Our downsizing experience was driven by a desire to regain financial peace, but another by-product of it is that we gained a lot of freedom.
Did you know that freedom is scary? At least it is after years and years of falling into a familiar pattern. In our case, we always had to live near my husband’s job. Even after he started his own business, we had to stay in the area because that’s where his contacts (potential clients) were. This meant that we lived in the same metropolitan area for nearly 30 years.
Then economic change reared its ugly head, his business closed and we had to find a new place to live. Where? Anywhere. Sounds great at first, but for us, having far too many choices was scary. How do you determine where to go when you don’t even know how to support yourself anymore?
We did have a couple of small Internet-based businesses, but we could live anywhere we could get Internet access, so that didn’t really help us narrow down our range of choices.
In the end, we chose to move to an area where we often went on vacation. We rented a lovely house (quite cheaply because we were signing a one-year lease instead of a summer lease), and figured we would eventually buy a house there. But while we loved living up the road from the beach, we learned that it was not the right place for us to live full-time. The natives weren’t very friendly to outsiders, and we got lonely.
We ended up leaving after two years, and we did so easily because we had the flexibility of being renters. The experience helped us see that our ensuing freedom was quite wonderful. Having had a few years to think, we were ready to take advantage of that freedom. We traveled to different places, looking for a new hometown, and finally found one.
That was over ten years ago. In the new town, we rented a lovely restored house from the 1920s. Both of us had always wanted to live in a historic house, but we weren’t crazy about the time and money involved in restoring and keeping up one. Instead we got to spend two years in an absolutely beautiful old house, and whenever something went wrong, we just called the landlord. Now that’s freedom!
While living there, we got to know the town and its people, and found that we were comfortable with both. When the landlords told us they wanted to put the house on the market, we used our recently gained knowledge of the town to find and buy a very small house in a great neighborhood for cash. Our utility costs (and our property taxes) are quite low, giving us the freedom to live on a relatively modest income in comfort. Should we decide to move elsewhere, this house shouldn’t be hard to sell, or we could rent it out for a few years. That flexibility, in addition to the financial peace we still have, is due to the freedom we found by downsizing.