I've been thinking an awful lot about lifestyles and the differences between the people I have got used to at home and the people I am now seeing every day on my commute. The difference must be money, surely? You would not put yourself through the commute unless you were getting rewarded for it financially, would you? Well, that seems logical to me anyway, however, what I am actually seeing is people in fairly ordinary jobs who are having to put themselves through one hell of a commute every day, I can't believe that the financial rewards are always worth it.
I am staying with friends in a small hamlet near Dartford and the train journey into London is 50 minutes (to London Charing Cross) and costs pence under £70 a week. It's basically taking me 2 hours in each direction (including walking, tubes and changes). If I were doing this every day it would cost me £3600 a year in travel and 1000 hours commute a year. So are the financial rewards still worth it? The friends I am staying with are a lovely couple, one of whom, for 16 years, had done this commute and he will hand on heart say that it is not worth it. He has recently given up his job in central London and is working down the road, short term, for less than half the salary he was on. Long term, they have wonderful plans - they have bought a 3/4 acre plot of land in France and are starting to build an eco house there later this year and will move over with very little money but embracing what life is really about, it doesn't include 1000 hours a year commuting funnily enough.
I am thrilled to hear of anyone who is changing their lifestyles and suddenly I am surrounded by people who are living differently in certain ways. During the rehearsals for the opera I am doing at the moment there is often hanging around to do and people fill the time in different ways. What is interesting this time around is that one girl is currently spending this time crocheting and has shown me photos of the huge blanket she is doing out of granny squares (I was proud to know the term having read your blogs). Another girl, who is singing the very famous part of the Queen of the Night, is sitting in the corner wearing a home knitted jumper and a knitted hat and is currently knitting something else (another hat I reckon), She looks like she would be more at home on a farm than in a rehearsal room really. As do I. Why do I have so few clothes that don't have holes in or paint splattered somewhere on them (sigh)? The girl who is the wardrobe mistress recently moved, with her husband, to a little cottage in Norfolk where they have access to a field, besides growing veggies, she is currently owner of 4 chickens and 2 pigs. being wardrobe mistress has massive advantages because she can basically make anything! I have known her for 10 years and have so enjoyed watching the transformation of her happiness since she moved there. Her long term plan is self sufficiency.
So are we at the edge of a frugal living revolution? are more and more people getting it? I hope so, although I doubt it when I look at the miserable faces on the commute. But every single person who gets it a bit, is a step in the right direction and I am certainly seeing much more of it than I was before.