Monday, October 10, 2011

How to move to the country (Part 2)

A few weeks ago I received an email from a fellow (I'll call him John) who lives in huge metropolitan area. He longs to leave the city behind and settle roots in a rural location. He asked for my advice on how to get started in a small town or rural location. John has been endlessly patient as we’ve struggled through our busy season, so I want to apologize for how long it’s taken me to address his email.

John’s question echoes the questions of so many other people that I asked permission to post his email and my response, and then open up the subject for discussion. There are lots of other people with more experience than I when it comes to what it takes to leave the city, so now’s the time to give us your two cents’ worth.

This is a long post, so grab a cup of tea.

Here is John’s email:

I came across one of your blogs on country living (something like 'Country Living 101'), and thought I'd get your advice on something:

I am a 26 year-old male; single, healthy and fit. I have a college degree in chemistry and something like a minor in philosophy (I'm a Tolstoy scholar). I have a very good job here in [huge city] as a formulator, working in a lab and coming up with formulas for cosmetics and personal care products. I am also a singer/ songwriter and I even have a manager that helps me get my music out there.

However, I absolutely hate living in the city. I admittedly have never really done much farming and gardening, but the excesses, waste, and over-crowding are really getting to me. I feel disconnected from nature, seasons, and even time, as for instance entire blocks of time are lost sitting in traffic. My friends are city people through and through, and are interested involved only in things I find boring: going to clubs, shows, shopping, movies, TV, bars, etc. When I have a chance, I go back to the factory to work with the guys doing heavy lifting and quite laborious work, and I absolutely love it. I feel stronger, invigorated physically, mentally, and spiritually, and it reminds me that I could be really using my body for some real work instead of writing up formulas and cooking them up in a lab. I desperately want to be more self-sufficient and live more simply, but I've taken it about as far as I can go here in the city. I have no family support on this, no one quite understands, and I also have no connections in the country.

With your experience, are there any first steps you could suggest to a guy like me? I mean, knowing what you know about transitioning from city to rural living, what advice do you have for someone who wants to get the heck out but isn't ready to buy land, start my own farm, etc. I am VERY good with my hands, very hard-working, very practical, and very clever, so I know I have the skills, but I don't know how to make the transition!

Let me know if you have any thoughts! Or maybe you could make a blog post directed towards people like me, there is a growing number of people my age who are realizing the destructive essence of city living.

I’ve written before about moving to the country, most notably here, so I’ll ask everyone to go review that post before reading further. That way I can supplement what I wrote before instead of repeating the same points.

To add to my earlier suggestions, I would urge John to think about the following. These points are presented in no particular order.

• John is smart to know his limitations, i.e. that he has no experience with farming or gardening. Too many people think, “Eh, it’s a snap” and try to become farmers. Oooh boy, are they in for a surprise. It doesn’t sound like John is interested in plunging into a homesteading lifestyle, but instead just wants to escape urban life. I’ll base this reply on that assumption.

John is also eager for, and not afraid of, hard physical labor. That’s a good thing because rural life sometimes seems to be nothing but physical labor. In other words, as cruel as it sounds, I would not urge anyone to relocate to a rural location if they’re in poor health (unless their poor health is caused by a sedentary lifestyle) because of the physical work involved.

Let me amend that: nothing prevents anyone from moving rural even if their health is bad, as long as they don’t bite off more than they can chew. A nice garden and flock of chickens are within most peoples’ physical abilities; a herd of cows and a constant milking schedule might tax them beyond endurance. Know your limitations.

• John mentions he doesn’t have any support from friends or family concerning leaving the city. No surprise there – neither did we. In fact, my parents thought we were absolutely flippin’ nuts to leave two well-paying respectable jobs in the city in order to move into a shack (no exaggeration) on four acres in rural Oregon (that was back in 1992 – we’ve since moved to Idaho). But you know what? That’s half the fun. John is young, single, and healthy. The time for him to do something superficially impulsive but deep-seated is NOW. The time not to uproot and move to the country is when you’re saddled with debt, have three young kids (or three sullen teenagers!), and a wife who loves shopping.

