Leigh returned to his hometown after years of city living in big cities in Australia and the UK. A career change and a fresh perspective have helped Leigh to live authentically in this close-knit community
Leigh Houghton – devoted yogi and events manager, is Leeton born and raised. But it took him many years building a life away from his hometown to come back to everything this beautiful regional area has to offer. To make his own ‘country change’.
Moving away to start again
As a young man, Leigh decided to make the move away from his small hometown of Leeton. He was looking for more opportunities than he could see then, and the chance to live authentically and explore his true self.
So, Leigh left Leeton, moving first to Sydney and then to the United Kingdom. In the UK, he spent 10 years working in the exciting hospitality field. And it was here that he had his first brief introduction to yoga. It proved to be a pivotal moment – and one that led to the decision to make another move, this time to Melbourne, to enhance his new career in yoga.
But life had other ideas. The onslaught of COVID, and its accompanying lockdowns, saw Leigh make the move back to Leeton for a year. Far from feeling constrained, this hometown detour saw Leigh reconnect with friends and family, and experience Leeton from a fresh perspective. For Leigh, it was the springboard to a new job opportunity, an entrepreneurial challenge, better work-life balance and better overall wellbeing!
As Leigh says, ‘I realised that, for the sake of my well-being, it would be better for me to be in an environment that encouraged personal accountability. Returning to the close-knit community that I grew up in was an opportunity for me to challenge myself to be seen after learning how easy it is to hide in the “bright lights of the big city”.’
Life in Leeton
Leigh’s return to Leeton has given him both a new job opportunity and an entrepreneurial challenge. Working as part of the events team at Leeton Shire Council has been a significant change, but one that has challenged and enriched his life. He works closely with local community members in creating events that enrich and enliven the entire town. In Leigh’s yoga practice, his entrepreneurial spirit soars, working with a loyal client base to offer a fitness service that contributes to the community’s well-being.
Through both roles, Leigh fulfils his inherent desire to be of service, connect with people and discover what local community members really want and need.
Regional centre, big events
One thing Leigh has realised through coordinating and delivering events for Leeton Shire Council, is that anything is possible. Events like the Australian Art Deco Festival Leeton, Leeton Chill & Grill, the first ever Leeton Pride Festival, Light Up Leeton and SunRice Festival are all culturally comparable to offerings in larger centres. Moreover, the whole community supports local events and feels part of them. Everything is possible in Leeton, so watch this space!
Far from his entrepreneurial spirit being stifled in a regional centre, Leigh has found Leeton to be collaborative and filled with opportunity.
Leigh says, ‘Working for myself in Melbourne was a pretty lonely undertaking’, he says. While the yoga community gave him access to many different groups of people in Melbourne, Leigh says, ‘It was easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of entrepreneurship and focus on how to stand out amongst my peers.’
But in Leeton, Leigh has had the good fortune of connecting his yoga practice with the Revive Wellness Centre collective. Through Revive Wellness, Leigh has found support and the spirit of community over competition. While a regional centre means a smaller client base than an urban counterpart, collaboration means an opportunity for all to thrive rather than only one to shine.
Live a more authentic life
Life in a regional centre brings a sense of contentment that is difficult to find in the faster pace of city living. It can also bring a fresh perspective on what really matters. Leigh appreciates the feeling of familiarity in Leeton, the more relaxed pace of life and the lower cost of living. And he’s recognising that a shorter, more authentic ‘to do’ list is far preferable than one filled with a million ‘keeping busy’ activities.
More time for more fun
With less traffic and people to navigate in regional centres, there’s more time for fun. Leigh says he’s found ‘lots of time [to spend with his] family’ in Leeton. As the youngest of seven children, the older he gets, the more he appreciates his family connection.
There’s more time for friends too. And Leigh loves helping on mates’ farms, going for walks and new hobbies. Leigh also been able to expand his own hobbies, enjoying pottery and art courses in the Leeton area, and he always remains on the lookout for new ways to express his creative side.
Leeton has so much to offer for anyone considering a regional move. There are excellent schools, such as Tocal College and a TAFE campus, and loads of sporting and recreational facilities, including the Leeton Sport & Recreation Precinct.
It’s also incredibly beautiful, being the ‘Heart of Australia’s Food Bowl’. You can expect to see stunning natural scenery (take an agricultural tour or visit the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park to see it at its best!), while Leeton itself features beautiful architecture, easily viewed on the Art Deco Heritage Walking Tour and a rich history. The arts thrive here as well, and there are plenty of events on at The Leeton Art Society.
Advice for anyone considering a move to regional life
- Leigh recommends being ‘open to new experiences and willing to adapt to a different pace of life’. Rather than lamenting a reduced selection from Uber Eats, embrace the outstanding food and wine available regionally – Leeton Chill & Grill is one local foodie festival to enjoy.
- Know that regional life will bring the opportunity to explore new hobbies and activities unique to your local region. Whether cultural or sporting, take the chance to meet new people with similar interests.
- ‘Get involved in local community events’, says Leigh. They’re a great way to build connections and contribute to your local community.