Commute vs Surf Proximity

birdfood's picture
birdfood started the topic in Wednesday, 18 Apr 2018 at 9:22pm

Hey everyone,

I'm hoping to get your perspectives on finding balance between time spent commuting to work and time spent travelling to the surf. I've tried to find posts on this in the forums but I haven't quite found what I'm looking for.

I'm living and working 9 to 5 (software developer) in Brisbane and spending a lot of my weekends chasing waves down the coast, anywhere between the Gold Coast and south of Lennox. The weekends away from home are getting a bit tedious and I'm considering moving to be within 20 minutes of the surf and 2 hours to work on the train. The work commute sounds ludicrous but I don't do much before or after work so this time is less valuable to me than weekend time. I'm also trying to convince myself I'd be able to occasionally surf before work in summer.

I'm really keen to hear how other surfers manage to find the right balance. Do you surf once every week or so, or spend most weekends travelling to breaks and camping / staying a friends' places, do a mid-week dawn session before work, or live far from work and close to the surf?

I'm particularly interested in surfers in this situation who also have kids as I'm probably only a few years away from having some and I'm trying to work out the sweet spot that will allow me to get in the water regularly but still be present at home.

Thanks!

Andybox's picture
Andybox's picture
Andybox commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 2:16pm

I live on the Central Coast of NSW. I used to do a 2 hour commute each way to Sydney, lasted a year until it did my fucking head in. It’s a tough question to answer. Is it possible to get work on either the Goldy or Sunshine Coast?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 2:24pm

If you've got the opportunity to move to closer to the surf without compromising your work options, I'd do it.

At some stage your work will change but your desire to be near the ocean won't, and it's better to lock it in sooner rather than later.

As a developer I'm sure there are possible work opportunities on the Gold or Sunshine Coast too.

mk1's picture
mk1's picture
mk1 commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 2:45pm

You do not want to be driving that M1 to Bris and back each day. Trust me you will lose your f'ing mind.

Better to buy a van and bail on Friday afternoons, back Sunday. Plus a few midweek sick days never hurt anyone, just zinc up to avoid the tan lines.

eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies's picture
eat-your-vegies commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 2:53pm

As a software developer can you do some kind of flexible work arrangements, work some hours from your home if you live nearer a beach.
That could give you more surf time.
By the way theres no waves sth of lennox.

geek's picture
geek's picture
geek commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 3:24pm

I do 1.5hrs each way door to door from Morn Pen to Melbourne CBD (20min drive, 1 hr on train). Summer is fantastic with hours to surf before and after work. Harder in winter but still handy on the weekends being only 10min away from waves when things turn on. I enjoy the train ride, time goes quickly with netflix and youtube

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 3:32pm

If you’re a surfer you want to be living as close to the ocean as possible.

Do it for your kids at least.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 4:21pm

Im less than a kilometre from my local and i never drive more than 25km to go to a job or a surf.

It's good but it can actually make you lazy and more fussy in regard to wave quality or crowds, i remember when i lived and worked an hour or so from the beach, id be frothing on the weekend and surf anything and crowds wouldn't put me off, i was much younger too though and without family commitments.

I like living near the beach though, its not just about going surfing, just keeping my eye on the banks, watching them change, and checking the surf is a kind of a cleansing ritual, bumping into your local crew that you are not really friends with as such but you have a chat with when checking the surf or out in the water.

Also great to just take a walk on the beach, take the dog and kid down, be it middle of winter in grey ruggedness or a watching the sun set on a hot summers night.

Most of my life I've lived within a few km of the beach so it feels weird when i don't, feels weird just to not see the ocean.

I think when you are young and single it's not too hard to live away from the beach and transit, but i think as you get older with family and kids it would be super hard to be a surfer and live more than 20 minutes from the beach.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 4:37pm

I live close to work, 5 minutes by bike, and not far from the sea but 30 minutes away from the surf. It's been a reality for most Tasmanians that you drive around to find the best waves when a swell is running, and there's very few jobs in places with lots of good set ups.

