“Life is not a rehearsal”. It’s a phrase that we use every day at First Wealth (with our clients and with each other) and one that helps us to focus on the more important things and embrace our options rather than settling for the status quo. Like many things in life, it’s easy to say, but perhaps harder to truly live by.
After years of repeating the mantra, I decided to become a long-distance commuter for a better family life in Dorset.
Making the Change
My fiancé Petra and I had been talking about moving for a long time. Having lived in Balham in South London for 15 years it had slowly dawned on us that we weren’t enjoying the city like we used to. Our party days were behind us, well and truly behind us! Like oil and water, children and hangovers don’t mix. Weekends just seemed to pass us by with not much happening and little sense of restfulness. One thing we noticed was that we always seemed to relax and have so much more fun when we escaped and got away for a long weekend. It felt like we were really living more, rather than devoting all our energy to the work treadmill. We went on like this for a little while (when I say little while, I mean about 3 years – yes its true, even financial planners procrastinate), knowing we’d had enough of London, realising that we were more ourselves when were outside of the big city, but not really crystallising these thoughts into action.
When we finally acknowledged that a move out to the country or the coast was definitely the way forward, there always seemed to be a reason to stop us. All the potential issues would start to circle in my head. What if house prices in London continue to go up? What if we move and we hate it? If house prices keep rising would there ever be a way back? Unsurprisingly, given my day job, these financial concerns loomed large in my decision-making process but I became aware it wasn’t the only perspective I needed to take into account.
One evening Petra turned to me and said, “forget all the financial nonsense filling your head Ant, the question is, do we want to live in London?”
The answer was no. Problem solved. It was a lesson in asking the right question, and it was a moment that I will never forget. I vowed that I would always aim to ask myself the right question, and challenge my clients to ask themselves the right questions (even if they didn’t always want to hear the answer!)
Two things happened in my life that helped me to focus on our situation in a completely different way. One was the birth of beautiful our daughter, Lux (yes, I’m a very proud Dad). Equally seismic was the fact that my wife, Petra, had recently been seriously ill with breast cancer. These were two life-changing shakes to our foundations and served as the wake-up calls we needed.
We owed it to ourselves to follow up on our dreams and the time for talking was over. Moving on to the practicalities, we spent a long time discussing our ideal location. Bath and Brighton were both in the mix to start with but when we both agreed that we wanted to move to be near the sea, another venue moved onto our radar. After a couple of amazing weekends, we settled on Poole in Dorset as the place we wanted to call our new home.
It also gave me the opportunity to crack my favourite joke more often.
“Poole, in Dorset?”
“Yes, I’d recommend it to anyone”.
Turning the Chess Board Around
We found an amazing house and got on with the business of making our dream real. That’s not to say I wasn’t still plagued by the odd question over whether this move, right now, was the correct decision for us. Our house price had dropped in Balham, as markets had fallen, and again I asked myself, given the fluctuation in house prices, and Brexit, whether this really was the right time.
But I kept reminding myself of the question that Petra had asked me. Ant, do we want to live in London? It kept me focussed.
Simple, really, but beautiful. That was it, I was sold, and we put the house on the market immediately. After a few hiccups along the way (house selling and buying always has hiccups – we’re aiming for an improved lifestyle, not a fantasy Utopia!) we are now installed in our dream home. Of course, there are compromises we’ve had to make but, on balance, it’s been a great move. In the ‘cons’ column, there’s a two-and-a-half-hour commute door-to-door, but I stay in London a few nights a week to manage this. In the ‘pros’ column, our weekends are now spent on the beach, or walking or cycling in the Purbecks. The once-snatched getaways and long weekends are now our everyday life.
We look forward to living as we have always dreamed, and with the right planning and advice, you can too.
If you would like some help in planning your ideal financial lifestyle, please feel free to get in touch.