How can my wife and I earn a living in the country so we can move out of the city?

How can my wife and I earn a living in the country so we can move out of the city? We’re over-educated urban dwellers with a dream of becoming homesteaders and permaculture farmers. Should we get certified in some trade before making the leap? Do we need to move to a semi-urban place, then commute for a pay cheque? Are we missing some other option?

I meet more and more people who feel the urge to move away from high-priced, high-pressure lifestyles in and around cities. There seems to be a trend here, and that’s a good thing. Many small, rural places could use more creative, hard-working, self-starter people. There’s satisfying lives to be enjoyed here, too. The trick, as you’ve noticed, is work and money.

One option that’s more difficult than most is the same option most people think about right away: agriculture. While it is possible to make a living as a small scale producer of fruits, vegetables and other farm products, it takes an ideal piece of land, some pretty good equipment, a lot of skill and great marketing abilities. All this is hard to pull together when the whole farming thing is new to you, and you’re adjusting to rural life.

Developing skills as a carpenter, roofer, mason, plumber or other tradesperson is extremely useful for do-it-yourself projects on your land, but it’s not ideal as the economic engine of a homestead. That’s because it breaks the cardinal rule I have for homestead life – earn all the money you need without leaving the property.

One thing that makes homesteading economics much more possible than ever before is the internet. It allows people from across the world to collaborate on all kinds of work that used to require travel and physical meetings. My recommendation to you and your wife is to develop some kind of digital, internet-based business where you’re living now, then move when you’ve grown it to the point of profitability. Developing your digital skills to the point where companies hire you as a remote, freelance contractor holds similar promise.

While you’re making this happen, do everything you can to develop the hands-on skills to keep your own water system flowing, reshingle a roof, prepare soil for a kitchen garden, build sheds and complete basic maintenance on your vehicles. One of the joys and benefits of homestead life is that it’s so varied. When you get tired of digital work on your laptop as you sit under a tree, there are always eggs to collect, a garden to till or the oil to be changed in your truck.

Posted on January 26th, 2013

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