Emigrating to France. It was two years ago this week that we got up in the early hours, deflated our airbeds, cleaned the house again and packed up the last few bits into the trailer and car, along with two relieved Weimaraners. They are always jittery when the bags come out as I'm sure that they think they will be left behind! In our usual style we ran out of room and had to sit on the bedding in the car; it wasn't ideal for an eleven hour trip. It was the final voyage to France and one that we had made countless times in the previous three years. We were sort of used to roughing it. The whole journey of emigrating to France started in 2007 when major changes to work meant that my childcare arrangements could no longer work. I ended up taking redundancy in 2008, after working in banking for 18 years. It was a monumental change for the whole family. I'd gone from being an ambitious banker to suddenly being a homemaker, as I'd gone back to work when my boys were three months old. Finally, I had time to write, start a degree and we got our first dog. The house and garden ran like clockwork and we could just about pay the mortgage and bills on one salary. It wasn't to last.... We had always dreamed that we would like to live in France but moving abroad seemed a scary thing to do. We weren't sure that our friends and family would understand that we had had enough of the rat-race. We had started to crave a simpler life of walking, gardening and being our own bosses. By this time the Financial Crisis was kicking in. Panicking about the mortgage we put the house on the market. We visited France on holiday, staying in the Vendée, and arranged to visit some properties. When we saw the barn conversion with the farmhouse and stables gîtes, it seemed perfect. We could rent out the property to holidaymakers and live the French dream, Le Rêve Français. The pound dropped like a stone but eventually the sale went through after major renegotiations. The stress level was off the scale. Call us cheapskates, if you like, but we actually don't like spending money when we can do something ourselves. This mindset started when we had no money and had to renovate our first house and has continued. We've learned by our our mistakes and we can now do most things building elated, although neither of us like heights! By the time we moved to France we had lived in five different places; each time we moved ourselves so a move 600 km away would make no major difference to us. We had become expert packers and organisers. More to the point, we had nothing to lose. We moved temporarily into my grandparent's tiny house, which was previously rented out while schooling was finished. We thought that we were on our way with our plans but then my husband was made redundant. It was another kick in the teeth but he started up as self-employed which meant that he could run the holiday lets for four to five months and I stayed behind working at the library, (a fantastic job!) This existence carried on for three years. Still, many friends and others, were sceptical and I'm sure they thought we were mad. Why didn't we just try and get mad jobs again and get back on the treadmill? Instead I was now running a business in France, one in England, working, studying and juggling the finances between two countries. It was a huge learning curve of language and bureaucracy. Each holiday from work we would get in the car in the early hours, arrive exhausted and then work hard improving the gîtes, taming the garden and bringing out more things. We still had doubts. What if it didn't work? The healthcare system in France seemed a minefield. At some point we just decided we could never answer all the doubts so we decided to take a chance and move out permanently. Eventually the grandparent's house was sold. My eldest son was at university and we moved into my mum's bungalow, complete with a new puppy sired by our Dex. At mum's we were sleeping on airbeds, the puppy got up at four each morning. Life was manic. So when we finally got in that car, for the journey over, I was both relieved and exhausted. I had left work on the thursday, been to the funeral of a very close friend on the friday, been busy painting the bungalow and organising new carpets and windows to rent it out, taken my final exams on the following thursday and left on the friday whilst trying to say as many farewells as possible. So if anyone thinks it's easy to move country, it's never easy, I'm sure. Two years on and France is definitely my home. I miss my eldest son Alex like crazy.....Will is with us for now. Is living here easy? That's definitely another chapter. What I am sure about is that if you want to change your life you can do it if you put your mind to it! Of course, you may be much greyer as a result.... Have you suffered for something you feel passionate about? Has anyone else quit the rat-race?