Moving day is this Sunday. Our house has become a maze of boxes, ready for the truck.
For Carl’s family, it seems to be happening so quickly.
In an attempt to bring deeper understanding, we wrote a letter to our families…
Recently, in talking about the move Carl and I are making, we often hear…
“Why would you want to do that…” or “…oh you can’t do that!”
Unemployment. Uncertainty. Moving to a new place without a job first. Selling our home in northern Virginia. Giving up a good home, in a great neighborhood, closeness to family, proximity to so many potential jobs and culture and resources, not to mention friends and community and great schools…why?
Carl has struggled to express the reasons.
You are our family, and you are such an important part of our lives.
Having your understanding and support is a necessary part of this transition.
So here it is, the reasons and philosophy behind this big move. But please understand that this is much more than just a move, this is a conscious lifestyle change we are making and have been considering for years.
WHERE WE HAVE BEEN
Carl has spent the past eleven years working a stable and “secure” government job. Business suits and ties, top-secret clearances, and all the benefits of being a federal employee. But it has come at a high price.
Hunched over a computer keyboard for 10+ hours, multiple screens before him, Carl has traded his hiking boots for white-collar shirts and ties. Long days at work followed by short evenings with his family, early to bed, to rise again at dark to make the 1-2 hour commute to a job he hates, doing work that gives no satisfaction and leaves him bleary-eyed. Enjoying his Saturdays off, the stress returns Sunday as he contemplates another week at the job, and the stresses that go with it.
Suffering idiot supervisors and frequently and repeatedly being treated like an incompetent fool, Carl spent the last year of employment (and the one before that) grinding his teeth to the point of cracking (literally). Waking in the morning to a stress headache before the day has even begun.
In Carl’s words:
This is actually the age when people make life changes. After Michelle’s father had a heart-attack in his fifties, her parents walked away from all their friends and long-established life in New Jersey, sold their large home, and purchased 45 overgrown acres of sound property in Currituck, NC. They lived in a camper, worked odd jobs, and built their house and land on their time. Michelle always says that her dad was a different person and she had never seen him happier before that move.
Should I (Carl) risk getting a heart attack or stroke by being the good husband and provider and putting up with more government jobs and suck up the commute and stresses for 9 more years till I can get 20 years of government retirement? Should I continue to dream and start the life I want at 65?
WHERE WE ARE GOING
We have spent the past two years researching and considering different scenarios in different places. And last year we decided on Charlottesville.
The Charlottesville area offers the best of both worlds – within 30 minutes of a city with cultural, educational, art, music, and ethnic diversity we can purchase a modest home with some land. The communities in and surrounding Charlottesville offer local food, local businesses, homeschool activities, affordable private schools, and well-rated public schools.
What are we looking for? A way to live cheaper. To need less stuff and less money. To live more and work less. To step out of the rat race we have been in, so that Carl doesn’t have to sacrifice his health and sanity. It may seem naive and idealistic, but we know many people who are doing it, and we are ready to try something new.
While we still face uncertainty about Carl’s future employment, we are reducing our living costs and needing less income, giving us more freedom in our choices. Even if Carl takes a crappy job with another crappy commute, we will have more flexibility financially to make it temporary. He will have more options – part-time work, retail, etc.
Yes, we will have to make sacrifices financially, and not all of them will be comfortable.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty philosophical or political ideals we are expressing with this move, we are attempting to live more authentically. To place more priority on our health – physical as well as mental, our family life, and our lifestyle. To live a more self-sufficient life.
We will buy a home and pay off our mortgage within the next ten years (of this we are quite certain). We will learn to produce some of our foods – we have researched this and know families who do it.
We will live more locally – the communities surrounding Charlottesville are creating local hubs – supporting local businesses for many of our living needs. We are disturbed by the corporate plutocracy that has overcome our democracy, and when I say we are living more authentically, I mean we are attempting to live our values rather than remain complacent and continue with the status quo that not only affects our future, but our children’s and grandchildren’s future.
We do not have grandiose plans – our plans are actually quite modest. We hope to expand on them over time and yes, there will be a learning curve and setbacks.
If things don’t work out for us, we will try something else. We are in this together, there is no ‘failure’, just trial and error. It is better to try to live differently than to stay stuck, and that is why we are making this move – to get ourselves unstuck.
Perhaps this all sounds naive and idealistic. But we would rather try and fail than not try at all.
There are many ways to live a life. Nothing we are attempting to do is new or radical. My grandparents lived very much the way many people aspire to today. I guess you can call us the new generation of “back to the landers”.
Michelle and Carl