If I lived on the other side of the river with easier access to surf, I'd be surfing more, but would have to drive everywhere every single day for every other aspect of my life. I still get out and chase waves on every noteworthy swell, so I don't feel like I'm missing out that much, although I do miss the beach life.

I'm of the generation that feels like home ownership is well and truly out of reach anywhere near the kinds of work I am good at, and so I'm renting and know that I have flexibility in my future That's possible one way to look at it for you. Which ever way you go, the situation might not be forever. You could stay in the city and still do weekend missions, and know that one day you'll move closer to the coast. Or do the commute from the new coastal house and one day in a position that you could work closer to home or remotely.

Hope it works out whichever way you go.

alosurdo's picture
alosurdo's picture
alosurdo commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 5:34pm

I live around 30min from and Eastern Beach (Syd) and 45 to a Northern.
I try to surf once or twice a week before work and once on the weekend if the missus lets me out.

Commute to work from the beach is usually around 1hr or so.

My wife and i have had enough of the traffic and commutes, we're in the process of selling up and moving up the coast. Sure the work thing can be a concern but i am looking for work around where we're looking at moving, worst case scenario i can work from home a couple days a week.

I am a shit surfer as it is and struggle enough with the sydney crowds, cant wait to get out of here!

Our house is up for auction next week, touch wood it all goes to plan and i'll be 5 minutes from the beach with little crowds and enjoying the lifestyle.

Was a very tough decision for us to make (took my wife a couple years to come around), still a bit anxious about it but know its for the best.

Hope it works out for you man!

Cheers

dimdim's picture
dimdim's picture
dimdim commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 5:34pm

If you can use your time on the train productively move. Look on it as an opportunity to study a foreign language or whatever.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 7:27pm

Let me take a different perspective here. Why do you want to surf if you live so far away? Any sane analysis of the use of your time would suggest that recreational opportunities closer to home would be much more suitable. Then there are the environmental consequences of what is a huge amount of driving for minimal benefit. I actually lived two hours from the coast for several years and only ever surfed if I had other reasons to be on the coast. It was a formative experience. I found other interests I still pursue. So maybe have a good long think about the consequences of decisions which, either way, have you spending an unhealthy amount of time driving and will certainly interfere with your ability to care for your future children. Surfing is great.......but so are many other things. Take care

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Friday, 27 Apr 2018 at 9:14pm

I live a 2 minute walk to the beach and work from home. 2 birds one stone.

Kids...well that's a whole new ball game...absolutely nothing in my life had impinged on my surfing time up until the little grom came...surf as much as you can before then!!

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

davetherave's picture
davetherave's picture
davetherave commented Saturday, 28 Apr 2018 at 6:57am

just follow your heart. This is stock standard advice from me. Yet this week I have had three people who I explained the power contained in this simple message to, come back totally frothing over how good their life now is because they did.
Yes, initially they had fears, anxiety, but they soon discovered life supported them through synchronicities and it seemed that as soon as they trusted their hearts calling, life opened up so many new opportunities with work, travel, adventure and romance.
The energy of your future starts with your energy here right now. So get clear, suss out the heart's yearn, then trust. I roamed around NZ for three months on $10 a day and never went without using this concept and still do each and every day now.
I highly recommend it, especially to someone not yet a parent or with a mortgage.

davetherave

dastasha's picture
dastasha's picture
dastasha commented Saturday, 28 Apr 2018 at 8:16am

Dave knows.

Surfing takes commitment and dedication.
Whether you commit to the three hours from Brisbane to Lennox regularly, or to the house by the beach, each has its pros and cons.
Can you draw the same level of income living by the beach?
Remember how some things can change over time like your work skills, crowds, development... sand placement...
Perhaps you can work remotely?

