Sunday, 16 January 2011

so far so good

Its been nearly six months since The Escape. That six months has flown by. Honestly, time did not pass so quickly when we were working the grind. The days just fly by here.

So how are we feeling? Well I have to say that I feel that there has been a vast improvement in my emotional health. It was really this aspect that was probably the biggest concern to me. I think that living in Manchester city centre was completely the wrong place for us to live. It simply wasn't congruent with who we are and what we needed out of life. We were there simply to earn money and that was it.

Photo - Afan Valley

I still don't know what we will do long term. Some days I think we might stay here, other days I don't know whether where we are living at the moment offers all we truly desire. Here we have mountains and coast on our doorstep. There are bike trails and hiking trails and of course the beach. Housing is relatively cheap to buy here. People are friendly. Life is just so much easier here, but perhaps a lot of that is not having to work. I don't want to portray this place as being perfect or idyllic because it isn't.

But there is something stopping me. Sometimes I feel that it is simply too early to think about putting down roots and that we should keep our options open. The other thing is that everywhere I have ever lived I have wanted to move on within a few years!

The other issue on my mind is self sufficiency. The rising cost of living is a concern. If you own your own "house" outright, grow your own food and perhaps even produce some of your own fuel then you can at least insulate yourself from inflation, peak oil etc. Cost of land in this country is prohibitive. So what about going abroad to do this?

Going abroad is such a huge decision. It is a huge decision to make because its got to be the right decision otherwise it is very complicated to undue. Since we are forced to focus on living in Europe one possible ideal location which springs to mind is Portugal.

I still want a little house with some land in the woods surrounded by trees. Rural Portugal offers some great bargains. Lets say we can buy some land with a building licence for 20k Euros. Somewhere where we can grow our own food, drink our own water, have a wood burning stove and burn our own wood from the forest. Somewhere where we can achieve some measure of self sufficiency. We could live there very cheaply, possibly on half of what we are living on at the moment. We could have a better quality of life, a "house" outright, space and some land. There would be money for weekend excursions down to the coast, long lazy lunches out etc.

But how much money would it take to make a semi ruin habitable? I suppose this could be a long discussion in itself. Could we do it for another 20 - 30k Euros on top of the price of the land? Is this realistic? We would need to get professional help in to do this.

I think it would be a mistake to view the self sufficient life as an "easy" life. Growing your own food and working your land etc is hardly "easy". The other thing you have to factor in is how would we fare when we are old? What support systems would be in place? I mean would you get to a point where you would be unable to grow food and chop wood? Patricia in recently reminded me that it takes a lot of hard work for her and her husband to sustain their current lifestyle. Would we be so keen or indeed able to swing an axe when we are in our 70's or 80's? I also wonder whether DH and I are really ready for rural Portugal?

There is also the concern of the recent economic troubles in Portugal. Portugal has been living beyond its means for sometime. I worry about high inflation of the sort that we have seen recently in Greece. I have been going to Greece for the last 10 years and I have seen a great increase in the cost of goods and services in that time.

And lets not forget the long hot summers. Could I or could we put up with the heat? How hot does it get? We dont really like the heat. Would we be enduring instead of living?

So I am on the look out for a sustainable living solution. I want a base, a home of my own. Being a travelling nomad does not interest me.

What say you? Speak your mind.


laura said...

It sounds like you're have similar thoughts to us. We have already ruled out rural Portugal because it's just not us. I know that I couldn't do the 'self sufficient' thing now, let alone in 20 years (sciatic nerve problems) so that is ruled out.

I want to be close to the city and the sea, so for us the Lisbon coast offers the best of both worlds. We could live cheaper elsewhere but it's important, if you're going to do the whole move abroad/life change thing to actually do what you want to do or whats the point!

Is your option not to rent somewhere for 12 months and see how it is..heat etc....that's exactly what we're going to do.

Keeping our house in the UK and
renting it out keeps our options open.

I'm glad that you're feeling a lot better emotionally, I'd say it took me at least 6 months to lift the fog and another 6 to feel fully recovered; the place I was in, is one that I never want to re-visit!

Anyway to end this really long comment...good luck reaching a decision, I know exactly what you're going through :)

Quest said...

I'm happy for you Dreamer in that you are feeling better within yourself :) On this end, we will be early retirees in 5 years time. We plan to have our house paid for when retirement becomes a reality so that we can be nomads all over the world yet still come back to a home base. I would love to have a house along the SoCal coast but the cost of that will be prohibitive unless we come into serious money. Our original plan was to sell the house and move into an RV for a decade or so but, honestly, the cost of gasoline to run such a vehicle may be way too expensive to make that a cheaper alternative lifestyle after all. I guess it comes down to what is the most important thing to YOU. What do you want? Renting may be a good option because then you can try out different areas in the UK until you find the area/s you like best. Sorry, I'm not much help because I too have lots of questions that haven't been answered yet LOL

Mike said...


