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  • Writer's picturePeter

Tree Change, Sea Change Checklist for Success

Updated: Jun 4

Helmet diving
Cairns Diving. Great Barrier Reef.

Yes You Can, Start Living Your Dream, Sea Change, Tree Change.

The following checklist is essential for your success.

Have you ever visited a place, enjoyed the people, the activities, conveniences and surrounds so much, that you felt yourself saying "this is the place, where I can truly live my ideal life?'

In fact living the dream thanks to improvements in communication and technology, is much easier than you think.

The occupational hazard I have being a financial planner, is that I find joy in dreaming big and then planning for hours, days, months and years, how to get there.

Our first trip to Cairns was all the way back in 2001 (we have moved to Cairns 2015), so as you can imagine moving towards our ideal life required long term goal setting, preparation and waiting for the right opportunity.

And when it happened. It happened very quickly.

Within in a three months window we had purchased a small financial planning business, renovated the office, changed business dealerships and much, much more.

Within the following six months we'd rented our home in Sydney, purchased a property of our own in

Cairns and began to establish new friends and social networks. And again much, much more.

Today, we're approaching our seventh year here in Cairns and only now (thanks to the last 2 years of lockdowns across Australia and internationally) are we starting to feel we have arrived and can begin living the dream.

It takes a mix of great clients, community support, healthy lifestyle, regular travel and affordable living all contributing together to support the ideal life we aspired to achieve all those years ago.

The following is our checklist for those who are from a major city or overseas and maybe considering a tree change, a sea change or relocating to another regional city in their country or overseas.

  1. Personal insight and clarity.

Ask, clarify and document for yourself "What is important to you?"  

Following this question ask yourself what’s important about that last answer to you and continue until you are experiencing actualization of your higher self. 

  1. Financial viability.

Regardless of who you are working towards, attaining financial independence in life is a freeing and empowering experience. 

This doesn't mean you need to be a gozziloinaire. 

Happiness has been researched and linked to social engagement, health, contribution, education while having more than enough to meet ones financial needs and expenses. 

Ultimately we can’t change time however we can choose what we do with our time and our activities. Our choices either make us happier or not.

The point is when you are deciding to move to a regional city, you don’t need to have it all before moving, however it's also prudent to have either your own employment, way to continue generating your income when you move. 

Importantly regional cities by comparison to major cities experience more limiting employment opportunities  than those in major cities i.e. Cairns has predominantly a tourism, agricultural, retail and service based industries where as Sydney has more services, restaurants, major corporations, education and much more we would expect from a international capital city.

  1. Keep your options open. 

The best laid plans of mice and men, Murphy’s Law, or a learning experience whatever you may call it. The best recommendation is to trial your sea change or tree change experience first.

Stay for a minimum of two weeks or even up to month and find all you can about the your ideal life township and people. 

You will either be inspired or feel the limitations of choice, diversity and be frustrated by the change in pace. 

If all goes well, then the next step is to consider renting for at least for six months your ideal place to live.

Doing this allows you the opportunity to experience your ideal life without a massive financial commitment. 

Giving you more time on the ground to meet locals, deal with infrastructure realities (labour, internet, and electricity), dining, entertainment, transport and weather seasons etc without the all in financial commitment is critical to finances.

  1. Breath. 

The best thing about Cairns and regional cities is the simple fact that people want to be here. 

Nearly everyone we meet here are happy out enjoying themselves experiencing nature, holidays, conferences, reunions. 

The weather between April – November is sensational. 

Cairns has an eclectic mix of those from the southern states of Australia AKA Mexican’s (I’ve been told), overseas tourists, backpackers and locals and everyone has an interesting story. 

Instead of sitting in traffic of a major city or going to the mall/shopping center on the weekend, many from Cairns go camping, bush walking, sailing, diving, socializing, sports etc. 

Since arriving here every weekend has been full of activities added to this is the convenience of an international airport in Cairns and its proximity to Asia and domestic flights to Syd only 3.15hrs.

My tip for those considering moving to any regional city is to breath, don’t stress, get involved and experience all the region has to offer. The sooner you do the quicker you will feel more settled.


Cairns is a city but a small city of approximately 142,000. Most regional cities are this size or smaller.

If you are planning to relocate be it for winter holiday retirement home (as many people from NSW, VIC & TAS do), or maybe you have decided Cairns is where you want to live permanently,  be prepared that you are going to bump into people you know more frequently than if you were in a major city.

If you are social and subscribe to the “University of Life”, a great ice breaker, sure to be both enlightening and inspiring is to ask others their experiences and stories of how others came to live in Cairns? What they are doing now and what they enjoy most about living here? etc. 

Since moving to Cairns I have found locals are all from such diverse and surprising back grounds, just as much as in major cities, however in regional cities people seem to have more time to express themselves in a more authentic relaxed environment and surroundings. Equally people will want to know about your story, what you are doing now.


This tip is the essential ingredient to be a success anywhere and for anyone, however it’s even more important in regional cities. 

Be reliable. Yes it’s that simple. Be reliable.

Living in the tropics, things often break or simply don’t work. Added to this a natural environment of cyclone's, floods, iriganji (marine stingers) and wildlife i.e. snakes, crocodiles. Making reliability the most important asset over anything else.  

In a regional city there is nowhere to hide i.e. people talk and rather than 6 degrees of separation, it’s more like 1 or 2 degrees. 

Local businesses and people who are reliable and deliver are highly sort after, paid well, highly regarded and trusted.

Bottom line

The best thing about today is that service and support careers like financial planning, consulting, medical services, teaching and many more careers, we can literally "be dropped anywhere" and still add value to others. 

We can also continue to serve and support our existing customers and clients conveniently from most if not all regional areas in our country while improving our own quality of life and adding to the value we deliver our clients.

So if you are have a burning desire inside you, the plans in hand to make it happen, then making the step towards your ideal life is much easier than you think.

If you are stuck in a funk or you’re lost in a cloud of complexity feel free to contact me. Most often in life we just need someone to talk things through and to lighten our load a little.

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