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British Couple, Sick of the Suburban Grind, Find Simplicity and Peace in Rural Hungary

Tom Szigeti 2016.11.08.

Julia Pryke and Gareth Stone were sick and tired of their life in Berkshire, UK. And so, after some searching on the internet, they decided to leave everything and move to a small village in rural Hungary.

According to Julia, living in England “the excitement was missing. We had to have the jobs to pay the bills and you had to pay the bills as that’s what you were told to do.” And so the couple, looking for a change, searched the internet for a place they could afford, and ended up finding a house in Gadács, in Somogy county, south of Lake Balaton. The house cost the couple 3,400 euros, leaving the couple with roughly 2300 euros to renovate the dilapidated farm house.

Initially the move was difficult for the Julia and Gareth, who and worked as a hairdresser and a cobbler respectively while in England.

When they first arrived at the house in Gadács, which had been sitting empty for five years before being purchased by the British couple, Julia and Gareth were afraid they had made a huge error. According to Gareth, “When we got here I did have a panic attack and wondered if we had made as stupid a decision as everyone in the UK said we had.” But since moving here, the couple, whose new life has been chronicled by British TV presenter Ben Fogle in his show “New Lives in the Wild,” have made their abandoned farmhouse into a home.

The house Julia and Gareth bought, before their repairs.

The house Julia and Gareth bought, before their repairs.


They have solar panels for heating, an outdoor shower, and outdoor water tap; their toilet is compostable, and is paired with a urinal made from a fermenting bin. They cook on a wood-burning stove, which is a decided improvement over when they first arrived, and were cooking over open fires.

Their expense currently amount to around seven euros a day, which they are currently attempting to reduce further by growing their own vegetables, as well as by raising rabbits and chickens on their land.

All of these drastic changes were particularly hard for Julia, who grew up in a wealthy family in Johannesburg, South Africa. She grew up with sports cars and horseback riding lessons paid for by her parents, and was expected to attended an elite university and get a great job.

However, that is not quite how her life panned out. According to Julia, “When I told my parents I wanted to drop out and become a hairdresser, it was like I said I was going to join some rebel force. They thought I had to go to uni to be successful in life…That was the beginning of the end of who I used to be. It was disappointing to my folks.”

Julia and Gareth with Ben Fogle, who featured the couple on his show "New Lives in the Wild."

Julia and Gareth with Ben Fogle, who featured the couple on his show “New Lives in the Wild.”


Julia met Gareth in 2008, after moving to Great Britain. And after years of pushing through a boring, daily grind, the couple decided it was time for a drastic change. ‘Lots of properties came up and with the Hungary one, we thought “let us see what Hungary is like”,’ Julia said.

When they first arrived, they did have some serious concerns, as they “battled to stop the building falling down.” But while the couple admits that their parents aren’t thrilled about their decision to leave everything and move to the Hungarian countryside, and even though Julia admits that their rather empty village “is a little like a Stephen King movie when the weather is bad,” the couple loves their new way of life.

“I like not knowing what tomorrow holds and what challenges we will have…I have found the less you have, the better off you are, as you focus on who you are and what you want from live,” she said.


Via Daily Mail, Channel 5, and szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu

Images via Daily Mail and Channel 5

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