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Giving Up The Rat Race

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Sacking off the Rat Race?

Done it?

What did you do?

Please provide inspirational stories of the alternative life :)

Had a devastating stroke 8 years ago. Got ill health retirement package from the NHS - just before occupational pensions went down the pan. Have fought my way back to almost normal now, and am happier and less stressed than I've ever been.

Re-found my best childhood friend [on Friends Reunited] who'd emigrated to Australia with her family in 1975, then we lost touch - visited her 4 times, now she's coming here to visit me. Never thought I'd see her again. Working part time in a totally different area - 5 minutes from home, instead of commuting to London every day from the IOW. Also volunteer for Samaritans and have time for friends and to just be me. Wouldn't recommend a stroke, but since recovery, life now seems almost worth it.

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Sacking off the Rat Race?

Done it?

What did you do?

Please provide inspirational stories of the alternative life :)

Did it for a year - quit my job in finance and spent the time with my kids, traveling, political campaigning and writing a book. In the end I realised I'd stopped too early and was getting bored so went back. Would totally recommend it though, so long as you can afford it, there really is no downside regardless of whether you do it for the long term or just for a short while.

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Kind of avoided the rat race in the first place - did a gap year with a volunteer organisation overseas, which became four years. Saw a lot of the world, really off the beaten track places, at their expense (although I wasn't paid at the time). Left that to teach English overseas, was then out of the blue offered a paid position with the charity at one of the international offices in Germany and later transferred to the UK. Amongst the perks - found out that one of my reports had lead to seven kids in the developing world getting an education they never would have had otherwise.

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My own story: Was an accountant, was driven insane by bullying bosses, lack of progression no social life and not getting shags. 2009 very unhappy got made redundant. Had me in tears but it was the best thing which happened to me. Looked online for jobs went to a few interviews. But suddenly sat up and thought hold on do I really want to get back into that life? I didn't know what to do so simply I went for a motorbike ride. This motorbike ride ended up with me on the other side of the planet having met many people along the way got shot at mugged. Violated by a Russian chick, I saw a lot of things and had a lot of time to simply not think about stuff for a long time. All I had to think about was where to ride, what to eat and when to stop. My life for about 6 months. I padded it out back packing through China and South East Asia. I returned and had my motorbike stolen :angry: but everybody found my outlook and attitude had completely changed. People didn't recognize me as I'd had a serious dose of chill. I no longer care about accountancy any more and consider it an experience I don't want to repeat.

I picked up odd office jobs here and there which I don't give a shit about, I temp here and there do the odd bits and pieces there cruising. I now run my own businesses and work insane hours in order to fund the next big adventure. I live in a small flat above an Indian take out place so it smells iffy when I go up the stairs at the back. I'm surrounded by bare walls and two suitcases which represent my total worldly belongings. But it doesn't bother me as I escape into the WWW and good books and I know it won't be forever as the adventuring will start up yet again.

I fully expect this last big adventure to be my last and to be cause of my death and quite frankly I couldn't care less. As in the last 3 years since I was pushed out of accountancy I've felt more alive than I had in the 10 years before where I had been climbing the slippery career pole and being educated.

I have second hand real stories of quitting the rat race:

Pete Ghey H. Was a lawyer or engineer I forget... he decided to go for a Tandem skydive one day. He got so addicted he became a drop zone bum and a resident instructor in Spain. He makes bog all drives a 1970s BMW but is considerably happier than he was.

Sal 'Legend'(ski) - was a pharmacist had her own house completely paid off by the time she was 27. She got bored sold everything and went on a long journey on a motorbike through south east asia. She then became a skydiver and was seen all over the world jumping with barely airworthy equipment. She returned became an instructor and went to New England to instruct. Currently lives in a caravan in Hib and is considerably happier for it.

Her brother was the same, he was an accountant he got offered partner at 25. Inspired by his sister he quit the rat race and became a full time skydive rigger and cameraman. He packs canopies as well, doesn't have a pot to pish in but is considerably happier. I had a few beers with him and he described the endless treadmill of office work and he couldn't take it. He knew he would have a horrible retirement witout a pot to pish in but he felt the experience in his life was so vast and so colourful that it as worth it as accountant life wasn't living.

Rick in Mongolia, A canadian who worked in an office and quit. He went and became a stunt performer in the porn industry in the 1990s. He worked for a few years and saved up enough money to roam the earth forever as long as he stays in cheap south east asian countries. He'd been on the road for 15 years and only returned to renew his passport.

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I used to live in Harlow, Essex and commute to Marylebone, London every day when I worked for the head office of a retailer.

