Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 41 total)
  • Down Sizing – Lifestyle
  • Hi all,

    Has anyone on this forum done this? Just quit the drudgery of the rat race, the work and spend system. Either voluntary or forced, or maybe even slowly thinking (or moving) towards this? Would you like to share your experiences, good or bad?


    The reality of it is that if you intend on leaving the rat race and still live in the first world, you will need to be very wealthy, unless you’re happy living like a tramp.

    If not the first world, where do you expect to go? Some desert island or the middle of the jungle? The healthcare is shit and your life expectancy will half; you’ll be hungry, diseased and your life will be in danger every day from basic problems that could be solved in a matter of hours here, if they were even problems at all.

    Sure the idea is romantic but the reality is the “rat race” gives you clean water, healthcare, utilities and a stable political-social structure, and you’re very unlikely to wake up in the morning dead from murder or bombs or big **** spiders.

    Sorry to piss on your chips old boy but be thankful your biggest problem is the drudgery of the capitalistic treadmill – 99% of the world would kill to be you.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I’m trying to move towards it. Working short term contracts so I can take time off. Seemed to be the obvious choice for me. I like being able to do stuff, so I need some money, but I also want time off. Fortunately having IT skills helps since there’s a big market for contractors.

    Rather than toe the line or drop out altogether, there’s a middle ground. Make the system give you what you want.

    However it’s not going particularly well.. lack of discipline early on caused issues.

    I can see and value your input Jeremy but you ruin it with your bombastic attitude. The situation I am in is mine, and whilst there are people a lot worse off than me, that should not affect my decisions to potentially improve my life. But thanks anyhow.

    Cheers Molgrips


    Would you like to share your experiences, good or bad

    But only in a pre-approved fashion it would appear…

    RJ speaks the truth; how poor have you been? Are you downsizing with a huge wodge of cash behind you or are you really dropping out of the rat-race?

    As noted above, it’s the rat race that pays for healthcare, education, infrastructure, etc,.


    Neither you nor RJ provided ‘experiences’ just opinion.


    Neither you nor RJ provided ‘experiences’ just opinion.

    Oh, I see. Sorry, thought this was STW.

    Yip – as soon as you realise that you dont need all the garbage that we must have suddenly life becomes so much simpler, cheaper and more fun.

    Premier Icon timber

    Try Neil Ansell, Deep Country. A book by a guy that downsized to an old remote keepers cottage in mid-Wales. Does focus a lot on the wildlife, but to have down-sized any further would have made him a tramp.

    I know the area and it isn’t as bleak as he makes out (or I’m just too used to living in rural places).

    Premier Icon martymac

    im trying to make my life as simple as possible so i can spend less time at work.
    ive recently cut my hours at work, if i dont manage financially i will just get rid of the car.
    next on my list will be sky tv.
    i suppose many people will have a list of things they would sacrifice in order to put food on the table.
    my thinking is that if im at work less i will have more time to exercise. (i need to exercise more)


    There’s quitting the rat race and there’s living less of a consumerist, stressed, status-driven, at-full-speed life whilst still being financially secure.
    I’ve been through this thinking a lot over the last 5 years. And my end conclusion – I want financial security… I can focus on my day to day life if I don’t have immediate money worries and am providing well for my future. That peace of mind is priceless…
    The closest I’ve come to finding the right balance is contracting re Molgrips suggestion but it depends on your industry/profession/experience/personality whether you can succeed in that. There’s no guarantee of work either so you tend to work much harder when you do have work – the opposite of what you wanted to achieve. But you do tend to let go of a lot of work-related baggage and spend less because you don’t know how long it’s going to last.
    Personally I spend to my income and the income-insecurity does help reduce my spending…
    I think what you need is to look at your work-life balance and priorities and how to find a little more meaning to your life. None of those things IMO have to mean dropping out, just a number of small readjustments…
    This is just my opinion but based on experience 😉 Hope it helps…

    I have downsized but not stepped out completely. Between me and t’missis dropped 1/3+ of our income but she has a job she loves and I work part time and do most of the house stuff.

    sometimes I get tired of being skint – but it has its benefits in much reduced stress and much more free time – and we are only relatively skint not absolutely. No car, no expensive consumer toys,one decent holiday a year, live a fairly simple life.

