At the end of the week my brother is moving to Madrid. He might go for a year before coming back home, he might go for a few months before moving to another part of the world, or he might end up staying there forever. He’s just going to go and see how he gets on.
Over the last few weeks he’s handed in his notice at work, taken Spanish lessons, and started to slowly pack his stuff away. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little bit jealous of him and starting to doubt my own life choices. He’s about to embark on this exciting adventure and I’m here obsessing over the amount of money in my bank account. The world is his oyster and I’m trying to find an affordable street to live on in Manchester that isn’t paved with litter and what looks like it could quite possibly be human shit.
A few months ago my brother said to me “I know that getting a house and settling down is what you want to do, but it’s just not for me yet.”
Is a house really what I want?
It did have me questioning whether home ownership is really what I want. Sure, I can’t wait to have a home of my own, be able to decorate it as I please, and put my money towards a long-term investment rather than paying off a landlord’s mortgage. But, when I get the keys to my own home, am I really going to feel happier than I would be if I was waking up each day to glorious Spanish weather? When I need to call an electrician because the power’s gone out will I really be grateful for years of frugality? Or will I regret not moving to New York and living the high life over there?
I do want to see the world
There are so many places I want to visit in my lifetime. I want to see the Northern Lights, have my photo taken next to the leaning tower of Pisa, eat breakfast on a balcony in Paris, and cuddle a koala in Canberra. But with just 20 days holiday entitlement each year along with a savings account that aint gonna fill itself, seeing these places doesn’t seem like much of a possibility.
A part of me regrets not travelling more when I was younger. I went on so many nights throughout uni that I got drinking out of my system. Maybe I should have done that with travelling too. But the truth is, while my friends were inter-railing around Europe or backpacking in Thailand, I just never fancied it. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to go to these places, but the idea of sleeping in a different hostel every night and living out of a backpack just never appealed to me. I much preferred the idea of staying in the same hotel for a fortnight before going back home.
In a way, I also felt a bit tied down by my part-time supermarket job. I didn’t even like it, but it was better paid than other part-time jobs and I worked the same hours each week which fitted perfectly around uni. I didn’t like the idea of coming back from my travels and ending up in a job with an unpredictable rota and minimum wage. Maybe that’s my problem. I’m too sensible and too much of a worrier!
Do we have to pick one or the other?
I wish it was possible to travel the world AND buy a house but of course, it’s not that easy. I have a few friends who regularly post on Facebook about how you’re not living the life to the full unless you’re travelling the world. They’re living their dreams but, having worked in beach bars for the last 7 years, they’re unlikely to return to the UK to a well-paid job that will allow them to set money aside each month for ‘boring’ grown up purchases such as marriage, kids, houses or pensions.
Sure, travelling the world may help you live life to the full when you’re young, but if you do decide to return home and settle down at a later date, you could struggle financially. Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.
As jealous as I am of my brother’s new life, I’ve realised that I’m too much of a settle-downer. I like to get comfortable and make a place my home. I also like to play it safe. I’m not much of a risk-taker.
I’m also ambitious and want to progress in my career. I’d love to one day be in a position where I can work from anywhere in the world, travelling to different countries for an unlimited period of time before returning to my home in Manchester. A girl can dream. Perhaps one day I’ll make a new place my home, but until that’s a possibility, I’ll have to make do with miniature holidays to different countries and comfy nights in on the sofa in between.
What are your thoughts? Do you love travelling or would you rather save for big and ‘sensible’ life milestones? Perhaps you’ve managed to find a healthy balance between the two! I’d love to hear from you either in the comments below or on Twitter @CantSwingACat.
I’m also looking for guest contributors to share their experiences, so if you have a story on this topic that you’d like to share, send me an email to email@example.com