That involved leaving the house at about 07:00 and getting home at about 18:45. Standing on a train every day. Paying about £2.8k for the privilege each year. Getting every cold and infection known to man thanks to being in close proximity with others who ought to have stayed home. Feeling generally drained most evenings (it's less to do with the hours, more the travelling)

I reached a point where I couldn't stand it any more. Moving nearer wasn't really an option, I could have moved to, say, Epping, but it was very expensive and I'd have ended up in a one bed flat barely big enough to swing a cat in. I didn't consider, and still wouldn't consider, being any nearer to London - that line had already been drawn up. I'd already prepared to take a much lower salary so as not to have to commute.

I then got an offer of a role from one of the IT project managers in a company he'd started. So at that point I worked from home (office in Chiswick and I made it plain I would not drive from Essex to Chiswick every day) and they were happy with this.

Colds and infections gone. Loss of energy gone. Massive quality of life improvement. And more money even before the travel costs.

Worked for Tesco.com in Welwyn Garden City for a while - we even moved to WGC. Salary rise. Pleasant enough town.

Went self-employed (IT) and have largely worked either from home or my own office ever since. Salary rise (most years anyway!) and much of my time is my own.

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I only had a small sample of the rat race lifestyle for six months, when my first job involved little pay working for a horrible man, with a dodgy moustache, who wanted my soul. I then found another job which was in a beautiful rural countryside setting (formerly a farm), but rented out as offices where the bosses loved my work, allowed me to work from home some days of the week, and never put any constraints or deadlines on me (all this with a 200%+ pay increase). This was back when house prices first started to climb - little did I know what the future was going to hold, but I remember thinking there's no way I'm going to buy now, yet had I done so, I could have grabbed a bargain by today's standards.

When the company got into financial difficulties it was taken over by an evil sociopathic, skirt-chasing, old CEO from London, and the job moved to the city (though not the capital) and the atmosphere began to plummet, but even he couldn't pull the company out of hot waters, so I went self-employed. It involved a lot of hours, but was quite liberating, and I found I could earn more. Three years later I met a girl and moved to an affluent part of Paris, so continued to work self-employed over there. You can certainly see the rat race mentality in the French capital, and that reflects in people's behaviour. I spent three years there (fortunately never fell into the rat race mentality myself), and enjoyed the sights, architecture and flavour of life, but we started a family and decided we needed more space, so moved towards the south-west of France, in a small hamlet. I now work less hours and make less money, but life has infinitely improved. I certainly didn't move for the weather food and drink, but that in itself does seem to make life taste that much sweeter. Between the babies, growing my own food, attending to the wood and garden, thrown in with socialising, I do not have much time to work for myself, though fortunately over the years I've built up a means of living whereby I can make a reasonable income without needing to get out of bed in the mornings (fortunately I don't actually adopt that philosophy - I'm not a stay in bed sort of person). I know my lifestyle isn't for many, and some people thrive on the rat race (or perhaps a slightly less stressful version of it), but my new life suits me down to the ground, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

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Funny enough the Rat Race gave up on me.

After going through massive dips and troughs job wise, think very hard before leaping. If you have a year or 2 out its hard to return to the same job, no one in my ex-industry wants to hire someone 2 years out of the sector. My wife wanted some time off from her job even while I was unemployed, so I took a hardest job I have ever done for a very low salary. 3 months before she was offered a 30k fulltime job. She turned it down, after that it took 10 months of unemployment and a spiral of self destruction before she started at wetherspoons, shit pay shit hours, she gave that up. Now back on her feet doing her old job, 30% less pay and atm no fulltime offer on the table.

I think to dump the rat race you need to have 2 things.

- Financial security, either a fund that negates rental or a big chunk of a flat/house paid off.

That means even with the most lowly paid job, partime is doable. If you dont youll get to see how the NMW earner lives, its a crappy existence btw.

- Aspire not to be a drone, get some hobbies and sort it before you give up!

While tripping down the road of being broken free of the rat race youll find its fkcn boring. Get some social hobbies or youll go mad, or possibly return to the rat race asap :D.

Social dancing, pubs, cheap festivals/airshows, and cycling are my faves.

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Video Editor at BBC on almost 60k, driving 100 mile round trip and waking up in the middle of the night thinking about work.

Flogged big house, bought small house.

Now I make £5-£6k on website work. Wife similar income.

Both our own bosses, I play golf 4 times per week and work when I want.