Just found your blog and thought I'd comment...

Your thinking along the same lines as me and my partner have for about 10 years now.

Although my situation is far from yours (I work on an apple orchard for a low wage, and I have no money behind me) I have the same goals as you in that I'd like a house in the sticks somewhere peaceful.

I'd like to be able to grow my own produce and have a few animals, and basically to be left alone.

I am kind of living that lifestyle now where I live in a caravan on the apple orchard, I grow some of my own veg, and I can tell you that it is a hard life, but it's enjoyable because I get left alone most of the time and can socialise with the people i want, when I want.

Although it would be a little easy if I had my own house, this isn't going to happen anytime soon.

So I continue on the way I am, learning as many skills as possible, hoping that one day an opportunity crops up that allows me to live the way I want.

Yes it will be hard, but then you find out much more about yourself when you have to battle for things - if life is too easy you become soft.

I fear that the future will not be so great for the general population, everything seems to be coming to a head - it's best to learn as many skills as you can now ... an equaliser is on the horizon, everything will be evened out, but there will be a lot of turmoil along the way.

Eventually I feel that everyone will be on a more even level, this is when things will be easier but until then, learn and grow strong.

I don't think anyone can make long term decisions at the moment because of the change going on right now - it's better to make short term decisions, enjoy yourself, and see where you are in a few years.

Sorry if this doesn't help, but it's just my thoughts!

Jerry Critter said...

My advice? Take your time. The bigger the change, the more time before making the change. Do it in small steps if possible, they are easier to change later. You cannot anticipate everything so don't try. The unknown is part of the adventure, and part of the problem.

Enough platitudes? I think so. However, there is an element of truth is each one.

But remember, have fun and don't get so bogged down in the details that you don't do anything.

Salis Grano said...

A balanced assessment of your options and the pros and cons, I think. A couple of things you might want to consider:

since you are someone who recognises that you are liable to change, you should never burn your boats and, if you move abroad, make sure you have a way back;

you are going to have to think about exchange rates and hedging in order to preserve your income.

No one knows what the future of the Euro will be. A lot of ex-pats got burned recently by leaving all their capital in the UK. Equally, the reverse situation could occur, especially if the Euro disintegrates. Long term, therefore, you may want to keep money both at home and abroad in order to minimise currency and inflation risk.

Rick and Pat said...

Hi. Im sure that all these comments advising you to take your time, to keep your options open and a place in the uk etc are well meant, and for some people that is the only way they could deal with the uncertaintity. But for us, it just wasnt an option, we are really 'feet first' people. We sold everything to do this, (we researched for two years first though) Because we knew it wouldnt be easy, we made damn sure there was nothing to go back for, it was survive in our chosen life or go under... no going back.. Sometimes its all too easy to give up and go home if you can, and not stand and fight for what you want...
Yes its not an easy life in the physical sense, but its a joy to wake up to most mornings. Of course I at times worry how we'll cope when old age hits.. but we are trying to organise and plan for that, to much to list for here. My advice is to go for it! Or you run the risk of spending your life wondering what might have been if youd done it... or spending your days planning something that you'll never do...
I offered before and I do it again now... we take volunteers... come in the spring... I need help with the planting...
Best wishes

Shenk said...

I also have some advice. Check out the Oregon or Washington coast. If you don't mind rain, and a cold disposition, it's heaven.

sam said...

We live on a small holding in central Portugal and work part time for a company selling ruins in central Portugal. Property is still exceptionally good value but you need to be sure it is the right thing to do. A few years ago a property here would have been at least an investment if things didn´t work out but who could have foreseen the banking crash and recession....
If you are sure a move is the right thing, do it or perhaps you never will. Otherwise rent of have a few holidays. It is hard work but being as self reliant as possible is the most rewarding feeling and keeps us both sane and healthy. Good luck.

Dreamer said...

Laura, your are right that it is not all just about living somewhere because it is cheap, you hae to want to live there too. With us we do want to be away from the city, rural portugal does speak to us in that we could have our cottage with a garden surrounded by trees and that is what we really desire. I still think this may be possible without beng too far from the coast. Renting is not a bad idea, but I think it only takes you so far. For me I need my home comforts like a comfy bed and sofa to sit on (I've got a bad back), I have found those difficult to come by in rented properties! But thats just me:) You are so right about the fog too, it does take a good six months.

