Making the most of remote working: how to live and thrive in the country

by Liz Benson

The move to remote work has given many people the opportunity to swap their city homes for country and coastal havens.  

According to online real estate hub, Domain, property prices in some areas of regional Australia have increased by nearly a third due to the boost in demand from city dwellers, which is likely to shift into an even higher gear as border restrictions are lifted.1 

If you are lucky enough to secure your regional piece of paradise, there are a few tips we can share about making the most of remote working and living in the country. 

Slow down and manage your expectations 

It can be a bit of a culture shock moving from the city to a regional area. The biggest differences are the lack of infrastructure, slow or no internet, and a generally slower pace of life. This is also a major benefit of moving to the country because it gives you the chance to get off the hamster wheel, reconnect with nature, and take more time for your wellbeing. 

You can’t expect to get the same level of service and facilities that you have in cities. For example, depending on where you live, you may need to drive 30 minutes to get to the closest shop or school, and you may need to drive even further to find a gym. You also can’t just race in and out of the corner store. Country people expect they can get to know you so that you can become part of the local community, so you do need to take the time for a quick chat with the locals.  

It can also be very lonely, especially when you move away from groups of friends, and there aren’t many social opportunities due to the much lower population. A key tip is to keep in touch with your old group of friends via email, phone or video calls, and to join local sporting or community groups that interest you to give you a greater chance of meeting new people with similar interests. 

There is the chance that you might spend the first few months wondering why you ever thought leaving the city was a good idea. This is normal, and if you give it some time you’ll probably relax into your new lifestyle and wonder why you ever questioned it. It might help to make a physical list of the reasons you decided to move so you can refer back to it when you need a reminder.  

Plan how you will work 

You are now free from the office commute, crowded public transport, and overpriced city lunches. You also no longer have the social interaction of your colleagues in the office, possibly a much slower internet connection (although many regional areas now boast fast broadband), and no afterwork drinks on Fridays (unless they are vitual of course, or in the local pub with locals instead) 

If you have already been working remotely while living in the city, it might not be too difficult for you to make this transition 

If your lifestyle shift includes the first time you’ll be working remotelyyou will need to make some adjustments.  

Before you officially start work, make sure your office is set up in a comfortable space with good airflow and lighting. Also, make sure you test your internet connection at various times of the day and night so you can avoid scheduling important video meetings at times when the internet connection is less reliable. 

Make sure to set a work routine. Considering you live in the country, use your former work commute time to get some early morning exercise such as a walk, yoga, or home gym session in before you start work.  

Dress for the office to help get you into the mindset for work (even if it’s just your top half), and try to develop a workday routine that suits you, perhaps similar to the routine you had at the office. Ensure you build in regular computer breaks, even if it involves just making yourself a cup of tea, hanging out a load of washing, or getting up and stretching, to help maintain your energy and focus throughout the day. 

Enjoy your surrounds 

Don’t get caught in the trap of being confined to four walls inside. Remember what attracted you to this lifestyle, and get out and enjoy it. The beauty of working from home is the ability to start work later, finish early, or take a longer lunch break to get out and spend more time with your family, enjoy your local community and experience nature. This is extremely important for your own physical and emotional wellbeing, and it gives you the inspiration and energy you need for your job. Make the most of the opportunity to achieve your optimum level of work/life balance. 

Ultimately, your tree change or sea change might have you working in a vastly different way than ever before. Embrace the changes, allow some time to adjust, and do some trial-and-error to figure out what works best for you.  Country living has a lot to offer and you will likely find yourself wondering why you didn’t make the lifestyle change sooner.