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Penny Outskirts

Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 23385
Location: Planet, not on the....
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 06 7:38 pm    Post subject: Welcome - Introduce Yourself Reply with quote

Hello all,

I'm Penny, married to Steve with three offspring 17,14 and 11. Eldest one mine, younger two, OH's.

We have a t-shirt printing business in Cheltenham, and it's our intention to build it up over the next few years, with the intention of Downsizing abroad in the future. The timing of said future is somewhat governed by firstly the needs of the children, (although youngest would probably be happy to come with us), and secondly by making the business secure enough for us to leave it running here and be managed from wherever we end up!

Our original chice was Spain, as my eldest sister already lives there, but property prices are so high there now, it's becoming difficult. More recently, having chatted to Pricey, and seen how beautiful it is, we are looking at Portugal too. We would be quite happy (as soon as funds allow) to buy a property before we are ready to completely up sticks.

When we move, we intend to live as self-sufficiently as possible. My OH is very keen on off-grid utilities, and is very handy too, (he can do most things). We live miles away from anywhere now (as Pricey can tell you!), and are much happier without neighbours too close.

We are practising now by growing our own vegetables, making much of our own food, but as we live in rented accomodation, there is not much we can do about off grid utilities at the moment.

Anyway that's us.


Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Central Portugal
PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 06 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi everyone

brief intro from me: i'm sophie, married to andy, and between us we have 4 children, 3 of whom (aged 16, 15 & 12) live with us and are all home-educated.

we ended up in portugal through chance rather than choice - 4yrs ago we spent some time travelling through france, spain and portugal in a campervan and never actually made it back to the uk!

we live on a beautiful little farm of 2 hectares - www.pureportugal.co.uk/abelhas - trying to be as self-sufficient as possible whilst renovating our old house (shed!) and doing a lot of computer work trying to earn enough money to be able to continue living here.

we are members of pure portugal - www.pureportugal.co.uk - a co-operative business advertising holidays and property in central portugal.

and we have just started on a new website - www.centralportugal.com - an online info service for 'expat' residents and foreign visitors in central portugal.


Joined: 01 Jul 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Urbino - Le Marche - Italy
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 06 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Giulia from Urbino, Italy.
Well, actually I live 6 months a year in an organic farm near Urbino and 6 months in Madrid.
My parents started growing organic in 1983 and in 1999 we opened a country inn called Locanda della Valle Nuova. We installed solar collectors and a high output wood-stove for hot water and heating and we serve 80% organic food (most of it home grown/produced). We also make lots of preserves, liqueurs etc. and this summer I hope to try some of the recipes I read on this site!
In Madrid I strongly miss the good and natural food from the farm but 2 years ago we joined a group that buys directly from the producers (most of them organic) so life is much better now!
Hope to see some of you Italy/Spain based (and other) fellow downsizers sometimes!

Downsizer Moderator

Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25726
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 06 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evening all, I'm TD and currently living in Surrey, England but in the process of trying to decide where to move to. House is not important but we would love a decent amount of land. Currently looking at the SW of England, SW Ireland and France.

I'm not sure what I can add but it will be great hearing from some people who've moved, are about to or are thinking about it.


Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Posts: 6444

PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 06 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi , I'm Steve(3 & my beautiful wife is Rita(26), We have 2 girls, Jessica(2.5) & Rebecca (1 next week), I also have a daughter from another marriage, Ashlee(9),

I am English, although I have spent at least 12 years living in different parts of the world.
Rita is Portuguese ( Madeira ) and has lived in Guernsey and England for the last 8 years.

We currently live & work on a big holiday park in the new forest. It has been my dream since I was young to have my own little smallholding or what ever you choose to call it. So about 18 months ago, we were in what we thought was a comfortable financial position to start looking. Well that was a eye opener, and we soon discovered that what we wanted here, we could not afford.

So thinking caps on, Rita wanted to go to a country she could speak the lingo,(she is very shy, and needs to understand what is going on)so we started to look at Portugal.1 Hour later I had found Sophie's site, found Fontainhas new it was for me, but there was 1 draw back, the wife, she liked some other places. So we put together a list of 13 I think it was, I took Alberto my brother in law & we went to Meet Sophie.

Two weeks later we went back to pay the deposit, 2 days after getting back Rita had Rebecca, and my wife finally saw her new barn in November. She is very trusting.