Ask yourself why you surf? Like BB said there are other things... the first time I went skydiving I nearly sold all my surfing crap...

Personally the ocean is the one constant in my life. Paddling in to the sea is like a reset. It's where I find solace. And on the right days I catch a wave to the beach and feel lucky to be alive.

Be true to yourself. I hope you find your way.

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Saturday, 28 Apr 2018 at 8:21am

few things,

- career change could be your answer, 9 to 5 is going to be shit to organise a surfing roster around no matter how you do it. you will be compromising somewhere along the line, be it time in water, kids, wife.

- whilst shift work isn't ideal and i often dread the thought of having to work at night after i'm about 45 (only mid 30's now), you can surf as much as you fucking want, i actually find that i don;t bother checking the surf on weekend mornings because i dont like the vibe in the water. i also think that i've got a much better relationship with my kids than i would if i was 9 to 5 cos i see them 5/7 days a week, drop em at school, go to sports carnivals, know their friends etc. You can also find some okay paying shift work jobs. theres plenty around if you look hard enough cos its not for everyone. Cons of shift work: working at night. sucks but i think its worth it. Kiss goodbye to a normal sleeping pattern. out of whack with your mates ie. have to miss parties occasionally etc. higher levels of divorce, various addictions, depression etc.

anyway you look at it youll have to compromise but i spose only you can work out your priorities.

on a side note: whilst i dont really like the idea of them or what they will do for surfing in general, right here is your target market for kelly's pool. if he can roll them out in an economical way he will be a billionaire.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Saturday, 28 Apr 2018 at 9:15am

Everyone should listen to Blind Boy, if you live more than half an hour from the beach please consider a different pastime, especially all you crew in Melbourne who come down to Phillip Island :P

mackdog's picture
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mackdog commented Saturday, 28 Apr 2018 at 9:31am

Wait til winter with a horrible swell forecast. Rent a house 2hrs from work for the week and test out your commute. My advice would be to limit your distance from work to about an hour or see if you could work a day or two from home. Once you have kids, the twenty hours a week of driving/train travel you are thinking about get pretty valuable. It all depends on what sort of surfer/dad/husband you see yourself as.

Wharfjunkie's picture
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Wharfjunkie commented Sunday, 29 Apr 2018 at 8:01am

Seem like a few are slipping into capitalist societies trap. Enjoy the driving slaves.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Sunday, 29 Apr 2018 at 8:54am

Exactly.

Work to live , not live to work.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Sunday, 29 Apr 2018 at 3:52pm

Negative: The commute will kill you
Positive: One less in the lineup

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 29 Apr 2018 at 5:50pm

Some great comments Dave, BB, Dandandan. Good luck Alosurdo.

As a grom I read Waves' seminal "How to surf for the rest of your life (1992 - yes it was Kidman at the helm) and later an article by Allen Grasso in Longboard magazine spoke to me ("The Other Road", '97 maybe?). Basically, he ordered his life around being near the beach. Ended up directing a planetarium.

We always gravitated to the beach, and got caught up in the whole housing bubble of seaside areas as a result. I did 9-5 and returned to the beach. Negotiated to start early so I could knock off early and get that winter 1/2hr on the way home. I did remote work, the record was 6 months without seeing the sea (and how fantastic was that first wave gliding past my legs walking out?). I've always had hobbies, building things keeps my mind ticking over.

I worked out that if I worked contract and could earn 2x an alright income, I could work 1/2 the time and have time to raise the kids, surf. Those were good times. Then I got sick, and being told 'you have 5 years' put a rocket up me - it was seachange from a seaside place. Now waves are fully on tap, I chill and heal. And surf. And work in my community. For however long my days will be.

