MICHELLE Kearney and husband Les Horovitz’s sea change began inadvertently one cold Saturday morning two years ago.
“We were sitting there reading the papers as we normally would and I said to Les, ‘I’ve found the perfect job. There’s only one drawback, it’s four-and-a-half hours from Melbourne in Portland,” Ms Kearney said.
Her husband was less than enthusiastic: “I just said ‘Oh yeah, sounds good,’ and didn’t think any more of it. I didn’t even know where Portland was.”
The ad was for the principal’s job at Portland’s Bayview College and Ms Kearney said there was something that drew her to it. “I read about the school and the area and I was drawn to it and we went from there,” she said.
Ms Kearney said she and Mr Horovitz drove down for the interview and two weeks later she was offered the job.
“We’ve been here for two years now and we just love the lifestyle,” she said.
“At this level of responsibility at a school in Melbourne you can be tied to your desk for 15-16 hours a day. (Here) I can have an evening meeting, go home have a home-cooked meal and then come back for that meeting.
“It’s easier to balance the demands of a job like this and your family life.
“You’d have to pay me a lot of money to go back to Melbourne right now.”
The couple have both become heavily involved in community events and organisations.
“We didn’t even contemplate that in Melbourne. You’d be in the car driving to work, you’d get home at night and you’d be exhausted,” Ms Kearney said.
“So you’re able to give back as well as receive from the community. You know you’re making a difference, not only in your job but in the community as well.
“I’m on the Portland District Health board now and actively involved in community events through the church.”
Mr Horovitz said he came from a slightly different angle.
“I had an online bookkeeping business in Melbourne which I was able to transport, but for me it was a bit different — I didn’t have a role in the community as such, so I had to find a role,” he said.
“I got myself involved in a lot of stuff: involved in the soccer club, where I’m a committee member and an under 12 coach, on radio 3RPC, I’m treasurer of United Way, I’m on a sub-committee of the YMCA, I play touch footy, and I’m on the committee for Portland.
“It seems a lot but when you’re in a small place like this, if you don’t get involved you might as well live on a desert island.”