Monday 6 January 2014

The Good Life

Leaving the day job, downsizing, frugal living in a new country, exchanging time for money – and actually enjoying it, where to begin? It’s a question we often get asked in one form or another. It’s also a difficult question to answer – what worked for us (so far) might not work for you and in some cases if you take the decision, you may find there is no way back. Few fifty year olds, for example, would find it easy to get back into mainstream work at the same level if the adventure didn’t work out.

Our attempts at frugal living began long before we took the plunge mainly because we had a mortgage to clear. We did the calculations and set about pouring all our resources into getting that money off our backs before we took the plunge. Interestingly enough the sums also suggested that there was no point in waiting to buy the French house – we would still have to find the same money – so although we were living frugally we bought the French house at the first opportunity. Luck played a significant part as well, the value of house prices rose significantly and interest rates were low throughout our ‘saving’ period. When we came to sell and downsize the UK house we obtained much more for it than our initial calculations had suggested.

But here is something else to think about – would you actually enjoy a frugal approach? We joke about being frugal for ‘frivol’. If we’re careful enough with the day to day frugality we can afford the odd ‘frivolous’ weekend in Paris or elsewhere.Anyway, if you are thinking about a similar adventure here is an idea you might find interesting.

There is a book – written I think in the 1960’s, by a guy called John Seymour. The book is called The New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency and it tells you everything you need to know about growing crops, preserving food, rearing animals for food, brewing, butter making, keeping bees, fishing, building sheds and fences, plumbing, care for tools etc – it is a gold mine of information.

So, here is the idea, if you are attracted to the simple practical life, buy the book and try a few of the ideas for fun. If you discover that it isn’t fun, then maybe a simple country life isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you find the ideas exciting and if you actually enjoy some of the tasks – then maybe you could make it work. John and the book by the way were the inspiration behind the BBC TV series ‘The Goode Life’.

You can get the book here:


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