Checking in with our new neighbours

Matt and Amber moved into their new home at Sarilia last May. Now that they’ve had a chance to settle in, we thought we’d follow up with Amber to see how their lives have changed since moving here, and how they feel about life in the river valley. Our beautiful photos were taken at Sarilia by Julie Schappert Photography.

Sarilia trails and river

What makes life so different at Sarilia?
Number one is the sense of calm and peace that I feel being surrounded by nature. It may seem cliché, but moving out to the country has really transformed our lives. It seems like we take more time to sit and enjoy our surroundings and each other. Taking care of our home and the surrounding area has a little bit more pride and joy than it did in the city, probably because there are so many more possibilities with the space we have. There’s also the fact that when you’re home, you’re home. The distance may seem limiting to some, but I really enjoy the fact that when I’m here I’m not pulled to do some errand, I can just enjoy my home and my family without thinking that there’s some place else to be.

Were there any lessons learned during your home building process?
The main thing I learned was that it was helpful to have a clear vision of what we wanted our home to feel like, and then communicate that often. Our build was truly custom and we chose every single detail, but it’s good advice for whatever type of build you’re doing. Salespeople and sub-contractors are so much more helpful when you’re able to say, “my house is such-and-such style and we want it to feel ‘X’” (warm, quaint, modern, clean, rustic, etc.).

Also, I learned to stick to my guns and never be afraid to ask. As a woman making the vast majority of decisions I was lucky to have a very patient builder who would take the time to explain the process. I was able to make informed decisions and not back down when someone wanted to change my mind. Not everyone values the same things as you when they’re giving you advice about your home.

Aesthetics are important — so is functionality but I would remind myself that we are the ones who are living here so we had to prioritize what we wanted. A perfect example was the manufactured wood beams in our kitchen. They were an expensive custom touch and some people questioned me about them but I knew they would do so much to create that “feel” that we wanted. Now everyone remarks about how much they love them when they walk in!

walking dogs on beach

What kinds of activities do you do at Sarilia?
I’ve been up at the community garden often, weeding a lot as I’m still learning the ropes! We walk the dogs and go down to the beach. We’ve also taken a couple of bike rides to explore the area. Matthew went on a canoe trip down the river to Petrofka Bridge with some other community members. I’m looking forward to getting back into a regular running schedule now that the busyness of the move and summer is winding down.

Day to day, we’ve been working on our deck and our yard which we both enjoy. Now we can eat dinner outside or just sit out and enjoy a glass of wine. I’ve found that my free time is a little more “quality.” We watch less TV, and spend more time outside.

What is it like to be part of the Sarilia community?
I’m so happy and excited to be part of this community. Summer is tough to get out and meet people as most people are busy or away on weekends, but recently we’ve had the chance to meet some of the families that live here at a community get-together and we had an amazing time! I’m so excited to get to know the other residents. Dinners with friends, bonfires on the beach, our kids growing up together…I’m so looking forward to this at Sarilia.

What do your family and friends say when they visit?
I feel like when our family and friends visit, they get it. They get why we decided to move to the country when we’ve always been city people. The other day my mom was sitting on our deck and she said, “it’s just like being at the lake,” which is a big deal because our cabin at the lake is definitely the family “happy place.” They’ve also remarked on the sense of privacy that our well-treed lot provides. We have the best of both worlds — we can be out mingling with our neighbours while at the garden or on a walk, but we also have our little nook in our backyard which means that we’re not bothering anyone when we have company over.  The number one phrase I hear when we have company is, “it’s beautiful.” I have to say, I agree!

river walk at Sarilia

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