Along for the ride:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Let's Pretend...

by Norman Thelwell

Let's pretend that I have been spending some time perusing the available jobs advertisements to see if there is a fork ahead in this long and bumpy road of working/struggling at a small business with, and I'm sure in his mind, for my husband.
My passion, vocation and soul are committed to all things horse. I did some teaching (BHSAI) in England at the beginning of my horse career, followed by working in private yards, in England, Germany and France, with high level competition horses (I was the schooling/warm-up rider/groom) and bringing on youngsters from the ground up.
I can organize, plan or motivate most anyone or anything. My interpersonal skills are damn good. I have a talent for customer service. I've got all the reliable and trustworthy boxes checked off. I speak French and German, as well as English, albeit, with an American accent. Cooking, gardening, construction management, as well as designing and drafting scale drawings and solving problems are additions to my bag of tricks. There are not too many job openings in Silicon Valley that fit my profile.
The U.K's Horse and Hound Magazine's classified ads are accessible on-line. There are travel agents specializing in international equestrian holidays; there are animal rescue organizations in need of managers and field officers; there are equestrian centers and places catering to the needs of disabled riders.
I'm not pretending there is no competition for the available jobs but I could be a great asset to any of the above and fill a hole in my life at the same time. I'm not thrilled about the English climate but I think the pros are starting to outweigh the cons.
An unfathomable, that any of you in England can help me with, is "How much does it take to live?" One job proposes 12,000 pounds a year and accommodation. Is that a living wage?
When we were exploring the idea of moving from France to America, in 1985, I called the US Embassy and asked an employee there what she thought of our proposed remuneration.
I'd love to hear some input on standard salaries in England. Horse jobs are never going to pay top dollar. There will always be girls who are willing to work just for the fulfillment of a dream. Let's pretend I might be one of them...


  1. I have some blogger friends in different parts of England. I'll put out a request for this and do some digging around of my own, if you like. Send me an e-mail with whatever else you want to know.

  2. Dear ER. £12k a year WITH accomodation might be livable, but it depends entirely upon WHERE in the UK. London? No chance. Oop Narth? Well then yes.
    Remember, once you are back in England's Fair and Pleasant Land you have the NHS, so you can dump the US medical rip-off charges. Even going private will cost far less than what you must pay now.
    I'm actually right now helping an old friend from the States that contacted me recently who wants to move back to the UK. I'll pass on what we find, ok? Feel free to contact me by e-mail.

    Bisouxxx, Kitty

  3. Gosh. My family is struggling on a combined income of 34k. I think it does, as someone has said above, depend on where you live. The type of accommodation can also change things drastically.

  4. You'll never live the way you appear to live in the US on 12K, with or without accommodation. You'll never buy your own place on that, wherever in the UK.

    It would be a tremendous struggle for a young person, for anyone over, say, 45, 50, it would be murder.

    Having said that, I have a d-i-l whose brother runs a riding school in Dorset. I'll find out if she would mind exchanging emails.

  5. "e" thank you

    Kitty, It would surely be in a country area somewhere but not too far North. You are right about the health insurance. Mine is over $500 per month now.

    Steve, Thanks, that is helpful. I would be paying for a vehicle and food, for just myself. I don't even know how much those are.

    Friko, As you may well have guessed, it's not all it's cracked up to be! I don't have expenses here, I have overhead; like a darn great axe over my head waiting to fall. I would appreciate any input from your Dorset connection.

  6. The mane thing is that you seek happiness... even if that means hoofing it across an ocean.

    Good luck !

  7. Hmm... To tell you the truth, the UK squeezes one dry. People are simply prepared to put up with a standard of living that would be unacceptable in the States. I'm talking basic stuff here: food, housing, clothing. Not healthcare (although that's rapidly changing) and not available culture (as long as you live mainly round London). We chose not to live in the States because of the health, and not in the UK because of the finances and weather. Ended up in Oz.
    Hey, they've got horses here too ;)

    Oh, and you'd pretty much die on 12k. Don't do it!

  8. Owen, I'm seeking and seeking and seeking. Never giving up. Trying to develop options.

    HVY2, Thanks for the straight talking.

  9. 12k with accommodation wouldn't allow for extravagance, but might give you a foot-hold for a fresh start and happiness. You can start over at any age. I know, because I've done it, several times. It obviously depends on your philosophy, flexibility and how high you set the bar.

    Good luck, and very best wishes.

  10. Martin, It is true that it is liberating to have no fear of stepping off the edge, having done so before and survived. At least there would be no language barrier this time.

