I’ve been reading back over some of my old posts recently and have really enjoyed hearing from ‘my younger self’. Life has been busy these last few years and unfortunately I haven’t had the time or inclination to blog. We started a family nearly two years ago, with the arrival of our son Caelym. Between full-time work and raising a small human, I haven’t had the brain space for much else and I feel like I’ve lost a lot of the ‘old me’. I’ve been sucked back into the system, but now I really want to change that and reconnect with some of those values that were really important to me 3-4 years ago.
In January 2010 I wrote a post on Self sufficiency, independence and lifestyle planning in which outlined new ways to be more self-reliant by making improvements to my level of self-sufficiency and decreasing my dependence on the system. In October 2010 I updated my goals in a post on Self-Sufficiency and Resilience – Plans upon Returning to Australia. Reading back over these posts has been illuminating. In some cases I have made great progress against my goals, in other instances I’ve gone backwards.
Let’s have a look.
1. Getting off the Economic Grid
I’m really happy with the progress we have made against this goal. The mortgages have been paid off since 2010 and we’ve since put our effort into saving as much cash as we can. We’ve been mostly living on one income since the arrival of our littlest human, but we are still pretty happy with what we’ve managed to achieve. We sometimes second guess our decision to hold our savings in cash, because the interest rates are quite low and we’ve been programmed all our life to buy shares or houses as the way to wealth. However, we still believe there is a large downside risks with shares and property, so for now cash is king for us.
Brendan has officially exited the rat race. He now shares his time between the most important job in the world (raising a good human aka Caelym), working on a couple of alternate income streams and adding to his skill set. That’s one of us who has escaped. Now we just need to work on a plan for me too, but for the moment I’ll continue to use my job to build up our cash buffer.
2. Reducing Energy Dependence
We are so happy with the decision we’ve made to rent a detached townhouse just a 15 minute walk to the city centre. We can walk to shops and cafes and rarely need to get in the car which means we can do without a second vehicle. My daily commute to work is about 4km each way and although I had grand plans to commute by bicycle, the extreme cold for six months of the year has been a big barrier for me. I mostly use the car, but am trying to use the bus more. We’ve recently bought a bike seat for Caelym, so now Brendan can venture further afield during the day, rather than just relying on walking.
Our home is centrally heated with natural gas, but we do find that heating expenses are the largest energy expense we have. Our house seems to leak hot air and we need to do a better job of sealing it. Our first winter in the house we kept the thermostat at 15 degrees and just put on more clothes, but with a baby in the house we’ve had to increase the internal temperature to 18 degrees. It’s amazing how much those extra three degrees costs each year.
3. Improving Food and Water Security
I must admit, I’m not as happy with our progress on this goal. We do have a compost pile and a small vegetable and fruit patch in our courtyard, but we are yet to master winter crops. It is certainly a lot more difficult to grow food here than in was in California. Although the garden hasn’t been hugely productive, I do love that Caelym gets to see food grow and ripen. He loves to pick and eat strawberries (our most successful crop) straight from the plant and waits patiently for the strawberries to ripen. Most of the time we beat the local possums to the fruit. Now that we have a bit more time on our hands we want to try harder to grow something through winter this year.
We’ve also become very slack when it comes to stockpiling some food and water for emergencies. There are few natural disasters likely to impact us here so we haven’t been as conscientious about our preparedness plans. This might be something we need to revisit.
4. Building Community
Again, I don’t feel like we’ve done as well on this goal. For various reasons, we’ve actually found ourselves quite isolated for the first 18 months of Caelym’s life. I feel like we are coming out of that now and we do know a lot of our neighbours and have some friends that we catch up with on occasion. We don’t really get involved in the community very often but we do feel the desire to find ways to start living a bit more closely to our values.
Now that I’ve had a look back at the goals I had set myself in 2010, I really feel the desire to start mapping out the next few years. We have reached a significant milestone in terms of our economic independence and we need to work out what’s next. More to come I’m sure.
If you are still reading, please leave a comment. I’d love to know if anyone is still out there :)
Photo by: Jef Safi