I think we all have these moments where we lie in bed, dreaming of a different life, something that would allow us to escape the current pressures and fears.
But only some of us actually do it.
Every now and then I get a facebook message, or an email. Sometimes it is even a mainland visitor, popping by with a list of questions on their mind, trying to see if they too could take the leap and make the shift in their lives like we did 3 years ago.
We spent years dreaming these dreams, wishing for something different, biding our time until we KNEW we could handle it, however it worked out. And then we made the change. We sold the house, quit the jobs, downsized the “stuff” and moved to an island for a fresh start and a different life.
So, here are my tips. If you dream of a different life, if it is starting to fill your soul, not just moments when you drift off. If you are ready to seriously look at making this change, this is what I think you should know.
1. It might not work out how you think
A plan is a great thing to have, but when you remove the foundation you have built for yourself and sell “your life” to start fresh somewhere else you need to be prepared to let go of the plan and allow things to adapt and adjust as they should. Being able to accept that our move may end up in “failure” was the biggest (and most difficult) step of the process. We spent a lot of time actually defining what we felt “failure” would be, the worst things that could happen, and how we felt about that.
Before you get swept away by the excitement of a move and all the shiny newness of a fresh start, go to the dark side and get a clear understanding of what would happen if it DOESN’T work out. What if you don’t like your new community? If you can’t handle the change? If your income changes, your relationship? What if the happiness you have been searching for doesn’t happen because of this move? What if you can’t afford it, and run out of money? Where will go you, what will you do?
And most importantly, what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve this happiness you are longing for?
2. Double your buffer
Because of question #1 my husband and I decided we wouldn’t make a permanent move to a new community until we were SURE we could afford it and we knew we loved it.
We rented a home, took our time exploring work opportunities and building businesses, and got to know our community. We waited a year before we purchased a home, and then had to wait another until we could move in.
All of this “waiting” cost money, and stretched our thin budget even thinner. Looking back we now realize that when starting over it is important to have a 2 year “buffer” of savings to fall back on. We started our new life with no jobs, no prospects and no idea if this was all going to work out, but that buffer gave us the time to build a stable foundation before panic set in and we had to react, vs build.
3. Stay focussed
It is so easy to get caught up in more! More space, bigger house, more stuff. Chasing after your dream life doesn’t mean living in a dream land. Before you make the leap decide what it is you are REALLY looking for. What bad habits cause you stress and need to be broken? What is the primary goal you want to achieve.
Keep this thought front and centre with every decision you make in your new life and eventually you will make it a good habit and a focal point of your world.
We wanted more time with our family. This meant we needed to work less, which meant spending less. We continually fight against our bad habits to maintain this goal and remind ourselves of the main reason we moved here. This one objective influenced the home we purchased, the jobs we built for ourselves and the activities and events we align ourselves with. Our number one priority is to have time with our family, and in this day and age, even living rurally, that is a HUGE challenge to maintain.
4. Be independent, but get advice from experts
Help will always be there when you need it, but when you make a drastic life change you need to do it on your own. Most people we talk to want to know how to get a job on the island so they can afford the lifestyle the want. The short answer is, you can’t. Don’t ever build a lifestyle AROUND a job. You will again find yourself trapped in a situation you may not like, and living a lifestyle that is all delicately balanced on something you have no control over.
And the reality is, when you move rural, there just AREN’T the job availabilities to cater to newcomers.
Build your life on what YOU can provide. Don’t rely on other people doing it for you. Tips and tricks are great, but walk into a fresh new experience holding the hand of your partner and then build your life from there. Remove the safety net, and you will make a huge step in actually STARTING over and not falling back on old experiences to save you.
And on the flip side, start asking the right questions of the right people. Advice based on logic, vs emotion can be a huge help as you build your new life. Come clean about your current situation and deal with all the dirty little secrets (and debts) that have piled up. Be transparent and honest WITH YOURSELF if you want to have a fresh start and make it work.
In the end, if you do make the move, don’t forget about the drastic change that occurred. Remember what life used to be like, and how far you have come. Appreciate your courage and strength to create a life for yourself.
We have been in our home for over a year now and I still stand back at look at it in awe. I can’t actually believe that all of this WORKED. I can’t believe that taking the leap and shedding our past led us to this life we built.
People ask us if we make the right decision all the time. If this is home now.
All I know is that every single home we had purchased in the past was done with a short term time frame. It was always a stepping stone to something else.
THIS home is the first time we feel like we are settled in place. We plant fruit and nut trees that take years to mature. I am planting a garden that I hope my children will get married in one day. We approach life here with a permanent view. We have no plans to leave, because we have found our home.
And we feel very fortunate for that. It took us 12 years of hard work and a lot of sacrifice to do this. There was no “luck” involved, just courage, risk and planning. We living frugally, we work hard and we have never been happier.
So, the question that remains is, are YOU ready?
The first step is to start asking question. What is your foundation like? What are your options? What can you change now to start preparing for a move and change of life?
Your home can be one of your greatest assets. It is often what we centre our life around, both in terms of expenses but also as a safe harbour to build a life. Selling our high valued city home is what gave us the option to move rural and start over.
The #RBCFirstHome chat happens monthly and has experts from all walks having a conversation online about the challenges and opportunities of home ownership. This is an amazing place to start the conversation and test the waters on relocating.
Problems are scarier when we don’t face them and tuck them under the rug. If you are feeling fear, perhaps it is time to turn the carpet back and start getting answers to the questions you are scared to ask.
I mean, whats the worst that can happen?
Join us on twitter, July 14th @ 8:30pmET under the hashtag #RBCFirstHome. Just by joining the conversation you have the chance to win 1 of 5 $100 gift cards and get your questions answered by RBC experts, including a lawyer, realtor, designer, home builders, and home mortgage experts.
And me 🙂
And then take a moment to enter the contest below for a chance to win 1 of 3 $100 visa gift cards!
Who knows, maybe this one conversation will change your life?
RBC First Home Pre-Party Promotion