Chris and Suze go walkies – An Introduction

This blog post was originally published on the 5th June 2018.

Welcome to our blog! We are Chris and Suze, an animal loving couple from the UK. We decided to ditch the 9-5 lifestyle and live a more fulfilling life together. We are not travel bloggers and don’t really intend to be (we will share why in a later post), but we enjoy sharing our stories from our travels!

So this is how the story began…

We had been living together in London for a couple of years when city life finally wore us down, and we decided that something had to change. Being from a town in Kent originally, big city life just didn’t sit right with us. We were living in a small flat on the edge of London, and we had to catch a bus and then get the tube to get into central London for work. We felt that our work-life balance was favouring work too heavily. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together and the money we were earning from our jobs disappeared on the high living costs in London. Our friends were spread all over the city meaning we always had to travel to see them, or make a plans in advance to meet up – there weren’t any spontaneous meetings with friends. Add to this the fact that London is a very populous city – there are people everywhere and it was simply too busy and chaotic for our liking.

Chris had been working in the same job for five years and although he loved the job, and the people, it had run its course. Doing the same thing day in day out began to get tiresome. Suze had been jumping from job to job without anything really feeling like it was anything more than just a way to make money to live in the city.

We talked a lot about wanting to change our lifestyle. At first we didn’t know exactly what it was that was making us unhappy – was it being in a big city with lots of people? Or feeling like a sardine when commuting to work? Was it just burnout or something bigger than that? We didn’t know for sure, but we knew we couldn’t keep living the way we were. We decided to move out of London and take some time to decide what our next steps would be.

After some deliberation, we felt that moving to Brighton on the south coast of England would provide us with a change of scenery. We had friends who lived there, and the vibe was very different to that in London – one that maybe suited us a bit more. Chris kept working in London and commuted on the train for a couple of hours each day to his job (more often than not his journey was longer, as this was in the height of the great southern rail fiasco of 2017!) Suze found a part time job working in the centre of Brighton – a fifteen minute walk from our new flat. A flat that was thrice the size of our London home, and £150 cheaper per month! This new city gave us new places to visit, lots of local independent cafes and restaurants and new people to see, which gave us a much needed respite from the chaos of London, and we started to enjoy life again. When we were in London we heard about a website called Borrow My Doggy, where dog owners look for free walkers and sitters and people can find enjoy furry companionship without the responsibility of owning a dog themselves. At the time, living in our tiny flat, we dismissed the site as we couldn’t look after any pets as part of our contract, and we were both working full time anyway. We have always loved dogs and cats, but it was only after moving to Brighton that we finally had the space in our home and parks nearby that it became realistic to look after them. We joined Borrow My Doggy a couple of weeks after our move, and began messaging dog owners about caring for their dogs while they were at work. Chris was still working full time, but as Suze was only working part time they had spare days to look after other peoples dogs and take them for walks. We spoke to a couple of different people, and after a meeting with an owner, the first dog we looked after was a gentle, sweet greyhound named Rihanna. She was a little shy, but Suze spent a lot of time getting to know her – giving her lots of love and cuddles and they enjoyed many walks together! We then began looking after a Pug/Staff puppy called Bella on weekends. Two very different dogs, which gave us the idea to try looking after a variety of breeds to decide which breed of dog we might like to own in the future.

Suze with Rihanna in Brighton

The commute to London soon wore Chris down as he wasn’t able to see much of Brighton or really enjoy living there. He made the big decision to leave his job, a place he had enjoyed working for five years. Initially he made a plan to take a month off and assess where he wanted his work life to go from there. However, very soon after handing in his notice and deciding to take some downtime, Chris was offered a job at the company where Rihanna’s owner worked. A month later he was starting the new job. He swapped his expensive and lengthy commute for a quick five minute door-to-door walk.

Brighton life was going well: we had a lot more time for each other and we had shops and beautiful public spaces on our doorstep that we didn’t have when living in London. We embraced Brighton culture. We began living more sustainably by signing up to Olio – a social movement to stop food waste by sharing surplus food via an app. We had more time to cook healthy meals together, and we had more time to relax together.

But something still wasn’t right. Neither of us were completely happy with our work. Suze was unhappy at an unfulfilling and unstable job, that focused on manipulating people into buying more than they needed. Suze applied for a variety of different jobs, and one of these was at a company called TrustedHousesitters – a website that links home and pet owners with those looking to provide care for animals, whilst staying somewhere for free. While Suze didn’t get the job, the application process gave us something we would later discover was a way to live a different lifestyle. Suze was struggling to find a different job and had been running an Etsy shop in their spare time, while always wanting to dedicate more time to making it a full time business. After lots of talks, Chris convinced Suze to take the plunge and do what would make them happy – leaving the part time job that was so draining. Deep down Chris knew that the advice he was giving also applied to him, but there was no way we could afford to live in a city flat without the security of an income from a full time job.

Chris’ new job seemed like the perfect change in the beginning, as he quickly made lots of new friends and learnt new ways of doing his job. But he had fallen out of love with coding. Learning new programming languages and working out problems used to be fun for him, but now it was work and he soon felt burnt out again.

As the end of the year drew closer, we knew our contract for our flat was ending and we had to make a decision about what to do next. Around the end of September, with both of us still unhappy with how we were living, we began to talk about what we wanted to do. We decided that we wanted to live our lives our way. We didn’t want to be stuck in a routine where work dictated most of our life together – we wanted to spend more time with each other and we wanted to live in our surroundings, instead of just trying to survive there. But the most important thing we wanted to do was to discover who we could be if we followed our dreams, to be happy and to live our lives how we want to.

As part of the application process for the TrustedHousesitters role, Suze had been given a year’s membership to the service. It suddenly dawned on us that we could use the service as our next step, and try to make this new lifestyle work. Neither of us are big risk takers, and we often dream of the life we’d like to lead but don’t feel we can achieve it, as we’ve previously been tied to jobs, or flats, or people. However this new opportunity appeared to be a way to achieve our dream lifestyle, as it had a similar concept to Borrow My Doggy – only it was full time and involved travelling and staying in places rent free. Chris handed in his three month notice and our decision suddenly became very real!

We began searching for and booking in our first housesits, and spent our last three months in Brighton preparing for our new adventure!