One point I noticed when traveling on a surf trip, a lot of the idyllic places have less complexity of employment. So if you trained to conquer the income scale, you are quite overqualified for anything going - unless you start businesses, or derive an independent income (work from home, etc). So in these areas, a generalist will thrive, and you see really, really intelligent older guys happy working in a hardware store. They might have bought their coastal house in 1980 and have been cruising since. You can also combine incomes, work here and there, and working in the local community is rewarding in who you get to know, the gossip you hear, a bit more personal than a commute deal. Flip side is it's less income unless you have a golden goose type business.

Lastly, when I look at the young surfers I grew up with and hear of where they are now, the ones that followed the surf early on, have ended up by the sea with real estate you'd give a nut for now. There was a great comic done by Doonesbury once, 'The Prodigal returns' and the older hippy is sitting on the beach at Byron talking to the young bearded one, who says "So after that, I took a few more years off", the elder's reply "You have lived wisely, waterbug." Who would have thought?

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Sunday, 29 Apr 2018 at 7:02pm

I personally always measure my travel time to work in a hourly rate kind of way. (i guess because I'm a tradie and if the jobs out of my area i will only do it, if my travel time and fuel is paid for at a good rate or i will take it into account when quoting)

For example lets say the OP gets $50 an hour does a 38 hour week so gets $1,900 before tax.

Now if you are going to travel 2 hours to work and 2 hours home that's 4 hours a day or 20 hours travel a week at $50 hr so $1,000 of my time, or you could say $1,900 divided by not 38 hours but 58 hours of work related time, so in reality for the time put in to work and travel (work related time) you are only getting just over $32 hour but still paying Tax on $1,900 and doing an 58 hour week.

Personally in such a scenario if it was me and i had the choice of a lesser income nearby id rather take a lesser income for example around $32 an hour pay less tax and travel less each day, meaning i can spend more time with family and surf more and have a lifestyle near the coast instead of in some inland suburbia and not be so tired so more likely happier, but hey each to their own.

Wharfjunkie's picture
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Wharfjunkie commented Sunday, 29 Apr 2018 at 8:26pm

Who wants to spend their working life sitting in a car travelling for up to 4hours a day most of the year leave home when it's dark get home when its dark wishing it was daylight savings or waiting for the weekend hoping the surf will be good and if it is busy due to the forecast.

Work your life when you are in best physical condition to surf getting the occasional good surf then when you hit retirement age your body is no longer at its peak to make the most of the spare time. All to pay interest on a mortgage, car, credit card and so on.

But you will have a house close to the coast that you can't enjoy.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 29 Apr 2018 at 10:03pm

All true fellas, how much to commute by ferry ID to work on our place? Haha. I'd provide surf sunglasses so you don't get eye damage squinting into the morning sun! Good point about the non-invoiced drive time. It was nice being on a daily retainer so a drive between Esperance and Albany was paid for, for eg. Sites were a bonus.

The Best Deal Ever, I was working and traveling East about 2002, heard on radio that with the FHOG crew on Philip Island were buying blocks for 14K and then using the dole to pay them off... that's like a life/life balance! Grant paid for a whole house in a couple of spots in west Tassie...

birdfood's picture
birdfood's picture
birdfood commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 7:31am

Thanks for the replies everyone, I really appreciate it. I was not expecting to have 24 to read through this morning! There’s heaps of points to address so I’ll try to get to them in this long winded response.

I guess to address blindboy's question I need to follow davetherave's advice: "So get clear, suss out the heart's yearn, then trust." And I have been mulling on this lately: would I be just as happy if I gave up surfing and found something else to get stoked on instead. I have no idea what that thing would be.

My current answer would be something like: I surf because I love it and I spend a lot of time thinking about it when I'm not doing it. My weeks where I have surfed on the weekend go so much smoother than those when I haven't. It's sort of like having surfed makes me more chilled for the rest of the week and all the annoying crap that life throws at you doesn't matter so much. Consequently it gets me out of the house, provides me with exercise, puts me amongst nature, and provides me with an opportunity to be still and work through thoughts. Arguably I could get a lot of those things from bush walking, but surfing is also incredibly fun and I am yet to find anything (that I can financially sustain) that provides that same level of fun-ness.

