Stepping Off  


What You Get?

Free Consultation - if you are looking to improve your work/life balance then give us a call and see if we can help. 01931 716638

Book of the month

Book Review

 

 

Newsletter
Add | Remove

 In Association with Amazon.co.uk

 

Downshifting Stories and Experiences

Read many more stories of people who have downshifted plus hints and top tips of how you can improve your work/life balance in this new book -

Book Review

....................................................................................................................................................

Coming soon on ITV's This Morning Programme

Read the latest from Simon and Elizabeth's wonderful life in France.  If you are thinking of giving it all up to go and convert a tumbled down building then look no further than this story for inspiration - (and find a wonderful place to have a holiday)!

Simon and Elizabeth downshifted with their 4 children to France.

They are renovating this mill themselves!

Downshifting_Renovating the barn

 

Elizabeth and Simon downshifted to France....... Read their story and then look at what they have achieved - Le Grenier a Ble

Until 5 years ago my family lived in the UK.  We enjoyed a good standard of living but my husbands high-powered job required him to work two to three days a week some 200 miles away from home.  We tried to consolidate our family time into precious weekends to accommodate all four of our children.  Having spent another perfect family holiday in France we identified that we badly needed a fresh challenge yet one that would afford us a better quality of life.  Thus began the process of selling our much-loved family home, a sizable part of our possessions and finally emigrating to France.

Now we own a run-down water-mill in the Haute-Garonne with abundant potential.  Having tried in vain to find sensibly priced builders, yet never having built so much as a doll's house, we decided to renovate one of our barns ourselves (with paid advice from local artisans) and hope soon to have a luxury holiday home that will accommodate eight people.

Our downshifting has been a total success for all the family.  Our four children all speak fluent French and are in the mainstream education system.  My husband and I are able to spend much-valued time together and, as a bonus, are learning challenging new skills.

What do we miss?  Only a few non-essentials.  Reading the Daily Telegraph (although one can download via the computer, there's nothing like turning the pages), Indian takeaways, proper beer and Marmite!  Naturally we miss family and friends but we find that good friends travel.  Our life now is so much richer though not yet in the financial sense of the word.  

I live by the motto 'feel the fear and do it anyway!

 

....................................................................................................................................................

Read on if you love great chocolates....

Back in 1996 kindred spirits, Bob & Jane Cullen grew tired of the pressures caused by a senior job in the RAF, so decided to take control of their lives.  Their first venture into business was via a franchised French Cafe/Bakery operation  -  a great grounding for a couple with little commercial 'nouse'.  Six years on and once successful and established, they sold the franchise and after a few months of the good life, became 'proper' entrepreneurs by setting up 'Saunders' to manufacture, retail and wholesale fine handcrafted chocolates and truffles.  You can get the full story at www.saunderschocolates.co.uk.   

Bob & Jane still get a buzz from business and enjoy the freedoms it gives them and being control of their own lives  -  but caution those who aspire to that freedom to understand the changes they'll need to make.  Initially, any radical change in life-style needs effort and, at times, that effort will seem immense and daunting.  But effort and hard work can lead to success and be rewarding in ways other than just financial. 

A word of advice from Bob and Jane - If you're going to buy something the old adage 'locationX3' is the best advice you'll ever hear  -  ignore it at your peril!

.................................................................................................................................................. ..

The story of Maisonrose

Helen and Jane had already swapped their working lives and started up their

own successful business looking after people’s pets.   Although their life had

improved, the environment around them remained the same – an inner city

area that they found to be an inhospitable and aggressive environment -

road rage, cultural hatred, wanton damage and mindless abuse. 

They decided that they wanted to get away and lead a simpler life.  The

thought of renovating a house and starting a guesthouse seemed like a

good idea - only they decided on a property in France.  The project to find

the right premises and move took nearly two years and that was before they

started the renovation!

Their B&B is now up and running, doing well. The drop in income has been

difficult for them and Jane has occasionally come to the UK on short term

contracts to improve their cash flow.  This flexibility and adaptability is essential

when making a life swap, particularly in the early days when times can be hard.