    You just need to remember that you work to live,not live to worka dn to cut your cloth according to your means.

    We’ve just downsized in terms of property. Letting out a paid up apartment for £850pcm and renting a little one bed house, were £300 a month better off. I’m a simple sod, I don’t have many possesions to start with but girlfriend has found it hard cutting her 3 wardrobes down to 1. I’m loving having a garden and the quiet, neighbours have been really nice and my beloved bikes get to live in a shed, not blocking up the hallway. House qualifies for some energy thing so bills for pervious tennent were £46pcm for electric, low council tax band and no more car watching looking for a free parking space thanks to a driveway. Going to Start growing veg again too. I’m very happy here, it’s a home not a base.


    It’s all about taking charge of your own life or lifestyle.

    We become part of the rat race when we demand more than what we can handle. In a way we demand the way of lifestyle we perceive to be the best like wanting this, want that, want more money etc … imagine if you let go of all the wants then life would be more manageable.

    1. Sell off anything you have double of then use the money for rainy days.

    2. Buy things that will last or things that you can repair yourself.

    3. Start using renewable energy whatever you can. Solar, Wind, Wood burning stove etc.

    4. Reuse or recycle whatever you can. You will be surprised how much can be reused.

    5. Look into your expenses to see where the bulk gone so focus on those first to minimize outflow.

    6. Learn to cook properly.

    7. Buy second/used goods but only if you know they are working.

    8. Don’t get caught up with fashion trend or trendy stuff.

    9. Grown your own food.

    10. Reduce holiday trips or half it.

    Once you have taken care of the above then perhaps you can slowly consider the next step … change job, career etc.



    After working for 20 years I went back to university to study and the wife gave up work to spend more time with our daughter. Sometimes its no fun living on a student budget again, but the experience of learning something new and being around enthusiastic young (and yes, sometimes a little naiive) people again is thoroughly refreshing. I’ve also realised how much of the ‘stuff’ I used to crave just isn’t really necessary, and cliche I know, but that family and friends are more important than a new car or expensive holidays.

    What money does give you though is choice, and I don’t want to still be on a student budget as I get old and health deteriorates, so it has to be a temporary thing for me. However, when I do get back into the rat race I hope I’ll have my priorities a bit more sorted, and will have learned to do without so much stuff!


    I quit the race, i worked in a factory all my life i’m 42 (except 5yrs off for travel) and i took voluntary redundancy. I now work for myself as a Handyman/gardener and have never looked back, i love it.

    I am very fortunate to not have a mortgage though, i think the pressure of self employment and a big mortgage would be immense.

    Good luck.


    I used to work in IT/Banking. I earned more money in a day than most in a week. I hated it with a vengeance. I hatched a 5 year plan with Mrs Stratobiker that we’d stick it out for 5 years, save all we could, then move. As it happened we moved well before the 5 years were up.

    I down-sized and moved to France. Now I live a much simpler life. I don’t have a fraction of the money I used to have, I dress from ebay, grow my own food, and earn very little just making enough where I can. I’m much happier and more relaxed.

    A couple of things that made it easier for me were firstly that I have no debt, and secondly I have no children.

    I would say that if you are going to do it, make a plan, and start working towards it.

    Bon Courage.


    I used to work in an office but cut down to 4 days a week, then 3.5, then 3 as I was doing up an old house – didn’t work any less hard, but had control of my own time, which was the important thing for me. Then when we had kids I became a house husband, started doing up another house and started my event photo business. I also work an allotment for a fair bit of our food and cook from scratch every day and I’m involved with a local environmental group and my kids school doing things that have a +ve impact on my community (unlike many people who are too busy chasing the $). Again, still working hard, but it feels like I do it when I want to and also receive all the benefit. I’m sure I would be making lots more money if I still worked a conventional job, but we’ve got enough so who cares?

    RJ, I think you have an extremely limited imagination if you think that the only options are “in” or “out”, but if you want to spend your life commuting, acquiring stuff, working to other people’s schedules and living in debt then that’s your look out – but if you think it is the only option for the averagely wealthy, you’re wrong.

