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Friday, June 21, 2019

"A job to go to"

In reading the comments from folks in response to the quasi-humorous "Leaving California" meme I recently posted, several people expressed an urgent desire to flee the state toward greener pastures, but are hampered by the need for employment in a future place -- a "job to go to," as one reader put it.

I thought this would be an interesting and helpful topic to open for discussion. How do rural people make a living? How many "go to" a job (i.e. are hired by someone) versus how many create jobs for themselves?


We (the Lewis family) subscribe to what I call the "many irons in the fire" philosophy of earning an income. We make money a variety of different ways -- primarily from our woodcraft business, but also through freelance writing and other assorted odd jobs we've done over the years. Our primary focus is to take whatever work we can do from home.

Why home? Because it allows us to live as far away from urban hubs as we wish, without being tied by an umbilical cord of commuting to cities for employment. We have neighbors who commute, and it's tough.


But working for ourselves also means financial uncertainty (which is why we prefer the spend less vs. earn more financial philosophy), and it also means we do more than one thing to make a living (i.e. irons in the fire). This, too, is common among rural people -- holding down multiple jobs.

I thought this would be a good time to open up for discussion what kinds of employment people can find or create in a rural location, keeping in mind everyone's experiences, education, and skills set are different. One advantage people have today over what we had when we first relocated out of California in 1993 is the internet -- there are many jobs that can be done online.


One universal piece of advice I'll give for those seeking to leave cities: GET OUT OF DEBT GET OUT OF DEBT GET OUT OF DEBT. Your income is likely to drop off a cliff, so don't drag any debt down with you or you may never climb out of the hole.

So let's hear some thoughts from those who successfully moved from urban to rural. How did you manage to make it financially? What advice would you give others who want to move rural?

22 comments:

  1. I didn't realize I would spark another blog post.
    Any advice is welcome.
    Also, if anyone that has done it, would be willing to talk to us; hear our particular, somewhat abnormal, circumstances, and offer advice from there. We want to learn. We want to do it.
    Lisa

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  2. My wife and I live in the woods over an hour from the city. We run an in home day care business for all of those folks that drive in every day. I actually make a better income doing this than I did as a banker. That being said we dont have the benefits that the job gave us (Medical, dental insurance, 401K matching funds and stock options) but we manage. We pay for insurance ourselves and it is more expensive but we also eat healthier and go to the doctor less. We have an IRA and we make all of the contributions to it, not a big deal. I still invest in stocks I just pay the $6 fee myself. Honestly there wasn't much that the hour long commute added to our financial picture.

    The one thing that Patricia and others keep hammer on nhi is to get out of debt. We do have months where there less.children or a parent is in a bind and they need to pay later (yes i realized I'm a softy but they always catch up) having a car payment would be difficult but thankfully we no longer need a new car as my commute is 14 feet. The change is not just a physical move but a mental move where you start to think differently about all things.

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    1. This is not an advertisement, but Robinhood lets you invest in Stocks and ETF's without the transaction fee (although not in a retirement account), and vanguard lets you invest in their index funds without paying the transaction fee (and allows you to go through your IRA). I've been doing a bit of research myself. I'm about to get out school, and we'd like to move to the northwest. A lot of people in my field end up contracting out, so they're technically considered "self employed" - but that opens up the option of a SEP IRA. You may have already known most of this, but I'm just learning it, so I thought I'd pass it on.

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    2. 6 dollar fee plus what percentage brokerage buy and sell?

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  3. Maybe instead of looking for a house and a "job to go to", if you instead looked for a business that may be for sale may be a better option.

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  4. Even though the town I live in is rural, the pop is 16K. Plus, its 50 miles to a large city. With my education and teacher's certificate, I can tutor. I can substitute in schools. I can sew or repair anything. I would not be supporting myself, but it would be extra money to make life easier.

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  5. We haven't moved to the country, but we do have several irons in the fire. My husband is a reserve police officer who will do security for events and schools in the area, and he also has a gunsmith shop next to our garage. I work full-time at a local university but supplement my income with Amazon Mechanical Turk and selling original pdf crochet patterns on Ravelry and Etsy.

