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  3. Your Dream 3325

Tens of thousands of people in Wales plan to quit their jobs within the next three years because they are fed up with the rat race, according to a survey


They are part of more than one million who have become disillu­sioned with their job and want to join the estimated 1.4m who have already made the switch to spend more time with their family. But the change should be thought through from the financial point of view, claims the survey’s author, the Pru­dential.

The Prudential’s survey found 828,000 people in Wales and the West wanted to opt out of the rat-race long term — and 138,000 of those plan to do it in the next three years.

The four main reasons they give is a desire for a better quality of life, a safer environment for their children, they were unfulfilled by their current job and were tired of commuting.

The Prudential has produced a guide on what people should look out for if they plan to sink their heart, soul and savings into a downsize.

Prudential spokesman, James Murray, said: “It is important to re­member that downshifting may mean a significant drop in family income. And, if you’re planning to invest your lifetime savings, for example, into that brand new rural business venture you’ve always dreamed of, you must make absolutely sure that the dream stacks up with reality.”

The Royal Institution of Char­tered Surveyors estimates that 40% of farms being sold in Wales are cur­rently snapped up by urban novices keen to swap city life for what they hope is the rural idyll.

Daniel Butler, 39, and his part­ner, Bel Crewe, swapped the grime and grind of London for the rugged landscape around Rhadayer, mid Wales, 10 years ago.

With the money they made on the two flats they sold in London, Mr Butler and his partner were able to take a small mortgage out on 13-acres of mountainside and a four-bed 16th century farmhouse. Mr Butler said he picked Wales because he had a ro­mantic vision of the country from having a Welsh grandfather.

As a freelance writer and jour­nalist, Mr Butler’s outside source of income was “telecommuting to Lon­don”. “I was a business journalist but as soon as I had a Welsh phone num­ber, I became a wildlife expert. On almost the first day, a national news­paper rang me and asked me to re­write an article about birds. Since then I’ve become a rural countryside journalist.”

The rural inspiration did not stop there. It led to his obsession with the ancient craft of falconry — the only sure method of downing a bird in flight until the mid 19th century’s ad­vances in firearms. He keeps two birds: a peregrine, which he uses to catch rabbits and a Harris hawk for hunting crows. The falconry is ri­valled only by his love of foraging for wild mushrooms.

The fungus forays are an ele­ment of the self-sufficiency they en­joy in the summer months for them­selves and their children, Jack, nine, and Molly, six.

The Butlers love the new life they have created for themselves but they have written a book about some of the pleasure and pitfalls people will face if they, too, reach for the down­sizing dream.

He said: “You are swapping stresses. In London you work and commute 12-14 hours per day. Downsizing, you live and work at home in beautiful surroundings, and you only work for as long as you want to work, but things like money problems can be a worry. Unless you bring with you some rather secure form of income, you will have a big drop in income. On the plus side, you are not going to spend nearly as much. The biggest shock comes in the winter, because it’s dark 16 hours a day. But if you can survive your first two winters you are okay.”

He added: “Rural isolation is a really serious problem for people who have lived here all their lives, but it can be even more so for people just pitching up. The fact that you can’t keep a secret round here is both good and bad. Coming from Islington where I didn’t even know my neighbours’ names, I find it cosy, but sometimes it’s also horribly claustrophobic — just two sides of the same coin.”

But with a website to promote his falconry and mushroom forays, he has a very 21st Century approach to living in the countryside.

It seems it is a lifestyle which many more want to taste.

Adaptedfrom bbc.co.uk

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