Sometimes it’s hard to “disappoint” key people in our lives, but in the end we must all (to paraphrase Thoreau) follow the beat of our own drum or we’ll end up living lives of quiet desperation. If your “drum” is calling for you to chuck it all and move out of the city, then you and you alone are the one who must answer that call, or be miserable.

Besides, surprising things can happen as a result. Who’da thunk we would one day find ourselves in a position to offer advice for people hungry to leave the city? What a strange twist of fate.

• Be aware that jobs are scarce. John is a chemist. There isn’t a lot of call for chemists in rural areas, so John will likely have to create his own job(s).

In fact, job creation is probably the single biggest problem when it comes to moving out of the city, for everyone. Unless someone is lucky enough to bring a job with them (i.e. telecommuting or something similar), you will need to create opportunities to make money, unless you want to be locked into an awful commute. (We have a neighbor who commutes 1.25 hours each way every day to her job in the city. Unless she’s snowed in, which happens every winter.)

So don’t depend on landing a job in your new location. Aside from the fact that locals often prefer to hire locals whom they already know, the indisputable fact remains that rural jobs are often scarce and often low-paying.

That being said, a hard worker with self-discipline can usually find someone to pay him or her for manual labor at relatively low wages for a limited time. (In other words, there is often seasonal work that needs to be done.) But the wages aren’t likely to be enough to support you, which is why I recommend creating your own employment opportunities.

So before moving to the country, John will need to find ways to begin generating his own income. Since John has experience as a chemist, his first project should be to contact schools and businesses in his targeted location to see if anyone has need of a chemist or a chemistry teacher. If not (and “not” is the most likely scenario), he needs to create his own need.

Chemistry is a tough subject for many people to grasp, so an obvious idea is for John to put out word that he will tutor students, either homeschooled kids or public school kids. He might also begin to develop some on-line courses for students to learn this subject.

Additionally, since John has experience in music, try joining (or forming) a local band that can play at events. In our nearest town, the Elks or the Eagles often hire local bands to play at functions. Bars and restaurants sometimes like live music on weekends. The fees the bands receive must obviously be split between all the band members, so no one can make a living with their band… but hey, income is income.

And don’t forget the possibility of teaching music.

Earning a living in the country requires putting many irons in the fire. Look for multiple ways to bring in money – rototilling peoples’ gardens in the spring, plowing private roads in the winter, etc. Playing in bars or clubs on weekends, tutoring chemistry during the week. Every little bit helps. Make yourself marketable in many different areas.

• Your income will drop. Guaranteed. Regardless of what John decides to do to earn money in his new location, the chances are high his income will suffer a precipitous drop. So before leaving the city, John needs to adjust his behavior and spending habits to start living very very frugally. Learn the fun of shopping in thrift stores and yard sales.

This has the added benefit of causing him to live below his means and start saving a nest egg of cash prior to moving. It should go without saying that paying off debt before moving is essential.

• Don’t be afraid or ashamed to start cheap and grungy. Most people cannot afford to buy a dream farm with a beautiful restored farm house and multiple outbuildings. Instead, a lot of people start out with a cruddy mobile home, which at least offers shelter until such time as you can afford to build something better. Deal with it.

• Adjust your expectations. My personal belief is the high failure rate of people who move to the country from the city stems from unrealistically high expectations. (I’m not saying John suffers from this; rather, this is just a general observation.) There are books, magazines, blogs, and websites galore that discuss and illustrate the beauties of rural life. Oh, and the (cough) “simplicity” of rural life – don’t forget that.

But take it from me, rural life can be ugly, and it can be complicated. When newbies are faced with ugliness or complications, they sometimes become disillusioned and disheartened, and long for their “simpler” life in the city.

The fact of the matter is, urban life can be far, far easier than rural life. In the city, you turn a switch and you have heat, you twist a faucet and you have water. The problem is, those utilities depend on other people to provide them. Remove the utilities and services, and life in the city would be miserable.

In the country, those utilities are often up to you to provide. This can be hard, physically and mentally. But at least you are not as dependent on others to provide you with your basic needs.