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    1. Like Penzys just after Trump’s election win, last Sunday Ravelry has gone all Puritan blowtorch in your face, if you incline toward Trump you’re a White Supremacist and don’t darken their website with your racism... Ravelry hates you woke. If you don't believe me, see their website. So much for crochet patterns. Sigh.

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  6. In 1984 we moved out of NYC which is about as big city as it gets. It took a career change, although I still work in the same field. We have never made it to a rural location but we are living in a suburb. Getting out of debt (other than a mortgage) has taken a while. I have some small side businesses selling items over the Internet. When I lost my job, the side businesses have helped us make ends meet. We are now retired (except for my side businesses).

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  7. Oh, other good comments already. I will echo - no debt. It does really depend upon your long term goal. It seems like many jump in with both feet then burnout in a relatively short time. I would say is start now, where you are. Evaluate your expenditures. What is a necessity and what is a want (hint: TV is not a necessity.) Begin your stockpile if you've not already. You will begin cooking differently with it and will begin thinking in preparation of....which will spill over to other areas of life. There's a ton, but it's one thing at a time. If you start now, you'll be more apt to set yourself up for success rather than failure. I'd be glad to visit though I'm sure there are others far more qualified (ahem, Patrice).

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    1. Hi Lady Locust,
      Each time I see the letters 'TV', I automatically edit that to:

      "...televisionprogramming..."

      And televisionprogramming is chock-full of newsprogramming. Ditto for radioprogramming. And 'movieprogramming'.

      PS:
      The last time we owned a television set was sometime last century.

      The last time we were in a theater was 2003 for a mid-week matinee of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. Just the four of us, the perfect population for a theater!

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  8. I think that a lot of people don't realize what small amount of cash you can live off of if everything is paid off and you're only paying gas and insurance on one vehicle. My wife and I lived in a moderate sized city last year, off of $30K - that's including EVERYTHING (car payment, rent, recreation, out of pocket health insurance for one of us, etc. included - admittedly with no kids). Realistically speaking, if you're making 10K from the dividends off your investments (which is relatively easy within a few years if you do your research) - you could get any minimum wage job and pay your bills easily, if you're in the right place. With two people working, you're living high on the hog. If you can't find a minimum wage job where you want to be, there are a bunch of freelance jobs out there (fiverr.com is my favorite), but that does require internet. In many states, teaching is an option if you have a bachelors degree (although, please don't even consider this if you're not 100% dedicated to helping children learn).

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  9. There is a difference between wealth and income. I am not talking about Kennedy "wealth" where every child gets a inheritance. I am talking about $20,000 or $50,000 in the bank or invested. Could be $100,000 or only $10,000, the actual amount is not the point. The point is that with wealth/savings you can buy or invest in things that will reduce your need for income.

    So what I'm suggesting is that young people choose to build wealth instead of spend. A difficult choice, we are all predisposed to enjoy life and to spend what we earn. But what I'm suggesting is that when we are young to work, perhaps work two jobs and save, while living on less. A young couple, even before marriage, can each work two jobs and bank a large portion of their income to build some wealth. Perhaps delay having children for a couple of years so they can both work towards that goal. The ideal situation would be where you acquire enough savings to purchase a home without the need of a mortgage. This alone would be the equivalent of having an additional $1000 or $1200 more income a month.

    When wealth is managed this way, i.e. not "spent" but invested in a way that produces income or the equivalent of income then the true value of wealth is realized.

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  10. We came up with 28 individuals who were employed before moving here.
    8 stayed in the same profession. 4 changed careers. 12 retired. And4 retired-and took P/T jobs. Surprisingly the internet only helped 2 remain engaged in their previous work.
    Montana Guy

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  11. I was able to work for a large corporation from home (thank you internet). We saved a significant amount of our income every year, paid off all of our debt, and I have been able to retire early and devote myself to our small farm business. From where I sit, it was worth it to live without vacations and nice cars and big televisions so we could save the money to let us enjoy life now!

