Our journey started back in 2004 when we made the decision to downshift from our current lifestyle. At the time we were living in a modern detached house with a small garden, were both working and we really did feel that we were doing so to support a lifestyle that we didn’t really enjoy.
We weren’t unhappy but we felt we were living in a way that didn’t suit us, I’m sure many of you have felt that feeling when you know something just isn’t right? Well we sat down and decided to take some drastic measures.
Here were our main considerations:
Where we would live
We loved the village where we lived and our Son had just started the local school so ideally we wanted to stay quite local, plus both our families lived close by. Our main criteria for our new house would be the price – we wanted to pay off most if not all of our mortgage. This was to be a big factor in our quest for a simpler life as our thinking was that with no monthly mortgage payments to consider we would be able to downshift our work commitments.
We also wanted something older with a bit of character, whilst our new build had been a perfect low maintenance place to live while our Son was a baby it had never felt like home.
In some respects the garden was almost as important as the house as we knew that having space to grow our own food would play a very important part in our lives. There were allotments in the village but the waiting list was (and still is) incredibly long.
Work & Finances
At the time I was working part time (3 days a week) and my husband was working full time in the public sector and really wanted to work for himself. We worked out that by downsizing and therefore reducing our monthly outgoings we would be able to pursue different career options.
What happened next….
As you can imagine finding a house that fit our criteria was not going to be an easy task – an older, character property with a large garden may be not too difficult to find but throw a limited budget into the mix and you have a problem!
But against very limited odds there was a house out there that did meet all of our requirements – a 1920’s cottage with a HUGE garden on the edge of the village. It also had stunning views over open fields and we could buy it without the need of a mortgage – BUT, there’s always a but isn’t there? It was in a very sorry state and would need a lot of either work or money to make it into a home. We agreed that if we kept a small mortgage it would free up enough money so that we could get the basics done on the house (did I mention that there was no heating, it was suffering from damp and needed a complete rewire…..)
It actually took us a year to complete on the purchase on the house but in May 2005 we finally moved in.
And then it hit us….
Well several things did actually. Firstly you know that HUGE garden I mentioned earlier? Well calling it a garden was probably misrepresenting it a little bit. It hadn’t actually been used as a garden for many, many years (a neighbour told us that 15 years had passed since she’d seen anyone in it!) a bramble patch was more apt, a very large bramble patch at that. Which brings me onto my second point. We knew the ‘garden’ was big but because of the brambles you couldn’t actually get further than the first 30ft so we couldn’t really appreciate just how big it was. We have since discovered that it is approximately 500ft long (in addition to 80ft at the front!).
Then there was the house. We’d seen lots of house make over programs in the past, you know the ones where they give a set of keys to a builder, move into a swanky hotel for a few weeks and return to a perfectly designed show palace? Well our renovation was the complete opposite of this. Firstly we were living on site throughout every stage of the work and secondly, there were no builders – this was DIY on a grand scale. Oh, and if we could have moved out while the work was being done I’m not sure funds would have stretched to a swanky hotel for the seven years that it actually took us to get to where we are now!
The present day
Seven years on from our move and the house is more or less finished, the garden has been cleared ready for planting and the mortgage paid off. I now work for myself and after spending 3 years working as a self employed tradesman the Hubbie has returned to the public sector. Oh and our friends and family now accept that maybe we’re not quite as crazy as they thought we were when we first made the move.
We now feel that we are in a place both physically and mentally to start simplifying our lives in earnest. We want to embrace living with a little less, being more self sufficient and choosing to live a simple life – I look forward to sharing our experiences with you along the way.