I grew upon the Gold Coast around Currumbin and during high school / gap year I was close enough to be able to ride my bike to the surf. I used to surf every day, often at the same break and I would get to know the banks intimately. Now I really heavily rely on the knowledge of friends, or I'll just aim for somewhere consistent and hope the crowds won't be too bad.

In the last couple of years I've started making my own boards and I find that it makes me feel connected to the surf even though I am not so close. So now when I'm not thinking about surfing I'm often thinking about shapes, or construction techniques, or how long do I have left before I can get this board finished so I can ride it.

From the responses here, and reading through the forums I would guess that the average upper bound of surf proximity is about a 20-30 minute drive. geek sounds like they're happy enough with their commute so I think I could sustain this at least for a year while I transition to something else or negotiate my way to working from home at least half the week. I reckon in the mean time I can work on the train and make the case of leaving a bit earlier each day. I have considered what velocityjohnno brought up about working in the community and I have been thinking that it would be really rewarding to form connections like you bring up. I’ve been romanticising moving to a small coastal town somewhere to really embed myself in a community and live locally, but the reality is we have family here and don’t want to move too far away from them.

I've been thinking about my question a lot since I posted it and an re-reading all of the responses to these two questions (https://www.swellnet.com/forums/wax/311773, https://www.swellnet.com/forums/wax/24031) and I think I am beginning to realise that reforming the connection to the sea that I had, and being able to surf more frequently feels more important to me now than pursuing a career did when I was studying. So I think I need to just make the move then work everything else out.

For now, again I need to follow Dave's advice and get clear. Then I need to trust.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 10:24am

good luck mate.

morg's picture
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morg commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 8:29pm

As I get older I realise that everything is a compromise, and everything comes at some sort of cost. Sometimes monetary, sometimes relationships, or career, or simply time. Dave and others have wisely shared their wisdom, and besides you actually know what you want to do, so do it. Sometimes the hardest thing we do is to be honest with ourselves and then act on it.
I’ve always admired guys/girls who adsolutely froth and live over an hour from the surf cause I grew up at the beach and know deep down I probably just wouldn’t have bothered. Yep I’ve surfed since before I can remember, but I never actually had a choice cause it’s just what we did. We had surfboards when we were in nappies. Mum said mine was shaped before I was even born, and Dad just dragged us along for the ride (which luckily enough meant I got to surf places like Fiji, Tonga etc decades before they became known). I’ve never known life without surfing. Like others it’s that one magical thing I can do everyday that lets me become a grom again . . . and that’s priceless.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 6:22pm

Skateboard commuter is in critical condition with head injuries +Driver to GCU Hospital.
Monday Night 10:30 a man was riding an Electric Skateboard on 70km/hr Robina Parkway.
The 33 y'old was Skateboarding Merrimac road shoulder when southbound vehicles collided.
Resembling a Formula 1 crash scene. Car window smashed in & skateboard littered the road.
No name released.(msn 9 Video) re: Black/red Nikes + Evolve board? Best wishes from all here.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 9 May 2018 at 12:01am

Sad to inform (Skateboarder X) didn't pull thru. He passed away on Monday night.
/(__(R.I.P)__)\ From brother Swellnetonians.