I might not have the income, but I live life as if I'm on holiday all of the time :-)

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My own story: Was an accountant, was driven insane by bullying bosses, lack of progression no social life and not getting shags.

Are the two connected??;)

In 2004 my life was going nowhere and then I discovered...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

... HPC! :D

D'oh! I forgot to list HPC as one of my occupations.:P

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Video Editor at BBC on almost 60k, driving 100 mile round trip and waking up in the middle of the night thinking about work.

Flogged big house, bought small house.

Now I make £5-£6k on website work. Wife similar income.

Both our own bosses, I play golf 4 times per week and work when I want.

I might not have the income, but I live life as if I'm on holiday all of the time :-)

How do you get by on that amount? Is the house all paid off?

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Really interesting and inspiring stories guys. Thanks for sharing.

For my part, I didn't enter the rat race in the first place for the very reasons most here cite for leaving. I work hard and put in long hours but I'm a family man at heart and that's why I do it: to provide for them, their present and their future. Like many here I prefer the simpler, quieter life. I prefer to live within my means, to not be a slave to materialism and "aspiration", and to spend time with people who actually appreciate it and whose company we genuinely enjoy (not fair-weather friends who live in constant competition with their peers). We earn enough to enjoy the things we enjoy and have the time and friendships with which to enjoy them.

Bossybabe really highlights an important issue for me: it's not until you've experienced serious ill-health, either your own or that of a close family member or friend, that you really begin to appreciate and evaluate what matters most to you. I experienced this straight out of university in my very early 20s and it led to me neither entering the rat race nor travelling the world; instead choosing to live and work near to where I grew up and spending as much time as possible with people while I still had the chance. If things had been different then I may well have done things differently but alas they weren't and we play the hand we're dealt. I'm glad I did - I just wish I'd bought a house at the same time too (2002) - although, like everyone else, I would have had to commit mortgage fraud to do it and I wasn't prepared to do so (who knew they'd let it go on for so long).

The vast majority of people on HPC have their heads screwed on right and for all the frustrations, anger at injustices and lamentations, I find the sentiments expressed here match my own the most. OP, if you're not happy then get out - I doubt you'll regret it - but have something lined up or waiting for you when you do.

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I should add that I truly loved my job in London, it was interesting, stimulating and challenging mentally. I would not have given it up but for the ill health. I'm not sure that I would do any different, given a second chance.

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Sacking off the Rat Race?

Done it?

What did you do?

Please provide inspirational stories of the alternative life :)

No I havent done it, but as I get older it gets more and more tempting.

I work as a scientist at a university (well the job is actually half that and half IT/software developing) and am starting to realise I won't still be wanting to work like this in 10 years time. Often have to work until late at night and at weekends to meet very tight deadlines and am fed up with it (especially when everyone I know who works for a private company seems to tell me they can just leave at 5 and even get paid overtime if they ever to have to work late! A coworker who got fed up and left said he is happier working in an investment bank because he gets paid more to work less, which I was incredibly surprised by - the working less hard that is). Its not like I get a huge salary to compensate (though its hardly minimum wage either, so some perspective is needed) and my job is reliant on winning new research funding every two years - if I don't the university will give me notice of redundancy and at my age (early 30's) its very difficult to get another job at a university (too old already sadly, except for permanent lecturer jobs which hardly ever come up).

Its also very frustrating when friends only 5 years older than me tell me how much they bought their nice sized house in a good area for (its for less than I have in savings which would only make up 50% deposit on the same house nowadays), though the next lot 5 years behind me will be screwed even more I think.

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I was working for a bank back in 2003. I hated the commute into London, I hated the small apartment I could just about afford, I resented paying alot of money in travel costs etc. When I got my annual bonus (it was small before anyone jumps on me) I decided to jump ship, travel for a year and then I moved in with a mate in Holland. I worked for an agency doing bar work which paid me enough to cover my credit card bill, room rent and partying around Europe at the weekends.

Eventually I needed mental stimulation and started working for an IT company. 8 years on I'm ready to move back to England and my company are allowing me to relocate. I really enjoy my job and I'm in a privligded position to move anywhere in the UK and work from home.

My advice is - take a sebatical, see the world/ do something completely different. If you're job is getting you down then use the time to figure out what you want to do. If it's your personal circumstances then take the time to helpyourself - maybe your outlook on your work will then change.

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Sacking off the Rat Race?

Done it?

What did you do?

Please provide inspirational stories of the alternative life :)

Hmm, not sure ther'll be much inspiration in mine, but the thread is very good so I will pitch in. I'm more or less in the 'have never joined the rat race' brigade, bar a brief spell in central London. I now (try to!) earn a living from the markets, ask me how it went in 30 years' time.

