When we were paying off our debts it felt like forever.
We went as deeply frugal as it was possible to go and it still took us two and a half years to pay off the consumer debt that we had. At that time, we only had an interest only mortgage and then we had to change to a repayment mortgage as soon as the debt was gone. We then went into the next storm mode and paid down our mortgage from 217,000 pounds to 177,000 in the next three years so we were deeply frugal for almost six years. We didn’t eat out, buy new clothes except underwear and shoes, we didn’t buy any gifts and we didn’t buy anything for our house.
Was it fun? No! Did we enjoy it? Yes! It was the biggest challenge of our lives and we totally changed out lifestyle and mindset. We learned to see consumerism for what it was and knew there were so many things we could fix, buy second hand or just go without.
Now fast forward to 2013 and we completely downsized from a large four bedroom detached house of our dreams to a small two bedroom terraced house and lived there until 2018. That house was just perfect and it allowed us to just have a small repayment mortgage that was was only for eight years and that was reducing every month and only then could we save money for something else. Sadly Mike’s mum died shortly after we moved in 2013 and we inherited twenty five thousand pounds. We could have paid off a chunk of mortgage but we decided to make an investment for our retirement and bought a house in France. The exchange rate was at an all time high of a pound buying 1.44 euros and we added some savings and bought our first house in France and the rest is history. It hadn’t been lived in for 25 years but was structurally sound and the work needed, after some electrical safety work was done, was cosmetic.
We’ve always loved France and have been visiting since 2005 almost every year; we had a break when paying off our debts but as soon as we could, we came back. Returning to the UK, got harder every time and as soon as we could, we would move here.
Our plan, all along, was to save up more money, pay off our mortgage entirely and move out with good pensions and a lump sum from the house. Personal circumstances, that I don’t discuss on social media, brought that move forward and we came to live here in 2018 and were certainly not as well off as we could have been had we worked until we were 60 or older. All those plans changed and now we were jobbing immigrants having to just get by and that’s exactly what we have done.
We’ve had to make the very best of it and it’s certainly not the image many people have of the British couple living in France. There’s no swanning round markets buying direct from farmers and apero in the local cafes in the warm French sunshine.
My life, your life and anyone’s life may not be what we dreamed of and may never be. Our dreams are to have a productive garden, to travel around France and see the country. We hope to have more time to ourselves but that’s not going to be like that for a few more years. Then, add covid to the discussion and that life may be further away than ever. So, are we living our dream?
I have to remember that our dream was to live in France so that’s a big positive yes. We live a peaceful quiet life and we’re self employed and set our own timetables. We get by really well and live a good life. It certainly isn’t like our original plan of coming here to retire as we are not retired.
There’s great joy in our lives here. So, this April, I’m going to share that joy and celebrate everything we can do and enjoy locally, for free or on our own land, with everyone. I’ll be back tomorrow with more.