Rich House Poor House mum would trade £1MILLION mansion for ‘relaxing’ urban estate – because her kids played without getting yelled at by snotty neighbours
Victoria Maude, 49, said she felt happy, more relaxed and "completely safe" at the Edney family's home in Fareham, Hampshire.
She added that the community spirit of the estate put the neighbours at her five-bed home in the Arun Valley, West Sussex, to shame.
Victoria explained: "I felt relaxed because the house was easier to manage and I was able to spend more time not doing stuff, whereas here I’m on the go all the time sorting out the garden and doing laundry.
"I felt that I could relax in a way that I often don’t feel I can in my own garden, as our neighbours are not very tolerant to our children.
"The estate we went to was actually really nice and welcoming, and I felt like no one was going to shout over the fence when the children were jumping on the trampoline to tell them to be quiet.
"There was a much greater sense of community; where I live, in a village, there are some neighbours that are in contact with each other but nothing like there is in a city or on an estate.
"Here you’re left much more down to your own devices and the neighbours will complain at the drop of a hat."
Victoria said she would consider moving somewhere similar, provided the the crime rate was low in the area.
"Where the Edneys live I would (move there), because it felt completely safe, there was a lovely park nearby for the children to play and they’re at the age now where they have a bit more road sense," she said.
Victoria, her husband Paul Walker, and their sons Harry, 11, and James, eight, and daughter Poppy, 13, live in a five-bedroom home in a 300-year-old Grade II-listed country house on a weekly budget of £1,716.
They swapped lives for a week with the Edney family – mum Naz, 33, dad Steve, 32, nine-year-old Jaydan and seven-year-old Lacey.
Paul and Victoria are both qualified barristers, but Victoria was forced to quit her job in 2015 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
She now works from home and runs a dogs' day care and boarding centre.
Meanwhile Steve works as a telecom engineer and Naz is a stay-at-home mum.
She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a long-term illness that causes pain all over the body and extreme fatigue, in 2017 and had to give up her job as a paid cleaner earlier this year.
The Edneys’ weekly budget after housing and bills comes in at just over £168 per week.
Naz said living with the Walkers' family budget was life-changing – especially for her son Jaydan, who was recently diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.
"We managed to buy him a laptop," she explained.
"I’d had a conversation with his teacher where they said because Jayden struggles so much with English, they’d be happy if he wanted to do work on a computer.
"For me to have to turn around and say we haven’t got a computer was heartbreaking – to think that something that would help him was something that we couldn’t afford to get him.
"The fact that we were able to then go and buy one was amazing, and it’s encouraged him to want to do his homework because he does it on the laptop.
"I think it’s made a massive impact on him."
They also treated their kids to new clothes – which for once didn't come out of the weekly Asda food shop budget.
Naz told how Steve surprised her with a silver necklace, along with a letter thanking for her all she does for their family.
"I think I cried a bit when I got it because it was a nice thing that doesn’t happen very often between us," she said.
The experience was a "massive eye-opener" for the whole Edney family, particularly their two children, who seemed to benefit from being away from their TV and games console for a week.
"They must have enjoyed it as the whole week they argued twice, which they normally do in their sleep, and they never even so much as watched the telly," said Naz.
"They were enjoying the garden; Jayden had never even kicked a football until we were there.
"He was never interested in it before, but since he’s asked for a football.
"It’s made me not want to sit in front of the telly all the time, it’s made me want to do more as a family."
On the contrary, the Walker's children relished the opportunity to play computer games and on a trampoline – something they don't have at home.
Victoria explained: "The kids seemed perfectly happy, they had huge TVs to watch and a games console, none of which they have at home, so they really enjoyed playing with that.
"Harry and James shared a room which they enjoyed, and they’ve always wanted a trampoline so they loved playing on that.
"Also there was a hard play area on the estate where there was a basketball hoop, so we all went there and played which was great fun, too."
Victoria said they didn't struggle sticking to the Edneys' strict budget, as she was used to being thrifty from her university days, though she did acknowledge they'd have been in trouble if something major had gone wrong in the house.
The Edneys admitted that they live in fear of large or unexpected expenses such as the washing machine breaking down.
Naz said food shopping became a "fun" experience with the Walkers' cash, as it meant she didn't have to scan everything as she went to keep track of spending – and they could afford to splash out and try new things.
The experience has also inspired Naz to make changes to her life – particularly having seen how Victoria started up her own business after beating cancer.
"The fact that she’s found something else now that she loves doing, it's inspired me to think that it’s not the end for me, having this diagnosis," she said.
"It doesn’t mean that I can’t do anything now, I just have to change direction slightly, as there are things that I can do. I just hadn’t thought about it that way."
She said the experience made her realise that, though they are worlds apart when it comes to money, the two families are not that different.
"Money can’t buy you health," said Naz.
"It’s made us realise what’s important, as it’s not money that makes you happy, it’s what’s around you and who you’ve got around you.
"We’re still living with the experience, even five weeks down the line.
"The whole experience reconnected me and my husband.
"It made us realise we need to spend more quality time together – and it doesn’t have to be expensive days out or meals in restaurants, it can just be a walk on the beach or taking a couple of hours to ourselves."
Rich House, Poor House, airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on Channel 5.
Last week we told how a dad on the show could finally afford to replace his distraught fiance’s lost £650 engagement ring in a tear-jerking episode.
And viewers wept when a wealthy vet paid off the £11,000 debt of the struggling family they swapped with.
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