  11. Dear ER.
    Now, I know you certainly do not wish to gambol down the same path I chose; however, I'd like to interject a few comments.
    I have less than £12K a year coming in and that is for three of us. Out of that, I pay 450€ rent a month and set aside 200€ for food. EDF, Saur, FT and the girls' school fees scramble for the rest. I have no savings left. I don't have a credit card, I pay cash for everything. Yeah, so we don't eat 'High on the Hog', it's usually down around the hocks, but it is all fresh food, we are healthy and most of all, we are very very happy.

    I agree with Martin H, as long as you set your sights on making yourself happy, and don't live extravagantly, £12k will get you a foothold. You're clever, I'm sure you'll land on your feet regardless of where you decide to settle.
    Money can't buy peace of mind, contentment or happiness, regardless of where you shop. But your métier can.

    I'll keep sending you positive thoughts.
    Bisouxxx, Kitty

  12. i can't help you with practical suggestions, ER, but I'll be a cheerleader. You've looked at the 'what do I have to lose' scenario quite closely, I'm sure, but don't lose sight of the 'what will I gain?'.
    Rooting for you.

  13. Kitty, I am inclined to think along the same lines as you, although I've been torn by loyalty and commitment issues which are so obviously not reciprocated that I am starting to think about my own needs.
    Martin was right that I could think of this as a starting off point and go on to other things. When I moved to France I didn't speak the language and still found a new job after only a few weeks once I realized I hated the job I had taken to begin with.

    Deborah, the "what do I have to lose" scenario just changed at lunch. Lovely Daughter and her Spouse are tentatively considering a move to France. I am thrilled that they are going to have an adventure and not be ensnared by the trappings of a so-called life.

  14. No information forthcoming here, as I live in New Jersey where the property taxes are a salary in themselves.

    I'll just have to play cheering section on this one.

  15. Dear ER,

    My friend in England says that 800 per month will require careful economy on your part but you'll get by, depending upon where you are and how you are taxed as well as what you choose to spend on food and other necesities.

  16. £12k - we're talking minimum wage here. You could live on it, but you couldn't Live on it - if you get what i'm saying. There are areas where it would stretch further - up north you might find somewhere you could afford, but it wouldnt be a house and you'd have to look around

    I'd say you can manage on £18-25k, but even then you have to look around

  17. e, It has been helpful to get a base-line perspective from my blog friends. It will help me evaluate future opportunities.

    Pixie, they were offering a place to live as well. That often happens in horse jobs so that you are on-site for emergencies (and extra un-compensated work, of course). I would have to find out if it is an apartment or a leaky caravan at the end of a country lane. I've lived in both but I'm not going back to having to don my wellies in the middle of the night to hike to the toilet:)

  18. I can't offer you any advice on a realistic income necessary to live in England .... though if you decide to live in Holland I could .
    I will just say that watching every penny is easier if you're happy about everything major in your life . The only snag is that it does get more difficult as one gets older and as things wear out ( including oneself !) .
    A reasonable long term plan would include an idea of where you're to live once you can no longer work "living in ".
    Signed : One Whose Burnt Many A Boat ..... and lived to tell the tale .

  19. S&S, that's a thought provoking point. Reality is such a bitch!

  20. oooh.. it all sounds so exciting!.. Can't say what England is like any more, but all I know is it would be even more expensive to live in Ireland.. like you say, horse work is never going to pay top dollar! Not sure it ever did! lol... good luck with everything and keep me in mind if you move to the West Waterford area in Ireland, I'm great at mucking out :-)

  21. Watercats, At least you can be sure that there is no "greener grass" anywhere in the world. I was never well paid when I worked with horses but I never felt I was missing anything. I slept in a stable on Limerick race course when I was there with the German team horses. I felt privileged, not hard done by. (Of course, the cold water hose bib was a bit of a challenge to get spruced up, before walking down to the pub in the drizzle). Changing from my Wellington boots into high heels at the five-bar gate to the main road. It still makes me smile.

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  23. Heh, ER!!! What The Pliers just said!! Is that woman smart or what?

    N.B. I dumped two husbands because both had "misguided, non-reciprocal loyalty, both required that I completely commit " someone else's value system and personal goals completely subjugating my OWN wants, dreams and aspirations.

    Two of the best life changes I ever made.

    Just saying........


  24. Ms. Pliers & Ms. Kitty, I didn't mean to not respond but I am deep in thought considering both your input.
    p.s. Pliers, the Western riding thing is a whole different sub-section and I lean towards getting back to my English roots.

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