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One year of commuting

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?


  1. I'm glad it's working for you. I hate a commute and I hate to be away from home. I used to do long days in Birmingham but now everything has changed and I stay at home to look after the kids. My pace of life is completely different but I'm glad we did what we did when we did (if that makes sense) so we can afford to do what we're doing now!

  2. You do what you have to do to make yourself strong. When the firm my husband worked for went bust and he was not able to get work I just hunkered down and became the main wage earner and he took over at home and found as much casual work as he could to put money in the pot. Any "windfalls" (insurance payouts etc) we banked.We could have gone on holiday or bought a new sofa but we saw it as money we would not have had and carried on our frugal way. We are now retired and used my "golden handshake" and those windfalls we banked to pay off our mortgage. Others I know used their to pay for a cruise or bought a fancy car. ... but are still in debt. And even more important, they don't have a couple of beautiful acres, and the wonderful lifestyle.

  3. Hi Liz, I'm a FIFO worker doing 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off (reduced from 6 weeks on, 4 weeks off). I know exactly what you mean. I love my job in the industry, I work long hours and earn good money. When we bought our current home, the bank said I was good for 3 Mill - 3 Mill!!!! Imagine that!!! We bought our property for a bit over 300k instead. I can make higher repayments meaning the property will be ours much sooner and I know if the resource boom comes to an end and I need to go back to a 'normal' job, I can fund the repayments easy enough - so much peace of mind! Plus, I love our place!
    A colleague of mine used to work in a Government Job, earning about 55k a year, his wife was working too. He suddenly got a job in the resource industry (18 month contract) and earned about the 6-7 times the amount of he used to make and what did he do? He bought a house for just under 1 Mill, a big boat, a brand new top level 4WD, his wife quit her job and after the 18 months were over and he couldn't find similar income, they went bankrupt, their marriage suffered and last I heard they were splitting up. For what? For 18 months of high life? My car is 8 years old, I don't own a boat but if we do want to take one out, we hire one. It's sad to see how many people fall in the trap of consumerism.
    I know it's not easy Liz and you miss your husband, your animals and your home but you're doing it for a reason and you're sensible to know where there is an up, there will be a down. Good on you for doing what you're doing! And I believe when you come home for the weekend, you're probably much happier at home with your loved ones as some people who spent the whole week with them.

  4. Hi Liz, in the past I used to do what you do, living away during the week. I would set off early on monday mornings and head back around 4pm friday afternoon. It was hard and could be lonely at times, but at least hubby was always on the other end of the phone. Like you said, you do what you need to do while you're young. Now we have a family I couldn't do it. You will be well set up when and if you do want to start a family, or commit more to the farm and the new home. Good luck with it all.

  5. We have been watching a TV show on FIFO workers, and how some poeple make it work for them and others cant handle it. you have all your plans in place, and I am so glad it seems to be working for you. What a lovely little visitor you have to keep you company!

  6. When we move here nearly 4 months ago it was a big change for us, hubby now comes up on Friday and goes back to work on Monday, 4-6 hours journey each way dependent on traffic, we have never lived in each others pockets, like you I have had friends who have made comments about our marraige I have even had said how do you know he is not seeing some-one else, we have been together 32 years and its all based on trust, we talk regulary during the week on the phone both look forward to week ends spend quality time together, he reads my blog daily to keep up with whats happening this end, I do think if you are both working towards the same goal it can work. Its been a big change for us.

  7. Good for your for having a positive perspective on this! I commute to work a little over a half hour each day (kind of a typical American commute). I get to do the commute with my husband most days since it is into the same town and we consider ourselves very lucky because it's just a little more intimate time spent together to catch up with each other. I'm really fascinated by this FIFO concept - is it pretty typical where you are?

  8. It's great to read about your feeling of accomplishment. Good on you! My husband and I spent at least half of the first 10 years of our married life apart, as he was in the Navy and away a lot of the time. You adapt and make it work, although we did find the arrival of kids put a different perspective on things. That's when we planned for a landlocked, stable life where we live now.
    All the best for your goals for the next 12 months, from one yoga practicing sewist to another!

  9. Well I'm doing a cushy 7 day fortnight so I can't complain. However, we have been paying off the home loan much quicker than most because we hate being in debt.

    Have you thought of riding to work? Quicker than walking and cheaper than the bus...

  10. It is really inspiring to see you both working towards this dream of Cheslyn Rise. We struggle to explain to our city friends the committment needed to live on the land ....because basically all your money is in the ground . We have had to do similar sacrifices over the years, but as you would know , it is well worth it and working together towards something makes for an strong relationship.This has been my first year of not working off farm and I can never take for granted being able to stay here on the farm now ....all those years of work were well worth it.

  11. You are amazing Liz, working in Brisbane and still farming and keeping your garden. We all make sacrifices to get where we want and I bet your property at Cheslyn Rise is stunning and well worth the effort. As you know my hubby FIFO and it does put a little strain on the relationship along with daily living and farming. Like you we are working towards a goal of having a self sufficient farm and living a simple life. I must start yoga again too.

  12. You'll love walking to work. I used to walk 2 hours for my morning shift at 8.30 in the morning, at Breakfast Creek, when I lived in Brisbane. I would cross the Storey Bridge and pass many cars stuck in traffic. I first did it when my car needed some mechanical work done, but then just kept walking to work when it was fixed again. Whatever problems I had at work, could be walked out on the way home again. It was a lot better than being cooped up in a car, stuck in traffic. Walking gives great mental clarity after a tough day at work!

    Our weird schedules are based upon "the unknown" at the moment. Our eldest starts high school next year, so she'll be spending nearly four hours a day travelling by bus, my husband's employers are changing contracts, so don't know if he'll have a job in a few weeks, and we're gradually getting ready to put our house on the market. It's a fickle time for sure, but we get up every day looking at what we *can* do, rather than focus on all the unknowns.

    Life isn't so bad. :)


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