• A lot of the disillusion that comes with rural life can also be traced to a humongous drop in one’s standard of living. I keep hammering about how scarce and low-paying jobs can be – I cannot emphasize that enough! – so if you want a job that pays comparable to what you were earning before, you’ll have to commute to the city. Or bring your job with you. A lot of people in the country do just that.

That’s why I believe a key component to a successful transition is to create your own employment opportunities through multiple sources. Repeat: MULTIPLE. That way if one source dries up, you are not left destitute.

• Know what you want in terms of rural life. Some people long for a half-acre on the outskirts of town. Others want to be so remote that their only access is by boat or airplane. Most people want something in between. Know what you want.

When we were looking for property in Idaho, we had a bucket list of non-negotiable attributes we wanted. This list included:

- A minimum of fifteen acres, preferably more;
- An older house, preferably a fixer-upper
- Outbuildings
- Partially wooded, partially in pasture (we wanted a wood lot, and we needed pasture for the cattle)
- No near neighbors (in the sense of right next door)
- No likelihood that the area was going to be “built up” soon (our biggest concern was to wake up one morning surrounded by box houses)

We spent three years looking for a piece of property that fit these requirements. During those years, I must have spoken with fifty or sixty different real estate agents. With such a specific list, it never failed to astound me how many real estate agents couldn’t HEAR what I said.

I clearly remember one conversation in which I recited the above list, then the agent assured me he had the perfect home for us: a mobile home on five acres, surrounded on three sides by suburbia. (“Close to shopping!” he enthused.)

So prior to making a move, make that bucket list of exactly what you want. Then – and this is important – decide which aspects of that list are negotiable, and which are not.

Among your bucket list, you should also list your limitations in terms of what you can stand. For example, I cannot tolerate heat. Give me Phoenix, and I would die. I spent too many years living in the dry heat of California’s Bay Area, followed by the dry heat of rural southwest Oregon. Temperatures in these areas will effortlessly reach 115F during the summer. I hated it.  Give me cool temps and a good snow drift any day.

With that in mind, when it came time to leave Oregon, a hotter climate was out of the question. Therefore we spent our time searching in the more northern areas of Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Others would never be able to tolerate the low temperatures and short growing season we have. I know a woman who moved to this area from Tennessee. After experiencing her first Idaho winter, she plunged into a severe depression at the thought of enduring yet another winter. For her mental health, it was essential that she and her family relocate back to a warmer climate.

There is nothing wrong with anyone’s preference, and fortunately there is plenty of climates in this nation to accommodate those preferences.

Another thing to add to your bucket list is what kind of terrain you prefer. Do you like beaches? Forest? Deciduous vs. coniferous trees? Lakes? Prairie? Desert? Again, there’s lots of terrain to choose from. Decide what you prefer vs. what is unacceptable.

• Scout the potential for growth. One of our biggest concerns when we moved to Idaho was finding a place that wasn’t likely to be built up anytime soon. Our nightmare scenario would be wake up one day and find ourselves surrounded by box houses.

When we were looking for Idaho property eight years ago, we eventually narrowed our choices down to two choices. One property was thirty acres of drop-dead gorgeous land, twenty acres in pasture and ten acres in wooded hillside, with a year-round stream running through. Brand new barn, nice house, dirt road…

But in the end we choose our current home. Part of that decision was the price (our place was one-third less expensive than the other place), but the biggest issue we had with the other property was its proximity to a golf course. Sure enough, after moving here we heard scores of radio ads for new condos and tract homes being built around the golf course. In no time flat, those thirty acres of farm located on a quiet dirt road would have seen constant traffic and a plethora of new neighbors.

So be vigilant about the possibility of growth around your prospective piece of land.

• Know your limitations. Endless numbers of people will talk with enthusiasm about building a small log cabin on bare land. This is pretty funny if you don’t have a lick of experience building anything more complicated than a bird house.

A warning about bare land: Improving raw, bare land requires a great deal more time, money, and patience than most people have. The costs of sinking a well, the cost of bringing in electricity (or alternately, the cost of setting up an off-grid system), the costs (which constantly seem to multiply) of building, plumbing, fencing, making barns, etc., will break all but the most generous of bank accounts. It might be better to purchase a piece of land with some sort of habitable dwelling and infrastructure already in place.

