E+E Column: An Alternative Way of Living

Like most people I know in their late twenties/early thirties, Dan and I are not homeowners, but rent our house from a landlord. Although we are not rolling in it, we’re not on the breadline either and our income could cover mortgage repayments without issue. Unfortunately, the sticking point for us, like thousands of other people in the same boat around the UK, is that of the deposit. Saving such a massive sum of money whilst paying high rent is although not impossible, definitely a lengthy process. Even when you factor in the 5% help-to-buy offers, for a house in Devon for a family of 5, that’s still a hefty chunk that you need to save.

So what’s the answer? Save for 5-10 years beore buying a house and being committed to another 40 years of repayments? Or rent forever, essentially giving someone else the best part of £10,000 every year? Both of those seem like pretty depressing options if you ask me. I’m guessing a lot of people agree because more and more people are starting to choose to live in non-traditional settings, be it boat, van, static caravan or yurt. And I can see why. The idea of being debt free and owning your own home, however small or quirky it may be, is incredibly appealing. Add in the factor of being close to nature and the hippy in me is convinced!

In fact, it probably won’t come as a surprise for you to learn that Dan, myself and the kids actually lived on a 31ft yacht for almost 3 years beore moving to Devon. We moved off for various reasons, partly because we weren’t sure where you could liveaboard down in the Southwest and partly because it just wasn’t the right boat for a family of 4 (although it worked fine when it was just the 3 of us). And while I quite enjoy having a washing machine, garden and bathroom, there are a lot of elements of the off grid/small home lifestyle that I miss. I miss not paying huge amounts of rent every month. I miss the minimalist lifestyle, uncluttered from masses of useless possessions, I miss the freedom of living on a floating home, knowing we could literally untie and sail off if the wind and whim took us.

So, I don’t think Dan was completely unprepared when I raised the subject of alternative living again recently. This time, inspired by a conservation at a party, I’ve been pondering the idea of living on land, in a van or static caravan. However, 5 years and 2 more children on, Dan isn’t quite as keen to dive in this time round. I don’t blame him, the fact that he works from home definitely presents a challenge. Nonetheless, I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to at least consider the possibilities and practicalities of scaling back and doing the off grid thing again. There is so much to be gained, not least, financial and physical freedom. Watch this space I guess…

26.04.16

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