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Five Things To Consider Before Moving To The Count...


Okay, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and trade in your urban existence for new life in the country. You’re excited to get started, and make your dreams of a tranquil rural homestead a reality.

But before you give your employer notice and rent a moving van, you should take a moment to carefully consider all the ramifications of such a major life change. This isn’t like trading jobs or moving from one apartment to another, after all. Relocating to the country is more like waking up one morning in a world where everything is much different from what you’re used to.

With that in mind, here are five important things to consider before you make your dream life in the country a reality:

#1  Be sure that you really want to live in the country. This might sound obvious, but more than a few people make the move from city to a rural area, only to discover later that they made a big mistake. So take off the rose colored glasses, and make sure you understand the challenges you and your family will face when you leave the city behind.

You can visit our country living page for a short list of pros and cons and go from there.

#2  Decide what you’ll do once you get there. It’s not enough to say you’d like to live in rural America, you need to know what you’ll do once you get there. Do you plan on going the homestead route, and become self-reliant and raise your own food and livestock? Or are you looking to start a business in the country, like a country inn or bed & breakfast? Or maybe you’re retired, and just want the quite rural lifestyle while still having the comfort and convenience of the city?

Much of this will be determined by your age, your desires and ambition, your financial situation, your level of training, etc. Understand that making a living can be a challenge even for the best prepared, especially in the first year. Many urban job opportunities simply don’t exist in rural America, and many of the jobs that are available are low-wage, manual-labor positions that might be quite different from what you’re used to.

#3  Will you be able to make a living once you relocate?  Some people fall in love with the idea of living in the country, but don’t take into account the economics of the situation. Traditional “city” jobs can be hard to find in rural areas, and if you’re not within commuting distance to a city or large town, this could make it hard to earn a living.

Also keep in mind that farm work and other jobs available in the country typically pay less than urban jobs. This is offset somewhat by the fact that you should be able to produce a lot of your own food and other necessities on a rural homestead, but many urbanites who move to the country have a hard time making ends meet, especially in the beginning.

#4  Identify your ideal property. Again, this will be determined by a number of factors, including what you plan to do with your new life in rural America, how hard you want to work, how much money you have to spend, how much money you need to make, whether you’re single or married with a family, and more.

Consider your answers to question #2 above when deciding on your ideal property. For example, you might be looking for a large rustic home in farm country or the mountains that you can turn into a Bed & Breakfast. Or maybe you want a small homestead on a few acres where you can grow your own food and raise your own livestock. Or perhaps your idea of heaven is a quaint Victorian home located on a quite street in a small Midwestern town.

Then take into account other important characteristics relevant to the region of the country you’re considering, including climate, cost of living, topographic, economic and more. As for the property itself, some important considerations are drainage, availability of clean water, fertility of the soil, whether the site has southern exposure in the winter, access to good roads (especially during the winter months), condition of the septic tank, condition of the main house and any outbuildings, and of course price.

 #5  Don’t be in a hurry to buy.  One of the biggest mistakes urban dwellers who dream of moving to the country make is rushing out and buying the first property they lay their eyes on.  Much like a marriage, this is the kind of life-altering decision that needs to be carefully thought through, and planned for. Always expect the unexpected when moving from the city to a rural area, and be sure that things won’t go as smoothly as you envision.

Visit the area you’re interested over the course of several months, and in different seasons. A location that seems terrific during the warm summer days may seem anything but in the Fall, Winter, and “mud” season when many dirt roads become quagmires. Meet some of the people in the community you’re looking at, and ask them how they like living there, and why. Find out how friendly they seem, and how open they are to new transplants from the city. And of course inspect carefully the property and buildings you plan on buying, and know what you’re getting into before signing on the dotted line.

This an admittedly short list of considerations. There are entire books written on this subject that cover every aspect of buying property and moving to the country.  Just remember not to rush this process. The goal should always be finding a place where you can put down roots, and where you’ll be happy for a long, long time.

 

 

The Pros And Cons Of Owning A Country Inn

Many people dream of owning a country inn or bed & breakfastIf your dream is to own your own country inn or bed & breakfast, but you’re still on the fence about leaving your current life and career, there are a number of considerations you need to ponder before taking the leap and leaving your old life behind.

If you’re a social person, and you love to cook and entertain, and you yearn to leave the city and live in rural America, this can be ideal business. Many people have a romantic image in their minds of owning an inn or B & B in the country, of a leisurely life sitting out on the porch in a rocking chair and watching the sun set every evening with your blissful guests.