Quest, having a home base to travel from is a great idea, at least then you have somewhere to come back too. Shame about the RV thing but I can understand where you are coming from about the cost of fuel etc.

Hello Mike, thanks so much for your comment. You have got a very interesting blog there, keep writing. Well, its been a long hard slog to get to this point, I've hated it for years, but for me I just couldnt think of any other short cuts to get the money together, I suppose I just sucked it up as they say and looked at the bigget picture, very difficult to do though. I agree that there will be big changes coming for the majority, this is why I am keen to find a sustainable living solution. The present system only works for the likes of Sir Hector fat cat.

Jerry, I always do this analyse and over think everything, I think a lot of it has to do with my former job. My nature is slightly pessimistic.

Salis, yep long term I dont hold out much hope for the Euro. I hope to move away from reliance on money, so even if there is currency turmoil we can insulate ourselves by having a paid for house, growing some food, solar panels etc.

Pat, completely understand where you are coming from. Its like I said to Jerry above, I am naturally risk adverse and perhaps even perssimistic. Every move is reserached, over thought and plotted and analysed, probably a lot of it is due to the job I used to do. We definately want to get over and see you and Rik sometime in the near future.

Shenk, ahh that area would be perfect for us but we are not allowed to live in the US re immigration restrictions.

Sam, I would be interested to find out how much buildng costs would be etc to achieve something habitable on a ruin, e mail me if you can, be good to chat.

Tony said...

Good on you! You are discovering what you really want. Agree with Laura that you don't need to go in at the deep end - keep your options open - rented accommodation is widely available. You could rent somewhere in the boondocks for relatively little in Portugal. Language will be a major issue. One advantage of Philippines (where I'm writing this from) is that it's the third largest English speaking country in the world - no language problems at all. I'm not saying you should move here, just be prepared for dealing with another language! If you do make the move I expect dealing with red tape will be your other major headache. Good luck with whichever way you go - I'm following with interest to see what happens! :)

Alice said...

hi dreamer... sorry for my delayed comment. I did read your post a while back and wanted to comment but something else took me away!

Essentially you know that I 'hear' you ... everything you say is pretty much where we are at :-) And I totally agree with Pat. Sometimes we can spend too much time thinking about it - sometimes we just have to jump right in. She gave me the same advice when we were last leaving Portugal... sometimes I wish I had listened ;-) although that's not strictly true because we have had amazing benefits of coming back to the UK... but now we're so ready to go again. It's taken this long to digest everything we learned out there - now we feel ready. So in some ways, yes be cautious and think about everything you are learning, but in others - don't be afraid to jump in. Personally I see self-reliance as the only true way to be free. Free from being moulded by greater forces, free to LIVE and free from the way the world is undoubtedly going. Of course it is hard and we have been thinking a lot about just how hard... living on the boat is hard, but out in Portugal we think will be even harder. BUT, when faced with the options - for us there is no contest.

I really truly (and you know I have said this to you loads) think you should go and spend a few weeks volunteering. It is the only way to truly experience the life, talk to the people doing it, learn and see if it's for you.

Hey, if you end up in Portugal - we might be neighbours ;-) xxx

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to hearing more about your transition!

sunny said...

Portugal sounds great,went there once, bravo for escaping the 9 - 5. said...

I too achieved financial indpendence and my wife and I decided to downsize. Our primary residence is in AZ close to the Mexican border.

The house is on 1/4 acre with rooms for chickens, rabbits, and a garden. I bought it with that in mind in case it comes to that.

The house is 1600 sqft about 160 sqmt with a detached one car garage and studio. But we downsized from 3800 sqft on 1/3 acre of manicured grass and a pool!

Our payment (PITI) here is $500 a month and houses can be had around here for less tha $100k, way less if you're OK with less sqft.

We deicded to stay in the area to be close to my wife's family and friends. We would be happy anywhere, I think, just as long as we were together.

Summer's are hot here! And I guess the US is not an option for you. In your case I think I would look for a piece of land where I could put a manufactured home -- easy to do in the US not sure about where you are.

The thing is, I would recommend you find your spot as soon as you can so you can begin to invest in your future by way of owning your primary residence. Moving is expensive!

Dreamer said...

Alice thanks and yes I agree about volunteering its just that now is not the right time, I dont want to have to keep to someone else's clock if that makes sense at the moment, I just need to be able to come and go on my own terms for a while. It would be great to be neighbours :)

TMG, yes the US is not an option for us, and you are right moving is expensive, but it is less so than buying and comitting to a place and finding out it is the wrong place to be 12 months down the line.

Lola said...

Your blog is so inspirational. I found the same emotional improvement when I left the rat race too. I'm documenting my happiness journey here: -Lola