July 22nd 2016
A few weeks ago, was six months from when I landed in New Zealand. That first couple of weeks was always meant to be a bit of a break before trying to design a lifestyle. So I guess it is around about now that marks half a year working toward that goal. How has it gone so far?
On day one, I wrote (see Homecoming):
“I’d known for a long while now that I really wanted out of cities and out of the cycle of working for the ability to pay off someone else’s mortgage and barely being able to get ahead. I have no real estate of my own, no desire to sell my life to a high paying job and its soul-sapping demands, no money to speak of, and no prospect of inheritance or a beneficent sponsor. The chances of procuring a lovely country home on a rural block, on which I could work towards a quiet, self-sustaining lifestyle were remote to say the least”
Well, I’ve taken steps toward reducing my expenses. The caravan being off-grid is a great start towards that. My only real ‘home’ expenses are food/consumables, gas for cooking and maintenance costs. Having said that, I am also working on a rocket stove out the back to allow me to cook effectively outside using foraged fuel. More on that in a future post. Then there are the costs of running my vehicle and dogs. And while I am still paying rent in my current situation, it is a fraction of what it would be renting a room in a house.
In short, the net result is that while I still have very little in the way of assets, those that I have are serving a functional purpose and I am now able to save money while working less hours (at a much lower pay rate) and doing work that I enjoy. It’s quite satisfying to know that my plan seems to be paying off.
That being said, another of my goals was to be proactive in animal welfare. Specifically, I had a plan I called The Longest Walk (see Exciting News). I got on that as soon as I felt I had the time it would take to organise it. Greatly underwhelmed by the reception and amidst second-thoughts of the wisdom of its timing, that’s seeming less likely to eventuate just now. I take solace in the fact that my main job (dog walking) is contributing at least to a few dogs’ welfare in a really tangible and positive way. Also, it is the type of project that could perhaps be tried again in future.
More and more, it seems as if the primary goal should be the focus right now. Namely: to be working toward a sustainable, voluntarily simplified lifestyle. Given that the Australian Tax Organisation is much gentler on my anal health than the big black cock of New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department, I shall soon have a little more in the way of funds. There is now a realistic chance to start building a proper TinyHouse. I now have the money to start (not enough to finish, but enough to get the exterior done), a place to build, the plans for the project (see my gallery to see a picture of my proposed home) and enough time available to devote a good amount of work hours to the job. Ultimately, I’d be in the same boat as now, but with more comfortable living quarters and an asset that could one day be sold if desired and/or a house that can be relatively easily relocated (several times if needs be) to a more permanent situation. Or it could be my port in the storm of an intentional community.
Furthermore, I have learned a little about community banking and that may be a real game-changer. Not sure if I posted a blog about it, but I certainly posted a link (Living Economies Facebook page) on the Facebook page. If I get the TinyHouse finished and assuming I can continue to save due to decreased expenses, I could conceivably enter the market for a cheap piece of land with a crappy fixer-upper of a house and start developing the land. The area I am in may well be a good spot for finding such land too, as prices in the district are still reasonable.
There have also been many other learning opportunities along the way. I have learnt many different practical skills to do with farming. I’ve had my diplomacy and communication skills put to the test… with mixed results. It’s also been an opportunity to explore a lot about who I am, what makes me tick and why. The dogs have had a chance to experience a whole different way of life too. Piccolo especially is a much more well-adjusted little guy as a result. All up, the opportunities for growth have been many and varied. Hopefully some of the lessons will stick.
Furthermore, there have been a long list of little bit and pieces here and there gleaned from meetings with loads of ne people with different backgrounds. Meeting people is always a highlight of any travel or new experience. And while job isn’t really conducive to meeting a heap of new people in the current area, my lifestyle leaves much time for people should I choose to seek them out. I’ve learned heaps about publishing and continue to learn more. As I was writing this, for example, I was reminded (by a mother of a young child) that it’s just as important to appeal to the parents of young readers as it is to produce a book that appeals to the child. They buy it after all.
There are still a lot of question marks about. Let’s face it: there always will be. But life is good and there’s potential for some really positive developments. Fingers crossed, eh 🙂