• Restrictions. Sadly, local, state, and federal restrictions are limiting more and more what people can do on their own property. A local case that has reached nationwide infamy outlines a couple who purchased a piece of land and then faced a bureaucratic nightmare when they wanted to build a house. (This is, incidentally, another argument for purchasing property with an existing dwelling already on it.)

Bureaucracy is a very real threat, and you cannot depend on real estate agents or even attorneys to research this for you. It’s up to you to find out such things as wetlands protection, endangered species, timber rights, mineral rights, water rights, and even official boundaries.

• Another thing to consider (this doesn’t apply to John, but it’s worth stating anyway): Make sure all family members are on board for the move.  Nothing ruins a good move to the country more than a sulky spouse or reluctant teens. Nothing.

• Practice practice practice. During the time you’re looking for your new home, take the opportunity to practice some off the skills you’ll need in the country. Some of those skills might include carpentry, canning, gardening, welding, using a chainsaw, etc.

• Pretend you can’t go back. When we left urban California in 1993 and moved to semi-rural southwest Oregon, we knew we couldn’t go back to the city. That is, we knew we wouldn't go back. As a result of that mindset, we were willing to live in poverty and scratch for a living because we couldn’t/wouldn’t go back to the city. Never underestimate the power of a mindset.

• Sometimes that grit-your-teeth determination is what it takes. But here’s the thing: you’ll never know unless you DO IT. Unless you just close your eyes and JUMP. Prepare yourself as best you can, and then DO IT.

Okay, that’s all the advice I have at the moment. But let’s hear from all you readers who have successfully transitioned from urban to rural life. What advice would you offer someone like John who wants to leave the city?


  1. John should sign up for a program like wwoof where he can live and work on farms and learn.


  2. I'd suggest adding "not anywhere NEAR a flood plain" to your bucket list. When we looked (for 2 years), it was the FIRST non-negotiable item on my list. Found beautiful half-wooded, quarter cleared, quarter rock land on a hill and it's wonderful. Even has a house - which we had to gut and re-build, but it works for the time being!

    If it's in your heart, take the jump, John. You will LOVE the fresh air and viewing the stars at night.

  3. Great subject here.

    Pray to God for direction and an open door to your new mission for your new rural life. He will provide you with an answer as what he wants you to do, and will provide you with all the opportunities to make your move a reality.
    Get ready now to move if those open doors present themselves to you. Start packing.

    When you forge forward, I would suggest to recruit a pioneering, like-minded, potential roommate, or at least a like minded partner to join you in the move.
    Two incomes, sharing expenses, are a much more viable alternative for instituting the further improvements envisioned in your new "plan".

    If possible, consider renting/leasing in the area you have previously and thoroughly "studied" and are targeting for the potential move.

    Make at least two vigorous scouting trips to the area of choice before you take the leap to set up roots in that town.

    Allow ample time on the trips to completely access the town and any surrounding communities and make darn sure that is where you will "fit in".
    Meet as many people as you can on these scouting trips. Start the networking process on these scouting adventures in search of potential employment and also future neighbors.
    Check out water processing facilities and school systems for job possibilities. Also, any agri suppliers.

    If you are not finding what you seek, keep searching another region of the state you chose for the right fit.

    Purchase real property only after you find that location where you know you "belong".

    If I had to do it all over again, I would have
    purchased a property with an existing water well and septic and at least a make-shift temporary dwelling(that could later be converted into a guest cabin), instead of starting from scratch.

    Stay logical. But, be ready to take some smaller risks.

    Get a sturdy truck, a 4x4, to make these scouting trips. If your kidneys survive the jostling from the backroad trips, you're meant to be a rural pioneer!

    God Bless all who are making the transitions to move to higher ground. May they all find Freedom and Liberty abounding in their new homes!


  4. John may try hear in the Dakota's with all the oil expoloration booming around here jobs are not that tough to find. But be aware that all the stories about the weather are true. But if you can take it and work hard there is no better place to be.

