Can you really go skiing on a budget? We are about to find out!
As I said in my previous post, I really thought summer was never going to end. If you had asked us mid season what our winter plans were we would have looked at you very perplexed. Winter? What winter?
But I guess this summer wouldn’t have been quite so special if it could have lasted forever. With the wedding of some lovely friends fast approaching, we were forced to face the realities of the end of season, and make some plans for the winter.
Deciding What To Do With Hot Chocolate
We had already decided at the beginning of the season that Hot Chocolate would need some serious love in the winter. We knew that buying any boat within our budget would mean a whole lot of work, and it’s lucky that we enjoy getting our hands dirty.
We did what we could in the marina, but a lot of Hot Chocolates problems lie down below (Sorry old girl!) The marina we bought her in didn’t allow people to work on their own boats, so we had no choice but to take her elsewhere. We decided that after a summer of sailing her and living in her, we would know more about what needed doing.
We worked on her over the summer as much as possible, fitting an autopilot, replacing the broken windlass, replacing the macerator, adding sufficient solar and an invertor so we could work from the boat, oiling the teak and varnishing some of the wood work, and plenty of other jobs that came up. As winter approached we looked through our original list of boat jobs, and after adding a few more we were left with 175 jobs.
That’s a lot of jobs.
We made the decision that the most sensible thing to do, and one of the things Hot Chocolate needed most, was to leave her out of the water for the whole winter and give her a chance to properly dry out. We researched well regarded yards in Greece and started to enquire, finding a good deal at a yard in Kilada, where we could work on the boat ourselves.
But Where Would We Live?
The only problem was that they discouraged living aboard for long periods of time. They only said ‘discouraged’, so we figured we could get away with it. We also had the option of finding somewhere else and living aboard on the hard.
We thought about this a lot. Hot Chocolate is our home, we don’t have anywhere else to live. But we also thought about how utterly miserable it had been living on the hard in England. Weeing in a bucket, dragging bags of dirty plates down a ladder and across a cold, wet yard just to wash up after a meal. At least in England it was summer, we weren’t sure we could face it in the cold months of January.
We looked at our list of boat jobs again and worked out exactly what needed to be done while we were out of the water. We tried to massively over estimate the time it would take to do each job (because boat jobs always take 10x longer than you think), and worked out we had about a months worth of absolutely essential work. Then we added on an extra month for good measure. We had four months that we didn’t have to live on the boat for.
Making Winter Plans
It would be lovely to see friends and family back home, but we couldn’t afford accommodation in England for that long. So we started looking elsewhere, finding that accommodation on Airbnb is much cheaper when you book for a month at a time. We considered going somewhere remote where rooms were cheap, or perhaps to somewhere in Asia where we could get an apartment with a swimming pool for the price of a meal out in the UK. While browsing little mountain huts in the alps we came across somewhere near a ski resort and the seed was planted.
One thing I have learnt about myself over the years, is that once I get an idea in my head I find it really hard to let it go. Sometimes getting obsessed with an idea is a really, really bad thing, but sometimes it’s really handy. I spent days scouring the internet, determined to make this awesome idea work. But anyone who has ever been skiing knows just how expensive it can be. Our one week away in Austria a few years ago ended up costing much closer to £1000 each than I’d like to admit. I had no idea how I was going to make skiing on a budget a possibility.
Skiing On A Budget And Boring Stuff Like That
One (very depressing) evening we sat down and worked out exactly what we could spare over the winter. We had been managing to save a little by living so cheaply over the summer, but that money was reserved for the copious amounts of boat work we still had to do.
Adam had taken on an extra day of work which would help, and the blog is now bringing in a little extra cash. I also started looking at the possibility of teaching online, as we would have a reliable base to work from for several months. We worked out that if we didn’t save anything, and cut down even more on our food budget, we could just about make it work!
There were plenty of Airbnb studios near ski resorts for reasonable prices, if you were prepared to live somewhere that looked a little questionable for a few months (they had real toilets though, so luxury compared to the bucket).
The problem was ski passes. A weeks ski pass costs the earth, how would we afford to go for several months!? Then I realised a lot of places offered season passes, which were better value but still pretty expensive. THEN I realised that if we were prepared to risk there being no snow, low lying resorts were a lot cheaper. Perhaps this would be possible after all.
Eventually we found a super cheap air bnb and not very cheap ski passes, we found flights for £20 return and second hand skis for £50. Our monthly budget of £600 will be up to nearly £1000 (£500 each) with the extra costs, so we can just about afford it if we accept that we won’t save anything for three months, and perhaps spend several days at a time not eating. It wasn’t that hard to accept!
What Does Expensive Really Look Like?
We often compare what we are spending living this lifestyle to what we would have been spending on our lives back in England. Mortgage and bills alone used to cost me more than £1000 a month. Adam was spending £38 a day just to get to work and back-that’s nearly £800 a month! We were running a car, going out at the weekends, buying clothes, the list goes on!
I always thought I was pretty careful with money, I didn’t buy expensive clothes or own an expensive car or any up to date tech. If I ate out I chose the cheap vege options, I decorated my house with things from free cycle, I only got my hair done twice a year! But between us we were spending well over £2000 a month on just living and getting to work (work that was stressful and that we hated getting out of bed for!) And that’s not to mention the money we spent on doing what we really love, travel. Looking back now that kind of money seems crazy!
Taking A(nother) Big Risk
We didn’t quit our jobs, risk our relationship and leave behind our incredible family and friends to play it safe. We left because we were desperately seeking adventure and challenge. I am terrified that we will run out of money by doing this, but I am more terrified of looking back on this time we have given ourselves and wondering ‘what if’. Instead, we have found ourselves thinking ‘what if’ we can make this work.
What if we can earn just enough to allow us the time we need to do the things we really love. What if we can continue to see each other for more than just an hour a day before we fall exhausted into bed. What if we can develop skills in areas we never even knew we enjoyed, like writing and photography, free diving and skiing and video editing and plumbing (wait, neither of us enjoy the plumbing). Now that’s the kind of positivity I thought I would only ever hear from cheesy American TV commercials. I guess we will find out of it really works!