Police investigation is ongoing and urge anyone with info to contact...
Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

birdfood's picture
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birdfood commented Monday, 23 Mar 2020 at 7:08pm

An update: my partner and I moved down ~18 months ago. Part of my thought process was "if everything goes to shit, where would I most want to be stuck". I had no idea how soon this hypothesis would materialise! We've moved to Mudgeeraba and while not as close to the beach as I would have liked (especially if the premier's suggestion that we "stay in our suburbs" is enforced), the compromise is great and we're surrounded by trees. I've even scored a local job. Thanks heaps for the advice everyone, the past 18 months have been a blast.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Monday, 23 Mar 2020 at 7:59pm

Hey Birdfood that's fantastic to hear. Really glad you've enjoyed the time. And what a situation to find yourself in, having made the move (as for all of us), the GC hinterland is probably a really good place to be in for what's about to happen. Past 18 months have been good here too, give or take the odd 2 weeks of SE onshores... Many local jobs stopped today (or tomorrow) as Vic Gov has closed cafes, pubs etc so in that sense the difficult times have just arrived. Take care all.

billythekid's picture
billythekid's picture
billythekid commented Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 9:53am

It's a question of whether you want to plan your surfing around your life or plan your life around your surfing

I can only say that once I decided to plan my life around my surfing everything became so much simpler

I found that making this commitment to my surfing resulted in way more water time, much higher satisfaction, way better surfing and a clear sense of priority

It was a challenge to get the wife to understand that when the surfs happening Im not available. I'd say after five years she's finally got it and is mostly ok with it as I'm available when the surfs not happening

Basically, my view is that surfing is pretty much an all or nothing proposition if you want to be any good. I mean, you see guys who surf weekends only and there's a huge difference between what they can do and what people who surf consistently most days can do.

Weekend guys are always looking for the perfect board, etc etc all sorts of stuff to compensate for the fact they just dont surf enough to really progress.

The downside to planning life around surfing for me is that when there are extended periods of no surf or crap surf it can get a bit depressing. At those times I have to remember that there are actually heaps of other worthwhile things to do.

If I think about it, the only reason I'm posting this now is there's crap surf...actually, I'd better go and do something productive like work, or wash the windows, power wash the deck, health insurance, call the council about some bullshit, plant some plants, fix the curtains, clean the car, deal with my ...shit, I'd rather be surfing!

billythekid's picture
billythekid's picture
billythekid commented Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 9:53am

It's a question of whether you want to plan your surfing around your life or plan your life around your surfing

I can only say that once I decided to plan my life around my surfing everything became so much simpler

I found that making this commitment to my surfing resulted in way more water time, much higher satisfaction, way better surfing and a clear sense of priority

It was a challenge to get the wife to understand that when the surfs happening Im not available. I'd say after five years she's finally got it and is mostly ok with it as I'm available when the surfs not happening

Basically, my view is that surfing is pretty much an all or nothing proposition if you want to be any good. I mean, you see guys who surf weekends only and there's a huge difference between what they can do and what people who surf consistently most days can do.

Weekend guys are always looking for the perfect board, etc etc all sorts of stuff to compensate for the fact they just dont surf enough to really progress.

The downside to planning life around surfing for me is that when there are extended periods of no surf or crap surf it can get a bit depressing. At those times I have to remember that there are actually heaps of other worthwhile things to do.

If I think about it, the only reason I'm posting this now is there's crap surf...actually, I'd better go and do something productive like work, or wash the windows, power wash the deck, health insurance, call the council about some bullshit, plant some plants, fix the curtains, clean the car, deal with my ...shit, I'd rather be surfing!

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 10:01am

You have a very understanding wife..

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 10:59am

When i was young i planned my life totally around surfing, problem was there was no time left for a job :D

Sounds funny but is actually true.

Optimist's picture
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Optimist commented Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 2:29pm

Same here Indo, if you read my log cabin story on the religion page it was a great time for a while. I paid $5 a week for rent, had a sick camping set up, earned about $300 a week off the farmers doing trade work so cashed up for surf travel. My wife was good with the surfing focused lifestyle and simple way of living. I had great kids, I had my trail bike as well when the surf was no good, my veggie patch, my blue dog, and if I got really bored I'd shoot C,D and AA (for a challenge) old batteries off the front fence with my air rifle. I ended up getting all responsible though after 5 years, travelled, preached, worked in bigger towns and got proper jobs when the kids started school. Weekend/after work warrior then.