For several years now, I have wanted to leave the rat race. I have recognised that the traditional life path is not the best recipe for mental wellbeing and contentment. I work in academia. It involves continual targets, mountains of work, and cut-throat competition. Furthermore, temporary contracts are common increasing feelings of insecurity and stress. Nevertheless, it has taken two pivotal events to encourage me to finally take the first steps towards leaving the rat race.
Enough is enough
About three years ago, I had an especially excruciating interview for a lecturing job. After that, I vowed that I would work towards becoming financially independent as soon as possible. I have stayed steadfastly committed to this endeavour. This is no mean feat for a lover of expensive clothes and cocktails! Then came Covid-19.
Covid-19 has been a huge wake up call for many people. For some, depending on their perception of risk, it has been the first time that they have truly faced their mortality. For others, like me and Steve, it has been the realisation that we are living within a system in which we have little control. Therefore, we have decided to make lemonade out of lemons. Though financial freedom is still some distance away, we are starting to make small steps towards a more sustainable life outside of the rat race.
Our first steps
The things that have brought us real comfort during the Covid-19 crisis have been nature, animals, and planning for a better future. We have longed to move to the countryside for many years. Indeed, our ultimate goal is to have a smallholding to become self-sufficient (as far as is reasonably possible) and enjoy a different way of life. Other items on the wish list include a mini golf course, archery practice area, and full-size snooker table. But first things first!
Finding our green space
The Covid-19 restrictions have actually placed us in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to take the first steps towards our future dreams to leave the rat race. Like others, we have adapted to working from home effectively and are no longer tied to living close to the office. When we realised we could move to a more rural location and retain our jobs, we were overcome with excitement. Have you heard the saying “Dog with two tails”? We did, however, fall into the trap of looking too far and wide for our new home.
We both have an affinity with the coast and were keen to move to Devon for our “forever home”. It soon became obvious, however, that Devon would not be practical as we would need to make occasional trips to work. We also need to see our families regularly. In addition, we didn’t necessarily want this to be our final move. Therefore, we decided on the Forest of Dean as our target location. On reflection, this makes perfect sense. We love wandering through the woods, long canoe trips down the River Wye, and spotting Peregrine Falcons in Symonds Yat. Also, the Forest of Dean is really good value for money and there are numerous affordable houses with small plots of land.
While it may seem counter intuitive to house hunt during a pandemic, it worked in our favour as it encouraged us to view houses online first. This saved us from long and potentially fruitless journeys to unsuitable properties. We also found Google Maps to be a godsend as it enabled us to have a good look at surrounding areas and spot any obvious problems with potential properties such as quarries or noisy business nearby.
Click the link for more details on the potential pitfalls of buying a rural property