It is very, very hard to explain how we live. How different it is and yet how normal, not exceptional, not simple – just a choice.
My husband and I had good jobs and a small mortgage on a smart suburban terrace in England.
We gave it all up in 2004 and moved to the Highlands – first to a remote peninsular accessible only by boat or 5 mile footpath, where we lived in a yurt whilst building a roundhouse, a 24 foot diameter geodesic turf roof home. In 2009 we moved further North to Assynt where we bought an old croft house and garden ground, and have set about making a home, opening the chimneys, installing wood burners, planting the garden, decorating.
We are two and a half hours drive from Inverness, our nearest city (so a 5 hour round trip) – we go only when we have to, perhaps three or four times a year. We have two dogs and choose not to leave them for more than 4 hours, so journeys to Inverness are problematic and involve time and planning especially if we want to travel together.
Our nearest small supermarket is a one hour drive away in Ullapool, we tend to make the run down once a week, grab a few things and head home.
For a larger selection of shops there is Dingwall a two hour drive away, we go three or four times a year and usually tie the trip in with a visit to the vets, opticians etc. We run two freezers, and they are usually full after a trip to Dingwall…..
Locally in Drumbeg there is a small village shop and a hotel – 40 minutes drive south is Lochinver with a medical center, primary school and small village services.
There is no bus to our hamlet of Nedd, the nearest train station is two hours away. The B869, known as the ‘mad wee road’ is single track, and in parts resembles a roller coaster, you can’t just nip out to the shops or the cinema or for a meal. And in the winter when the snow is bad you can’t nip anywhere…..
When folk come to visit us it is hard to explain that the landscape, sea, wildlife and our company are the only things that will entertain them. And they need their own transport!
We are both self employed, so time off = NO MONEY….. Again this is hard to explain when people come to visit, we can’t offer them all the time we would like to, & we can’t always finance a fine dinner out. We work hard, we grow as much of our own fruit and veg as we can. We have a short but good (long northern days) growing season, we pickle and preserve & keep chickens. We know all our neighbours, and are grateful for them…
We earn a fraction of what we used to in our urban existence, but it is enough to get by on – and our quality of life is so much higher.
Our mobile-phone is 10 years old (our network has no reception in Nedd) and our cars are always second hand. Our not so broadband is half a meg, there are power cuts (which we think are fun…good excuse to light the paraffin lamps & play jenga)
We have to save up if we need to pay for or buy something big, so we work extra hours etc.
Some people don’t understand why we live like we do, but the rat race did not suit us and we decided to do something about it. It is not for everyone – and we are not better than anyone else for choosing this life.
We are very happy though – and not many people in my experience can say that.