Day in the life of a downshifter – Issue 7

By Justin Nigh

I’m Justin, and I am a downshifter. In pursuit of a more relaxed pace and time to focus on our personal interests and creative endeavours, my wife Tasleema and I decided to leave our busy Sydney lifestyle and corporate jobs behind, and relocated to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, in January 2011. Initially we took up similar jobs, this time employed by local small businesses, rather than faceless corporations, while we planned to transition to self-employment with the aim to work from home to enjoy greater autonomy in how our time was spent.

Today I am pleased to say we have both achieved our goal of self-employment that allows us to spend most of our time at home with each other and our two adopted rescue Jack Russell Terriers, Olive and Buddy. Rather than beginning our day in a frenzied rush to be dressed and prepped for work before catching public transport congested with people and traffic, we now have the luxury of sleeping in most days, getting dressed as casually as we please when we aren’t meeting clients, then taking the dogs for a leisurely walk in the local regenerated bushland. Most days I follow our walk with a 40-minute yoga session before preparing our breakfast and going to ‘work.’

polaroid photo 2I provide sustainable, permaculture-based, landscape design and consulting services, while Tasleema offers a professional makeup artist and eyelash extension service for weddings, events, and commercial photography. Our respective trades allow us to set our own schedules and work mostly from home. When we aren’t working from home, we’re often outdoors, or at a clients’ home or wedding venue, rather than inside a stuffy office building. Our work varies enough that it keeps things interesting, and flexible enough to allow us to attend to personal matters as and when needed.

polaroid photo 1While it’s true we’ve downshifted our income as well as our lifestyle, we compensate by choosing to prepare and eat more meals at home to save the considerable expense of dining out. We buy less prepared items and cook from scratch instead, which is better for our health anyway. Rather than travel to far-off places, we try to visit more of our own region and opt to stay in low-cost accommodation when needed. Since our work schedule is less intense, we don’t feel the need for regular holidays. We limit how often we use our vehicles by planning and organising ourselves to get the most done at each outing and limit our grocery shopping to one day each week.

Overall, we’ve traded income for time, which allows us to do more of the things we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise, like gardening, bicycling, studying, relaxing, and enjoying the company of family, friends, and each other.

Downshifter Tip 

Try not to worry about what other people are doing, or what they think about what you’re doing. Our capitalist consumer culture does a great job of training citizens to self-govern, so a critical skill for the downshifter is being able to tune out the naysayers who will try to tell you you’re crazy for leaving your high-paying career or eschew consumerism to pursue an alternative lifestyle.

Keep up with Justin & Tasleema’s downshifting progress online:



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