But if you ask anyone who’s been in this business for any length of time, they’ll tell you that is a real business, with all the work and responsibilities that come with it. You’re essential running a hotel, and unless you have employees, you’ll be responsible for cleaning, cooking, and maintaining that hotel, along with dealing with a wide variety of people at the same time.

Here is a short list of many of the pros of running your own bed & breakfast or country inn:

  •  It is your business, and you’re in control of every aspect of it. If you’ve ever dreamed of being your own boss, and running the show, then this could be your opportunity do to just that. You won’t have to answer to a boss, you can run the business as you see fit.
  • You get to meet a lot of great people. You’ll find people walking through your door from all parts of the world, and some of them will end up becoming good lifelong friends.
  • You get to live in the country. This is the main draw for many innkeepers, the idea of being able to live in rural America and get paid to do it. And you can beat the commute from your bedroom to the kitchen every morning!
  • You get to cook. If you love cooking, baking, and creating great homecooked meals, this is the perfect business for you.
  • You’ll be able to deduct a portion of your home’s depreciation and operating expenses on your yearly income taxes as legitimate business expenses.

Okay, those are some of the pluses, but like most things in life, there are minuses as well. So what are some of the potential pitfalls of owning a country inn or B & B?

  • Many innkeepers get burned out after a few years. This is especially true if you run your inn or bed and breakfast year round, seven days a week. Think about it – after five years, that’s 1825 days of having guests in your home, cooking and cleaning and entertaining them 24/7. One solution to this problem is to take some vacation time during the “off” season to recharge your battery and your spirits.
  • You’re responsible for everything that happens under your roof. If the hot water heater goes out, you’re responsible for fixing it or having it replaced. If the toilet backs up, you’re responsible for getting it unplugged. If one of your guests is unhappy for any reason, you’re the one they’ll complain to.
  • You can’t call in sick. If you have guests under you’re roof, you’ll have to take care of them, no matter how you’re feeling that day. There are no sick days in this business, unless you can find someone to cover for you until you start feeling better.
  • Owning a country inn or bed & breakfast can be a significant financial commitment. Both to open, and keep running, especially if you experience a long “off season” where guests are few and far between. So run the financial numbers before you jump into this business, and make sure you have a budget that will see you through the first couple of years while you get things off the ground and established.

So there you have it. If you’re dream is to move to the country, or the mountains or along the coast and become an innkeeper, don’t let the potential drawbacks discourage you. Just be aware of them, and realize that this is a real business, and there will be real work involved in keeping it a viable enterprise going forward.

 

 

Country Living – Is It Right For You?

A quaint cottage with garden in rural America

In a recent survey, three out of four Americans said that they would prefer not living in a metropolitan area. After all, thousands of people take to the highway each weekend to escape the city, and over fifty percent say they would prefer a rural area or small town over living in the city.

So what does country living mean, exactly?  What does it look like, sound like,  feel like?  Well it can mean different things to different people, depending on what you want out of life, and what your goals are.

Some people want to have a home in the country, but have all (or at least most) of the conveniences of urban living. Other folks are homesteaders or farmers, and they want to be self-reliant, raising most of their own food, generating their own power, making their own clothing, etc. Still others want to retire in rural America, or they just want a second home in the country where they can spend weekends and holidays outside the city.

Country life is special in many ways, a lifestyle of self-reliance and back-to-the-land values, of hard work,  serenity, scenery, and food pulled from the rich soil. It’s life at a slower pace, more time with friends and family, a closeness to nature.  It’s a lifestyle many aspire to, no matter where they live.

But it’s not for everyone. If you’re currently living in a metropolitan area, and you’re pondering a move to the country, the mountains, or along the coast, there are a number of things to consider. While rural life is desirable for a variety of reasons, also be aware that it has its unique challenges as well, and once you commit to this lifestyle, you should be prepared for everything that comes with it.

This is especially true if you’re looking to start a homestead in the country. This type of “back to the land” living is a lot of work, and you can expect to run into a number of challenges – and even hardships – especially in your first year.  Being self-reliant and living off the land can sound easy when reading about it in a book, but is usually a lot tougher in real life.

Which is also a lot of the satisfaction for people drawn to this lifestyle. Eating food that you’ve grown yourself, food that tastes better and is healthier for you and your family, is a reward in itself. And there’s nothing like knowing that you’re reliant on nobody but yourself, and that you and your family are prepared for just about anything that life can throw your way.

Living in the country can be a fantastic and life-altering experience, and I highly recommend it. Just be aware of what you’re getting into before you call the moving van, and be as prepared as you can be for the new and exciting life that awaits you in rural America.

