Monday, 29 December 2008

Gone Surfing

I was very pleased to have been contacted by Tim Kevan a former Barrister who escaped from the city to go surfing in North Devon.

Tim has downsized from the London rat race and is now living in beautiful Braunton in North Devon. Tim and I chatted by e mail as to what it takes to escape the rat race and the city and to downsize. A few things which Tim said to me have stuck with me. Tim said that it is surprising how cheap it is to live in a rural area and when you are there you see other things that people do to get by so that they can live in that area. Tim also said that sometimes it helps to switch off the spreadsheet part of the brain and think of alternative ways to make money rather than amassing a huge pile of money. Tim thought that sometimes when you look at how much money it would take to finance an escape it is almost akin to a lottery win.

Wise words.

If I could work out how to put a blogroll on my site I would include all my favourite reads. Sadly I am sorely lacking in IT skills so for now here is a link to Tim's site:-

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Got a Job!

I've managed to find a few months work.

I feel so lucky to have this work at the moment and I am really grateful.

Its at a local firm of Solicitors. Its only temporary whilst they recruit on the permanent side. For reasons I cant go into I would not be able to be considered for the permanent job. Its a shame as the job is right on my doorstep and the commute is 5 mins walk!

I don't see it lasting for longer than 2 months as they have already offered the perm position to someone who is considering it. OTOH if that person decides against it then I could be there longer.

It all happened last minute.

I still really want a permanent position to tide me over for the next few years until the great escape. I have applied for practice positions, judicial office and academic roles. We will see.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Times are changing

Things are different these days.

There is no such thing as a steady job. No such thing as job security.

Should we be thankful these days just to have a job? Nevermind a career. Is a career a luxury in these times? What is a career? Is it a job where you have a marketable skill which provides fulfilment and a decent wage?

Does anyone have a career anymore? Its seems to me that if you have a trade, if you are a hairdresser, a plumber, an electrician a butcher then you have a useful trade or a useful skill. You have opportunities, your vocation is not saturated.

Why is everyone hellbent on going to university, getting a degree and incurring the debt? Degrees are ten a penny these days everyone has one.

Today I looked at the local paper. I have opened my mind to the possibility of re-training or working in another area, doing something which is non legal or perhaps even quasi legal. What do I see in the paper? Jobs which are supposed to be professional jobs paying £25k.

Yes £25k. And if you don't like that then the alternative is to take something at £6.00 per hour, IF you can get it. That's right, even the admin temping work has dried up.

The recent economic hardship has made me more determined than ever to find a more sustainable way of life. It has made me more determined to ignore conventional ways of living, aka live, work, die. It has made me more determined to squirrel and gather away the nuts. It has made me more determined to find a liveable way of life away from the city and away from urban areas. It has made me more determined to live an austere and self sufficient way of life.

I promise myself that we will achieve our downshifting dream. At the moment the idea of going to live in a magic bus somewhere under the radar looks very appealing.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Its cold out there

Well its been just over 2 months since my last gig finished.

Things on the job front are looking pretty bleak. The permanent job market is worse than ever, lots of graduates, NQ's, i.e. cheap labour forcing the market down. As if that wasn't bad enough it seems that as a result of the recession there are simply more candidates for each job.

The locum market, well this has changed. One of the reasons why I liked locum work was the lack of any real recruitment process. For the last two years I haven't stopped working. I was used to finishing one gig on a Friday and having the recruitment agency on the phone asking me could I go to X firm on Monday. Now it seems that for some reason there is an interview process for locum jobs. There also seem to be more candidates going for locum jobs.

I have had to lower my hourly rate by about £5.00 per hour to remain competitive. I don't wish to brag but I really know my stuff and I will work hard. But I have to be competitive or I will price myself out of the already tight market.

The only gigs that have come up recently are jobs across the other side of the country or jobs where I cannot commute to on a daily basis. The difficulty is that by the time I pay for travel/food and digs it is simply not worth my while taking these jobs away from home. Just yesterday an agency phoned me about a job in the London area. Now surprisingly locum work in London does NOT pay more than what I can get up north. Permanent jobs OTOH in London pay a lot more. I worked out roughly in my head that my expenses would probably come in at say £400.00 per week. That's a lot of money. Not worth my while.

