#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 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.