 

Some of the advantages of country living

  •  More privacy. There simply aren’t as many people living in the country compared to urban areas, so you’ll have more peace and privacy to do as you please. For many this is the main draw of country life, they simply want to be left alone.
  • Less violent crime.  Urban crime problems like street gangs, crack houses, drive-by shootings, child abductions and carjackings are rare or non-existent in most rural areas of the country. While there is crime outside the city, in most smaller communities it consists primarily of property crimes, traffic violations,  teenage vandalism and the like.
  • It’s a lot quieter, which goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. With fewer people in the country, there’s less noise from cars and trucks, motorcycles, emergency vehicles, airplanes, loud music blaring from windows, etc. Noise pollution is one of the leading causes of stress in modern life, and it’s no wonder folks are seeking some peace and quiet in rural America.
  • Hometown values. Many people of a certain age think of country life and Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show comes to mind. Small towns, home cooking, close families and friendly neighbors who all know and care for one another. A place where speeding tickets are a major event, and many folks don’t bother to lock their doors at night.
  • The ability to live off the land. There’s a real attraction for many people to have the ability to grow their own food, make their own clothes, and generate their own heat and electricity. To “live off the grid” so to speak, and only have to buy a few of your necessities in a store, is a liberating feeling if you’re lucky enough to have experienced it.
  •  You can own undomesticated animals in the country. Outside city zoning, you can own farm animals like horses, chickens, pigs, ducks, and even cattle if you so desire. Being around these types of animals makes us more human in my opinion, and brings us closer to nature.
  • It’s healthier to live in the country. You’re breathing clean air, and drinking clean water, often out of your own well. You’re not choking on exhaust fumes from crowded urban streets, and you’re not drinking chemically-treated city water, and you’re less likely to get hurt or killed in a traffic accident. And you don’t have the stress of long commutes through bumper-to-bumper traffic.  Studies have shown that living in the city actually decreases your average life expectancy by several years or more.

 

Some of the challenges of country living

  • Emergency services my be spotty, or take a long time to arrive. Chances are medical and emergency facilities are going to be some distance away when you live in a rural area, and something you need to be aware of, especially if you’re older, have health issues, or kids. Also make sure your health insurance will provide coverage for you in your new country home, or that you have access to a hospital or clinic within a reasonable driving distance.
  • Making a living can be a challenge. Many people give up on their dreams of living in the country because they can’t figure out how to make a living outside the city. While many traditional jobs – like corporate or manufacturing positions – can be hard to come by in many rural areas, there are a host of other options, especially with the advent of the Internet and parcel delivery available almost everywhere. There are a wide range of telecommuting and small businesses that can be run from the home these days, from consulting to online sales, website and graphic design, marketing, writing, and more.
  •  Shopping is more of a challenge. Unlike in the city, where you can hop in your car and be at the supermarket or mall in a few minutes, in the country you have to stock up and plan ahead. You may only travel into the city on shopping trips once or twice per month, so you have to make lists and make sure not to forget something important. Also remember that services like dentists, optical stores, hair salons, bike shops, dry cleaners, etc. may not be readily available in rural locations.
  • Entertainment options are limited. If you’re someone who likes to drive to the local multi-screen movie theater every weekend to catch a movie, or go bar-hopping or restaurant sampling on a regular basis, or you like live entertainment, you might find country living a challenge. Satellite TV and Internet movie rentals can help, as can living within an hours drive of a city or larger town with entertainment options.
  • The weather can take some getting used to. Especially if you live in the mountains, or along the coast. Rural areas of the country can have much different weather than in the cities, with more severe storms, flooding, heavy snowfall, and wind events. Blizzards and whiteout conditions are not uncommon during the winter months, along with heat and dust storms during the summer. Just be aware that you might be snowed in for days at a time, and prepare accordingly.
  • Becoming part of the local community. Many rural communities are tight-knit by nature, and newly transplanted residents often have a hard time making friends and breaking into tight social circles. This usually dissipates over time, and as the “old timers” in the community get to know and trust you. One way to speed up the process is by volunteering to help out in the community, like at the school, church, social agencies, etc.
  • The more self-reliant you are, the more challenges you’ll face. Living a life where you’re not dependent on the outside world for much is a lot of work, a fact that most urban dwellers take for granted. Imagine having to grow all your own food, raise your own animals, generate your own power, repair your own tools and equipment, make your own soap, tend to the medical needs of you and your family, etc. This path is rewarding, but also not for the faint of heart.

 

But don’t let the challenges discourage you if you’ve decided that this is the life for you.  It’s been said that nothing worthwhile in life comes easy, and that  the best things in life are free, and both statements are true of rural living. Just be aware of the pluses and minuses before you take the plunge, be as prepared as you can be, and you’re less likely to make a decision you’ll regret a few months down the road.

 

 

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