So what to do, what to do. Christmas is fast approaching so it is unlikely that I will get a start for January now.

The hardest part of being unemployed for me has not been the loss of money but the sheer bloody boredom and isolation. I am a transplant. I did not grow up where I live. I don't know anyone other than my DH of course. I need to change this and develop a social outlet. I have been thinking of joining a social club. Problem is, I'm not good with large groups of people. I prefer smaller more intimate connections with people.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Anyone there?

I would like to hear from former employees within the legal profession who have walked away from the 9 - 5 grind.

I would like to know how, when, why, where, and how much?

Quote from The Dude from the film of The Big Lebowski:-

"Is this a work day, I hadn't noticed."

That's all.


Thursday, 20 November 2008

Rant of the day

Could someone please tell me what is the point of Law Fairs.

Given that there are not enough law jobs to go around in the first place what is the point of law firms going to law fairs and pretending that everything is great. Who organises these law fairs? The universities? Law schools?

I see hoards of twenty year olds carrying posh bags with well known big law firm logos on? What is the point of this when the market is saturated and there are no bloody jobs to go around? And how as a lawyer do you stand at your table/stand/etc and pretend that...........well just pretend!

For a moment I thought about standing outside and giving these students and hard dose of reality. But I didn't. They probably wouldn't have even listened. And why would they? If these students see the biggest and well known law firms at this law fair wouldn't they be entitled to assume that their services would be in demand as a Lawyer?

That's all.

Friday, 14 November 2008


I have to admit that I am not in a very good place at the moment mentally and emotionally. I have so many hopes and dreams. Before I can get to my dreams I have to get back on the road to my destination. I need to re-start the journey.

Another door was closed to me today for work. I am sick of recruitment agencies, sick of temping. I need some stability. I need a job so I can enjoy my journey to my dreams. At the moment I feel that I am existing and not living. I will admit to being secretly envious of people who have found their niche in the working world, have steady decent paying jobs with prospects. Whats wrong with me? Why does it always seem like a struggle?

I am really worried for the future. The longer I am out of work the more difficult it is going to be to get back into work. These issues are beyond my control. I am doing everything I can and more to find work.

Monday, 10 November 2008


I have signed on for unemployment. Its not much. £60 quid a week.

I did apply for some non legal temping work just to get out of the house and for a bit of pocket money. I didn't get anywhere with this. Hmmm strange.
The Bank of England has recently made a cut to interest rates of 2%. So this will mean that we will mean that we are a few hundred quid a month better off as the mortgage payment will be reduced. This plus the dole money will give us approx £400.00 per month extra.
I am looking at 2 job possibilities. One is due to start in December. The other will start in January 2009. They are both locum jobs. Perhaps they will both come off or none of them will come off. Also DH needs someone to help him out with his caseload as one of his staff is leaving at Christmas. I have offered my services as a locum. Not a great move to work with your husband but it will only be short term until he finds a permanent replacement. DH has said that if he doesn't find someone on a permanent basis by Christmas then I can go in and help him out for a few months or so. Actually I quite fancy doing this for a while if I can. DH has the luxury of working in town and his commute is a 2 minute walk and he comes home for lunch every day. I am so jealous of this. So it would be nice to work in town again.
I have decided not to look at working in London for now. I need to make a go of it here. For my own peace of mind I think I need to stop the locum work and find permanent work. I will definitely have to take a pay cut maybe at a rate of 40 - 50% gross. I'm not happy about this but its an example of how terrible the legal market is over here. Apparently there are even more law graduates this year than ever before. I read somewhere that more people are going into law seeing it as a secure industry as opposed to banking. What a joke.
For my health and temper I need some stability now. My focus seems to have changed. I need to have a life until The Escape. If I am earning less money then I will not be hit with 40% tax. So would I really be earning much less anyway? I have realised that running from one gig to another in an attempt to stash away as much cash as possible is not good for me mentally. This attitude was typical of my black and white thinking again. I have come to appreciate that my all or nothing thinking is a symptom of my codependency issues.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


