'We sold our UK house and moved to paradise island - rent is just £166 a month'

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Carlie Donnelley and Matt Dearing with their kids Lincoln, Delilah and Adelaide in Bali (Image: Matt Dearing / SWNS)
Carlie Donnelley and Matt Dearing with their kids Lincoln, Delilah and Adelaide in Bali (Image: Matt Dearing / SWNS)

A couple from Manchester who decided to leave their old life behind them and upped sticks to Bali are now paying just £2,000 in rent a year.

Matt Dearing, 36, and Carlie Donnelley, 35, sold their house in Denton along with everything they owned to make the bold move to the Indonesian island. The pair said they wanted to move away from the UK to "escape the rat race" and were sick of "living to work".

The parents-of-three also said they felt they were constantly chasing bills and not spending as much time as they wanted with their children Lincoln, seven, Delilah, four and Adelaide, one.

After the couple were sold by Bali's year-round tourism and hot weather, they put their three-bed property on the market for £365,000 and bought a one-way ticket. They say they are now living "financially free" with rent costing them a mere £166 a month as they plan to build their dream home.

Matt, who now works as a joiner in Ubud, Bali, said: "This was something we have wanted to do for years. A couple of times we would go over to Spain, and I was looking for cave houses as I wanted to go off grid.

London flat for rent for £1,400 a month with bed tucked away in kitchen cupboard eidexiqreiqtrinvLondon flat for rent for £1,400 a month with bed tucked away in kitchen cupboard

"In the UK it got to the point where I wasn't spending much time with my kids, I would spend about an hour with them before bedtime. I was constantly chasing bills and working. I did a lot of research into Bali as it has all-year-round tourism, and the weather is great."

The couple booked one-way tickets in November 2022 and say relatives thought they were "mad" and didn't believe they'd go through with the move. In March 2023, they found a three-bedroom house to rent for £2,000 a year, as well as a nearby 1,200 square-foot plot of land for £100,000. They plan to build their dream home - which will cost them £263,000 less than in the UK.

'We sold our UK house and moved to paradise island - rent is just £166 a month'Matt Dearing, 36, and his partner, Carlie Donnelley, 35, wanted to "escape the rat race" (Matt Dearing / SWNS)

"The return on your investment here is amazing," Matt said. "We sold the house we were living in for £365,000. With that money, we were able to buy a 1,200 square foot plot of land to build two four or five-bedroom villas on.

"We have struck gold - this is everything we want. For us, being financially free is literally freedom to do whatever we want with the kids, compared to working 10 hours, seven days a week sometime. "I have always dreamed of dropping the kids off at school and picking them up - I can do that here. The people here are lovely and show a lot of gratitude - it ticked all the right boxes."

When Matt was 24, he had a dream of becoming financially free - having sufficient income, savings, or investments to live comfortably for life. When he turned 36, he slowly started to realise it would not be possible in the UK - despite working 10 hours a day six days a week.

"At the time I owned five houses in Manchester, and I realised that in order for me to be financially free I would need 10 of those but I wanted to do it quicker," said Matt.

"I was working so hard at home - I didn't have much of a social life. I didn't really go out partying - my main goal was that I wanted to be financially free. It was something I have been pushing for the last 10 years, because of the cost of living in Bali, it is something we will achieve quicker."

'We sold our UK house and moved to paradise island - rent is just £166 a month'They had both lived in Denton, Manchester, their whole lives (Matt Dearing / SWNS)
'We sold our UK house and moved to paradise island - rent is just £166 a month'They are sharing their journey on TikTok (Matt Dearing / SWNS)

When Matt and Carly told their family about the move, he says they thought they were "mad" and told them to "stop being silly". Matt said: "We told everyone we were going to book a one-way ticket to Bali, and everyone was calling us mad. For me, the world is so big, and life is so short, I hate the fact kids are indoors so much.

"When I was a kid, I would be out all the time, you don't get much of that in the UK. Every weekend is now a family weekend - we go to a different beach or waterfall, and we feel like we have struck gold. Back in Manchester I would not let my kids out of the garden, now they are out all the time, they are playing in rice fields - they had never experienced that before."

Matt added: "Another reason we left when we did is my oldest is seven and then I have a four and one-year-old.I thought if leave it any longer, I was worried they would develop a relationship with friends, and we wouldn't be able to take them away in the future. We really have got lucky here - the people are amazing - my children are enjoying school and we are making a lot of good friends here.

UK house prices fall again - down 3.2% from last year peak, says NationwideUK house prices fall again - down 3.2% from last year peak, says Nationwide

"With the land we bought we plan to keep one villa and sell one, then buy more land and build two more houses and sell one of them and rent another one out. The only thing about being out in Bali is you don't have that support network anymore. We are hoping we get to the point where we can fly our family here and we are planning on coming back to the UK for two to three months at a time."

The couple are sharing their journey on their TikTok - @serenitylivingbali - in the hope that they will inspire other people to take the same leap. Carlie Donnelley, a beautician, said: "It has been exciting, it is a different life. I spent more time with the kids while he was at work, we were missing out on having Mark with us. It is great, I am loving life, the weather and just exploring different things - we are outdoorsy."

Phoebe Jobling

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