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Exiting the rat race. Lessons learned whilst searching for a simpler life.

For a good portion of my life, I lived in tandem with millions of others in one of our country’s major cities. Whilst I found lifelong friends there, I was never enamored by the big city lifestyle. Never was the line between those who have it all and those who have nothing so large and plain to see. 

While I walked the cities neon gullet, my head would fill with other people’s words, thoughts and problems. My nose would sting with cigarette smoke and my ears would ring with the cacophony of modern life. I used to love being lost, 5 million souls all together and somehow so very alone.

Somewhere to call home.

Through the skin of my teeth, I seemed to get by and for a while, I took a numb amusement in it all. I tried earnestly to sow my seeds there, but it proved to be much harder than I would ever imagine. I eventually found a decent paying job and decided I had had enough of renting. How could some people be approved for an investment loan, and I am here paying off someone else’s home loan. 

After being denied several times whilst applying for a home loan I became very disheartened by the whole experience. See, homes in the city are much more expensive than those in regional Australia. After some deep and wrenching soul searching, I concluded that if I wanted a place to call home, I would need to find a home that I could afford.

Swapping the skyline for a tree line.

My interest in home ownership went deeper than any financial desires. Since I can remember I have wanted a home to call my own. A home I could decorate, renovate and someday, play host to my grandkids in. Home to me represented legacy, a place to live out your dreams and feel safe and sheltered. 

A tree change was the only logical answer to my desires. After some (a lot of) research and weekend trips I fell in love with an area within Queensland’s hinterland. The houses here were significantly larger than their city counterparts and oozed an old-world charm that I fell head over heels for. The next step was to find “the one”

Give me some credit.

When applying for a home loan, your credit rating will give lenders a good idea of your ability to make repayments, etc. Essentially, if you have a good credit rating, your chances of being approved are increased. I had researched, budgeted and eaten 2-minute noodles to no avail in the city. I had an excellent rating but I simply did not earn enough to afford even an entry-level home. 

The price of an average 4-bedroom home in my new town was almost half the price of the homes I had been applying for in the city. I am blessed in the sense that I work from my computer, so my work relocated with me. The process of applying for a home loan now was so much simpler. After years and years of saving, scrimping scrounging and other unpleasant measures, I was finally the owner of a home!

Lessons learned.

Whilst it has been far from smooth sailing, I have learned an immense about my self and life in general after my escape from the rat race. Living away from people meant I had to become much more self-sufficient. I had to ‘harden up’ as they say, and I would love to share some lessons that I learned from this whole process.

  1. Get a clear idea of what you want

If you are feeling lost and disconnected it might be because your circle of focus is full of clutter. This sounds very “new age” but by ring of focus I mean, the immediate concerns in your future, the things you think about daily all make up this “ring of focus”. By sharpening this ring and only focussing on things that are important to you, you remove the static of meaningless problems.

Knowing yourself and really understanding what it is you want will help you clear your mind. By knowing what steps, you must take to find fulfillment, you can re-populate your “ring of focus” with the things that really matter.

  1. Get rid of debts

I learned the hard way that debts can add up. Whilst I battled to be approved for a home loan, my previous credit cards and debts came to the surface, and in one instance I was rejected in my application because I did not disclose an old unsettled credit card. Yikes. Before trying to build a future for yourself, make sure all your financial loose ends are tied up or it could come back to bite you. 

  1. Simplify, man

I’m really trying to not sound like a hippy here! I found that I am at my happiest when things are simple and easy. City life had social layers of complexity that I didn’t quite understand and frankly, nor did I care too. Life in the trees and birds has given me a new appreciation for the “simple” life. 

Stress can kill you, literally. Modern life moves faster than perhaps mankind was ready for, stress has emerged as a dangerous new enemy to our body and mind. By simplifying your life and destressing you will not only live longer, but your quality of life will also be greatly improved. 

So, there it is, a condensed account of how I left the rat race and embraced a new simpler life in the treetops of Queensland’s hinterland. After several rejected home loan applications and a serious look inside myself, I made the change… and I couldn’t be happier! 

If you are reading this and dreaming of an escape, you can make it work too, just be prepared to grow a thick skin! I truly hope my trials and tribulations can help someone on their path to becoming happier, healthier and more self-sufficient.

Written by
Noah Cooper

I'm the head of the Cooper heard. My wife and I moved abroad when our first son who came along in May, 2011. I am a typical Brit abroad with a family to raise and am sharing the journey of the expat life abroad.

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Written by Noah Cooper