  5. John could find a job full or part-time teaching at a high school or community college level. There is a desparate need for advanced science teachers in rural areas. Many states pay a dividend for math/science teachers. I also have two different friends that have made a great living in the agricultural chemical business. They both worked out of their home and were located in rural areas. And then there's the energy (gas/oil/wind/solar) business. Perhaps one of these careers would allow him to get his life started in a rural area.

  6. Hi, I just found your blog and love it!! Thank you for all your sound and encouraging advice. We moved from a large city area in West. Wash. to a very small town in South Dakota and are very happy. My question is; how do you work around and grow a vegetable garden in a short growing season with a long winter? We also have the same growing season situation as you do.Loving SD

  7. WOW!

    you covered all the bases for certain and your warnings are thorough and nothing is held back. anyone who is thinking about making the move should print this post and read it again and again.

    my wife and i moved to our rural location in december and there was shock after shock after shock.

    and we had prepared for it. we had already purchased our property in cape breton BEFORE we moved and were planning to move in 2013. but circumstances forced our hand and we got out of the city asap. we are physically fit, skilled gardeners and able to can food, save seeds, build things etc.

    in short we were prepared. a good thing because it has been challenging to say the least. we had to learn about well water, sump pumps, generators, chainsaws, drainage, etc.

    i would urge anyone reading this to pay particular attention to Patrice when she urges you to figure out what you WILL NOT COMPROMISE ON. we wanted waterfront, land near the ocean, kymber insited we live in Richmond County. and we wanted what Partice wanted… a place that would not be developed anytime soon.

    so we are in framboise manor (as we call it) – a ramshackle 3-season cottage that we now call home that is NOT the snazzy bungalow we left in the city. but the future looks bright because we got everything we would NOT do without. the rest can be managed.

    amazing post!

  8. 'John' here! I just want to thank Patrice and everyone for the advice and support. Exploring multiple routes of employment is a great idea. WWOOF looks promising, I hadn't heard of it. Teaching science in rural areas that need teachers is also a great idea. I'm trying to avoid getting involved with big agri-business, but if it gets me out of the city it could be just the right stepping stone. Anyway, I'm going to keep checking back for more ideas so please keep them coming! Many thanks, 'John'

  9. John- have I got a spot for you.... Interested in a community (not a commune!) of like minded folks in Alaska , in an area where jobs cam be found but you aren't in the city?

  10. I am assuming here, but it sound's like John is in a big city, maybe living in an apartment? Is there a way he could move to the suburbs and rent a house with a big yard, while keeping his current job? That way he could practice gardening skills and maybe have a few hens. I guess I'm thinking, saving more money and mastering some skills, taking the move in smaller steps. Of course, as Patrice said, at 26 and single, this is the time of his life to plunge into a new lifestyle since he doesn't have dependants yet. Good luck John, and remember to pray for guidance and listen for answers before acting.
    MaryB in GA

  11. we left a semi-rural area in Kansas to a very rural area in South Dakota. Scenery is a lot better, life is slower, and people are nicer. My husband started with the rail road and it was the best decision. Great benefits, good pay, and most locations are pretty rural. Plus if you have a degree (any degree) you are qualified for management.

  12. John could make biodiesel since he has the chemistry background. And if he learned to grow his own crops as the basis for his diesel, he'd be miles ahead financially. He could also learn to convert vehicles to diesel so he'd have a market for his product.

    There are many things a healthy young man can do to prepare for a move to the country that he can do while still in the city. He can read about gardening, construction, plumbing, animal husbandry, weatherizing, etc. He can attend weekend workshops out of the city that teach outdoor skills (like hunting and camping). He can seek out and make new friends with similar interests. He can build up his tolerance for pain (that's a joke...sort of).

    Living in a rural town. at first. may be the best way to approach country living for somebody who is unfamiliar with country ways. Learn the pace, learn what impresses people in the rural areas (it ain't education from books), and learn to respect their customs.

    Lots of people move to the country and find out it wasn't the freeing experience they thought it would be. Sometimes we have to find peace within ourselves (regardless of where we live) before we can find peace of mind elsewhere.