    Premier Icon tomaso

    The less financial commitments you have the less stress you have to deal with in downsizing. If I didn’t have kids and a mortgage there may be more scope for choice…Look at the Good Life eh? Where were Tom and Barbara’s kids?

    Premier Icon footflaps

    I know quite a few people who have done just that, and accepted a drop in material wealth for quality of life. There are loads of options eg rent house out and go off round the world volunteering with charities (one friend) or quit rat race, sell up, move to smaller house in cheaper village and go for much more sustainable lifestyle (another friend).

    Neighbor across the road from me quit being a full time photographer and now does a bit of odd-job DIY work for cash and grows pretty much all his own food on an allotment – loads happier, loads fitter and lost loads of weight.


    There are a lot of very nice places to live between ‘ratrace’ and ‘tramp’ if you can find the level you are happy with. I’m working hard to get my family to a place where we can grow as much food and fuel as we can and reduce our consuming as low as possible. I’d like to self-build something out of wood, straw and other sensible materials that can be heated / lit / cooled / powered as little as possible.


    Not exactly downsized but I have worked a 4-day week since 2006. With some careful budgeting, growing stuff and asking myself ‘do I really need it?’ I can honestly say I don’t miss the money and having three days off every week makes it easier to cope with the grind of the other four, instead of trying to pack everything into the weekend.

    There are a lot of very nice places to live between ‘ratrace’ and ‘tramp’


    My first step was to find something I could do where I earned my own money. Now mrs deadly is self-employed too. Can be difficult – a bit feast-or-famine and a bit hand-to-mouth at times, but ultimately, being master of one’s own destiny is a wonderful feeling.

    OP, you don’t really specify what your goals are. Are you sitting on a big wodge or just looking to live a simpler existence.

    Buddhists have quite a good point in trying to free yourself from desire. I’m by no means ideal (like agonising over which expensive phone to go for next at the moment), but I’m a lot better than I was ten years ago (when I was employed).

    Downsizing and simplifying one’s existence can be quite complicated. You will alienate “friends” along the way. You just have to work out who and what’s important.

    You just need to remember that you work to live,not live to work

    unless of course your job happens to be your passion in life. just saying like.

    anyhow, i had my lifestyle downsized for me about a month ago and haven’t really thanked dave and nick enough for that. cheers guys.

    looks like i’m about to upscale back to consumer bliss though later this morning if all goes well at a final meeting.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    There’s no guarantee of work either [when contracting] so you tend to work much harder when you do have work

    This is true. I’d think about taking a week of and think ‘holy crap this is costing me X’ but you really can’t look at it like that. Instead of taking your weekly wage and multiplying it by 52, you need to multiply it by 46 instead 🙂 But the temptation to think ‘well I’m only here til July so I need to save up as much as I can til then’ is strong, because you do worry about not being able to find the next contract.

    The advice ‘work to live’ is good, but the problem is, what constitutes living? Whiling away my days in bucolic bliss pottering about the village and growing veg doesn’t do it for me, which is a shame… Puts me in a difficult position.


    Some interesting replies above. I’ve been contracting in the UK for about 5 years with a similar kind of attitude of “work hard now and then enjoy a couple of months off” but is it really worth it for all the time spent holed up in a small flat, miles away from friends and family during the week, racking up masses of commuting miles on Fridays/Mondays and being too knackered to enjoy the weekends.

    I moved out to New Zealand in November and have been working full time since February. Looking to “downsize” further as I’ve just been offered a part time role working 3 to 4 days a week. Looks to add up on paper but still gives me the fear as I think I’m accustomed to the idea of working 5 days a week and anything less is going to leave me skint. Hopefully the trade off of less money but more time to enjoy myself will be worth it.

    what constitutes living? Whiling away my days in bucolic bliss pottering about the village and growing veg doesn’t do it for me, which is a shame…

    But at some point it probably will. I just like to think I’m ahead of the curve and by the time I really am an old fogey I’ll be really good at it.

    Funny thing is, my parents are now pretty elderly and for about the last 5 years they’ve been trying to get rid of all the stuff they spent the rest of their lives acquiring!

