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lagori

Making the leap - UK or EU?

Hi all,

First post, but have been a user of this forum under guest status for a while now whilst getting ready to move from rat race to not racing... I would love to hear the collective answer to the question - where would you go to make that change?

Longer synopsis - my wife and I are 30/31 and have decided that the standard pursuit of careers / money / stuff we don't need isn't driving us. I believe this pursuit is wholly unsustainable anyway (life for the majority in the debt fueled UK is going to look considerably bleaker after the next 5-10 years) and we’re both country folk originally so leaving London to return was always our objective. We've realized however how little real fulfillment our jobs give us, we want to start a family and really be much more focused on things in life that matter - care for self, care for the planet, community and creating a stable family environment.

We've spent about 18 months getting ourselves in order - removing debts (everything apart from the current mortgage) and have spent time getting new skill foundations - E.G. WWOOFing, I have accrued 2 Permaculture Design Certificates (I don't suggest for a second that the skills we have started to gain will make this easy but you need to start somewhere, right?).

We've really tried to rationalize our plan, deciding what we want out of this change and why we are doing it - not just jumping in two feet first . Examples are we want to enjoy our lives, have somewhere we want call 'home' for ourselves and children, be stimulated, healthy and more resilient rather than just relying on money for everything.
Our original plan was to move westwards so put our current home on the market. We've been lucky - the London (pretend) 'boom' has hopefully helped us accrue some equity, but even still to buy in this country comes with a substantial 'death loan' and we're now seriously considering further afield. I could come to terms with a mortgage of say 49% LTV, but in the UK the only option appears to be enslaved financially - that's where we and indeed my generation are now and it doesn't seem sensible to take the same approach moving forward.

So where next…wife used to be proficient in French and maybe could freelance in her current line of work remotely. We're realistically restricted to the EU given the lack of expatriating without immediate work - also it seems we could go to France et al without a mortgage around our necks. I know this is likely unique for someone our age which is why we are so keen to get the move right and make this an opportunity rather than continue to be part of the consumerist problem.
So where would you go? Would you stay nearer family and friends (who are all a little bit confused about us changing things so drastically) but likely compromise what you are trying to achieve or go further afield to do it, but knowing the huge challenge starting in a different culture entails.

We're not looking for an easy life, rather one that matters.

Long post - thanks for reading. Opinions, objections and questions appreciated.
gz

Welcome from Sunny (!) Scotland Very Happy
Hairyloon

Re: Making the leap - UK or EU?

Our original plan was to move westwards so put our current home on the market.

West is still dear, have you looked North?
vegplot

When Richard Branson bought Necker Island he offered $180,000- it was on sale for $6million and he was told to go away. Years later when no-one had made a better offer he got it (and by then he could more than afford it).

What I guess I'm trying to say is find the country or place you want live in then try your luck - you never know - rather than the other way around.

Welcome to the forum BTW.
Piggyphile

Welcome from Galicia (Northern Spain). We took the plunge 3 years ago and have no regrets, we love it here, property is very cheap here and it is very rural and they love kids.

For example a small farm 13 ha for under 200,000 euros
http://www.galiciavista.com/en/more-real-estate/67870/11780lug-farm-house-lugo-friol/ to
a house for renovation with an acre for 40,000 euros
http://www.galiciavista.com/en/more-real-estate/67836/21763ort-stone-house-coru%C3%B1a-ma241on/

You do need to know what you want to do though, land does need work to keep it in good condition and unemployment is very high so you need to arrange some kind of income. We did it in our late 40's and if I knew then what I knew now, my only change would be to sort out our finances better and make the change sooner.

In a perfect world I would have a small UK house I owned outright to rent out and live off of that income here as living is cheap, I would then take my time doing up the property here as money allowed. My husband had a remote working job when we moved here but that fell through after a few months and he has had to go back to the UK to work to pay our mortgage.
lagori

Re: Making the leap - UK or EU?

Our original plan was to move westwards so put our current home on the market.

West is still dear, have you looked North?