    Anonymous Patriot

  13. John, do I have a daughter I'd like you to meet!

  14. first things first...make a list of what you want and what you can afford...then get out of the city on weekends or your times off and look around. dont overlook the "abandoned" looking places in the country..if you see something that you like and is in your "realm" of possibilities, visit with the folks down the road, in the little town/village, talk to the neighbors. keep doing this. when you find the place, the people, the work etc.. you are gonna know it and nothing will keep you from it.

  15. Just a couple of thoughts for John.
    First, be flexible, "Blessed are the flexible, for they don't get bent out of shape".

    Just because you have a background in Chemistry doesn't mean that that is what you will be doing if you move to the country. If you have read Patrice's blog for any length of time you will know that Don and Patrice are not working in the field that they got degrees for. And are very happy that way. If you move to the country, your life may take an entirely different direction. Watch for it and embrace it. It just might be the happiest decision that you have ever made.

    Second, do your research on the rural location that you are thinking of relocating to. While you are doing your research, go to the local feed store. Not that chain feed store, but a locally owned one and talk to the oldest employee there. These are your potential new neighbors and you can get a feel for them in that conversation. Ask them all kinds of questions about weather, growing season, local politics, ect. These people don't put on "airs" and don't care if you like them or not, but you darned sure know that they are being honest with you.

    Last but certainly not least, after you relocate, don't try to change your new area to the one that you just left. Rural people live there for a reason. They don't like the way that life is in the big city. They are not stupid or slow, so don't talk down to them and DON"T try to get them to change the way they do things. They will resent you for that and they will never warm up to you. This will affect the rest of the time that you live there. Good or bad.
    Good luck.

  16. My wife and I moved to Arizona ten years ago from California. We lived in a high-desert community there, but it was quickly growing into another Orange County! We had to leave. We bought 20 acres about 25 miles east of Kingman, AZ for a very reasonable price.

    We don't like the heat, either. We're at 4000' elevation, which means all seasons are cooler. We get some very nice snowfalls in the winter. Usually no more than a few inches to a half a foot at the most. We seldom ever get snowed in.

    Summers here are warm, but nothing like Phoenix! Only occasionally getting up to 102-103 degrees. Usually the high 90's. Low humidity makes the heat much more bearable, too. Kingman is growing rapidly and there are jobs available here. My wife is the cake decorator in one of our three markets. They don't pay a lot, but much better than minimum wage, plus benefits.

    We bought a nice 3-bedroom 2-bath mobile home. We had $6000 dollars set aside for clearing the pad, septic tank, leech field and so forth, as well as having a dirt driveway installed. We've done fairly well with very limited resources. We have no well, but several of our neighbors do and they charge us only a penny a gallon. We haul our own water.

    John should be sure he has access to electricity and water, as well as a decent road to come and go on. We're very isolated here, but only about a 25 minute drive to Kingman. I work on guns to make some extra cash, and with only one neighbor within a half mile, we can shoot our guns any time we like, in almost any direction!

  17. Oooh... I wanna play, too. I don't really have anything to add, but I love this subject.

    I've never lived in a city, so I never really had to make that big transition. Best of luck to you, John! You sound like a country boy at heart.

    Living the way we do out here, I can't have pretty hands or pretty clothes. I can't even have new shoes every year.

    But I have the Milky Way, sugar maple trees, raccoons on the porch and my own little income-producing business. (Patrice is right-on about that one.)

    Plus, I've changed the face of the planet with my bare hands by planting a garden. Boy, that makes me feel powerful.

    You'll find your way to your land. It's probably already in the works. Keep your eyes open.

    Just Me

  18. Please tell John to look into the expanding minerals industry in Wyoming and North Dakota. Being willing to do physical labor is a plus. He can get a "gentleman's ranch" to live on.
    Campbell County economic development council would be a place to start. Only a few years ago, they had a huge budget that was used to go to Michigan to recruit people that were laid off there to come here to work. The rest of the country was having huge lay-offs and they had a worker shortage!
    There is no time like when you are young and single, or young and married without kids to spread your wings. Of course, you can do it like my husband and I did, just pack the kids up and move, and start over in a new state every year...until we got to Wyoming. We're stuck here by choice.

