Escaping Corporate Life
Setting Monetary Goals
My Story: Living Simply
My husband and I would like to eventually walk away from corporate America and big cities. Our dream is to move to the Northwest part of the country, own a home on several acres in the mountains with a stream and be more self-sufficient. I am a teacher and my husband is in mid-level management. We are very willing to change careers to make this dream a reality. Any suggestions on forming a plan to reach this goal would be greatly appreciated!
A Great Book to Start With
The book "Your Money or Your Life; Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence" by Joe Dominguez and Vicke Robin is a road map to your dream. It is packed with great ideas and inspiration for those willing to do something. The Debt-free and Prosperous Living Program was the second step. Using these two resources I became debt-free in five years, bought a home on the lake for cash, and retired from a high stress job. I wish you the best; keep on keeping on! It's worth the work!
Start Learning and Living the Lifestyle Now
This sort of thing was my dream, too, and I'm now living on six acres with lots of fruit, a vegetable garden, and chickens for meat and eggs. The very first thing to do is look at where you are right now. For example, did either of you grow up on a farm, do you have gardening experience, and have you ever raised animals? Figure out what you need to learn more about, and do it now. If you have never done home canning, get a book, buy some fruit at the supermarket or farmers' market, and learn to can. You can do more while living in the city than you think. You might also want to be learning a skill or trade that could earn you some money while living in the country. Teaching, though, should be transferable almost anywhere. I'm a teacher of students with behavior disorders. I do have to drive 30 miles to work, but it's worth it.
I would also recommend lots of reading. Carla Emory's book, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" is a great resource. "Countryside" magazine (W11564 Hwy. 64 Withee, WI 54498) is another great one. It is full of advice and stories of people like you, who want to make the move, and those who already have.
If you are not out of debt, that needs to be another priority. If you are out of debt, start buying things you need like canning equipment, gardening and workshop tools, etc.
One final consideration, if you already live near the mountains of the northwest, great. If you live somewhere else, give some deep thought to your mountain dream. One of the biggest reasons people fail at the country living dream is they are not at all prepared for what they're getting into. They picture fishing by a mountain stream, not raging blizzards, fires, predators killing their stock, trying to coax a meager crop out of poor soil, etc. You can make your dream come true much easier if you stick to terrain that you are familiar with; you might want to consider finding an acreage closer to home. If you can succeed there, the mountain dream can always come later. I wish you success!
Take the Move Gradually
I did this gradually. I was working a good job and moved up into the mountains (2 acres) only an hour away from the big city (Denver). I continued working my corporate job and commuted for three years. With the money I was making, I paid most of my bills off and only had the basics left.
Then, I got laid off. After savings, severance, and unemployment ran out, I was forced to make a decision: go back to corporate America or stay in the mountains? I chose staying in the mountains. I found that you must be multi-skilled and may have to work several jobs to make ends meet. You must be willing to apply for jobs just about anywhere. I work two jobs now and am planning for a third one. I clean houses (pretty good money) and teach art. My husband has two jobs, one landscaping and off-season he is a counselor. He also hangs gutters and works construction. We are both in our forties and have done it.
You could also work at home through your computer. Most require a fast Internet connection, a good computer (Windows) and availability. Make sure you can get this in a remote area and check with your provider, too. Or, plan on starting your own business somehow, if that is what you want to do. Commuting to a larger city is also an option, if you have to.
You must consider having reliable vehicles (lots of dirt roads and driving!), commute time to buy groceries and other amenities. Having a large freezer and storage for these things is important. Also think about finding local doctors, hospitals (usually medical clinics), a vet for your pet, etc.
Finally, get the local paper a year before you move to your destination (get all of them for any location you are interested in) and read it. That way you can get to know the community, the job market, schools, local politics, businesses, real estate, etc. Make calls and inquiries with the businesses there and get to know them. Ask questions! It reveals a lot and may end up helping you make a decision on your final place. It is a different lifestyle to adjust to. But once you are there, it feels pretty good to be free!
A Book With Practical Advice
I recommend the book "Moving to the Country Once and For All" by Lisa Rogak ISBN # 1-56626-142-2 for realistic, practical, and solid advice for making the move.
Live the Lifestyle Today
Well, I've been doing a bit of research into this subject myself. I'm more at the dreaming stage than planning at the moment, but there are two things I can definitely suggest.
First, read everything you can get your hands on about homesteading and hobby farming and the voluntary simplicity movement. Keyword searches for these on the net will fling up a whole bunch of good sites, and there are a number of great magazines, including "Countryside", which have sample articles on their website.
The second thing actually comes from that Countryside magazine. Get started right where you are. If all you've got room for is a tomato plant, then plant that tomato plant - at least you'll learn what an aphid looks like, what happens when you don't water stuff, and why frost is not good for tomatoes. If you've got a bit more space, then try keeping animals; breeding guinea pigs or keeping a few hens (for example) is something you might be able to do. Or even mice, if you're in an apartment. This way you know about animals and escapees and sitting up all night while they're sick, and babies, etc. If you're going to go the whole hog and live without electricity, then try it for a month. Just turn everything off and cook on a fire or a solar cooker. If you still love it, go for it. If not, then a wee farm not too far from the National Grid might be more to your tastes.
I've gotten started by planning my veggie garden right where I am. It would be a tragedy to uproot and "go west" and only then discover that I have absolutely no idea what's actually involved in running my own homestead. There are some things you just can't learn from books.
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