Hi, thanks. yes looked at north, Wales, Yorkshire a little - wife has some family around Stratford Upon Avon so a brief eye on surrounding counties. There does seem to be the odd property - 2/3 in a year across all locations that might work - but even then in most cases the mortgage would feel huge... this is the issue I suppose. Not that we can't do it in the UK, but doing it without being exposed to the even a small movement in interest rates (which I should think after May 2015 will start to rise to normalized levels) is difficult to say the least.
lagori

When Richard Branson bought Necker Island he offered $180,000- it was on sale for $6million and he was told to go away. Years later when no-one had made a better offer he got it (and by then he could more than afford it).

What I guess I'm trying to say is find the country or place you want live in then try your luck - you never know - rather than the other way around.

Welcome to the forum BTW.

Hi vegplot - will keep an eye out for islands! Seriously, thanks - its a good point. This would be notably easier if we were really pulled to location, but for now I'm hopeful that the objectives will lead us there.
Lorrainelovesplants

West still offers some bargains depending on what you want (and where). Treacodactyl

Re: Making the leap - UK or EU?

Not that we can't do it in the UK, but doing it without being exposed to the even a small movement in interest rates (which I should think after May 2015 will start to rise to normalized levels) is difficult to say the least.

You can fix your mortgage rate for as long as you want - you'll end up paying more to start but you'll not have any surprise.

It's hard to offer any advice without knowing more about you. How much cash would you have to spend on a house for example, what sort of jobs you do etc, etc.

One thing, I gather the majority of people who move abroad end up coming back, if that's the case I'd expect you'll be in a much worse situation financially so think it through very carefully.
VM

I think it is quite important to work out what is most important to you, maybe even do an exercise to rank these things, to help decide on the home/abroad thing.

We are a lot older - 53 and 61 - and just did a move from Manchester to Lincolnshire last year which involved a lot of compromise - just a village house with a big garden rather than the whole smallholding thing we might once have thought of - but seemed right for the time of life. We thought of France many years ago. Think partner was more attracted by adventure of somewhere new but then made other decisions such as adopting an older child (with ties to northern England), which changed things.

What we are going now is what it turned out I wanted - which is to be in England but in the country not the city - more than what partner wanted - which has its own difficulties.

I think underneath I've always known that I didn't want to be too far from mother, daughter, now grandchildren etc.

More than that perhaps I also realise now just how much I like rural England. I love France, Italy, other places for holidays, but I don't love them like I love here.

But you say that you don't have a strong pull to any one place. I thought I didn't, but now I'm here I love it with a passion - something about the act of choosing, I think.

So, do you want:

an adventure
a project
somewhere to put down roots
to keep options open (e.g. for coming back if go abroad)
somewhere suitable for a particular dream (breed pigs, build your own house, grow fruit, run a holiday house etc etc)?

and so on...

Good luck with it. I'm sure if we'd done this nearer your age (were only just together then, though) we'd have been somewhere different. But I like where I am now.
lagori

Re: Making the leap - UK or EU?

Not that we can't do it in the UK, but doing it without being exposed to the even a small movement in interest rates (which I should think after May 2015 will start to rise to normalized levels) is difficult to say the least.

You can fix your mortgage rate for as long as you want - you'll end up paying more to start but you'll not have any surprise.

It's hard to offer any advice without knowing more about you. How much cash would you have to spend on a house for example, what sort of jobs you do etc, etc.

One thing, I gather the majority of people who move abroad end up coming back, if that's the case I'd expect you'll be in a much worse situation financially so think it through very carefully.

Agreed - fixing is available, but not for any real length of time when you consider a mortgage is between 25-35 years now. The exposure to the change still exists, but it is of course deferred.

I would hope we could budget around £150k for either deposit here or outright purchase abroad. This should hopefully leave a bit to ensure we can set up and not need employment for 6-12 months. On the job front, we are overhauling - wife can freelance, but we would look to derive an income from the property if abroad. I know this is a well trodden path, but with much lower living costs (i.e just without the mortgage) this is not easy, but certainly easier. If we could similarly derive some sort of tourism lead income here that would be great, but the cost of obtaining a property suitable to do so would likely be prohibitive.

If we were to go abroad we would probably take the time to rent there for a short period to go some way towards mitigating the whole 'we hate it and need to come back' issue.
lagori

I think it is quite important to work out what is most important to you, maybe even do an exercise to rank these things, to help decide on the home/abroad thing.