  19. I don't have much to add to this other then my whole family camped out 2 different summers. The whole summer. Our lease was up on our apartment so we decided to camp while we looked.

    7 people and 2 cats. No power, we took showers at the camp ground. We loved it. But when it started to get cold thank God he showed us the way to another place to live. They were the greatest summers for my family to bond.

    My kids still talk about our summers of camping. If you like to camp then you should have no troubles.

  20. We moved from Southern CA to 7.5 acres in the woods with a view to Northeast, OK (near Tulsa). It was beautiful but what a culture shock! My biggest shock was the poisonous bugs and snakes! In the wooded, rocky areas we fought scorpions (even IN a new house: check your shoes and gloves!) and saw many tarantulas. We had tiny ticks on small children (even with daily bathing), copperheads(in the FORT KNOX chicken coop) and rattlesnakes. We loved it for several years but spent a lot of time driving to kids' activities, so we moved 'closer in' to 5 acres...and no poisonous critters or chiggers! My bucket list would include being able to access a good hospital for emergencies when children are involved.
    -K in OK<><

  21. You have it bang on Patrice.
    This is part of our story and what we do to make money.
    We moved to a small town from a biggish city 4 years ago. Lucky my new partner was on the same wave length when we were searching for somewhere to move.
    Initially I was the one with the job, I cooked at the pub and then laboured at a nursery and then cooked at a different place in town. Then I fell pregnant. Luckily my hubby had a full time job by then.
    It's been 2 years since I stopped cooking. In that time I've had bubby, got the vegie garden working for us, have done a bit of housekeeping, I babysit 4 days a week and work in the cafe on a sunday and the occassional friday night. We homebrew spirits and sell it locally, I have a smalll party plan business, we raise goats, cows and chickens, have planted a small orchard which should be producing enough for us to sell excess within 3 years and a berry patch and some nut bushes (although they'll take 20years to really get going). I'm always trying to think of something else I can do to help raise a little money and still be home with my child. I would sew but I have NO talent in that department! I'll keep trying though, maybe one day I'll get the knack. The cafe would like me to work full time but that isn't an option for me.
    We have a finger in alot of pies and it keeps us very busy but does keep the money trickling in. Hubby would like to quit his full time job and focus soley on our little farm but until the orchard is producing and our goats are in saleable numbers he has to stick with it.
    Coming from no nothing city folk (specialising in IT and cooking) I think we've done pretty well in 4 years - although there is so much more to learn!

  22. This is so timely. We sold our house this summer. Moved to an apt in the city (yuck) while I collected estimates from builders for a home on the 6+ acres we own southeast of here. When we got the quotes, we realized we'd be $50,000 underwater the day we moved in, have far higher mtg payments than we wanted, and no money left for outbuildings. This was a dealkiller for us.

    So I began looking for more land with an existing home and outbuildings... and finally found it. Thirteen acres with a house (smaller than what we had, and nearly 50 years old - but the kitchen is new and that makes up for a lot with me), a huge pole barn with 5 stalls, 5 acres in fenced pasture and 5 acres in woodlot that backs up onto the state gamelands, for another 230 acres of huntable land. We made an offer last week, then our real estate agent went on a hunting trip, and so we won't know if they've accepted or counter-offered until Friday.

    I'm so glad to be reading everyone's advice on this topic, thank you very much!

    Xa Lynn

  23. I just found your blog and this article was perfect! My husband and I have dreamed of raising our family in the country. I'm from the city, but he grew up on ranch during his early years. We have been patiently waiting for the right time to make the move, doing lots of research. Just placed an offer on our "dream" place. I am scared out of my wits, but completely excited. We have been "city" homesteading for the last several years and are ready to take the plunge. All of our friends and most of our family think we are out of our minds. Time will tell... :) Lucky for us, my husband will only have to make a 15 minutes commute to work each day. Perfect.

    1. Whoo-hoo Kelly! You're in for an adventure, and I say that with great enthusiasm! Sometimes things will get tough and you'll get discouraged, but don't give up -- the more you learn, the happier you'll be in your new home. I wish you the best, and keep us posted!

      - Patrice