Both Helen and Jane have worked hard to set up this business and although

the financial situation has sometimes meant they have had to take on work back

in the UK, they still feel that their standard and quality of living has improved and

they wouldn’t change the lives they have now for anything.

 

The best part of their new life according to Helen is ”that we are controlling our

own lives, it’s up to us how we go about things, the quality of how we do them,

when we take time off, motivation etc.  Where we live is so tranquil, the air is

very clean, the sound quality is a big issue, it is so quiet. We don't even have TV”.

She added – “We have never been happier”.

....................................................................................................................

Wendy and Simon  -

'The Augills'

A classic tale of crosshifting

Crosshifting_toAugill castle
Augill Castle

"When we met each other, I was a journalist for an evening newspaper but with a background in international hotel management, having worked in five star hotels all over the world, and Wendy was in human resources.

By the time we were married, we had taken the first of two leaps into the unknown together when we bought a share of a restaurant in Mayfair.  I put my writing career on the back burner and ran the restaurant full time while Wendy continued to work in recruitment.

"But by 1997, we had become ever more disillusioned with London life and in July we saw Augill Castle advertised for sale in Country Living and, on a whim, came to Cumbria to have a look.  Neither of us believed we were coming to look at our future, but we hadn't even reached the end of the drive before knowing that we could make our home here. And so, in September 1997, we made our second leap of faith and moved into Augill to embark on a project to breathe life into the once grand old house and open it up as a guest house.

"In restoring Augill Castle to something of its former glory we have used historically authentic colours throughout the house.  We have tried to furnish the rooms in sympathy with the period of the house without turning it into a museum; Augill, is after all a family home and the perfect place to remember Wendy's childhood in Africa.

"In 2001, having created our family with the addition of Oliver and Emily, we toyed with the idea of starting all over again back down south.  Putting the Castle on the market however made us realise how much we had achieved, and how much there was still to do!  So we stayed...

"Since then we have created new suites, renovated a cottage, and landscaped the grounds; we have been licensed for civil marriages, won Les Routiers B & B of the year, achieved five red diamonds by the AA and appeared in the Good Hotel Guide.  In the pipeline is a window restoration project and a tennis court...

"We can honestly say that moving from our jobs and lives in London was one of the best decisions we have ever made.  That's not to say the decision - or our lives here - have been easy!  The work has been hard, at times seemingly impossible.  But every achievement has been so satisfying. 

"Perhaps the only slightly better decision is the one we made to stay!"

.....................................................................................................................

Inger downshifted from the South to the West Country and ended up in New Zealand.

Look where she is living now!

Downshifting_to New Zealand

Inger downshifted from the south east to Devon, now she is about to do it all over again... 

I was well paid and too busy. I'd had enough of the fast pace in the south east and halved my salary to work in an environmentally sound role (renewable energy) and to move to the south west.
First I took a few months out to tour New Zealand including some voluntary work in 3 national parks - a superb experience.
When I returned, the period spent finding work, not knowing where I would be living, was the most stressful. I had decided to only look in the SW or NW - areas I already knew a little. The process took about 10 weeks during which I suffered from alopetia areata (bald patches), eczema and I couldn't sleep.
But I found a job in the SW and a great place to live. As soon as I started the new job, all these pressures and symptoms fell away.
The cut in salary has been very difficult to manage, but after a few months I managed to adjust all my spending to my new income and life settled down and calmed down.
Now I am ready to do it again, only big time - I have been offered my perfect job and job opportunity in New Zealand and will give up my newly found calm to start again in a remote part of that country, some 2 hours drive from the nearest supermarket!
I will be living only a few minutes walk from work and will be working in an area that fits my hopes and interests, re-discovered 3 years ago after working through a great book - Pathfinder (see bookshop on steppingoff.co.uk).
Good luck and get out of your comfort zone!
Inger
_________________
Just do it!

.....................................................................................................................

More downshifting stories from around the world.

 

Rural Web Design

© Stepping Off 2005