So we are the owners of a 240 mt sq barn with sheep in at the mo, 6 acres of land, with fruit and olive tree's every were, to many to mention, a wine cellar-well small house, vines to make 1500ltrs of red wine, 4 natural springs.

We are going to try and be as self sufficient as possible, with a goal of being 90% within 5-7 years, and everyone is more than welcome to come and see us.

So let's not bore you any more and let someone else have a go.



Joined: 23 Sep 2005
Posts: 187
Location: Brittany, France
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 06 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi everyone!

I've been out of the UK for nearly 11 years and it is becoming a bit of a foreign country to me these days! We live in Brittany after living first in the Netherlands and then in the French dept of Ain near to Geneva. We are my OH and me and two cats.

Finally have the huge garden I have always dreamed of (1 hectare) with a lake, woodland, orchard and huge veggie patch which we spent 3 months digging last winter! We are still working on 'renovating' our land. Never mind the house! Actually the house is habitable just needs some major redecoration but is far less important than what is going on outside.

Oh and I've got 3 hens who are pets with names! Hoping to get a horse in the not too distant future but in search of suitable land at the moment.

I love wildlife and bird watching, gardening (edible and not), cooking and learning (through my mistakes) jam and chutney making.


Joined: 08 Mar 2005
Posts: 1139
Location: Jauche, Duchy of Brabant (Bourgogne-ci) and Charolles, Duchy of Burgundy (Bourgogne-ça)
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 06 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Tom.
I was brought up in Bolton but lived in London too long before getting a job in Brussels nine years ago.

Terri is Irish (Tipperary) and was an Oncology sister in Cambridge before I recued her and dragged her out here.

We have three children (7, 5 and 2) who were born here.

We moved to Jauche to our own house in December '02, having previously rented closer in. The house needed a bit of 'refreshing', which has taken me too long, so the 18 ares of garden has not been developed as much as I would like. My area is a 7 are plot accessed through a gate at the bottom of the garden. All I have done so far is cut back the trees and plant fruit - there is still much to do. Some pictures are available on my blog - see the www link below.

Unfortunately, I still have loads to do on the house. We want to generate a bit of income from a chambre d'hôte (which will mean converting the playroom into a sixth bedroom), and we also plan to teach English.

Just Jane

Joined: 16 Mar 2006
Posts: 140
Location: France
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 06 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Jane, I live in the Ain region of France and work just across the border in Geneva. Have been here for nearly 5 years and moved into a new house with decent sized (but not huge) garden 18 months ago - last summer was spent trying to define the potager, soft fruit area and (unsuccessfully) do battle with the weeds. Have also planted fruit trees which I hope to train into a hedge.
My aim is ultimately to be as self sufficient in fruit and veg as possible (and eventually I'd like a couple of hens although thats not practical at the moment with bird flu and the state of the garden). I try to prepare as much food as possible from scratch and am also interested in crafts such as knitting & sewing

Just Jane


Joined: 30 Mar 2006
Posts: 27
Location: Limousin, France
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 06 11:25 am    Post subject: Welcome Reply with quote

Hi folks,

We have been living in France for over a year now. We live in the Limousin, quite high up in the Ambazac Mountains. Its a very rural area, the village being pretty much the same as it was a 100 years ago. The village has 9 residents, three of them being English (us) and only one woman living in the village!!
We have bought a very run down property with a very large garden. Enabling us to start living the sort of life we have only ever dreamed of. The renovations on the house are going well as are the plans for the gardens. We are planning to re-roof the house later on in the year using 'recycled tyre slates' and are also planning to start using solar power. We have been using a 'dry compost loo' for about 9 months and it works very well.
There is so much happening here but I don't want to take up anymore of your time.
This is an excellent forum!!


Geof (Merlinn)


Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 6968

PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 06 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, we are Ian and Luis - new to downsizer but excited by what it's all about. We are in the fortunate position to be relocating to Asturias in Northern Spain in a couple of weeks time. We spent two years looking for the right area and house. Bought the house last February (05) and love it more and more everytime we visit. Luis is originally from Castille in Spain so that has helped greatly with the buying process and relocation. I am learning spanish (slowly). Originally planned to relocate in 10 years time but as I am fast approaching the big 50 - thought why not do it now whilst I can still dig.......

