Embracing the Heart of the Riverina – The Patteets' Journey to Wagga Wagga

Blog Post
January 15, 2024
March 5, 2024

For Raúl and Anne Patteet, the regional allure of Wagga Wagga has brought opportunities for professional fulfilment and the benefits of a serene lifestyle and welcoming community, all set amidst the Riverina’s stunning charm.

Wagga Wagga – one of the central jewels in the gorgeous Riverina area – is not just a hub for agricultural prowess. It’s also a beacon for those looking for the simple joys of country living.  Anne and Raúl Patteet's tale is a testament to this Wagga Wagga allure, as well as the draw of regional Australia in general. Their relocation to Wagga weaves a story of family, career and community, showcasing why the Riverina is such a highly desirable destination for those looking to make a country change.

A Family Affair Leads to Wagga Wagga

‘Our main motivation to move here was that our daughter Anaëlle “Nelly” Gangotena, who is a race track rider, had moved a few months before to follow her boss, horse trainer Doug Gorrel,’ explains Anne. ‘He had himself moved back to Wagga Wagga – his hometown.’‘When our Canberra landlords decided to sell their house, rental prices had gone up by 25% in ACT, and our daughter encouraged us to check those in Wagga Wagga, which were more affordable. Since Anne's job allowed her to work both from home and in towns located mainly in the Riverina, it was a no-brainer for us!’ says Raul.Their familiarity with the Riverina towns, thanks to Anne's work-related travels, reassured the couple that Wagga Wagga was an ideal fit. It’s a ‘pleasant place, of a good size and close enough to Canberra as well as Sydney and Melbourne’ and so ticked all the boxes for their desired lifestyle.These factors made the Patteets’ move to Wagga Wagga an evident choice.  So they made the move in November 2022 with their youngest daughter Clara as well.

Wollundry Lagoon, looking towards the Civic Theatre, Wagga Wagga. Credit: Wagga Wagga City Council

Embracing Work-Life Harmony

Living and working in Wagga has been a wonderful experience. Anne says, ‘Raúl is now enjoying his retirement after a long working life in Ecuador, where he was born, the USA and finally Australia.’ In Wagga, he loves spending time cycling and playing chess, while Anne continues her work as a physiotherapist contributing to the region's health sector. Originally qualified in Belgium, Anne also undertook her Master of Physiotherapy here in Australia, working in both the Calvary Hospital in Canberra and then as an area manager for a team of Allied Health Professionals, which included the Riverina area.Since relocating to Wagga Wagga, Anne has also established a new local physiotherapy business, Mobile Therapy Australia. Through this business, she helps older people in the region to ‘stay mobile, active and in their homes for as long as possible – and if possible, forever.’ Anne's passion for her work shines through as she aids the elderly in maintaining their independence and active living.She’s found starting a business to be just as easy in regional Australia as anywhere else. She says, ‘There are very good lawyers and accountants here as well, and when you visit them, it feels like they’re part of the community. I love the fact that when I have questions, I get asked, “Why don’t you just pop in so we can talk about it,’ and it takes me all of seven minutes to get there.’

IMAGE SUPPLIED: Anne ready to go to see physiotherapy clients

A Heartfelt Welcome

Of course, it hasn’t been all work, all the time for Anne and Raúl! She and Raúl have felt very comfortable and welcomed since their arrival. ‘The Wagga Wagga community is very welcoming,’ the couple shares, appreciating the ease of making connections. ‘People tend to be more relaxed and to take things as they come. Many shop owners have asked where we come from and started a conversation, and we have really felt welcomed here.’ Their experience in regional integration has been smooth and natural. Anne says that they really ‘enjoy chatting with all our neighbours and exchanging jams or preserves – and even an egg or two sometimes.’ And when they want information about events or activities, they appreciate being able to pop into the local information centre. Anne says, ‘Everything is available online of course, but we like to talk to people in real life, and that’s easy to do here!’

Wagga has a strong community. IMAGE: Food I Am, Springvale. CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Joys of Regional Living

Anne and Raúl already had a good perspective on country living, thanks to their extensive travels. But it’s certainly lived up to their experience.Today they appreciate the short commutes, clean air and the laid-back atmosphere. ‘We're very lucky in that we haven't met any real challenge yet,’ they note, attributing their smooth transition to Wagga Wagga's perfect size and its vibrant community, which offers a spectrum of activities and services. And Anne and Raúl are embracing everything the region has to offer.Raúl says, ‘We love exploring Wagga, finding its treasures such as the Wollundry Lagoon, cycling all around town on the great paths and going to the Wagga Wagga Civic Centre for expositions. Last year we went to the BANFF festival.’ The local Riverina producers don’t let them down either. Raúl says, ‘We purchase local products as gifts, such as soaps and olive oil. And we have been wanting to go to Barambola Wines since we arrived, and visit the W2Olives olive farm. Raúl continues, ‘We also love walking and hiking and find there are many enjoyable trails to explore, such as the Wirradjuri Trail or the River to Wetland Trail.’‘Being in Wagga, in particular, is great because it's neither too big nor too small, it has a great hospital, several malls for those who enjoy shopping, quite a few nice restaurants and cafes, many activities and a few Wagga Wagga community Facebook groups where one can ask for any sort of activity for all kinds of tastes.’

Magpies Nest Restaurant, Estella - Destination NSW

Advice for Aspiring Country Changers

Anne suggests a proactive approach for those considering a regional move. ‘It's worth visiting the city or town you are considering moving to before deciding. Ask questions about favourite activities to make sure you will find that if you end up moving there. Another aspect to consider is the weather since it can vary so much between places in Australia – make sure the place you are considering is liveable for you and your family.’

SUPPLIED IMAGE: Raúl using the fitness equipment at Lake Albert.

Just like Anne and Raúl Patteet, you can also embrace the regional spirit and discover its unique blend of community warmth, professional opportunities and tranquil living in this vibrant locality. Why not give Wagga Wagga a try?! Feeling inspired by the Patteets' experience? For more information on how you can begin your own story in the Riverina, contact Country Change to guide your journey towards a life in Wagga Wagga!

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