A few years ago, when we first arrived in rural France, there were a few ‘downshifters’ around. Families who believed a peaceful, low-impact, low-cost, environment-friendly life was A GOOD THING.
Or rather, parents who had dragged their kicking and screaming children with them, telling them that growing their own vegetables and learning to knit was a good thing.
The principle sounds good – live cheap, make things yourself, produce your own food, and generally be at one with nature. But I can’t help wondering, where are the downshifters now?
All the people that we know who are still here are regular, trying to make a living, type of people. There’s no time for bee-keeping when you have an online meeting at 7 o’clock in the morning. Who can embroider a new exhaust pipe for the car or a cheque to pay the electricity bill?
The idea of moving to France to live a more worthwhile life is as valid as ever. We have no regrets about coming. There is less stress, less traffic, and more fresh air. No commuting and no waiting in the cold for cancelled trains. But none of that counts if you don’t have the money to pay for your water or heating.
Funnily enough, I can’t offhand think of any expats here in France that even have a successful potager (vegetable garden). Unless you have the time and the enthusiasm to work very hard, often in weather that’s either too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, it’s a hard job just stopping the weeds taking over. There are plenty of stories of failed potagers.
So I’m thinking of starting a new organisation, to be called ‘Upshifters’. It will feature people who, by moving to France, now have more disposable income than ever. Those who moved to France and, by starting a successful business, now have all those luxuries – fast cars, exotic holidays etc – that they could never afford before moving.
Sadly I’m not eligible as an upshifter (or a downshifter) myself, but I’m happy to run the society for a large annual membership fee.
Meanwhile if anyone knows someone who has successfully downshifted to France, and sustained the lifestyle for more than a few years, please let me know. Likewise, if you know an ‘upshifter’ we’d love to feature their story.