Tired of the daily grind? Find a slower-paced, stress-free life in these dream towns
Suzanne Haddon, 46
Moved: From Seattle to the Whitsunday Islands, Australia, in 2009
Old life: Senior design director for Starbucks
New life: Self-employed graphic designer, artist, and painter
The aha moment: When Bush was voted back in office, I said, I'm outta here. My husband and I were both surfers—all we wanted was warm water and waves. So we started plotting to move to Australia. What inspired me about Airlie Beach was the colors of the tropical plants and beautiful clear water. It lets me be more creative as an artist and a designer. There's no surf here, so we took up sailing and travel for waves.
What I gave up: Horrible rainy weather, but also Seattle's supportive design scene. Not to mention city culture in general. Museums. Graffiti!
What I gained: The ability to wear a bikini surfing instead of a wetsuit. Sunny weather. Snorkeling off of my backyard, fresh-caught crab and lobster for dinner, ocean views from my living room.
Take my advice: Have a financial plan. I'd run my own business before and was able to keep a lot of clients in the States while I found new locals to work with. Don't wing it.
I knew I was a local when: I competed in my first regatta. Suddenly I'm a sailor. But I'm not sure I'll ever really feel like a local—Aussies have their own language.