The house is new (looked for an older property but had tremendous difficulty with planners etc) with land of 1500sqm. We hope to build a workshop and self-contained holiday let on the land and grow fruit and veg. The house is situated in a quiet village near Ribadesella and is half a kilometre from the coast and 10k from the Picos Mountains. Looking to eventually buy another property and more land if possible - occupy ourselves by pursuing hobbies (recaning and rush work chairs, various traditional crafts, walking, yoga, exploring Spain and Portugal and chilling out. Currently building a website about our move for family and friends. Hope to get to know you all better over the coming months and years.


Joined: 01 Jan 2005
Posts: 1110
Location: Bourrou South West France
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 06 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello folks,

I'm Irene who lives with Fabrice ( a real Frenchie!) and we've a small farm raising Angora goats and sheep with pigs, chickens and a variety of livestock.

I'm Scottish, but lived in London for 18 years, and I've been here in Soth West France for 15 years - and I'm not moving again because I'm never going to grow out of my French garden!

I'm a mad keen gardener, love keeping animals and making things, living off the land and experimenting with renewable energy projects. I also teach at an agricultural college, run courses here and this year I'm doing a full-time course myself in "Green Tourism".

Here are some pics of our projects, just click on the subject which interests you:


Irene x


PostPosted: Sun May 07, 06 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in April 2005 I registered with the "creative living for the 21st century" webste https://mrsl.forumsplace.com which I had discovered thanks to "River Cottage" https://forum.rivercottage.net , and this in turn led me to "downsizer". This is what I wrote as my introduction:

<<<When I look back and see that I bought John Seymour's "Self Sufficiency" when it first came out, it makes me realise that the desire to do something along those lines has been with me for quite some time and that I, like many others no doubt, have instead taken the softer option and done a conventional job. With a wife, two kids and a mortgage, the great leap forward (or backward?) to a different lifestyle is not so easy to accomplish.
But now things have changed dramatically. The reinsurance company I work for has ceased underwriting and we are in the process of an orderly "run off" where we meet all our liabilities. At the same time the government, in cooperation with the employers' federation, has come up with the idea of a structured early retirement programme to help alleviate the unemployment problem. This has forced me to rethink my position – didn't take long! – and opt for retirement at age 57½ rather than 65. It means a large cut in salary from now to age 60 and a similar reduction in pension entitlement forever but in a couple of years' time I can do my own thing at last.>>>

One year down the line things haven't changed all that much - the job is anything but enjoyable (I'm bored) - and the only thing preserving my sanity is the thought that I've got just over a year to go before this misery ends. I try not to complain, there are other poor souls far worse of than me.
What does get on my wick is the thought that I could be doing something far more useful with my time but I'm obliged to turn up at the office every day and pretend to be busy.

My wife is very understanding but frankly does not share my enthusiasm to have a go at "the good life", prefering to cite the educational needs of our boys (12 & 15) as the prime factor for staying put.
We may end up striking a compromise: ideally by finding a suitable location relatively close to where we currently live which would allow me to put my interests into practice, whilst the kids can continue to go to the same school. In reality the high property prices in the area mean a move further away to somewhere less expensive is inevitable and our youngsters would have to change their school, so that's out.
One alternative would be to find housing and a plot of land for me some way out of town, leaving the family home where it is but with an absent father during the week - not exactly the best solution. At a later stage, if and when the boys decide to go to university, my wife and I could relocate there - or maybe much further afield, like France, as she herself has suggested.
At the moment I'm rather frustrated.
Any ideas from you good people out there?



Joined: 20 May 2005
Posts: 37
Location: Kerpen, Germany
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 06 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry folks, somehow I screwed up the log-in bit .......


Purple Martin

Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Posts: 57
Location: Canberra
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 06 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi everyone, I'm Purple Martin and I live in Canberra.

People tend to assume that Australia is a hot place, and most of it is, but Canberra is in an area with cold winters. The other night we had a -6C frost, and the daytime max was only +4C... and winter has barely started. Canberra summers can be scorchingly hot (how does 44C sound), with no rain for several months. This combination of freezing winters and hot dry summers makes it difficult to grow things. An irrigation system is an absolute necessity, and so is plenty of mulching. Australian soil is notoriously poor quality, so plenty of compost and manure are important if you want your veggies to succeed.

Apart from growing the usual veggies, I also grow my own hops for brewing beer. I set up a pulley-and-rope system on the tallest wall of the house, but even so I have to prune the tops of the hop bines after only about 4 weeks of growth because they get really tall really quickly!

Downsizer Moderator

Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 06 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome PurpleMartin, I think you may possibly be our first Australian member? (watch half a dozen come out and wave now to prove me wrong!)

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