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Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:59 pm
by thecornflake
This is a dilemma I've been mulling over for a while. Basic background - I work in I.T. in London and earn good money, my wife stays at home with the kids but does volunteering with St Johns Ambulance on some weekends. Our kids are 6 and 12. We privately rent a nice 4 bed semi in Essex and I commute to work daily.
I enjoy my job and dont mind the commute, but I also have the ideal of one day living in a much more rural setting, and being mostly self sufficient. I'd probably change from permanent work to contracting or consultancy to still bring in some money but also have more time at home. I'm also toying with the idea of maybe selling or storing most of our stuff and going on a long travelling experience either overland or in a boat.
In about 5 years time we'll be entirely debt free, the eldest will just be finishing secondary school and the youngest will have finished primary so it will be an ideal time to look at making a big change.

However something I've always been concerned about, especially if we spent an extended amount of time travelling or in a fairly remote location, would be the effeffecct on the kids. We want them to have the best opportunities to do what they choose with their lives, and more with the youngest if we were living an alternative lifestyle from modern life I worry they'll have trouble later on if they want to follow regular career paths. However the flip side is a more interesting life experience.

Does anyone else share similar concerns, or actually has made a similar change?

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:01 am
by Green Aura
I can't speak from personal experience really although we did move to live in one of the most remote parts of mainland UK. From our point of view it was the best thing we ever did. Incidentally my OH works in IT too and has a full-time job working remotely, from home. His company employs IT bods from all over - Philippines and Croatia spring to mind - so I think earning a living needn't be a worry.

As for the kids, looking at the kids who grow up in our village, they don't seem essentially different from kids anywhere else - with the exception that they spend a lot more of their time outdoors, which can't be a bad thing. Some leave to go for training, uni etc and some of those come back to start their own families. For the ones who choose not to leave work can be an issue. I think that highlights some of the problems for incomers, the few jobs usually to go to the locals' kids - they're used to looking after themselves and their own.

For me the biggest decision would be - could I give my kids more time more opportunities and that doesn't mean a new Playstation every year (or maybe it does?) and more experiences. You know your kids - would they relish those things or not?

So that probably wasn't much help. But it may have given you one or two things to add into the mix. :? :iconbiggrin:

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:56 am
by diggernotdreamer
I can only comment from what I see where I live. I am in NW Ireland, we are very rural here. I think remotely working in IT is probably the only job you could do that would support a lifestyle. The children here are very self contained, a lot of them do help out on farms, but there are still a lot that spend life indoors on their computers. The only problem young people would have here is finding work of their own. They go off to university and study to get the passes they want, come back home and find that there is no night life here and hardly any jobs, I know very qualified young people who work in the local shops part time. Most of them have to leave here to find a life of their own and earn money. The problem with the countryside is there is no infrastructure so companies looking to relocate usually do so in the bigger towns and cities, so we always get overlooked on the jobs front. There are pluses and minuses to this lifestyle. We have no traffic, the air is clean and there is plenty of outdoor space. I am just starting to get some help here, I am finding it very difficult to manage our half acre veg garden and polytunnels on my own, I have some workaways and wwoofers coming soon, so looking forward to welcoming some young and not so young volunteers to get stuck in. Out of interest, have you done any volunteering on farms etc?

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:11 pm
by niknik
totally agree with what´s been said so far, and from personal experience too, but not only did we move from city to rural, we also moved from UK to Spain. To a small village, with all the basic amenities, but no work for youngsters, once they grew up. They have all for various reasons returned to the UK, and making their lives there at present, but i believe they would still rather be over here.

Whatever you decide, the kids will probably at some stage find a way of throwing it back at you at some point, that by doing so, you ruined their lives, dragged them away from their friends etc etc.

We were forced to move, not necessarily to Spain, but would have had to move quite some distance in order to be able to survive, after an enforced early medical retirement. At least here we ( and then just I) were able to provide them with a decent life,new experiences, a 2nd language etc.

Unless you were to move to a deserted island with no mod cons whatsoever, and no other people, any move can only be enriching to the kids.
giving them new experiences , new friends and so on, and they will still be able to choose their own paths when the time comes, and be able to base that decision on a much wider spectrum of experience

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:57 pm
by thecornflake
Thanks for all the replies. It seems job prospects are definitely the key worry depending on location.

Personally I'd be happy living on a secluded island somewhere but the wife isn't quite into that sort of isolation and I doubt the kids would enjoy it for a long amount of time. I'm not sure if anyone saw Kevin McCloud's new program but the first episode was a family who literally do live on an island in a house they built themselves.

