I’ve just moved into Christchurch city centre. Like really, actually, smack bang in the middle.
I’d never considered myself much of a city person, let alone to live in the middle of one. But Christchurch is a bit different (it’s very leafy).
When I first became single I moved from a small country village into the outskirts of Lincoln (a small city in the UK). I got the best of both worlds. It wasn’t a big town, so I could walk into the centre of town in 25 minutes, but I also could be in the countryside 10 minutes in the opposite direction. I loved it. I loved being able to walk places. Single life for me needs people, stuff going on and things to do.
When I moved to Cheltenham (similar sized town) I wanted the same set up. In fact I got it better; I was only 15 minutes walk into town (in a beautiful leafy suburb), and 10 minutes to countryside.
Christchurch, New Zealand is over double the size of Cheltenham or Lincoln, and geographically spread out over a much bigger area. After the big earthquake in 2011 that ruined much of the CBD, businesses and people moved out to the suburbs and there wasn’t a lot left of a city centre. Over the last 8 years the rebuild has seen people and organisations moving back to the CBD, but it’s a slow process and the city is still very much spread out.
Living in the hills for the last year has been epic. The views of the mountains from my flat have been lush, and the sunrises and sunsets that came with them have been damn spectacular. The trails right on my doorstep gave great training for UTA50 and I’ve loved my little flat and garden. But I was getting itchy feet, needed a change and wanted a ‘proper’ place to live to settle a little bit. There wasn’t much going on up there, people rarely came to visit and I missed being able to have a wander into town from my front door.
New Zealand is a driver’s country, and Chch is a driver’s city. Wide roads, plenty of parking and not that many public transport options. It’s too big to walk from suburb to suburb, the city centre is pretty walkable but parking can be a bit of a pain (or expensive), so living outside the city means heading in can be a bit of an effort. I wanted that lifestyle back where I could walk places, be involved in stuff and get about easily.
So I’ve switched the hills for the buildings, people and action and signed a lease on a pad in the city overlooking the river, a stone’s throw from the centre and also the park.
I LOVE IT (and the hills are still only a few minutes drive away).
The city is getting a vibe back, there’s people to watch from my front room window, I’ve already had more people visit me than I had in a year in the hills and I’m feeling more part of the city than I have since I moved to NZ. My neighbours seem nice (yes, I’ve gone and introduced myself) and in just a few short days I feel like I know my way around the city better (those that know me here know I have REALLY struggled to get my head around the layout/orientation of the city and still get completely confused – yes, even with it being a grid system).
I LOVE IT.
Come visit me (ring the weird vintage doorbell).