Making It Work On The Coast | S1 E4 “Grace, Clinton and the Orchard”
Outdoor: Flume Beach
Social Recco: Basted Baker in Sechelt
If you ask anyone who’s recently moved to the Sunshine Coast what their top tip is, they’ll tell you to join the Gone Coastal Facebook Group – a resource and community-building connection point for newbies to The Coast. So today, you’ll meet the brainchild behind the group and hear the story of how she and her family have Gone Coastal.
Picture this: By day, you meander through your immense backyard – which is on the side of a mountain. While the kids play, you and your husband dream up big ideas like orchards and underground cheese cellars – lofty dreams to fill a blank canvas of land. At night, you fall asleep looking up at the star-drenched sky through your bedroom skylight.
Yes, this life exists – and it’s the real deal for former Vancouverites Grace Carter and Clinton McDougall and their two beautiful children Juniper and Josephine.
Almost one year ago, Grace and Clinton made the move from the hip, eclectic urban Commercial Drive to Elphinstone, a rural neighbourhood between Gibsons and Roberts Creek on BC’s Sunshine Coast. It was a big change moving from a 760 square foot space in East Vancouver to a 4,100 sq. ft. house on a 21 acre property that takes 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other.
Despite the massive change, Grace finds living on The Coast a soul-nourishing experience.
“I found it really centring and relaxing to move to so much green space,” she says. “Also, with children I have found it to be a huge relief because I didn’t realize there was so much latent anxiety moving children around the city.”
Clinton, who is co-owner of Bestie Restaurant in Vancouver, recently started up Vancouver’s first cider company, Sunday Cider, and aspires to one day grow and harvest his own apples. The goal was to find a place close to Vancouver and the ocean, that had land big enough to start the orchard.
The Sunshine Coast has been a happy medium, allowing Clinton to commute four days per week to work in the city. Grace, Director of Internal Communications at Hootsuite is currently easing back into the 9-5 after her second mat leave and hits the city once per week for work.
“It’s a really lovely balance to have a urban existence and a rural existence,” she says, adding that the constant nagging of FOMO just isn’t as impactful when you’re on Coastal time.
Their land in Elphinstone has ample space for gardening and the secondary dwellings on the property serve as mortgage helpers. Most importantly, there’s space for an orchard. Although there is much more work to be done before the orchard is up and running, Grace and Clinton are enjoying the journey and learning experience of clearing land and preparing the soil.
One of the things that stands out to Grace is the village style living in her community. Giving is the common currency; whether it’s caring for a neighbour’s cows while they’re out of town, or trading ingredients. Unlike the fast-paced – and sometimes isolating – city life, accepting generosity comes without guilt and is always reciprocated. She talks about her Crappy Dinner Parties (CDP) – a tradition with a neighbouring family that involves last minute, pop up dinners requiring no prep and little effort, but always resulting in wonderful memories and great fun.
Grace and her neighbour Jacqueline are planning to document their coastal lives at gonecoastal.blog. It’s a passion project that will explore the lives of two urban women gone rural as they learn to make things with their hands, grow food and children, and connect with their spiritual selves.
So, aside from her personal experiences, what wisdom does Grace have to impart on future Coasters?
“I think this community has so much potential. I want people to know that this is possible and it’s magical to live here,” she says. “I want young amazing people to come here.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Are you interested in learning more about making the move to the Sunshine Coast? Contact me a for a consultation.
Each year, the Sunshine Coast welcomes new year-round residents who have unearthed the secret of “going coastal”. In this Making It Work On The Coast blog series, we’ll get to know our new neighbours, who are fast becoming part of the fabric of our community. I’ll discover their inspirations for moving to the Sunshine Coast, and the homes, lifestyles, and careers they’ve built in our amazing neck of the woods.