A grounded life by the lake

Published on 30 May 2022

For ex-Sydneysiders Ben and Sarah Newling, the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 were the motivation needed to finally pursue a more grounded and community-focused lifestyle. 

Ben, Sarah, Zach and Ella Newling

Originally from Sydney’s North Shore, the couple lived throughout Greater Sydney before deciding to make the move two hours north to Lake Macquarie City with their two children, Zach and Ella and dog, Molly.

“It’s something we’d been discussing on and off for about five years,” says Sarah as she and Ben sit poolside at their new family home in Valentine, a leafy suburb on the shores of Lake Macquarie.

“Ben and I had travelled a lot when we were younger and we’d find places where there was a real village and sense of community, and that’s what I wanted for our family,” Sarah said.

“We want to raise our children ‘free range’ and we couldn’t do that in Sydney where it was super expensive, not a lot of space and lots and lots of traffic.

“Now the kids are at a school with veggie gardens, chickens and a great creative and performing arts focus, which was a real tick, and they can walk to school together with their friends.”

The Newlings live just a short walk from the lake and within a stone’s throw of stunning beaches, and cafes and restaurants the whole family enjoy. There’s even a nearby dog off-leash area for Molly!

While Ben says the move hasn’t been a miracle fix in terms of work-life balance, with his career in finance keeping him just as busy as ever, it has prompted him to consider how he’s investing his time.

“Family is the most important thing for me, and we can all enjoy a great lifestyle here,” Ben said.

“I work from home, commute to Sydney one day a week and we’re still close to Newcastle Airport if I need to travel interstate to Melbourne or Brisbane, which is something I wouldn’t have had access to if we chose [to move to] the South Coast for example.

“I love the sailing in Lake Macquarie so this was the place for me.”

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