Have you ever wondered what it would be like to quit your job and be a homesteader? When the March 2020 lock down kicked off around the world and certain world events inhibited us as a society, many people took the opportunity to reevaluate their life and goals and make significant changes.
Haver you ever heard those people, whether they be friends or family or co-workers who’d say with a hint of dreaming, “oh one day when I retire I’m going to do x” or “if I ever won the lotto I’d do y”.
The last few years has seen a lot of people have those ‘come to Jesus’ conversations much more often. People realised that life as we know it could change in a split second, and many people were not prepared for what came after.
I myself still work a FT job and homestead. I can’t say it’s easy, but if it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I do now, and make the plans I make now. Of course, with more options to work from home, it has become easier than it was, but it’s still a hard thing juggling two full-time needs.
If you’re one of those people still asking those questions, and day dreaming about a different life, then this post will be for you. This post will outline some of the strategies you can implement to quit your job, or life as you currently know it, and move to a homesteading lifestyle.
Do a skills check
Homesteading skills, some of them, are not that much different to other skills you may have. Maybe you’re really good at crafting things, drawing up plans, pricing jobs, finding cheap material and then putting it all together.
Maybe you have some traditional skills you currently use on the daily that would be useful on a homestead such as cooking, baking, making jams, running a vegetable garden…etc.
The first thing you need to do is a skills check. Look at ALL the skills you have – whether it’s work related or personal skills – write them all down and then sort them as best you can into relevant groups, ensuring you have some hybrid groupings of tasks to see where skills are transferrable and cross-over.
It’s likely you actually do have the basic sets of skills to go straight into homesteading with only some minor adjustments, but sometimes those minor adjustments can make a huge deal.
For example, we have been living about 80% off-grid for the last 12-15 years, and yet making that last step to be fully off-grid is one of the hardest.
Sometimes it’s fiscally, sometimes it’s a bit of fear of whether or not you can do the work and adhere to the lifestyle, and sometimes it just seems really daunting and hard.
But regardless, if you have an understanding of what is needed to bridge certain knowledge gaps, then you are already half way there.
There is so much free knowledge out there – Youtube is a brilliant source – of how to do the most basic things.
A skills check is paramount to understanding where you are as an individual and where you need to be, to feel more comfortable with such a big life change.
Check employment information
Some folks may be lucky enough to continue working their full-time job while they transition to country living. If you are one of these people, brilliant.
It won’t be easy, but at least you’ll have a steady income before you make the plunge. Who knows, maybe you’d still like to homestead and work full-time, and that’s ok too.
These days, flexible working arrangements are making it much easier for people to live where they want and work jobs that satisfy them and still are within their chosen career.
This is still a bit of a new concept to many industries, but it will improve as time goes on.
When I say check employment information, this means exactly that.
Depending on where you plan to move, you may be able to get transferred locally, if your job has regional or local offices, you may be allowed to work from home, or maybe you find that moving to a homestead will allow you to free up more funds through the sale of property (more on that below) which means you might not have to do the job you’ve been doing.
You may also have access to sabbatical leave, long service leave or some other unpaid leave which will allow you to get your hands right into homesteading with little impact. This of course makes more sense if you have some savings behind you, and your spouse is also working.
If your plan is to move into self-employment, such as consulting or contractual work related to your current field of work, then start collecting your info now.
Make sure you have all your networks and contacts sound, make sure you are up to date with any professional associations etc so that when you are ready to move, you already have a little business sitting ready to go.
This is how I started Homestead Soapery, so when we made the big move to our big farm, I’d have a small business to continue on with.
Sell property; free up excess capital
Some people have been able to invest well in the property market before 2020. We are some of those people. And in our state, property was always dirt cheap and we worked great jobs.
Now we are in the position that we can sell up some of those assets and move onto our next venture without having debt. It’s been a long time coming and we have worked hard to get to this point.
But maybe you’re not one of those people and only have the home you currently reside in. That’s ok too. When you decide to homestead, you don’t need to be debt free though you will find most homesteaders subscribe to fiscally frugal ideologies generally.
If you have assets – any assets – whether they be shares or bullion or property, have a good think about whether you need those assets.
Wealth building is one financial pathway, but it often gets to a point where you have achieved all you want or you don’t want to tie yourself any longer to those pathways because sometimes tying yourself to wealth creation pathways means you have to work full time, you have to live close to work you have to constantly upskill and you have to be on the lookout for promotions.
