Seven months ago it was one of those usual nights after work: a heavy day in the office needed some medicinal vino to wash away the stresses and talk about tomorrow’s tomorrow dreams. Nothing unusual, or so I had thought. “Let’s move to Bali”, my husband, Callum, blurted out in a tone which was too determined to be a suggestion. Out-the blue. Totally crazy. And yet…
We’d just moved to a bigger place with the plan that we’d have more space for our hobbies and passion projects, but something was wrong. A few months in and we’d not finished unpacking. We loved London and our jobs, but life was…busy and we were both exhausted. What’s more, Callum’s health conditions were declining alarmingly fast.
We’d been stuck in a loop for some time: working hard to save money, but then spending it on massive rents, commuting costs, ever-rising bills, and compensating for our lack of time and energy with lattes, takeaways, cleaning bills and eating out. Whatever we did, it seemed to end up back at square one, just about treading water and still only talking about the things we’d like to do. Our big dream of buying a home (read: houseboat) seemed a million miles away. We were just another pair of broke millennials.
Over the following weeks, Callum’s earlier proposition about Bali didn’t seem so crazy. Maybe it was time to make a leap.
Before we knew it, we’d handed in our notices, talked our way out of our tenancy contract, sold our belongings and put the rest in storage. Not Bali, but the foothills of the Alps in the south of France was to be our home for at least the next
three, six, nine months. Somewhere quiet, beautiful and cheaper to live, where we could spend time together, rest and recuperate, and work remotely, while also exploring our maker passions and planning our next steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
Four months into our make-ation and these are some of the obvious, and maybe not-so-obvious, benefits we’ve enjoyed so far:
1.Investment in yourself (and passion projects)
Pure indulgent time to focus on developing ideas, progressing projects and learning new skills. Faster progress, faster rewards and better conversations!
2.Investment in others
Never had time to do as much as you wanted for someone else? Now’s the time you can share, support, connect and give to others. No regrets.
3.The luxury of failure
Instead of wasting a sacrosanct weekend on ‘trying something out’ and fucking it up, you can, without guilt, make mistakes, experiment and be more ambitious. Some mistakes are surprisingly good!
I once read the following top tip for struggling creative writers: ‘If you don’t know what to write about, go do something interesting’. Change opens up the mind and can lead to new ideas and ways of thinking.
5.Better decision making
It’s easier to see the wood for the trees when you’re not in a rush. All your energy can be focused on making better decisions. Projects are better prioritised, problems are better solved, plans are better made, money better spent.
‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’ is one of the top regrets of dying people, (source). I like to interpret this as
play make more, work less. Life is short if you’re willing yourself from weekend to weekend, but if you’re spending more time doing the things you love with the people you love, then perhaps life feels a little longer.
7.Appreciating the little things
Slow life down and all the wonder you’d had as a child will come back. There’s time to appreciate that view, those flowers, the taste of that coffee, or the thought in that email.
Sleep depravation, stress and anxiety, poor air quality and bad diet are enemies to all of us, but even more so if you have a pre-existing condition. My skin has never looked better and Callum looks ten years younger since we got here. Nuff said.
This is kind of an oddball in that to take time out, you need to spend your savings…but hear me out. In living more frugally, you reset your zero, reprioritising the meaning of money, and creating habits that are more eco and money conscious for the long-term. To get away, we had to put our things in order, look long and hard at our debt and sell off a lot of stuff, including clutter.