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seachanger

noun [countable] Australian

a person who makes a significant change in lifestyle by moving to the seaside or country

seachange

noun [countable] Australian

a significant change in lifestyle

'Bumper house prices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, have financed thousands of seachangers … There are now about 4 million people living in coastal areas such as the Maroochy Shire. Another million are expected in the next 15 years.'

The Sydney Morning Herald 11th October 2004

'Are you dreaming about escaping the suburban rat race and heading to the coast? This is your opportunity to make a seachange …'

www.communicatcareers.com.au 2005

People who are fed up with the pressures of city life often dream of making a fresh start in a country or seaside location, where the air is clean and the pace of life more relaxed. Australia has in recent years witnessed a significant trend in realizing this kind of dream, with thousands of professional people leaving cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for a more idyllic lifestyle in areas such as the Queensland coast. These types are referred to as the seachangers, people who have decided to improve their quality of life by moving to the coast or countryside.

so great has been the seachange influx that coastal communities are warning that the lifestyle which attracted people will be destroyed, ruined by overcrowding

This radical transformation in lifestyle is sometimes also described by the related countable noun seachange, often occurring as make a seachange to refer to the act of relocating. Seachange was highlighted as one of the buzzwords of Australian English in 2004, featuring in academic studies and government reports. So great has been the seachange influx that coastal communities are warning that the lifestyle which attracted people will be destroyed, ruined by overcrowding. Councils around the Australian coast have formed a National Seachange Taskforce to lobby for assistance with planning and the funding of amenities.

The words treechanger and treechange have been coined as alternatives in recent months, in response to the observation that seachange(r) is increasingly being used in the context of locations which aren't necessarily coastal, and is therefore beginning to lose its association with the actual sea.

Background – seachanger

The word seachanger originates from a popular Australian drama series called SeaChange, which features a lawyer who leaves the pressures of the city to start a new life as a magistrate in the sleepy seaside town of Pearl Bay.

The name for the series was cleverly based on the compound noun sea change, which describes a radical change in the nature of something. Sea change is often used in political contexts, referring to a significant shift in policy or opinion. The expression sea change in fact has its origins with Shakespeare, occurring in a song from The Tempest:

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

Shakespeare meant that the sea (i.e. submersion in water) caused a transformation of the body (of Ferdinand's father). Though the original expression featured a hyphen, most modern dictionaries record sea change as an open compound (i.e. with a space, rather than a hyphen), and increasingly it's occurring as a solid compound (i.e. as one word, with no space), as reflected by Australian usage of seachange and seachanger.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 4th July 2005.

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