temporary arrangement and I had to appreciate the advantages of city-living while I could. I had three things in particular that I wanted to do:

· Yoga – Since January I have been going nearly once a week to various yoga classes, and I have settled on one that is run out of my work building on Tuesday lunchtimes. I am really surprised by the positive impact of yoga on my body and mind. I expected it to be much like pilates (which I had attended regularly in the past), but yoga is so much more. I’m really glad to have had this opportunity.

· Go to the library – I joined the Brisbane City Library and the state library (which you can join using any QLD council library card to access online holdings) and I am a regular visitor. I don’t find the collection to be as broad as I would like, but I always seem to find something interesting there.

· Meet up with friends (old and new) – I do work long hours to fit in my early finish on Fridays, but I also try to fit in a catch up with friends in Brisbane whenever I can. I’ve met a few new blogging friends down here, and its been nice to connect with like-minded people.  she is smaller than puppy Taz was when we brought her home

What does the next 12 months hold? We don’t know with certainty what will happen with either of our jobs, but all we can do is keep working towards finishing our new/old house at Cheslyn Rise, selling our place at Nanango, keeping our options open and our savings account topped up!

I’m thinking that I’d like to start walking to work (it takes about an hour) to save on bus fares, I want to do more sewing from my stash so that I don’t have to buy any work clothes and I hope to meet up with some new friends, so if you’re in Brisbane and want to catch up some time, send me an email: eight.acres.liz at

What kind of weird work schedules are you dealing with?  Are you doing it tough now knowing that you're setting up a better future for yourself?

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