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We Downsized to Live in the Countryside: A Case Study

By: Elaine Everest - Updated: 26 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Retire Countryside Early Retirement

Jean Simmons had always wanted to retire to the country and as her 40th birthday came round she decided to put her ideas into action.

Plan for the Future

"I had always had the dream to live in the country and perhaps take let a room to holidaymakers. Cornwall was my dream and I knew it would be expensive to move. It was while out with friends as we celebrated my fortieth birthday that I knew I had to make serious plans or possible never fulfil my dream.

My friend Anna asked where everyone planned to be in ten years time. Some said settled in their careers or married to wealthy bankers but they all laughed as I mentioned my cottage with roses round the door. To everyone else around that table my dream was as reachable as winning the lottery without buying a ticket. I knew then that I had to make a plan and stick to it.

Ten Year Plan

That evening at home when then last of my guests had left I sat at my computer and opened a new file calling it, ‘Jean’s Ten Year Plan.’ I headed the page with the word ‘goal’ and sat staring at the screen. What was the goal? I knew it was to be in the country but where exactly? I’d loved holidays in Cornwall as a young child and had headed back there at every opportunity so that seemed the ideal place to head to. I wasn’t too ambitious with the plan as I was realistic enough to know that I would never meet a long term plan and would give up. I would need a home that not only brought in an income to cover my retirement years but one I could afford to live in at other times.

House Prices

I lived in a two bedroom flat in South East London with my partner Gary we had fifteen years left on our mortgage. I was Gary's carer since his accident but was still able to work during the day while he concentrated on his artwork which was sold online. Firstly I had no intentions of retiring with a mortgage around our necks do the first part of the plan was to finish paying off the mortgage in ten years. But what about house prices in Cornwall?

I sat late into that night looking through estate agent websites and browsing properties. By three in the morning the ten year plan looked good. I had decided that we should live either near Penzance or St Ives not only to attract the holiday trade but if at any time I needed to find work I would be better near to a large town. The property prices were slightly higher than where I lived so I would need to find another fifteen thousand pounds in order to have a similar sized home in Cornwall. Add to that the ten thousand pounds needed to clear the mortgage early and I was looking at having to raise twenty five thousand pounds in ten years.

It looked easy on paper but I went to bed that night with my mind buzzing with the challenge. I showed Gary the plan over breakfast and he was amazed at my determination to bring our goal to fruition.

Mortgage and Pension

The next day I spent my lunch hour on the telephone to my mortgage company and pension advisor. It seemed the pension I had been paying into at work could be claimed from the age of fifty so we could head off to Cornwall safe in the knowledge that we had a small income to tide us over. I had calculated that I could manage to add another fifty pounds each month to the pension plan and set that in motion straight away.

Our mortgage company told me that it was straight forward to pay lump sums off our repayment mortgage as long as it was done in five hundred pound minimum lump sums. I also had to tell staff that it was a payment off the capital sum when I went into the branch to deposit the money. That all seemed straight forward and I went back to work with my plan clear in my head.

Raising Money

The next years saw me taking on several extra jobs to help with my dream. For a while I took on a waitressing job followed by bar work. The thrill of taking in the first five hundred pounds to our mortgage provider is something I’ll always remember. It was when I took on a home sewing job that I realised I could earn more money from home.

Always being a keen dressmaker I started making affordable bridesmaid and prom dresses and selling them on online auction sites. The work rolled in steadily over the next six years and I enjoyed the experience. Gary was able to help with the administration side of things and also placing the items online for sale.

Fiftieth Birthday

My fiftieth birthday party was a big celebration as we made it my early retirement party and our good by party as well. Yes we reached our goal and within weeks of being fifty I headed for Penzance and my new life."

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