I've never been fully convinced of the benefits of entering the rat race, other than money. A keen interest in financial markets, from since before I had any money to invest (~1999) has always made it clear to me that if you work for a company, they do a lot better out of you than you do out of them, unless you are prepared to lick arses for x years and get to the top. Although I can see the attractions of a decent career etc, and have applied for (and been offered) jobs that would be tickets to riches (trainee actuary), I've ultimately declined taking them as I just could not convince myself that I'd be much better off in the long run. That decision is made even easier these days with the decline of the decent pensions, rising taxes etc. It's practically a no-brainer now. I know I'll miss out on some experiences only money can buy if my investing does not provide anything above basic living, but I just don't give a rats ass anymore. I have plenty of time to structure my days as I see fit, and can make spare time others can only dream of. The point someone make about having hobbies/social interests is a good one; I play sports and (try) to improve my fitness etc. I've plenty of projects lined up for me to do involving making/brewing stuff, cars, music, languages too.

I took a short consultancy job recently and although decent money I've never been more miserable or stressed, and it more or less cemented my previous opinions/predjudices, So I jacked it in. Most of the people I worked with, although on decent money, were spendthrifts in debt to the eyeballs which explained their continued participation in the job, even those in their fifties who had been doing likewise for decades. You pays your money and takes your lifestyle choices.

Ms cheeznbreed is now in her early thirties, so things may take a family turn in the next couple of years. I cannot think of anything better than being a stay at home dad, especially in the young years. I'm fortunate that she has a job she loves which is secure (as it can be), so I don't need to provide for her financially, nor does she me. I expect she'll go back to work after children, as she loves it so much. Her parents think I'm bonkers, mind, but it's difficult to justify an investors existence to someone who worked in the same place all their lives and would simply not countenance something which is even remotely risky.

Would I take another job, assuming I'm not forced to, which is a distinct possibility if investing goes belly up? Yes, but only if I felt it was worthwhile (whatever that is), something I could do well, and good value for me as an employee.

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It all depends on your mentality.

If you see earning money as a way of owning the latest shiny thing, a flash car, or status symbols you'll never leave the rat race.

I've always seen it as a way of gaining more control over my life.

I doubt anyone who likes Top Gear or the Gadget Show will ever leave the rat race.

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My own story: Was an accountant, was driven insane by bullying bosses, lack of progression no social life and not getting shags. 2009 very unhappy got made redundant. Had me in tears but it was the best thing which happened to me. Looked online for jobs went to a few interviews. But suddenly sat up and thought hold on do I really want to get back into that life? I didn't know what to do so simply I went for a motorbike ride. This motorbike ride ended up with me on the other side of the planet having met many people along the way got shot at mugged. Violated by a Russian chick, I saw a lot of things and had a lot of time to simply not think about stuff for a long time. All I had to think about was where to ride, what to eat and when to stop. My life for about 6 months. I padded it out back packing through China and South East Asia. I returned and had my motorbike stolen :angry: but everybody found my outlook and attitude had completely changed. People didn't recognize me as I'd had a serious dose of chill. I no longer care about accountancy any more and consider it an experience I don't want to repeat.

I picked up odd office jobs here and there which I don't give a shit about, I temp here and there do the odd bits and pieces there cruising. I now run my own businesses and work insane hours in order to fund the next big adventure. I live in a small flat above an Indian take out place so it smells iffy when I go up the stairs at the back. I'm surrounded by bare walls and two suitcases which represent my total worldly belongings. But it doesn't bother me as I escape into the WWW and good books and I know it won't be forever as the adventuring will start up yet again.

I fully expect this last big adventure to be my last and to be cause of my death and quite frankly I couldn't care less. As in the last 3 years since I was pushed out of accountancy I've felt more alive than I had in the 10 years before where I had been climbing the slippery career pole and being educated.

I have second hand real stories of quitting the rat race:

Pete Ghey H. Was a lawyer or engineer I forget... he decided to go for a Tandem skydive one day. He got so addicted he became a drop zone bum and a resident instructor in Spain. He makes bog all drives a 1970s BMW but is considerably happier than he was.

Sal 'Legend'(ski) - was a pharmacist had her own house completely paid off by the time she was 27. She got bored sold everything and went on a long journey on a motorbike through south east asia. She then became a skydiver and was seen all over the world jumping with barely airworthy equipment. She returned became an instructor and went to New England to instruct. Currently lives in a caravan in Hib and is considerably happier for it.