I want to find a job.
I need something to do instead of waiting for DH to get home from work all day. Cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping has lost its appeal. The weekends are fine as we go hiking into the mountains but the weekdays are painful.
It is extremely quiet here on the legal locum scene at the moment. I have even widened my search and am prepared to commute one way to 1.5 hour commute. I know its 3 hours of travelling a day but I rarely drive and transport links here a fairly good. But even doing this the market is still DEAD.
According to The Lawyer on line job site there are in excess of 400 jobs for employment lawyers in London. Its tempting. I don't want to be away from home or DH but what am I supposed to do? I am trying to gauge what it would cost me to work part of the week in London. I would need accommodation at least 4 nights a week, plus train travel - expenses could come in at around £400.00 per week! Ideally perhaps I could find something on part time basis in London.
I don't like London. But the pay is good. Its too far to commute daily - the quickest I could do it would be 2 hours 15 mins one way. This would also cost the extortionate amount of circa £130.00 per day.
The other option is to take any local job just to get out of the house and earn some pocket money. That's fine. But how easy is it for a lawyer to get a mac job? I still need to work as a Lawyer for the next few years at least so I wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardise this.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Be careful what you wish for....

Well the first week of unemployment is nearly over. I wish I could say that I am enjoying my time off but I'm not.

I'm feeling very displaced. I feel very down at the moment. I cant really put my finger on why this is. I have been in between jobs before and I haven't felt like this. I feel lonely and quite isolated. Perhaps I have realised what a great assignment the last gig was. Realistically I don't think something that good will crop up again. Perhaps it is the stark realisation that the only people hiring at the moment are local government. Local Government pays less than private practice. But its not just the pay its the thought of those dirty offices, and uncomfortable surroundings and the general atmosphere.

Do we need work to give us routine and structure? I'll admit that I've scoffed at this possibility in the past. But think about it, maybe its not so much the routine but the social interaction. We've all heard of those lottery winners who win a fortune but then announce that they wont give up their jobs. Now I sort of understand why. Is it because you have a ready made social circle and social interaction on a daily basis?

So I am thinking that if I feel like this now how am I going to handle The Escape? But then I think that in The Escape I will be OK because I will be "living" somewhere which aligns with my core values, there will be plenty to do and I will have DH. I don't have DH to play with at the moment because he is at work. The fact is that there is nothing to do in this city unless one works.
Anyone else faced the same issues when not working/giving up work?

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Well I am now unemployed.

I finished at the firm on Friday. I was at the firm for 11 months and 2 weeks. It was a great gig.

I have e mailed agencies advising them of my availability. There doesn't seem to be much out there at the moment.

My loss of pay means that our savings will drop from £4,500 per month to £1,500.

I hope I find something soon. In the meantime I am counting my blessings. I am practising contentment. I have a wonderful husband. We have a roof over our head. We can afford our home. My husband has a job. We can afford to buy food and still afford to save and enjoy the little luxuries. I am trying to live in the now and trying to stop obsessing with the escape and the future.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Good news/bad news

Well I just returned from a lovely weeks escape in the Traumuntana mountains in Mallorca - the lovely village of Deia is a magical escape for romantic thinkers and just wants to make you do less in life.

But on my return i received a telephone call from my agency that I have been given a weeks notice, i.e. my gig is coming to an end after next week. Well , the writing was on the wall and I saw it coming. Lucky I can live within my means. Lucky I didn't blow too much money on the holiday. Austerity is indeed a valuable quality.

So, I will be looking for another contract position. I have come to the realisation that I will probably never work another permanent job as I would have to take a significant reduction in pay. My priority is to accumulate cash.

Speaking of cash, we all need to live on a cash only basis. This is the way it should be. There is no credit. The banks haven't got any money. Lets really examine what is important and what is not. Lets learn to cook, buy our own beer, and brew our own coffee. Lets not spend £5.00 on lunch everyday. Lets make our own sandwiches etc. Lets make austerity the new buzz word.

