Richard Oliff - Time to size down for a stress-free life

Richard Oliff
Richard Oliff

I recently wrote about the apparent lack of affordable housing available to those who survive on modest or no income. We’ve all heard the saying ‘the more one earns the more one spends’, which I believe to be true.

Within any household income bracket one’s home and location is often seen as an outward sign to the rest of the world that one is living a life consistent with the ‘statement’ our home was designed to make. I know people who earn amazing salaries when compared to most yet they still spend in relative terms the same, if not more than the rest of us. Indeed, some of these people live way beyond their means in a desperate attempt to appear even wealthier than they actually are, racking up ever more expensive credit in the process.

‘Keeping up with the Jones’’ has nothing on these folk. Quite often even the car’s they drive aren’t theirs, belonging instead to a leasing company and given to the driver as part of their employment package. In itself a false zone of comfort, given the tax one has to pay for the luxury.

All fine and dandy until, God forbid, they lose that job. They then have no car and invariably have more debt and financial worries, pro rata, than someone earning £7 an hour.

There are two buildings that have always fascinated me, purely because of their sheer size, opulence, significance and, more importantly, their occupants. Buckingham Palace and The Vatican are the homes to Her Majesty the Queen and His Holiness the Pope, respectively, both of whom have no financial worries though some may say that they have sacrificed a ‘normal’ life for the benefit of state and religious calling. I recently found myself sitting in my modest living room which, by most standards, is not that big, but it is sufficient for a cosy winter’s night watching T.V.

Then it dawned on me that even the Queen and the Pope can only be in one room at a time, with no guarantee of privacy. They might, for example, be reading a book: yet its still one person sitting in one room with one book. Someone living in a one bedroom flat in Corby or Northampton can do exactly the same.

There is a great deal to be said for peace of mind, the very reason why more and more families are choosing to ‘downsize’ just about everything in their lives.

The world in which we live today is forcing most to re-think or rearrange past choices to suit the uncertainty of an unpredictable financial future. I’ve realised that the time has come to ‘cash-in’ on my past and sell up for a smaller, mortgage free life.