Our kids aren't spoilt at all (well compared to some) - they only just have tablets and even then they were cheap £30 ones. My eldest has an incredibly basic phone just for calling if she has any issues as she walks to school. So they're not completely cut off from modern life and don't feel left out compared to friends but they also have appreciation of the things they do have.

We now spend more money on experiences than material goods and it's actually made us happier as a family (we weren't unhappy anyway) - we go on days out a lot together and have recently started doing more craft type stuff at home.

The youngest loves just messing about outdoors, collecting sticks and things and making pictures with them etc, the eldest has a little of that but would rather curl up with a good book. We moved from Kent to Essex a few years ago and they had to make new friends etc, so far they've been ok and it hasn't been thrown back at us so we're fairly lucky there :)

In summary I think they'd be happy with travelling and even living somewhere much more basic for a while, but long term they would need to be more settled and be able to have friends etc.

The general plan that's forming at the moment is that if possibly at that key point where we're debt free, hopefully have some savings put away and the kids are at a good point education wise to go off for a year or so doing some travelling, possibly on a boat, by land or just by public transport, for the experience and then settle somewhere in a rural setting but hopefully with reasonable transport links so the kids aren't completely cut off from work opportunities.

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:34 pm
by boboff
I gave up work to be self sufficient.

But it was only me who really was into it.

The kids enjoyed some aspects, but the work side, and doing without they didn't.

In my experience the key is balance, work part time, travel for 6 weeks not a year, do it now, don't wait, do some WOOFing or whatever, dont burn bridges, the good life can be pretty lonely, nothing grows faster than a weed, with crops and food, there are always things allot hungrier, in need of your food, than you are. Gluts are boring, you cant live on Jam alone, everything you need to do the job properly costs a fortune, mainly because lots of people from London can chuck megga money at the good life, society is out to get you with rules, red tape, council laws, nosey neighbors.........BUT

Its not about the output of your life, it's about enjoying the throughput... Christ, that's profound! My advice, dont make plans for a utopia, just start today making your life a little bit more of one, one you will all enjoy.

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:55 am
by tosca
We moved to Bulgaria for our simpler, debt free life in our fifties. But we have no kids. We live in a poor rural village (though better than most) and there are people with kids doing the same. Pluses for kids have to be the outdoor lifestyle and freedom they have here, and learning a different language and culture. Minuses, well, most kids go home eventually, unless they have a hankering for the simple rural life. Most Bulgarian kids can't wait to leave for the city and other countries...and not just for benefits as some would have you believe. There is nothing for teenagers, they want what other's have in the cities. For this reason many Bulgarian villages are either empty, full of Roma who move in to empty villages, or populated by old folk. An extreme case maybe, but the misfortune of the Bulgarian rural life has given many Brits and other nationalities the chance to be more self sufficient and debt free, and given a lot of kids a freedom in an outdoor environment to grow and develop...but there is nothing for them later except maybe a remote IT job if they want to stay. Or building, there are a lot of ex-pat 'builders' here, many only starting through desperation when they find the 'simple' life is not what they want after all! Far too much like hard work when you can get money from desperate ex-pats who think it's fun to buy a ruin for pennies then find they can't do the work themselves.

There are plenty of other (mosty ex-comminist) countries similar.

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:43 pm
by ina
boboff wrote: everything you need to do the job properly costs a fortune, mainly because lots of people from London can chuck megga money at the good life,
Nod, nod. I always think you need to be quite well off to live the simple life... But that, of course, depends on what you call the simple life! I'd love to have a couple of sheep and goats, make all my own food and clothes, etc etc - but can't afford it. So it's just living without (fridge, tv, all sorts of gadgets, going out - and therefore, mostly, friends), and making do. For many this seems not a simple life, but plain boring.

Re: Choosing the simpler life with kids

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 4:02 pm
by happyhippy
Yes we too have been watching the new Kevin McCloud show.I think what I have gained from the show is this(And I do help out on a migration forum).Do you really have to move x amount of miles away to find your version of "Utopia"?The show this week featured a family who moved out in the sticks of Belize.Looked ideallic but.......I couldn't help thinking they could of brought a house relatively cheaply in rural Scotland (we did)or Wales or wherever.Ok they argued they wouldn't have the weather but in all honesty,they also stated it rained a lot where they lived!lol So far,in all the shows,the kids have said when they are older they will move away. I really don't think I could hack being 20 miles away from the nearest hospital,when I'm suffering from a venomous snakebite.(And yes I know all about that because Ive also lived in Australia for 30 yrs! ;) )
We lived rurally in Scotland when my kids were younger (Later moved back to England,dont ask!!!)and tbh,had we stayed there,the nearest college for 6th form was 50 miles away,uni even further.