Hoping all is well with you readers.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Daily thoughts

Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking in to the inside?

I read somewhere that if do not see yourself as part of society then you have a problem. I've never really seen myself as part of anything.

Human beings are apparently social animals. I think that must be true. Although as I get older I find social gatherings and even sometimes people in general to be hardwork. I feel that I have nothing in common with most people and cannot relate to them. But this cannot surely be true.

For example work relationships are odd ones. If you see the same person/people day in day out then they may become a close confident, someone to go to lunch with etc. But the reality is that work relationships are transient and superficial. The only thing you usually have in common is WORK. Yes, I accept there are exceptions.

Then there is the state of the economy. Cant trust politicians, banks the government/wall street. How do you beat the system? How do you stop working for the man? Is there a way out? I believe there is, but it requires independence of mind, determination and focus. Oh and possibly social isolation.

I'm not really sure where I am going with this post its just a reflection of what has been on my mind lately.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Job update

Well, the final integration stage at the firm will take place on 19th September 2008. The word is that "no decisions have been made yet" about my role. I am on one weeks notice so they could still get rid of me at short notice.

I will wait and see. I have made some enquiries about the market with agencies and it is all doom and gloom. The only gigs available are the ones that no one else wants out in the sticks and for crap money. I have no choice at the moment but to stick it out and see if they keep me on after the 19th September.

So I will wait and see.....

Welcome back Phil!

Hooray, my favourite blogger is back.

Yes, Phil from is back. He has been away for a few months figuring out some stuff. I look forward to reading your regular posts now Phil.

I remember when I left my permanent job back in 2006 I found Phil's site and it was a great source of comfort and inspiration.

Welcome back Phil.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Job market frustrations...

I am so frustrated with the job market.

I would really like a permanent role and I am fed up of temping.

The problem is that the market is flooded with newly qualified solicitors. There are no senior positions. The trend these days is for employers to hire cheap newly qualified people and just have one key figure head. Its supply and demand, there is an oversupply and as a result salary levels have dropped. Many recruiters I have spoken to agree with my take on the market - given the difficult economic times we are in more employers are turning to cheap labour such as junior lawyers or paralegals.

I am not going to take a derisory salary. That is why I am forced to keep temping. All of the roles which come onto the market are paying a salary of 30 - 40% less than I can earn temping.

I am sick and tired of this crap but I need to keep my earning level up as I need money for the escape.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

staying put...

We have decided not to put our home on the market.

In view of the poor market at the moment and the fact that I dont want to live in a rented property for the next few years we might as well stay put.

By selling I estimated that we would have an additional £800.00 per month approx in disposal income. That would be roughly one half of our present living expenses. More money for the escape fund.

But on a practical note - I dont want to rent for the next few years. Too many uncertainties, rents may rise, or we may have to move several times to find a desirable building. Noisy neighbours, student parties, rough part of the city and all that puts me off selling.

We might as well stay put until we are ready to escape. Or perhaps we need to keep this and use it as a base, given that the only place I wanted to escape to wont let us stay full time!

Back to the drawing board!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Escape to where....?

Having investigated the limited immigration options I cannot see a viable escape plan to North Amercia.

The visa options. There are no options. We are not skilled workes, we do not have family to sponser us, we have no prospect of getting sponsered by an employer (too many lawyers in north america already), we do not want to give away $500k for an investment visa.

The tourist visa - we can stay 3 months in the US or 6 months in Canada.

I wanted somewhere to put down roots, buy some land/a house live in a small town be part of a community. Because of stupid immigration rules the best that we will be able to do would be to buy a holiday home in North America. But how practical is that? Not very. I wouldnt be able to keep animals or keep my garden with having go back and forth all the time.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


We decided to have another go at selling our flat.

Last year we had it on the market for 6 months and dropped the price 3 times. Eventually we withdrew it from the market at the end of last year at the start of the credit crunch.

I've been feeling very antsy recently, I think we would have more flexibility if we sold the flat. I would have more peace of mind if we sold sooner rather than later. It would facilitate a smooth transition to the escape plan.

