Thursday, 11 July 2013


I'm writing a series of blog posts exploring the books "How to be free" and "The Idle Parent" written by Tom Hodgkinson.  I enjoyed a lot of the ideas expressed in these books, and think that exploring them further will help me to explore further the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

Chapter 19 - Live Mortgage Free; be a Happy Wanderer - SHARE YOUR HOME

A major setback to doing what you want to do, what will make you happy... is debt.  Once you have it, you really need to keep paying for it - otherwise bad things start to happen.  Mortgages are based on the idea that ownership is good.  If you rent, you're paying money and will never own anything, but if you buy, then you can own something after a very long time, and paying more than double the cost of the thing that you are buying. We aren't even very sensible about it.  Instead of borrowing enough to have a small home, we tend to borrow as much as we can only just manage to pay back, so that we can have a bigger house - leading of course to having to work harder in order to pay it back.

Renting is cheaper.  The rent may be slightly more than you'd pay in a mortgage for the property, but you don't have to worry about maintenance, or boilers or anything like that - that's for the owner to sort out, so you do save money.  It has got more expensive lately though, as more and more people struggle to get "on the housing ladder" more people are requiring property to rent, so rent goes up.  It would be better to keep rents lower and leases longer - then  more people would feel more secure renting.  If you didn't have the fear that you could be chucked out at any moment, then you would feel much happier to rent, you might be able to actually plant fruit trees, set up the garden properly and do a bit of maintenance yourself if you thought it would be worth your while.

How about squatting?  Just occupy an empty building.  What about communal living?  Get together with a group of friends and rent or buy a building together - who says that every family or couple needs to have their very own home?

Buying a cheap house in the middle of nowhere is cheaper than buying one with good links.  If you've less mortgage then you've less reason to need to be in commuter-ville.  Buy a smaller house too - less work to pay the mortgage, less maintenance, less cleaning.  Why not become a vagabond or wandering tradesman?  The answer to that is that governments don't like it.  They think that somebody who wanders must be in need of a "back to work" programme, or is a scrounger.  It doesn't occur to them that wandering might be a choice for freedom, and that these wanderers are often actually scrounging nothing, but work their way from place to place, but with no fixed abode.  Do they worry that this creates chaos?  That because these wanderers are wandering, the government have no way to collect their taxes?

How does this match up to the ink-spots-and-grass-stains life?

We have a mortgage.  Of course we do.  We're middle class.  We also have a house that's bigger than we need in a very nice place.  Hubby works like crazy to support the mortgage.

We're looking to change it.  First we need to gradually rid ourselves of some of our unnecessary stuff.  Then we need to buy a place in the middle of nowhere - the house doesn't need to be so big - with a bit more land.  Then we can work on an alternative and more pleasurable way of life to service the hopefully now smaller mortgage.  Then Hubby can stop the work he doesn't enjoy.  Good plan?

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