Moving to the CountryApr 18, 2022
Moving to the Country
If you didn't just hum "and eat me a lot of peaches" you need to listen to more music.
So you've been watching Yellowstone or Escape to the Country and have got thinking about what it would be like to move to your own little piece of rural paradise. Away from the crowds, living the quiet life. Ah, the serenity of it all.
Well, there are a couple of things you might want to consider before googling Allhomes and ringing the mortgage broker.
So picture yourself sipping a lovely local Shiraz on the expansive verandah of your country house while the kids laugh and swim in the huge pool after riding their ponies all day.
Do you have an amazingly high paying 9-5 job? Have you spoken to the bank about what is realistic and what is just a pipe dream? In Australia, we have a very clever guy known as the Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape. I think the US equivalent is a guy called Dave Ramsey. While I’m more familiar with our Barefoot Investor the message is the same from both. Get your ducks in a row with finances before you jump into any major decision.
Likewise, will you have to continue working to fund your lifestyle after the move? I have read other blogs where people comment that living in the country is cheaper than the city. I would love to get a good look at their finances. Country living has its own set of costs that are different.
An example might be that I have solar power, which is fantastic, with no power bills. However, I needed a generator and fuel for when it's cloudy and the batteries aren’t charging enough to run the fridge and freezer. I can’t afford food to be wasted because the solar batteries ran out of charge.
Get more batteries I hear you say, yes well batteries don’t grow on trees either. Good solar batteries are in the thousands.
So the harsh reality is unless you have won the lottery or had a rich relative die and leave everything to you, chances are you will still have to work a paid 9-5 job until you have established any farming enterprises your think will pay the bills.
And on that don’t be dissuaded by relatives and friends who tell you there is no money in farming. I cannot strongly enough advise you to get your hands on a copy of “You Can Farm” by Joel Salatin. A great book that is very honest about finances and farming.
Where Could You Live
So you’ll need to keep your day job, at least until you get settled in and established. So how far away can you live and still comfortably travel to work? Can you work from home a few days a week? Since Covid hit more and more people have taken that option, but will you need reliable internet? Mobile reception?
I am currently on SkyMesh for the internet but am madly saving to afford Elon Musk’s Starlink. I’ll post a review once we’ve got it and test the speed etc.
Schools, shops, hospitals and supply shops need to be within your personal range. And that distance will be different for everyone and depend completely on your circumstances.
My suggestion is to get a map out and draw a rough circle around your desired zone, travelling distance from work and school. You need to know what’s in the outlying area so if you can afford it go for a drive on the weekend to have a look around. Stop and have a coffee at the local cafe. Find your preferred zone.
The important part of this exercise is the closer to town you look, the more expensive the land will be, location really is everything.
I currently travel 50km each way to my day job, and I work a 10hr shift which means only 8 travelling days per fortnight. With the cost of fuel heading North my next big purchase with be a Hybrid car.
But it's not just you travelling it's the kids going to school, the significant other going to work, you going to work. It's also being sure you didn’t forget anything at the supermarket or that you run out of any of life’s essentials - especially after the great toilet paper crisis of 2021.
Believe me, you will quickly tire of driving 40km to the nearest shop for the forgotten spice for dinner.
If like us you end up buying on a dirt road you also have to factor in the damage that does to your car. I’ve had enough flat tyres and cracked windscreens to last a lifetime.
And as I write this diesel is costing $2.20 a litre in Australia and for my US friends, it’s $4.60 gallon (1.20L), I need to sell my T-shirts at my side gig to pay for that hybrid.
Family and Friends
I’m sure you can picture all your family and friends coming to visit. I always imagined friends coming to stay and the house, of course, big enough to allow everyone to sleepover. A lovely big dinner around the table with lots of locally sourced food and wine.
As we bought within our budget, we not only live in a small house (actually a tiny house) which barely houses us (6 people every second weekend, a tight fit), there is no way anyone else could stay inside!
The outlaws, the Handy Helper’s parents, bring their caravan if they are coming to stay, and that caravan is almost bigger than our house.
Now add to that getting up early to milk goats and feed chickens before getting kids ready for school or sport. Not exactly conducive to late nights around the dinner table or fire pit.
Then if we want a real dose of reality, none of our friends wants to drive out on a dirt road to visit us! That just sounds like a lot of hard work for people who can order Uber Eats.
Don’t tell them but I don’t really mind, ah the serenity of it all.
The Dirty Work
Now to the stuff that nobody mentions.
Septic toilets, garbage disposal, composting waste. Not to mention dispatching animals if you have livestock. Vets charge by the km or mile for call outs, so you will have to manage some things yourself.
When you live in town you flush the toilet and think no more of it. The last thing at night you take the kitchen tidy bag out to the bin that gets collected by the “bin fairy” each week.
When you are not in the services area, the only “bin fairy” is you. And it can certainly be a blessing in disguise. We recycle everything we can, food scraps go to the chickens or the compost pile. Paper is saved for burning in the fireplace or firepit. When you take all that out of the bin, it really does cut down what you throw away.
There is nothing I can say to prepare anyone for the first septic issue they will ever have to deal with. No words can describe what can go wrong with a septic pipe when you are learning on the job how to fix things. All I can say is the Handy Helper really earned his beer that day.
So Would You Move to the Country??
Even though I tried to be realistic, I know that made it sound worse than it is. I wouldn’t change anything about where I live.
My livestock are like my family, not having close neighbours is amazing (we get on great with our nearest neighbours because they are like us).
Watching my kids learn about where their food comes from and how to grow meat, vegetables and fruit is the bomb. It makes it all worth it.
To hear my kids explaining to an adult that livestock are essential for soil health makes my heart sing.
We may still have a way to go with agricultural education but at least I know my little patch of heaven will be well-tended.
It may not be as I envisioned it but I do enjoy a local wine on my tiny house verandah. And sometimes it's after the kids have attempted to ride the barrel-shaped Abbie the Arab or after they have swum in the muddy dam.
I have had to change my vision slightly but it's still the best life we could be living and I love it.