Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Wait until It's Too Late

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Wait until It's Too Late

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Bloomfield

ALISON Bremner owns two irons, two vacuum cleaners and two make-up bags. Her most precious possession is a portable hard drive and she struggles when people ask her that simplest of questions: Where do you live? Simon Barnes, meanwhile, is in no doubt that he lives in Malta but works in London. Alison and Simon are part of a growing band who have chosen to be "flexi-livers" -- they have adapted the way they work to suit the way they want to live.

Alison and her husband -- also called Simon, both 51 -- bought an Edwardian terrace in Dulwich in 1991 for [pounds sterling]200,000 in 1991. By 2009, with their mortgage almost paid off and their daughter Abi, a veterinary student, away from home a lot, and son Edward at school, they decided they were not going to wait until they retired to have their dream home in the country.

The couple started what they thought would be a long search but then almost immediately fell deeply in love with a Grade II-listed 17th-century farmhouse in the village of Bethersden, near Ashford, Kent, which was for sale at [pounds sterling]600,000.

They knew that Edward's schooling would keep them in London until 2012 -- he is now 17 -- but they could not get that old farmhouse out of their minds. So they bought it and have never regretted the decision.

Now Simon, who works in the City, and Alison, a marketing and communications consultant, come and go, spending weekends and school holidays at the farmhouse with Edward (and Abi, too, when she is around).

Eventually, the family will move to Kent full time, selling their Dulwich house and buying a London crash pad for Simon. But for now they run two homes and admit that it can be expensive.

They have two sets of utility bills, and council tax (discounted on the farmhouse as a second home), and need to plan their lives meticulously. For her job, Alison uses a portable hard drive so she can work anywhere, picking up her messages remotely. She shops in both places, but always uses the Kent butcher, and she has two cleaners . "Our Kent cleaner 'came with the house', which was great as we wanted a trusted keyholder who lived locally in case the alarm ever went off," she says. …

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