Getting to grips with a big property

In the Netherlands there is a brilliant TV programme called ‘Ik vertrek’ (I’m leaving). When we announced that we were leaving Amsterdam to move here, the first question everyone asked was if we were going to be on ‘Ik vertrek’. Not wanting a million viewers to see how obsessed I was with colour coding the packing boxes, with my excel budget (approx 1,200 costs over 5 pages including a 3 year cashflow chart) and with weekly (soon to become daily) two-country to-do lists… I thought it best not to participate.

The programme is brilliant because you see someone following their dream, a dream that most of us share – to give up the ‘rat race’ and choose for a different lifestyle. And it’s addictive viewing because often these dreamers end up in the most horrific situations (money runs out, roof blows off, partner dies) which makes not following your dream feel safer and more rational. 

3 months in, I’m glad we didn’t participate. It would have been the most boring episode ever. We’re in budget and on time and the biggest dramas so far have taught me lots about managing a property of this size. They include:

Rupert during the renovations at Le Mas & Le Mazet in the Dordogne
  • me standing at night with a torch in my mouth up a ladder trying to angle the satellite dish to Azimuth 144.7
  • me standing at night with a torch in my mouth trying to connect a gas bottle to the cooker
  • me standing at night without a torch in my mouth trying to find the bathroom in a power cut
  • me complaining for 2 months about the kitchen tap’s rubbish water pressure, only for the builder to twist the nozzle off and blow out the limescale
  • seeing yet another delivery lorry reversing over the grass and getting stuck
  • buying the only yellow bin liners we could find (expensive vanilla scented ones) for the recycle bin, only to find out that the council provide the real yellow ones for free

10th April 2021: five years later I’m reading this back and chuckling to myself. I know every inch of the property now, I know which loos play up and why, and which plants need extra attention. We were so naïve when we started out, but we had lots of common sense and drive, which hopefully we haven’t lost.
If you’re thinking of following your dream and starting a project like this, go for it – we have no regrets!