When you look up the definition of slow living it probably doesn’t reference buying a house or moving jobs as advised stress-free tasks. In fact, they’re rated highly on lists of stressful live events.
But most of us will do them at some point in life.
So how can we do them whilst trying to maintain our slow living lifestyles as much as possible?
Well, I’m about to find out! My boyfriend and I are starting to look at buying our first home together, and I’m also starting to look for a new job. Ideally they wouldn’t come at the same time, but they have. And I need to embrace this.
I’m not going to lie: I’m nervous. Changing jobs is terrifying – from the stress of trying to understand whether you’re even qualified for a potential new job, to going to interviews, to facing rejection, to wondering whether you’ll like your new colleagues and whether they’ll like you, to wondering whether you’re going to be forced into working long hours or put under huge amounts of stress…the list is never ending. As for buying a house, well, I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE! There’s large amounts of money involved and mortgages, a crazy fast-moving market, lots of research, coming to terms with the fact you can’t have everything you dreamed of, compromising with your partner, packing up and destabilising your life…again, the list is never ending.
For anyone who’s going through one or both of these events right now, I thought it would be useful to list some principles I’ll be following to keep this process as simple and slow as it can be! I feel I may be checking back on this list frequently! Also, if you have any tips then list them below – I feel we’ll need them!
- Remind yourself why you’re making the change. For me, I’m moving job because, right now, I don’t feel my job supports slow living. It’s crazy and stressful and political and trying to juggle lots of people’s demands…and it plays into all of my anxieties. For some people, my job is the job of dreams, but for me it doesn’t fit with the lifestyle I want right now. The short term stress of finding a new job will hopefully lead to a longer-term positive change in favour of slow living. In terms of moving house, it will mean that our money is finally going into an investment rather than down the rental drain. It will also mean we can start to create an environment that better supports a slow living lifestyle – we’ll hopefully have our own garden, can create living spaces that work for us, and don’t have to rely on crappy landlords to fix things like our currently broken boiler (rant over). Write whatever your reasons reasons are down and keep it somewhere visible as a reminder for when things are tough!
- Give yourself plenty of time. It can be so easy to put off starting to look for jobs or homes because of how intimidating the size of the task is. I’m lucky in that I have no deadline for finding a new job or home…but if you have a hard end date on either a job contract or rental lease then make sure you give yourself plenty of time. Nothing is going to feel like you’re losing your slow living ethos more than running around madly feeling pressured to get something done.
- Start now and start slow. Even if you’ve got no deadline it’s good to start your search for a home or job now, but it only has to be a small first step. For me this was either signing up for a few job alerts before I was ready to start officially looking, or starting to view houses just to get a feel for what we like and what we don’t before we were officially ready to buy. This helps things seem less daunting and needs to only take as much time as you want (for example we’ll only go and see a couple of houses a week so that it doesn’t take over our lives). However you’re still managing to ease yourself in to the task at hand, learning valuable information ready for the bigger push that lies ahead. For me taking things slowly can be really difficult as once I’ve got an idea in my head I want to run with it…but that’s exactly why I need a bit more slow living in my life!
- Be proportionate. There are an endless number of houses and jobs out there and you could go and see or apply for them all! But obviously that would be exhausting. Before we start we should try and set some boundaries or a scope for what we’ll look at. I have friends who travelled 2 hours each way every weekend to see every new house that came on the market when they were relocating – which is extreme dedication but ridiculously tiring! One of the reasons me and my boyfriend have already started looking at houses is to understand what we like and don’t like so we can reduce the scope of what we’re looking for when we get serious. This should mean that we can reduce the number of houses we go and view, without reducing our scope too much. The same is helpful when setting up job alerts. (It does have the downside that sometimes you fall in love with a house before you’re ready to buy, like I did yesterday! I just had to remind myself that rushing into something is not in-keeping with my approach to house buying…and use what I’ve learnt about what I liked about that house – like the stunning views, french doors, apple trees, and roses…swoon – for future house hunting. And maybe it will still be there when they time’s right. )
- Inspiration for motivation. This one’s particularly helpful when buying houses! Spend a bit of time on Pinterest setting up boards that reflect the kind of home you want to create. When things are tough then taking a look at your Pinterest board will hopefully revitalise your motivation! When it comes to jobs, pin some motivational posts that reflect the lifestyle that you’re working towards. (However, if you’re like me and can spend hours on Pinterest and then feel like you’ve wasted your life afterwards, then set a time limit!)
- Don’t be the problem, be the change. Estate agents and recruitment agents clash with my values. They are pushy, working all hours, and often (not always!) a bit dishonest…they’ll do anything for a sale or a chance to recruit someone. We should be the opposite of this when approaching the job hunting and house buying process. We should be honest, thoughtful, respectful and intentional. Then we can at least have pride in how we approached the process, and I’m sure vendors and employers will appreciate this.
- Figure out the way you work. For me I like operating online. There are loads of online job search engines and now even online estate agents that mean you can do a lot of the process at your own speed. I prefer contacting via email as it means that I can deal with it when I’m ready rather than having my phone ring every 2 minutes. I also prefer being shown round a house by a vendor rather than an agent as I love understanding the personal story behind a house! However you may prefer being able to actually speak to people in person when arranging viewings – figure out what you like and make sure agents know that that’s how you want to communicate.
- Laugh it off. Job hunting and house hunting are stressful, and no matter what we do it’s always going to add a certain level of craziness to our lives. We just have to recognise this going in to the process and try hard to laugh it off (even when we have the 15 millionth set back!). We are privileged to be in a position where we can buy a house or have job choice, and we should embrace this experience just as we embrace all experiences we get to have from being human.
I’ll keep you updated on how we’re getting on, but for now: Happy job and house hunting everyone!