Had two estate agents round today, all doom and gloom. One made me feel really bad with stories about vultures trying to cash in on distressed sellers by offering tens of thousands less than the asking price. One story they told me was about someone who had taken 100k less than asking, another couple 60 k less....

I explained that we were not distressed sellers, we did not HAVE to sell now, but preferred to do so. I just want the damn equity from the place and I want OUT OF THE MORTGAGE. I want it gone. We can rent a place for HALF of what we are paying on the mortgage. All that extra money can be saved in readiness for the escape, not to mention the extra money we would gain on interest from putting the proceeds of sale in the bank.

I started to feel very stressed and I actually felt sick. Sometimes I wish we had never bought the flat. At the moment it seems like a huge obstacle blocking the escape. A giant money pit

Nothing is going right lately. Nothing at all.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Fed up

I'm fed up.

The escape seems such a big project, sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it.

I'm fed up of the office and I'm fed up of living in the city.

I'm fed of doing contract work. For the last two weeks i've had a chest infection. I am not well - what pisses me off is that if i dont work i dont get paid. Being the money grabbing person that I am I dont take time off, or much of it anyway.

Why do I have to be unconventional? Why cant I just be happy with my lot,

Yesterday I went to see a client in Yorkshire in the train. I saw a place that I had never heard of, very green, rural and less than 30 mins from the city. I told DH about and I started to get very excited. The cost of living would be a lot less than the city.

But, I dont know where I will be working in a few months time. Never mind what office, but what city? The liklihood is that I will have to work in another city, the market here is very tight at the moment.

I want to escape. Now.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Security is.....

I love this quote from

Security is ACTUALLY "The independence and ability to withstand change which is going to happen ANYWAY."

I couldn't have said it better. To put the quote into context vandweller opines that security is not found through the conventional working the job for 30 years and a big bank account. Rather, it is the ability to deal with and get through what life throws at you.

The quote sums up just how I feel at the moment.

Friday, 11 July 2008

I need to find a new job....

Today I had a meeting with my line manager at the firm.
He said that he had been told by the bosses that I wouldnt be required at the firm beyond September. He said that it wasnt his place to give me notice but he just thought I should be aware in case I wanted to make alternative arrangements.
I was slightly confused as this was all very vague. I appreciated the advance warning and guessed that I was probably on the way out anyway.
I tried to clarify exactly when he thought they would get rid of me and he said he didnt know, probably september some time.
Dilema. Do I stay put until they give me my one week's notice in september - or do I look for something else now? Aww, this is the part I hate about locum work - finding a new gig!

Friday, 4 July 2008

Why I keep a mortgage...

I have enough cash savings to pay off my mortgage and still have a bit left over.
But I wont.
Personal circumstances and lifestyle practicalities dictate that DH and I should not pay off the mortgage. Having the savings liquid (or semi liquid) fits in with our requirements.
Firstly I am a contractor, so I have zero job security. DH has a permanent job but it will never be the type of role that is a "job for life". If his employers want him out he is on one months notice. Yes, if he was dismissed unfairly he could file a claim for remedy in the court system but lets be realistic, owing to the principle of mitigation of loss he would not achieve that much more if his claim were successful.
There are so many uncertainties in life today. What if one of us is ill/cannot work/cannot find work etc, we need a financial cushion. We also like freedom to travel. Liquidity gives us freedom and more choices.
I think sometimes that the idea of paying off one's mortgage is overrated. Even if the mortgage is paid off, one still needs an income to pay bills/buy food etc.
I think it really does depend upon personal circumstances. We do not want our present home to be a permanent primary residence, therefore to throw all our cash savings at it now would be too restrictive. Yes the mortgage would be paid off, but in today's economic climate we may not be able to sell it at a time when we need to release the equity.
We plan to lead a semi nomadic lifestyle for the next several years so for us it suits us to keep the mortgage, at least until we sell, but that's another story....

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Taking control of finances....