    Premier Icon molgrips

    It might well do, yes, but I suspect I’d have to be pretty old. Currently panicking about my daughter reaching school age.. 🙁

    Part of my problem is that many of the things I like to do require stuff and/or money. And me being me, I end up getting involved in it. I love to take pictures, this requires a camera of course…

    My situation is I am working long hours, earning a reasonable salary but quality time with my kids (5 and 9) is becoming a real struggle. I am very lucky to be working, its just that I am getting older, the kids are growing and I am aware that we are missing out on so much. The best stage of their lives is slipping that I cannot claw back. I am trying to improve this. This has made me think what’s more important hence the post. I’m not particularly financially secure, just looking at options and alternative work/life balance ideas.

    Anyhow thank you all kindly for your your honest and frank input.


    My thanks to timber, who namechecked my book Deep Country
    At the age of 30 i left London and rented a cottage in the Welsh mountains for £100 a year. The cottage had no electricity, gas or running water and I lived there alone with no vehicle or phone, becoming largely self-sufficient and devoting my time to studying the local wildlife.
    I left after 5 years to start a family. More recently I have downsized again – having built up a good career as a TV journalist, I walked away from it to try to make a living just by writing. A lot less money, a lot more freedom. i think the trade-off is worth it.

    Premier Icon BillMC

    Read Tom Hodgkinson’s ‘How To Be Free’

    Premier Icon totalshell

    i stepped off the bus.. you have to be clear what it is you want and mean by down sizing. if you want less time at work thats going to mean less spending money, that means less of the things you take for granted. for the first 4 -5 years you want really get a hit until major ticket stuff needs replacing car white goods bike etc.
    if you own your home ( paid for great) but your opportunity for support from the state will be massively reduced if you do not rent
    if your prepared to make permanent sacrifices go for it.

    Not exactly downsized but I have worked a 4-day week since 2006.

    I do a 4 day week also. I really enjoy my job, but this gives me a decent balance of playing with my little daughter, and doing a fun job. It was a 17% pay cut after tax, which is not the end of the world.

    Also, having a job where I can work from home a fair bit is great too, on those days, daughter goes to childminder 8 ish, comes back 1630ish, I get a full day’s work in, but we get family breakfast, dinner and a good bit of play time in. It is ridiculous how many employers won’t allow home / remote working, it is so much better for everyone, particularly people with families.

    Anyway, today is my day off ( ‘Bike Ride Thursday’) so I’m off to nap the baby, then we’re off with the bike trailer on another leg of our Tour de Derbyshire Children’s Playgrounds followed by a nice picnic.


    As the second poster said, in order to leave the rat race you need to be quite wealthy. You obviously are, talking about cars, sky etc. I don’t use a car, have no tv but still struggling to make ends meet at the moment. No leaving the “Rat Race” for me.


    I’m trying to move towards it. Working short term contracts so I can take time off. Seemed to be the obvious choice for me. I like being able to do stuff, so I need some money, but I also want time off. Fortunately having IT skills helps since there’s a big market for contractors

    As an unemployed ITist I’d be interested in any more you can tell me about that, molgrips (including the issues with lack of discipline – can see that being an issue for me!) I’ve been told all about how much money I can make with the skills I’ve got, but I don’t need more money, so it only makes sense if I can get short term stuff and lots of time off in return.

    I already did 4 days a week before I downsized to 0 days a week. A lot of the stuff people “need” you don’t really.


    My thanks to timber, who namechecked my book Deep Country

    Now there’s a man with his finger on the automatic keyword search 😉

    Premier Icon molgrips

    As an unemployed ITist I’d be interested in any more you can tell me about that, molgrips

    Email in profile, happy to chat 🙂

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl

    neilansell – were you interviewed fairly recently in a national newspaper?


    I am a contractor too and often “plan” stuff for when my current contract finishes. Invariably though someone calls me and I have more work. Its very hard to turn down work when you don’t know if you will have any more for a while.

    In 15 years I have had work apart from when I did a ski season 2 years ago. I am sure if I have looked for work I probably would have found some then too.

    I like the fact it gives me the illusion of being in control of who for and when though 🙂

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Its very hard to turn down work when you don’t know if you will have any more for a while

    Yep. Agree with your whole post in fact.

    Although if you are surviving on a spouse/parter’s wage then it’d be easier. I’m the only earner in our house…

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