6 Ways to Change Your Life and Become Free


Two years ago we decided to jump off the conventional living merry-go-round and have a change of life. At that time what we wanted was more family time and endless travel. Travel had been a life-long passion for us and we saw it as a great way to educate our children and live a more interesting life. Our best option back then was to save like crazy, sell almost everything and set off from Australia into the world for a year or three of budget backpacking, as a family.

It’s what we did and we had a blast visiting 12 countries and 4 continents over the last year. Changing plans, wants and circumstance only gave us one year on the road before the money started to run out. We’re settling for a while, regrouping, reorganising and refinancing in London, a city that brings us enormous joy and one that we thought we could never afford to live in again.

Things have changed for us, we’re slowly starting to realise just how much as we slip into London living. We’re happier, more at peace and more connected as a family. We’ve changed.

We’re Free and We Love This New Lifestyle, 6 Ways to Start the Change.

Freedom in life involves greater financial stability and a lot of dis-attachment from material possessions. That dis-attachment inevitably leads to further financial freedom.  Don’t we all want to spend more time with our kids, have more fun, live our dreams and spend more time enjoying our short and precious lives?

Here’s how we’ve made changes, you can too.

1. Stop With The Interior Design!

We’re told we should care about having a cool home, the sort of thing you might see in a magazine. We all have our own interpretations of that, some, like me, go for Asian inspired eclectic to suit the image we want to portray, some modern minimalist, some homely comfort, but I think most people, women in particular, have the  interior designer gene. We buy expensive cook wear, furniture and decorations believing that only the best will do. What are we trying to prove? Who are we trying to impress? Our real friends take us as we are, our kids don’t care what furnishings we have and the marketers love us as we spend and spend.

A sub section of point 1 would be stop caring what people think of you. Fancy haircuts, new clothes, fashionable shoes, manicures and jewelery  I used to love them, I was normal, probably just like you. Now, so long as I’m clean, warm enough, not naked and don’t look too much like a bag lady, I don’t care and my family still love me. We all have far too many clothes. I don’t even need all the clothes in my backpack, stop buying and start using, wear clothes ’till they wear out, mend rather than discard at the first hole. Charity shops have amazing bargains, often new, unworn designer labels, real people don’t care what’s on your back. Start your own fashion!

A long time ago I spent a fortune on the latest fancy nail fad, a guy friend said to me ” Do you think we really care about that?” His comment has stayed with me for 20 years.

2.You Don’t Need.

Shopping is not supposed to be recreation. You do not need the perfect thingum for every single task or occasion. Making do works well.

You do not need to buy all that stuff. What each person considers essential will obviously vary enormously but you can live without most things. Our essentials were our 4 backpacks and the people carrying them, now, in a domestic rather than hotel environment, we’ve had to buy a few things, but surprisingly little. As point 1 (above) is now firmly in my mind, it’s cost us next to nothing.

3. A Bigger Home Isn’t Necessarily a Better Home.

Cut your housing costs by downsizing dramatically. We’re living very happily in a one bedroom apartment, a big change from a 4 bedroom sprawling Queensland home, but we’re happy and we’re not missing the extra space at all. We have less stuff, less stuff needs less storage furniture, less furniture means more space.

Utility bills are much lighter on the wallet when you’re powering a smaller space. And need I mention how much less cleaning effort is required?

4. But You Need a Garden, Right?

Do you? I always thought I did, I love to grow things and producing our own food was one of the ways we saved money to get this ball rolling but now, do I miss it? No.

We have a beautiful park and the River Thames just footsteps away from our front door, we’re more than happy to get our nature fix running around on grass that somebody else mows.

I have a dear friend who sold up to live full time on a boat. She said growing things used to be “Her soul.” She’s never missed it since the day the sea became her back yard. Lyndy blogs at Homeschool Ahoy if you’d like to read more about her wonderful lifestyle.

4. Renting or Buying.

Owning your own home can be a great big fat millstone around your neck. We still own our home in Australia, we have that financial back-up but lodgers are paying the mortgage rather than us. Maybe it’s easy for us to say, having our feet well up the property ladder, but renting gives you more freedom.  We can up-sticks and move on when the contract is up, we have no maintenance costs and no emotional investment in this property.

5. Cut Transport Costs and Your Carbon Footprint.

Do you really have to own a car? Maybe you could live somewhere where you don’t need a car instead. That’s our choice, London public transport has made us car free, fitter, happier, greener and better off. Buy a bike, walk more, run more. Shopping less will cut your transport needs immediately.

6. Work Towards Your Goals, Not Because You Have To.

Working hard to save money for a particular dream feels so much nicer than the month by month, year by year hamster wheel of working to pay for a lifestyle that constantly needs to be upgraded.

The drive for career progression has gone for us, instead we’re working for maximum financial return within the shortest possible time-frame to make us 100% free again. If that means working 7 days a week for a while, that’s fine. As my husband said, you can look at it two ways, that he’s worked almost solidly for the last month or that he’s worked only one month of the last 12. He prefers description 1.

