“The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
Two questions have been coming up over and over again: Why PEI? and Why now?
Let me start this post by saying that writing a blog isn’t easy. Not for me anyhow. The words just don’t come easy with me – and when I do write something, I read it over, and over, and over, rewrite my thoughts and reread it, and edit it further, erase it, rewrite it, obsess over it – blargetty, blarg, blarg. And then, I delete half of what I wrote before I hit the “Publish” button. It’s all very tiring. And this is probably the more difficult type of post for me: more personal, less technical.
I find it relatively easy to write about the business of what we’re doing in PEI: plaster and lath! framing! cut-nails! demolition! repair! renovate! Construction is the language I speak. But ask me why we’re doing it, and it’s much more difficult to convey.
About two years ago, Vanessa and I started talking about moving away from the city into a more rural setting, simplifying our life, slowing our pace and, in doing so, making the time for the things we see important and enjoying our time together.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. There was nothing wrong with the life we had living in Whitby, Ontario. In fact, we had it pretty good: decent jobs, a beautiful home on a big lot with flower and vegetable gardens and fruit trees. We were comfortable and what we had was nice.
But it wasn’t our dream.
Ever since we met, we talked about our love for old homes and country life. I remember our first dates were spent walking the streets in downtown Unionville – going in and out of the old shops and admiring the homes. We thought: someday we’d love to have an old house.
Then life happens – I was finishing school and we were working towards getting married. There were family stresses, too – my dad was sick during our engagement and passed away just a few months after we were married. We carried on the way newly married people are expected to – we landed jobs, tried (unsuccessfully) to have kids and eventually bought our first home. Life rolled on, as it does, and before we knew it, fifteen years had passed.
We had built a lifestyle that, while comfortable, wasn’t fulfilling. With Vanessa working for a charitable organization, the hours available for her to work were directly reflective of the donations received. I found myself taking on more responsibility and working more hours than I wanted but not seeing a return in my income. We were working more but earning less, but our cost of living wasn’t declining, either. Our jobs had become a sort of paradox – a necessary evil – we were working harder and harder to maintain a lifestyle that wasn’t what we really wanted.
So what options did we discuss?
- We could continue with the status quo – work hard, pay down our mortgage and, in time, save enough to buy that old farmhouse with acreage in Southern Ontario. PROS: it’s status quo, friends and family are close and it’s familiar, comfortable. CONS: it’s status quo, work is becoming a source of dissatisfaction, tired of the city and the rat-race, it’s a long term plan – fifteen years easy, or increase debt load/mortgage.
- We could sell our house now while the market is hot and move to a location where the old farmhouse dream can be realized. PROS: mortgage-free at 40, able to spend quality time in the outdoors, start being more self-sufficient in our food requirements, no rat-race, improved quality of life, fulfilling a twenty-year dream, enjoying it now while we’re young – who knows how long we have here. CONS: moving away from family and friends, unknown job-market.
Well, if you’re a reader of this blog, you already know our decision. We would sell now and start a new life elsewhere. The question was “where”?
We looked at Northern Ontario. We went so far as to order catalogues of remote acreage parcels on which to build a homestead. And there were some beautiful properties in the northern wilderness: 200+ acres with lakes and rivers surrounded by crown land – a hunter/fisherman’s paradise. The land was affordable – but not entirely workable. Farming is part of the dream and we want to grow as much produce as possible to meet our needs for the year. That’s hard to do on bedrock and in the cold north climate.
Another option was replanting my roots in Newfoundland. That’s my ultimate dream. It certainly meets my need of having access to the great outdoors. Farming would be difficult, though and housing prices there were still relatively higher than we wanted to go. The beauty would be having distant family closer again.
How we started considering Prince Edward Island is still not entirely clear. I remember looking at the housing market and asking Vanessa what she thought. She’d never been to PEI – but loved Anne of Green Gables, so….sure! We could have our pick of old farmhouses and farming is a tried-and-true industry here, so we shouldn’t have much issue. The more we talked and prayed about it, the more it seemed that we were being led here. Everything seemed to fit the bill, so in September we came to look for an old island home and by mid-November the moving truck was packed and we were eastbound.
The rest, as they say, is history. Or at least history being written.
If you’re reading this now and wondering how the house renovations are coming along, you’ll be happy to hear that we reached a milestone this week: we now have the main cape of the house completely gutted. I’ve already started to write that post and you’ll be seeing it in the next few days – so don’t worry, we’ll get technical again real soon.
For now, I’m glad to get this post over with. It’s taken a lot longer to write this one than the others – and I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I hope you enjoyed reading it, none the less.
Love, love, loving your blogs… technical and personal!! Hope we get to see your new Old Island home in person one day. 🙂
Thank you, Lisa. We hope you get to see it in person too – sooner than later hopefully. Although if you were to come now, I’d probably shove a hammer or paintbrush in your hands after you drop your bag. 😉
Don’t obsess over your writing Russ. As always it is interesting and funny and a good read. Keep it up we are all living vicariously through you two.
Thanks Chris – much appreciated. I really am enjoying the whole process of writing about what we’re doing – I’m just happy to hear others are enjoying the read, too.
So glad to here you guys are doing great! And good for you, for being so brave to do what many of us dream about! 🙂
Hey Laura – good to hear from you! Thank you so much.
Look forward to your blogs Rusty.As always,well written so you do not need to obsess.Especially
enjoyed this one….written from your heart.Keep on keeping on!!!!
Definitely from the heart. Thanks Mom – keepin’ on!
Hello Russ and Vanessa …My name is Colleen and I am a very old friend of Dawns.I saw her post a link to your blog and I hope you don’t mind , but I have been following it and am enjoying reading about your new adventure.I have never been to PEI , I was born in Ontario , but moved back home to Ireland 22 years ago( my parents birth place) and have happily lived here since.I have heard that PEI is very much like Ireland , I live 5min from the coast and the nearest city is 60 miles away, and I would never go back to city life , I love the slow pace of country living.I hope you don’t mind my intrusion.I wish you both the best of luck and look forward to your next installment and pictures of your progress. Bye for now Colleen
Thank you so much for the note, Colleen! Really good to hear from the other side of the Atlantic! We’re so enjoying life on PEI. I’m glad you found us and hope you stick around to see how our adventure unfolds.
Now that you have written this blog, you can breathe!!!!! Of course no explanation was really necessary, but your explanation should satisfy everyone. I think the two of you are really brave and I know your dreams will come true—-and when the time is right we’ll be out for a visit!!!!!!! We can’t wait for more pictures!!!! :):)
Thanks Alida. Believe it or not, we’ve already confirmed some guests for later this year. I’m not sure what state the house will be in when they arrive, however. Looking forward to a visit from you and Murray, too!
Thanks for following my blog. I will be following yours with interest. From what I can see we are traveling a similar road in a lot of ways.
Thank you, Mark – after reading through your blog, I thought the very same thing. Best of luck.