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  12. This is not directly responsive to the question, but it's working for me. I now drive about 80 miles r/t to/from work: I looked for a place in a rural area that was still close enough to commute to my pre-existing job. If someone is in San Francisco and looking to leave CA, that obviously isn't an option. However, if someone is currently in Chicago and living in somewhat rural Wisconsin, IL, or IN is acceptable, it might work. I work an earlier shift to avoid most traffic delays and average 70-90 min. each way (which isn't too different from what some of my colleagues endure who are much closer, but work later schedules).

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  13. I had never though of looking into an IRA on our own. Excellent recommendation from several of you. Thank you.
    We are as bare bones expenses as we can get at the moment. Internet for homeschool is pretty much our only "other" expense. Some items we used to do to save money are no longer feasible now, like cloth diapers, canning, food storage. We do plan on picking those back up again when we are no longer in a trailer.
    We are focused on getting out of debit again. We were free and clear before the fire. Obviously we had to purchase our trailer. The benefit of that is we can take our home with us now.
    I love the ideas of working from home and Etsy items. A stretch for trailer life, but well worth looking into just the same.
    Thank you all, and keep them coming.
    Lisa

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  14. I've heard of multiple streams of income however at this time we only have 1 each from employers. I have no clue what else to do as I don't have hobbies and am not crafty or talented enough to get someone to buy my goods.

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  15. My wife and I moved from Seattle to small rural town. She worked in health administration, and I worked in IT. Rural areas are often in need of many of the same jobs as are available in the city. In some cases, rural employers will who are able will pay close to city wages because they know that need to in order to retain qualified personnel. My wife was able to rapidly advance in her field in a rural clinic system ahead of what people her age usually achieve. I found IT work at the local electric company. While I took about a 10% pay cut from the city, the lower cost of living and the considerably better benefits put me ahead.

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  16. So... one thing is dog trainer. People come to you for that job. Board and train. Sometimes you can go to the people also. Boarding dogs when people go away.

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  17. Left NYC 10 years ago for rural northern New England. I searched online repeatedly for a high tech R&D company in a rural location and found one. I make more than I did in NY and live in a town with 30 people per square mile. 200 square miles without a single traffic light, no houses for as far as the eye can see in all directions and my next door neighbor raises cows. Oh, and no sales tax or income tax and no permit to carry concealed.

    It took a lot of time and effort (and prayer) searching for what I wanted, but it was out here.

    DON'T GIVE UP!! It took more than a decade of looking, but it was the perseverance that paid off.

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  18. I do mostly design/software (UX, UI, HTML/CSS, but also print, digital advertising, video, etc). I was in DC metro for 18 years and I worked from home about 1/2 of that. A lot of freelance design work or trying to run my own firm here and there, but 2008 onward was full time employment with companies that had partially or completely distributed work forces (all in tech). I also did freelance during that time. When my wife got a job working from home (non profit development for a small policy non profit with no physical office), we made the jump to a 15ac farm outside of Charlottesville (which cost less than most townhouses in Fairfax County do - a DC suburb).

    If I do need to go to DC, it's a not-too-bad day trip. The Northeast Regional runs from south of C-ville and stops at Union Station right downtown. I can also drive if I'm going somewhere that's not as easy to get to by the DC metro system.

    We found a good church home and my wife is an amazing networker. Five years in we have a great network with many close friends. We also live a mile away from a friend I've worked with for 2 decades, and whose wife grew up in our part of the county (and parents, grandparents, etc).

    We're not as far out as I probably would have liked, but my commute is from the front door to the old tack room of the barn, which is now my office. I'm the VP of Design for a worldwide, public company. Working from the farm gives me 1-2 hours a day to work on the farm itself and also gives us a cash flow so we're not one crop/product failure away from problems.

    Software development in general has gotten much better with distributed workforces. Certain language communities are more supportive of it, mostly due to the nature of how those languages got used. If you've got a desire or a knack for programming, you can pretty quickly ramp up and get a job working from home.

    There's also "Moms who code" which is an awesome organization of a lot of ladies who have become programmers as a second career. Many of them do part time software work from home.

    And Lisa — we'd be happy to talk on particulars if you want to.

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