A minor accomplishment to report this week: I got my financial education certificate in the mail! It doesn’t mean much, of course, but it’s nice to have some sort of “official” confirmation that I’ve passed the course – although it would have been even nicer if there were no misspellings on the certificate…
In other news, we hosted some CouchSurfers for a few days this week, a lovely couple from Brussels. They taught us to make tortilla espanola (Teresa is originally from Spain) and an olive oil quiche crust that bakes up delightfully thin and crispy. We learned a lot about Spain, Belgium, and life in Brussels, and lingered at the table long after dinner was over talking about all sorts of things, including moving to the countryside. Teresa and Pierre are thinking about buying a house in a small town outside of Brussels together with two other couples. While this probably wouldn’t work very well for us – I feel like we would need more privacy than this arrangement would allow – we would be thrilled if some of our friends wanted to live next door to us in the Methow. One option would be to purchase a big piece of land and build two or three houses on it together… Sadly, though, none of our friends are interested in anything of the kind. Most of them are city people through and through, and would never move to a tiny town in a remote area. There is only one person we know who wants to live in a rural area, but she plans to join an intentional community. (Know of a cool intentional community in Washington or Oregon? Leave a comment, and I’ll pass your recommendation along!)
Spending time with our CouchSurfers also rekindled my yearning to travel to other countries. I’m particularly drawn to Western European countries, primarily for cultural reasons. Much of the literature I read as a child and in my teens was by British, German, and French authors (among others), and I feel a special affinity with these countries. Will living in a remote corner of Washington State make it more challenging for us to travel? Will the financial commitment of buying a home force us to stay put? I hope not, or at least not forever. Building or buying a house will involve a major upfront expense, and, in addition to our mortgage, we will also have ongoing monthly expenses such as homeowners insurance that we do not have in our present life. However, renting out a home you own is easier than doing so with a rental (in our current place, we are not allowed to sublet), and there seems to be a lot of demand for accommodations in the Methow Valley, particularly during the major tourist season, i.e. summer, and, to a lesser extent, during the ski season (winter, obviously). So, hopefully we will be able to rent out our place while we are gone, which will help with travel expenses.
Also, we anticipate that our cost of living will be lower in the Methow than in the city. For one, if we can grow most of our food, at least most of the produce we consume, that will be a huge help. We currently spend about $400 a month on groceries, and probably about half of that is on veggies, fruit, and berries. We have a plot in a P-Patch, which actually helps a lot during the growing season – for example, for about two months out of the year, all our salad greens come from our plot. We also grow things like kale, chard, and zucchini, which, cooked and thrown into a bowl of pasta or combined with some eggs, makes for a quick, nourishing, and inexpensive meal. With more land, we could expand to other produce that we use a lot but don’t currently plant because it would take up too much space in our small plot, e.g. cabbage and potatoes. Perhaps the hotter Eastern Washington climate would even make it possible to grow eggplant – mmm, my favorite vegetable! Anyway, I’m getting a little carried away here daydreaming about a garden, but the point is that we could likely save quite a bit of money by having one. We’d also probably save on commuting costs if we were to work from home, or near home.
So, I’m pretty confident that moving to the Methow doesn’t mean saying good-bye forever to Europe or other places we’d like to visit. There may be additional logistical challenges to think through, but nothing that is impossible to overcome. Teresa and Pierre – one of these days we will knock on the door of your communal house near Brussels, bringing Methow Valley honey, locally roasted coffee and other goodies!