This pathway won’t align with going and living a quiet life out in the bush, because as you know, living rurally and remotely means you won’t have access to a lot of basic things, let alone to wealth creation and career development.
You may also be lucky enough to have purchased property in a good area that has seen financial growth for any number of reasons. If that’s the case and you are willing to move on, then consider selling your property and freeing up the increased equity to buy your next property in cash.
Some of these ideas are quite out there because they require you to change your path.
There’s a lot of discussion these days about younger generations not being able to get their foot into the property market and realise the dream of owning their own home, but sometimes in order to achieve that, different pathways and investment opportunities need to be considered.
As long as you can make an actionable goal of what you want to achieve and when, you can use some of these financial ideas to get moving on that next step.
Spend some time camping, AirBNB or day trips in the area you’d like to move to
Make sure you thoroughly research the area you want to move to.
Understand what the weather is like, if there is water, if there is mines nearby or certain businesses that may make it difficult for you.
For example if you want to be an organic farm and you live near commercial agricultural properties that spray, you will have a very difficult time in achieving your organic status (and maintaining it!)
It’s also a good idea to go and spend some time in the area. Camp overnight, go to an airbnb or go on a day trip. See what it’s like around. Are there many parks? Is there an active community? Do you have a social or fitness group you could join? etc.
Some areas may look great on the internet, but when you go out there you realise it’s not a match for you. So make sure you understand as much as you can about the area, and any future planning that is going on so you can make the best decision.
Boost your savings
Before making the leap of quitting your job and moving into the bush, make sure you boost your savings.
Have enough of a buffer for a good 6-12 months if you can – if you can last that long at your job and if you have factored that time in to your plan.
It will make a huge difference in how comfortable you are on the other side of the move, especially if you pick a naked property or one that needs some work.
Declutter, minimalise and sell off anything in excess
This is such an important step. And should be planned way ahead of any moving or packing begins.
Often we accumulate stuff we simply shove in a closet somewhere and think we’ll do something with later. And when later comes and we don’t do anything with it, it’s been accumulating dust and sitting in storage somewhere doing nothing productive.
The worst time to think about decluttering is when you have to move. Especially if you’ve lived in one house for a long time and you’ve collected things along the way.
Things that need the most attention will be clothing, bedding, kitchen items (appliances included) and knick knacks.
You may be moving to a property with nothing on it other than a camper van, or you may be building a new house.
Whatever you drag along with you may have to go into storage and you want to minimise the fuss, costs and headache of having your belongings everywhere when moving.
It also makes good sense – mentally and financially – to get rid of excess.
Research has shown that when people live in clutter their minds and hearts are also cluttered and they simply cannot move forward with plans. Decluttering is therapeutic and mindful and makes you ask the tough questions about why you’re holding onto something.
Obviously if something has sentimental value, you apply different reasoning. But when it comes down to excess – the questions need to be around why you need 17 pots and pans when 2 will do the same job, and vice versa.
Make 3 piles when starting to declutter – throw away, keep and donate.
Throw away is obvious – the items are chipped, broken or damaged and there is no need to hold onto them.
Donate anything you can that you think someone else might have use of, whether its to an op shop or local charity.
And keep what you want to take with you, labelling it clearly and grouping it so when it comes time to unpack you can do so in a methodical way.
Finally, just go for it
There is no better time than now to seize the direction you want your life to go in.
If the last few years have been anything to go by, it’s proof that for far too long as a society, we have lived a zombie-like existence where everything was easy and automatic. It’s long been time to take a few steps back and try and introduce more simplicity and mindful living into our lives.
The time for regret is the time for when you leave this earth. Nobody should be working until they’re 60 to finally retire and get sick and be unable to do anything because all those years of work has left them unable to function without pain and suffering.
If you want to start homesteading, or you want to go and live in the country, then just do it. Sometimes, too much planning and preparation gets overwhelming for some people, and they need to just get up and do it.
Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know – instead, immerse yourself in the new skills you will learn and the sheer joy you will get living a much simpler life.
So if you want to do it, then just go for it. Pack the house, sell it, change your job – do whatever it is you have to do to make your dream a reality.
Don’t be one of those 60 year old people who can’t do anything, don’t be one of those people who gets sick and says I wish. Just get out there, and give it a try.
You cannot fail if you try.