Her brother was the same, he was an accountant he got offered partner at 25. Inspired by his sister he quit the rat race and became a full time skydive rigger and cameraman. He packs canopies as well, doesn't have a pot to pish in but is considerably happier. I had a few beers with him and he described the endless treadmill of office work and he couldn't take it. He knew he would have a horrible retirement witout a pot to pish in but he felt the experience in his life was so vast and so colourful that it as worth it as accountant life wasn't living.

Rick in Mongolia, A canadian who worked in an office and quit. He went and became a stunt performer in the porn industry in the 1990s. He worked for a few years and saved up enough money to roam the earth forever as long as he stays in cheap south east asian countries. He'd been on the road for 15 years and only returned to renew his passport.

I love your stories Ken, can never quite decide if you're suicidal, on balance I'd say yes, a bit.

I'm not sure selling myself as a porn stunt a4se (assuming this is the bloke you've mentioned before) is quite my idea of dropout heaven. He's not the one in that video with the horse (now dead), is he?

Have fun on your next trip, I think a small effort to stay alive is probably worth it. Part of what you're doing is making memories after all, if you're dead you won't be able to take any pleasure in remembering.

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I love your stories Ken, can never quite decide if you're suicidal, on balance I'd say yes, a bit.

I'm not sure selling myself as a porn stunt a4se (assuming this is the bloke you've mentioned before) is quite my idea of dropout heaven. He's not the one in that video with the horse (now dead), is he?

Have fun on your next trip, I think a small effort to stay alive is probably worth it. Part of what you're doing is making memories after all, if you're dead you won't be able to take any pleasure in remembering.

+1

Come back and tell us about it, Ken.

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I love your stories Ken, can never quite decide if you're suicidal, on balance I'd say yes, a bit.

I'm not sure selling myself as a porn stunt a4se (assuming this is the bloke you've mentioned before) is quite my idea of dropout heaven. He's not the one in that video with the horse (now dead), is he?

Have fun on your next trip, I think a small effort to stay alive is probably worth it. Part of what you're doing is making memories after all, if you're dead you won't be able to take any pleasure in remembering.

The main pleasure is in doing it. The secondary pleasure is remembering it after. The second bit is nice - but not the most important for those into lots of mental things. If it was - they wouldn't do them. IMO anyway. ;)

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How do you get by on that amount? Is the house all paid off?

Yep. No mortgage, modest house and tax credits as our son is still living with us and in full time education.

Cheap cars, don't drive far, don't buy garbage.

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I took a late gap year, after working for a few years post-University. It's great for clearing the head and giving perspective. I'm back in the rat race now, but take it all much less seriously and walk away when I need to.

Friend of mine is a self-employed science writer. She lived in London for a while but found that even living in a shared rental house most of her income was going on rent. So she bought a camper van and has been travelling the country wherever the work takes her. She has seen more of the country and met more people in the past few years than most of us do in a lifetime. Recently she has taken up housesitting and gets to spend most of her time in some gorgeous country cottages. You can read about her here (case study at the bottom): Guardian Story . It's a lifestyle I find quite inspirational.

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Spent over a decade as a corporate drone, driving an hour to work every day, in the winter drove to work in the dark, sat under fluorescent lights all day, stared at a screen, first CAD, later spreadsheets and MS project, drove home in the dark. Ended up on a decent salary but hated every minute of it. Ironically it became more tolerable when I decided I didn't give a sh*t about it anymore.

When the opportunity for redundancy came up, I took it, volunteered for a year as a kind of re-training, went to college part time and now work 5 minutes from home and outside all day in beautiful countryside. For half the pay, but infinitely more enjoyment. It's a pleasure going to work on a Monday. I've been very lucky in the past couple of years.

P.S. I don't regret being in the rat race, I think you have to experience the lows to properly appreciate the highs.

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I think a few years in the rat race was good for me but eventually I realised I had to get out or I would die of boredom. The problem with London is you just tread water. I realised that now matter how much I scrimped and saved, I would never achieve the goal of owning outright a small house and garden, being able to grow my own food etc. So last year I took a sabbatical and lived and worked in a developing country and loved it. Then later that year I got the opportunity to work remotely 3 days a week and I now live in eastern Europe in a much more relaxed lifestyle, earning less but actually saving much more, I miss friends and family but can visit often via budget airlines. I realise I am very lucky and it took some effort to adjust but it was definitely worth it. The whole mortgage-slave lifestyle in the UK, coupled with rip off prices and general misery has become insane.

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  • 311 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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