Posts Tagged 'debt'

Where have all the hippies gone?

Sedgefield, and the Garden Route, has been a hippie haven for decades. Flower painted vans, tie-dyed T-shirts and the smell of patchouli were as common as fishing rods and fynbos.

Any counter culture refugee could move down here, rent a cottage for a pittance, smoke good dope and sell boxes beaded with shells or dream catchers to tourists. It wasn’t limited to hippies, anyone who wanted a simple coastal life could make ends meet without too much trouble.

Then, about eight years ago, property boomed. Slowly, and then not so slowly, the run-down cottages sold for millions and were replaced with Hampton’s style beach houses. These owners didn’t need to rent out their houses for a few thousand bucks a month; they were so rich they didn’t need to rent them out at all.

The hippies moved out of town into the surrounding forested hills and in the short term, things got better for the simple lifers. Wealthy property owners provided work for artisans, garden services and restaurants. People in property made a killing, everyone was flush for a while and life was good.

Just as we all got used to the easy life, the recession pulled the rug. The money dried up as quickly as it had come but things didn’t go back to how they were before. Property prices stayed high and rents never came down.

Since I wrote my small town suicide post a few weeks ago, another financially pressured young father has killed himself. High school kids walking home spotted him hanging from the rafters of his house and called the police. Thankfully his wife and two young children weren’t the ones to find him.

We were having a few drinks at the Beach Bar last night and got chatting to a friend we haven’t seen in a while. He’s deep in hock.  He’s in the building trade and work has just dried up for him. Banks and lawyers hound him and his life has become about dodging creditors.

He told us how debt collectors showed up at his house with a court order to attach his furniture and other possessions. His wife, who was home at the time, objected. After a vigorous argument, the debt collectors left, and returned with the police. She was chucked into the back of a cop van and taken to Knysna police holding cells on a charge of obstructing the cause of justice. He had to bail her out.

We’re okay for now, thanks to a bit of luck and a lot of hard work on Gavin’s part, but a pile of money dwindles very quickly here. We can’t relax, we have to endlessly think of ways and schemes to make money. Living here, with our beautiful garden, our sea views, and our ‘simple’ life costs money. A lot of it.


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