Thank you for reading. Could I ask a favour?
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  1. Carolyn says:

    I grew up moving at least once a year – to a different country, culture, language – and over my lifetime there have been times when being planted for a few years was necessary ….but…we’re heading back out – to stay a year here, there – long enough to make friends, learn the language, have family and friends join us for a season – and hit the road again….

  2. WE put our house for sale.. I put it in God’s hands to decide if this is the time for us to set sail. If the house sells, we are heading out. Your post touched my heart because I garden. I have been doing it for the last 3 years and I enjoy it so much. During winter when I do less work, I kind of dread the spring season but when it starts I feel rejuvenated and just love to plant and harvest all season long… into fall and then slow down during winter. I am concerned I will miss it. Then again this past winter, I put some plants in my green house and left to Brazil with my family for 20 days. I didn’t miss it at all. I was so busy enjoying my family and friends there and going places. Hummmm I am ready for whatever comes! I grew up moving a lot too. I have been stationery for the last 13 years – a record for me! The longest time I had ever stayed in one place was 2.5 years. We will see how things go. I am excited though. :)

  3. Fabulous post Alyson! I couldn’t have said it better myself! We’ve implemented 5/6 (we’re selling the cars soon!) of your suggestions over the past 12 months, and we can also say that IT WORKS! We are about to head off on our own freedom adventure in 3 weeks time, and I thank you, (and Homeschool Ahoy) for the inspiration. Thanks!

  4. Wonderful post, Alyson … as I am preparing the defense of my Master thesis (9th of July) and have just been accepted as a PhD candidate (in theology), I wonder : should I give it all up and move to the tropics (our family loves traveling)? Or is this PhD something I really want, and maybe even useful for society…? Maybe I should get a PhD in the tropics!! :-)))

  5. “too much like a bag lady” Hilarious. We’ve been onthe road of 10 months now and have been shedding clothes and possessions all the way round Asia. But no matter how much we shed, we always find we never really needed it.

  6. I love this post so much! I am sitting here reading it outloud to my wife as she packs up our kitchen in preperation for our year long trip in one month. Everything you mentioned is the reason we are able to go on our trip. I loved your #1, I asked my coworker what he was doing this weekend as they have just “upgraded” into a large 5 bedroom home in central california 2 years ago. They are remodeling the bathroom and he just bought a large screen TV for their family room. I am not being a hater becaues I was there myself in 2007 when we purchased our home spent our life saving remodeling it and then watched it drop $150,000 dollars. What we did next is what has created the lifestlye that we now hold dearly, and I personally think bag lady is much more attractive than the alternative. I am reading Rolf Potts classic book Vagabonding for probably the 4’th time. I love this book because it is about the value of time over all things and Rolff makes many of the same points in his book that you have made here. Every decision we make is an exchange of this finite and valuable resource, thank you for sharing that idea here with all your readers!

    – Stephen

  7. So true Alyson. When we left London in March 2013 most people we knew were spending their savings on house deposits or weddings and they thought we were crazy to blow all our hard-earned savings on travel but I can’t think of a better way we could have spent our time and money. Travel has changed our lives and while we may not have our own car, home, pets or fancy clothes we’re happy. To us, freedom is the most important thing. Keep on living the dream :)

  8. We have learned the same things during our 2 years living in Spain and we are loving our “rich” life without all of the stuff. We leave tomorrow for our more nomadic life with our 4 backpacks. We didn’t own many things that we needed to shed, but we did have to give away plenty of clothes, so we could get down to what we could carry. We will see how we do with that new lifestyle, but I will say we are “stuff free”! and it feels good.

  9. I think priorities change as people change- your last comments about careers not longer being a motivator for you I think is a huge thing. I have recently gone through the same thought process- I have spend years on that little hamster wheel thinking that my career was the most important thing for me, wanting to gain the next promotion but in actual fact looking back what is more important is have quality time with my husband, making memories that we will both remember. We have often discussed living on a boat, I quite like the idea – especially if it was one that we could travel up and down the waterways on and we are also considering renting our house out and going to explore Europe – and all it has to offer for a while (I still like the idea of a bit of stability). That aside material possessions mean nothing to us! :)

    • To be honest Tam, career was never important to me, I just went along with what other people thought should be important to me. I thought somehow I was mentally deficient for not wanting to gain promotions and prestige. Now my blog…that’s important and I work incredibly hard at it ( for nothing) but working in Pathology was beyond sucky, even when I was the boss, I wanted free time far more.

  10. I love this post! You are right about all of it.

    Personally, I have come to believe that we all crave a bit of excitement and newness – if we stay put, we get that from little things like buying something new to decorate the house with, or buying new clothes, getting our nails done in a new colour/style, seeing pretty things grow in our garden (that usually cost money to purchase (seeds or plants and cost money to water) – but if we are, say, nomadic, we get that excitement and newness that we crave simply by moving on to a new destination.

    And of course, there is also that social expectation that you touch on, to have a certain amount of things, lots of clothes so we don’t wear the same thing too often, a big enough house etc.

  11. Great article! You have chosen the right path….

  12. Cindy Naidoo says:

    Lovely post. Thank you for sharing

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