Free range adventure?

Year 1 | Year 2 | Year 3

In February 2011 we moved to our ramshackle house with two acres in the west of France that we bought with some of our savings to live a simple family life.

What’s the plan?
We’re going to…

  • grow fruit and vegetables and maybe have some chickens
  • do the house up ourselves (apart from the difficult stuff like electrics)
  • build tree houses and make dens
  • home-school our eldest (although he wouldn’t be going to school for another couple of years anyway, but we’ll try it on for size)
  • go for camping trips around the country (maybe even Europe?)
  • generally try to figure out if there’s another way for us to live life other than me working in an office all day.

If it works, we’ll stay, if it doesn’t we’ll go back.

Sounds crazy!
It probably is.

I’m very grateful for having had regular employment for the last ten years. And as careers go, what I did (the web) was fun and interesting and rewarding. But I was getting fatter and lazier and grumpier and I dread to think what I’d have become if we didn’t do something else.

Our children are getting bigger and braver and funnier and I’d like to be with them more of the time, to share in the excitement of them growing up. We’d like to do stuff with them, teach them things, take them places.

We have an opportunity to try something else for a while, so we’re going on a free range adventure.

Where did it all begin?
I didn’t like working in an office any more. Don’t get me wrong, it was comfortable and well paid, I worked with interesting people, there were regular trips to interesting conferences, the career opportunities were good…. But sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, having endless meetings about ‘taking things forward’, developing the BlackBerry twitch, striving to achieve intangible results for someone else’s business… it was making me fat and grumpy and giving me headaches. Why was I doing this?

“Money!” I hear you say.

Ah yes, of course; we all need money don’t we. But how much do we really need? We worked out that around 50% of a working week is about earning enough to pay the mortgage. “What if we didn’t have a mortgage?” we thought. If we didn’t have a mortgage, we could afford to earn half my salary. And if I didn’t need to earn so much, maybe I could spend less time doing it. Maybe I could become a lumberjack!

Not having a mortgage isn’t easy though – average house prices in Britain mean it’s virtually impossible for ‘youngsters’. But we don’t have to live in Britain, we could live anywhere in the whole world.

Money, money, money
How come we can even entertain the idea of being mortgage free?

We bought our first house in Cardiff nearly 10 years ago. It was knackered so we spent the next four years doing it up and made some money when we sold it. We moved to Cumbria and our new house was also knackered, so we spent the next three years doing that up and again made some money when we sold. It was here that we dreamed of being mortgage free, so rather than buy another house, we decided to rent for a little while. Our savings sat in the bank.

Three years later and our dream became a reality. We bought a cheap house in France and kept enough savings to be able to live a simple family life for at least a year.