Moving is life changing. Whether you move from the city to a regional area, or you’re thinking of moving back to the city or even interstate, this move can have a big impact on your life as a person living with HIV and your family.
It can be easy to be swept away by the bright lights and excitement of the city or by an idyllic illusion of the countryside when you want to move. That’s why it’s a good idea to check out all the pros and cons of moving carefully before you come to a final decision. Getting to know the area before you move, might assist to get a more realistic view of what to expect.
When you take the time to visit the area first, this gives you a chance to see firsthand what facilities and services are available. It can also give you a look and feel into the vibe of the community. Some ideas to find out more about the area might be to look at information online, access local newspapers, or to contact the tourist information office.
Getting the right information about the essentials you might need such as accommodation, transport, job prospects, the cost of living, and available services can help you make an informed decision about whether to move. It can also offer you a smoother transition to your new area, if you decide to make the move.
Some of the main issues to think about and plan for include the following:
In the city, accommodation can be extremely expensive and options for what you need or want are often limited to specific areas outside your chosen locations. For these reasons it can be useful to organise your housing well in advance of moving. For some people, it can be more cost-effective to live some distance away from the city centre. Keep in mind, this may in turn mean a longer commute.
In the country, costs and availability of housing can vary. If you’re thinking of moving to a mining town for example, bear in mind that accommodation can be limited and even temporary accommodation can be booked out quickly.
If you are moving to a large metropolitan area like a city, then make the most of the public transport that city areas have to offer. Their bus and train services are usually convenient, run frequently and generally run to time. Living in a city and using public transport might mean you won’t have the expense of maintaining your own vehicle.
While there are less transport options in smaller communities, you can probably walk or bike around the local area easily. You might find many of the facilities and services you need may actually be in neighbouring towns, so you might need to plan to have access to a car. Keep in mind, that running a vehicle, including petrol, insurance, registration, and upkeep can be a costly business.
Look into the main industries in the area to get an insight into possible employment opportunities in the area. Alternately, whether you’re moving to the city or the country, online job websites and newspapers can provide vital information about job opportunities and other details such as salary averages.
Cost of Living
Depending on your income, transport options, life stage, and housing options, this can be one of the more challenging aspects to consider when you’re looking to move. The cost of living in the city will come with various demands that may or may not be present in a move to a regional area.
Moving to a new area without a job, for example can add significant financial stress to an already demanding experience. Factoring in the cost of transport, regardless of where you move, can offer you a useful way to make plans to keep the costs of living down.
Groceries and everyday items can also be more expensive in rural areas. There may also be less choice in brands, quality and costs. If you enjoy buying online and don’t mind the postage costs or waiting for your items to arrive, online shopping can be a great way to save money and also offer you a greater selection of items.
Moving will change your relationship with your current medical professionals and you may need to seek out a new team to meet your healthcare needs. It can be unsettling to have to change your GP, counsellor or HIV specialist especially at time when so many other things in your life may be changing too. It can take time to find new medical professionals that suit you and to build up the same trust.
Your current HIV specialist might be able to assist you with your moving plans and provide additional support around your continued HIV medical care. Depending on your circumstances, there may be options available to give you a longer supply of medication, so that you don’t run out. You might be eligible to get access to phone or video appointments with your HIV specialist and/ or other professionals, such as counsellors.
If you are considering a move to a rural or regional area, sometimes there can be a greater concern about confidentiality, however in my own experience has been that rural GPs are exceptionally careful around patient confidentiality. This is not only because they have a duty to do this, but also because their own reputation is on the line. You still might need to consider what the impact might be for you, if your sero-status is revealed in a small community where everyone knows each other.
If you are considering a move to the city, there will likely be many more healthcare services available including specialist services. In the country you may find you need to travel further to access the services you want and need. Medical professionals in the country tend to have a broad medical knowledge and a hands-on approach, because they know that there can be challenges accessing specialist services in rural areas.
Once your essential needs like housing, income support or employment, medical services to name a few are taken care of, take the time to discover and explore your new home!
Whether you move to the country or the town, you might find you experience some periods of loneliness as you adapt to your new life. Getting involved in your community can usually help you deal with a sense of isolation. You might be able to use social media to check out nearby events and meet people in the community. Other options could include reigniting your passion for an old hobby or exploring a new one, even getting involved in the local sports club can make a difference.
Planning ahead for a smooth move, can save you time, money and unpleasant surprises. You’ll be a local in no time!
— Positive Life has published a Factsheet about making decisions about moving. Changing Horizons.
Published in Talkabout #197 June 2021