So, in case you are new here, let me fill you in. My husband and I are in our late twenties (…Ok, I’m only just in the twenties club still!) and our early thirties and recently we quit our life in the UK and bought a ruin in Greece. You can read about our ruin and our set up in Greece.
Our life in theUK was completely run-of- the-mill. We lived in a sprawling town in the South East of England that lacked any uniqueness or character (sorry friends and family that still live there!) and our lives were…well, pretty normal. Life consisted of eating, sleeping, watching a lot of pointless tv, wishing away the weekdays and cherishing the weekends.
Society had told us what ‘to be’ our whole lives and we were completely sucked in. We aspired to own the biggest house we could afford with the biggest mortgage we could get. Likewise, we bought whatever we wanted whenever we wanted because we were worth it, right? We needed to treat ourselves and make ourselves feel good. We needed ‘things’ because we were told we needed lots of things. To sum it up, we bought and consumed to our hearts content and were blissfully ignorant.
Why we couldn’t get a mortgage…
As I’ve said previously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to get a mortgage, however there was one dilemma. We couldn’t actually get one! The ‘dream’ was out of reach!
My wonderful husband (AKA Mr Sidestepping Normal) had taken a loan out for a so-called friend when he was younger, only to find himself left with the debt. Unable and unwilling to pay the debt off, his credit rating suffered dramatically. The banks looked upon him as a major risk and subsequently they wouldn’t even let us have a joint bank account!
The likeliness of getting a mortgage was slim, but nonetheless, we started researching how to improve his credit rating. Some reports stated that after 6 years his credit score would be wiped clean. On the contrary, we heard of people that still couldn’t get a mortgage after 10 years of trying to improve their credit rating. It seemed that even people with perfect credit ratings could be declined a mortgage due to trivial reasons. In hindsight, I am really pleased that we were forced to look at alternative options. We might be living a very different version of our lives otherwise.
We had to start thinking outside the box. The only other option was to permanently rent, which we didn’t feel was a credible option for the rest of our lives. The price of renting a little house in the South East of England is somewhere in the region of £1000 per month, which adds up to a lot of money long-term.
There was no defining moment that made us sit up and take a look at ourselves. It was a series of factors, combined with the prolonged mundane-ness of our lives that led us to wondering…could there be more to life than this?
Searching for something…
We found ourselves searching for something but we weren’t entirely sure what it was. What do we want from our lives? We started to dream of living differently, starting afresh somewhere new, going on an adventure. We wanted to quit our life in the UK.
I think in some way or another, the majority of people are searching or longing for something. They are trying to escape from life, whether it’s through watching tv, spending hours on social media or drinking alcohol. Most people have a personal method of escaping and ours became the dream of leaving everything behind.
A number of factors altered our thinking and we started to expand our knowledge. We read blogs on how people were becoming financially independent and were retiring early. Similarly, we started to learn about the environment, the food industry and animal welfare through watching documentaries on Netflix. Additionally, we attended a few screenings of environmental documentaries at a venue in our local city of Brighton. Above all, we observed society.
Avoiding the trap…
We saw our peers struggling to get mortgages or spending the majority of their hard earned wages on rent. Likewise, we saw people working for 30 plus years just to pay for the roof over their heads. The retirement age increased and lots of our friends and family were taking anti-depressants and struggling with anxiety. Sadly, we also saw people who had worked their whole lives dreaming of retirement, only to fall seriously ill or pass away before being able to enjoy it.
There seemed to be a cycle that society had become trapped in. Most people we knew had become financially shackled to their commitments (mortgage and rent being the major one) and were consequently exchanging their precious lives for money to pay for their lifestyles.
To make things worse, many people felt down and depressed. They tried to make themselves feel better through buying material possessions, but the joy was very short lived. Before long they felt the same and needed something new to fill the void.
The major flaw with buying material possessions is that they cost money, therefore even more time has to be spent working to pay for them. The vicious cycle perpetually continues whilst the material possessions gather dust or end up in landfill.
We felt as if we were swimming against the current, struggling to not be swept along with everyone else. Moreover, we felt that we shouldn’t feel so ungrateful for the very privileged lives we had been given.
Having travelled in India, we had witnessed first hand the poverty and terrible circumstances that people had to live in. What was wrong with us? We were so lucky, we had an abundance of food, a home, a loving family, fantastic friends, jobs and a certain future. Why would we consider giving that up for the unknown?
It’s human nature to want to conform and there’s a social pressure to stick within the boundaries. Doing something risky challenges the constraints that people have put on themselves. It started to dawn on us that questioning everything isn’t a bad thing, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to quit our life in the UK.
Where we are now…
Lets fast-forward just a few years. It’s been a scorching hot day and the intense heat is subsiding into a warm, balmy evening. I am sitting at a traditional taverna, a glass of Mythos in my hand, watching the sun set over the old town of Rethmno. A little white washed church lies in the foreground and beyond the sprawling city of Rethymno lies the mediterranean sea. There’s no doubt I’m in Greece with a view like this.
Having spent the winter-season working on our house, we can now start to enjoy the fruits of our labour. There are tomatoes, pepper, aubergines, garlic onions and beans in the veg patch and the garden is starting to bloom. Just a few minutes walk away, up the dirt-track, lies our tiny Greek stone ruin which we will be renovating this coming winter.Needless to say, we took the plunge and have exchanged our lives for something very different.
This blog is all about; why we quit our life in the UK, our new life in Greece, how we got here, our ideas, our thoughts on life, learning and creativity.
We can’t wait to share this with you as we continue on our journey…We are sidestepping normal.
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