We are a lot older - 53 and 61 - and just did a move from Manchester to Lincolnshire last year which involved a lot of compromise - just a village house with a big garden rather than the whole smallholding thing we might once have thought of - but seemed right for the time of life. We thought of France many years ago. Think partner was more attracted by adventure of somewhere new but then made other decisions such as adopting an older child (with ties to northern England), which changed things.

What we are going now is what it turned out I wanted - which is to be in England but in the country not the city - more than what partner wanted - which has its own difficulties.

I think underneath I've always known that I didn't want to be too far from mother, daughter, now grandchildren etc.

More than that perhaps I also realise now just how much I like rural England. I love France, Italy, other places for holidays, but I don't love them like I love here.

But you say that you don't have a strong pull to any one place. I thought I didn't, but now I'm here I love it with a passion - something about the act of choosing, I think.

So, do you want:

an adventure
a project
somewhere to put down roots
to keep options open (e.g. for coming back if go abroad)
somewhere suitable for a particular dream (breed pigs, build your own house, grow fruit, run a holiday house etc etc)?

and so on...

Good luck with it. I'm sure if we'd done this nearer your age (were only just together then, though) we'd have been somewhere different. But I like where I am now.

Thanks VM - pleased to hear you are in the right place.

I think there is a connection for us both to this green and pleasant landscape - its where we are both from. That said my generation are have some difficult decisions to make if they pay attention and I'm doing my best think ahead. For most the chance to make this move in the future even in the way you have will be very difficult. Whilst some may look on confused at what we are doing I think its important to do this before its out of reach. The alternative really does feel like a 70 hour work week, just to survive in suburbia, in the hope of reaching a retirement age somewhere around 70 and then I might be able to live on my own terms for a few years.

Sorry if that sounds a bit rant like - to answer your question I think we want all of what you have put down (maybe less the coming back option given we do want to be in a long term home). Wherever we end up its certainly going to be an adventure.
Treacodactyl

You can fix a mortgage in the UK for 10 or more years. Looking at your budget (including mortgage) you could buy a house and a few acres quite easily in the West if you've got a job.

Your occupation sounds more risky to me, could either of you not move your jobs in the UK?

When rates start rising and what happens after that could well have quite a severe impact on what people have to spend on holidaying in France for example.
wizz

Welcome..
I guess my view on this is coloured a little by our own experience. My own view is that children (when they come along) do change things... Even it you thought you'd planned for them to the nth degree... So if children are up there in the priority list, try to think about what might be important when they come along. Whilst we don't depend upon family and friends for childcare, having close family around/available does make a difference... If that's not going to be possible making sure that you are easily able to develop some good and dependable local friendships and networks will really help.
Ty Gwyn

I would envisage Stratford on Avon to be quite an expensive area compared to other area`s mentioned. lagori

You can fix a mortgage in the UK for 10 or more years. Looking at your budget (including mortgage) you could buy a house and a few acres quite easily in the West if you've got a job.

Your occupation sounds more risky to me, could either of you not move your jobs in the UK?

When rates start rising and what happens after that could well have quite a severe impact on what people have to spend on holidaying in France for example.

Fair point on the rates - although that doesn't change the issue of rates moving upwards. Likewise on the impact on others - although that said I think setting up somewhere that the bank aren't suddenly going to whip away if there isn't an income would be a positive.
My wife could potentially move her job yes, for me sadly that wouldn't be an option.
lagori

I would envisage Stratford on Avon to be quite an expensive area compared to other area`s mentioned.

Hi Ty Gwyn - yes it is! Although I've thought about anywhere running north of Dorset and along the Welsh border - all big mortgage territory that I have been able to see.

I really do feel awful that fewer and fewer people can afford to buy somewhere to live in the UK, despite working more and more... I saw today that home ownership in the UK is at its lowest level since the early 80's, just prior to the Thatcher sell off of council property, whilst halting further building of homes for the poor the proceeds.
So that worked then...
lagori

Welcome..
I guess my view on this is coloured a little by our own experience. My own view is that children (when they come along) do change things... Even it you thought you'd planned for them to the nth degree... So if children are up there in the priority list, try to think about what might be important when they come along. Whilst we don't depend upon family and friends for childcare, having close family around/available does make a difference... If that's not going to be possible making sure that you are easily able to develop some good and dependable local friendships and networks will really help.