It constantly amazes me how little attention people pay to money.
Perhaps I'm the odd one. I confess that I think about money a lot. Some people don't think about it at all. Some people don't plan at all.
I think that lack of organisation and financial chaos often go hand in hand.
I had the opportunity of discussing finances with a colleague recently. She confessed that she has lived in a constant financial mess. She also mentioned that she does not plan ahead with anything including finances and seems to be bouncing from one crisis to another. I really wanted to help her but I did not want to appear a know it all or appear overbearing. So I just said that I found that the best tactic was to set a budget, and to write things down.
When will people realise that it really is a case of "your money or your life"?

From two incomes to one.

In October 06 I left my permanent job.

I did not have another position to go to, nothing, nowhere. I hated my job. I felt that I was trapped and I realised that I would have to leave the job to move my life forward. My head said it was a bad move, my heart said I was desperate to go.

My colleagues thought that I was crazy to leave a job without having another job to go to.

I was able to leave my job because we were financially disciplined. We did not have any consumer debt, neither did we live an extravagant lifestyle. We don't have any children.

I was determined that my lack of a job would not mean that we had to use our savings. In short we learned to live off my husband's pay alone. It was a tremendous learning experience. It was not difficult. At that time I wondered then why we hadn't done it before. I thought of all the extra money we could have saved if we had done it before.

In January 07 I started contract work. I have never looked back. We still live on one pay check. As a result we are in the fortunate position that we save a large chunk of money every month.

Those few months of being unemployed were really worth it. Such a valuable life lesson was priceless.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Pay day

I got paid today.

I saved all of it save for £100.00 which I took out in cash.

The plan was to use this for shopping and other incidentals over the weekend and through the week. But I forgot it was a bankholiday, so it is not going to be enough depending on what we do.

Tomorrow night we could use some theatre vouchers we have to see a play for free. Before that we could go to the local wok fry place which does 2 courses for £7.00 before 7pm.

I will try and have a frugal weekend. I want my escape fund to grow.

Is any one else growing an escape fund?

Job security - or lack of...

There have been some developments at work lately.

I wont go into the details but suffice to say the changes have involved a business restructure. Although I have been at this gig for 7 months, I am a locum, self employed to all intents, the firm only have to give me one weeks notice to get rid of me.

Yesterday the firm made some noises about me joining them as a permanent employee. I am trying to weigh up the pros and cons. The pros are job security, certainty and no more worrying about what I will do when this gig ends. The downsides are a lot less money and the probability that I would have to work on cases in a very specialised employment field, I am not keen on doing this as I think it would decrease my marketability.

I also like getting paid weekly. Its great for cash flow and budgeting. I think I would hate to go back to monthly pay. Mmmm, I think I will try and put the decision off for as long as I can. I do know that I DO NOT want to go back to a long commute. I live in the city and this job is a 2 minute walk. Unless they give me an ultimatum, then I will have to think again!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Financial Independence

It is important to me to be financially independent.

I want to feel free and not obligated to an employer. Not obligated to do a certain job. Not obligated to earn a certain amount of money to support a certain lifestyle. Not obligated to keep up with the jones'. These days there is no such thing as job security. This is abundantly clear to me. I am reminded of this constantly on a daily basis as a result of my work. I am an employment lawyer. No such thing as a job for life any more with a company pension to retire on. You have to fund your own retirement.

I couldn't imagine working at an office job for the next 25 years, that's basically what my job is, an office job. Sometimes I feel trapped in a cage.
My husband and I have no debt. Our spending vices are foreign holidays.
Why do you want to be financially independent?

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Escape the rat race


Welcome to my blog - Escape the 9 - 5!

As this is my first post I thought I would introduce myself and explain the theme of my blog.

I am a thirty something female living in Britain. I work in the legal profession. I work as a locum. I think the equivalent in the US is a contracts or temporary attorney.

I am married, have no children and don't want any.

Why do I want to escape the 9 - 5? Simply, I want to escape the rat race and retire or semi retire early. Work dictates so many rules about the way we have to live our lives. I want to be free of this.

I started this blog to chart my journey to financial independence and hopefully my escape of the 9 - 5. It would also be nice to meet some like minded individuals along the way!