I’m the first to admit I wasn’t a fan of the house I lived in for the last four years of my life.
It was dark, there’d been some drug users in the house a few tenants before us and the landlord was not one to spend money on improving the house.
I could go on but I would sound like a massive whinger (I already feel like one given the plight of billions around the world).
There were two factors that kept me happy in this house.
Firstly, Sarah was really quite happy there. It provided everything we needed as a family, especially a flat road in a cul-de-sac with great neighbours (more on that later).
So, in the spirit of happy-wife happy-life, I was very happy.
Secondly, I loved the community that the house was located in. We lived in a town called Ocean Shores, about 20 minutes north of Byron Bay.
Ocean Shores is 5 minutes from Brunswick Heads, a small “fishing village” with a pristine river, beautiful beaches, a fabulous café culture, and most importantly, a junior Aussie rules footy club (tongue firmly in cheek but not really).
The four years in this average house taught me that a house is not just about how pretty it is or the quality of ornaments inside it. A house doesn’t just become a home when you put a family in it.
When A House Becomes A Home
A house truly becomes an exceptional home when you combine the family with the value of community. If you live in a beautiful home in a part of the world you don’t enjoy, what’s the benefit?
Sadly, millions of Australians live in the “urban sprawl” in homes with nice finishings, only to be a 2-hour (or longer) round trip commute from work, thereby stripping the quality of life so desired in exchange for a nice home.
Time with family decreases, sedentary life increases, poor mental and physical health can result, added to the stressors of financial and/or career stress. Need I go on? So a house is not just a house and a home is not just a home.
A community you love is not the cherry on top or the icing on the cake. A community of like-minded people who you are happy to bump into down the street rather than cross the road to avoid is the foundation of an exceptional life. In the tough times, it will be the community who will be the shoulders you lean and cry on.
We were reminded of this recently when we moved out of the house. A school Mum told Sarah she would be getting a number of other class Mums to help with the exit clean. Over the course of four hours, over a dozen parents came and helped my pregnant wife clean the house. It was a simple yet powerful example of leaning on community (and given our personalities, being open to the vulnerablity of accepting help from our fellow neighbour).
Is where you live the biggest decision of your life?
Loving where you live might just about be the most important feature of your life. When people ask me if I’m glad we moved from Victoria to Northern New South Wales, my stock answer is that it’s perhaps the single most excellent decision I have ever made (or may ever make) in my entire life. I don’t say that lightly.
More than any career decision or decision to marry my wife, choosing the community of where to live has not only made us happier human beings, it’s impacted where our children go to school, the way we source local produce, the friends we make (and the friends we don’t make), the relative non-factor of material or economic status, and so much more.
If you don’t love the community you live in, I’m challenging you to ask yourself the hard questions. Do you need to go on a trip to places where you have a hunch you may enjoy living more?
You may have some questions around financial viability. Well, how could you make it work? Blue sky thinking, only positive answers required. Is it time to start a business, sell a business, or buy into a business? Maybe it’s time to spend the inheritance with warm hands rather than holding on to it until you die.
I could give you countless stories of how locals started their lives up here. I personally started my Exceptional Life Blueprint five months after we moved to this region. It was an idea that had been bubbling inside of me for over five years, but didn’t truly take shape until we “burnt the ships” and gave ourselves no other option but to succeed in our new environment.
Loving where you live may have come naturally to you by the decisions of your parents a generation ago (I hope my kids say that). But if you’re like me, you didn’t grow up in a town or suburb that you want to live in forever.
So where do you want to live now? Not what type of home do you want? But where do you want to live? If you don’t know the answer, I encourage you to explore it for as long as it takes for you to decide on your answer.
And I trust that your exceptional life will flow beautifully from there once you not only give your answer, but commit to making it a reality.
Good luck and may you have the courage to live your exceptional life.