Thanks wizz - agreed. Who knows what turns life will take, but making sure you have a strong community (family or otherwise) around you is definitely important to us.
VM

Sounds to me as if you could do with looking (virtually and for real) round the UK some more and thinking some more about the here / abroad thing. Despite the huge house price problem here there are parts of the country where you could buy house and space with the budget you have. Lincolnshire is still cheaper than lots of England, for instance, though not much like the south west! Going abroad will get you more land, perhaps more beauty or house of your dreams etc - and it really works for some people - quite a few people on here for instance. But it doesn't work for everyone and I guess you need to be fairly clear about it to have a good chance of it working out well. Shan

Depending where you go in Europe, you are likely to have better growing conditions than you will ever likely have in the UK. A warmer year is nothing to be sneezed at especially when one considers the cost of heating a house in the UK.

I would also make certain you look at aspects like taxation and health care.
Nick

Can you afford a few months to travel? Pack a rucksack, and throw a few darts in the map, and have an explode. You're young, with energy and £150,000 to spend. One day you'll need to worry about kids, and old age planning but today, just go and see. I think I'd look in France, Northern Spain, and Italy, but that's because of the food, the geography and previous trips. Maybe Greece, basket case that it is, is full of empty, cheap property with land, and you can work remotely.

Or, go east, Bulgaria is interesting. But, go and explore. Send us a postcard. Smile
Shan

Croatia is another interesting one with the added advantage of a lot of English being spoken. VM

Travelling for a bit would also give you an idea of how self-sufficient you are as a couple - I mean socially and emotionally. Moving to anywhere new and pursuing a plan that is different from those of family and friends around you means resilience, good humour and togetherness will be useful. lagori

Travelling for a bit would also give you an idea of how self-sufficient you are as a couple - I mean socially and emotionally. Moving to anywhere new and pursuing a plan that is different from those of family and friends around you means resilience, good humour and togetherness will be useful.

Thanks VM / all,

Agreed, maybe taking some time to travel a little and see if somewhere pulls us in would be good.
Behemoth

Having a family abroad throws a different dynamic into your future family history. If you have and raise kids in another country their ties are bound to be different to yours. If you are doing this for keeps your are immigrants and will have to integrate you and your family into the cu.lture you have chosen. Mr O

C A N A D A VM

Depending where you go in Europe, you are likely to have better growing conditions than you will ever likely have in the UK. A warmer year is nothing to be sneezed at especially when one considers the cost of heating a house in the UK.

That wouldn't apply to CANADA of course - though otherwise, yes, Mr O, I hear nice things about it!
Lorrainelovesplants

VM made a good point about sussing out how you can cope at being self sufficient. There is nothing like the strain of continual loss....we made a loss for nearly 5 years...the kids were most cross (us being a bit older), but it still had its trying times and arguments. numenius

Same budget

Hi, we are in a similar position with a similar budget and have got some land in Northern England and am right now starting a self-build. We managed to get enough land to at least be semi-self sufficient and I stepped down (it's "up" in life quality really) out of the rat race from a well paid but stressful job, to one which pays the least I've ever earned but I absolutely love, and which gives me far more free time to build our new home and work the ground. My wife's job, is one which she could take anywhere. We considered going overseas for many years, but it seemed like adding complication to the project by a factor of 1000 to be honest. For example, working out cheapest sources of building materials, etc etc is complicated enough in a country where we have always lived. Imagine trying to explain something like say a Tundish valve or a ewe with a prolapse in Spanish or French for example! Smile . We may not have the summers, but it seemed many times simpler to stay here. sean

Welcome aboard. Very Happy Nick

Work is forcing me to spend time abroad. I love it, but I can only scrape by in French. I have no other linguistic skills. But, across Benelux and Nordic, I've yet to hit anyone who doesn't speak English.

So, language might not always be a barrier.
wellington womble

I'd second the travel. Wish I had.

What about communities? I know of this one looking for new members

http://sunflowercohousing.org.uk/index.html
john of wessex

Domestic Facilities Management is from the West Coast of Scotland - near Ayr.

Houses with land can be quite cheap although the weather isn't that clement and in her opinion neither is the culture.

A friend has property in France - he says that the locals wont touch the sort of 'charming' rural properties you see advertised here so the real price of them is quite low by UK standards

Failing that Midsomer Norton/Radstock has quite a lot of miners cottages with big gardens
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