Rural Revolution – why it’s never too early to start
Many of us dream of the rural lifestyle but either views it as unattainable and unpractical or as something that’s not urgent and can wait. Of course, both are often incorrect.
Sure, you can plan for retirement in the country and things may work out that way but most of the time, they don’t. Alternatively, if you feel scared by the prospect of uprooting your city life and moving to the countryside, that’s an understandable fear. Nevertheless, living in the city isn’t exactly “safe” either.
Of course, the point here isn’t to talk about doom and gloom. When we’re discussing the rural revolution we’re not so much talking about “escaping” from the city as we are discussing the benefits of the rural lifestyle and how best to realize them.
Should you take part in the “Rural revolution” and shift your life toward a more rural lifestyle?
The Rural Revolution, both in the U.S. and across the world (4) is the phenomenon of more and more people moving to the countryside (5). The term also often includes the governmental and economical efforts of stimulating rural businesses and communities, but here we’ll focus on the personal side of the issue.
People from all walks of life are finding the need to separate themselves from the busy city life. And that’s understandable considering all the noise, all the stress, all the – often pointless – things that keep us busy.
The rural lifestyle requires a lot of effort and change but it gives us many things we instinctively need – open spaces, air, freedom, nature, a calmer way of life even if it still requires a lot of work.
So, is the rural revolution right for you? If you’re on our site, it probably is. Still, it’s not an easy thing to do – even just the act of purchasing or renting a property in the countryside requires funds, as well as a lot of preparation.
And actually transitioning to the life there can be even harder – the physical labor and all the know-how it requires, the scarcer social interactions, the longer distances – those are all things you should be prepared for.
The 5 different ways to transition to a rural life
Obviously, everyone’s rural revolution is different. Not only do we all deal with the change in our own way but we also do different things once we make the switch to rural life. Still, there are about five main types of rural revolutions that people usually undertake, mostly depending on how we choose to work.
- Fully transitioning to rural farm life. When we’re thinking about moving to the country, we usually imagine a classical farm life. And that’s certainly one possibility – many of those who embrace the rural revolution do so precisely out of a desire for farming. When we say “farm life”, however, we typically mean a professional farm life, as in the ~2 million farms in the U.S. as of 2019 (6).
Obviously, that type of life is more than just having a small personal farm – many of those farmers are business owners with employees and professional equipment. Nevertheless, that is one big way to take part in the rural revolution, albeit one of the hardest ones.
- Working locally while living in the country. A simpler way to go about it is to find a job in the countryside you can do as you transition to life there. Living in the country does mean fewer job opportunities both because of the simplicity of the life there and the sparsity of the people.
Nevertheless, if you have a profession which allows you to work in the country, this is a good and comfortable way to take part in the rural revolution. Being able to maintain your budget that way makes things much easier than suddenly having to rely on your still-unpracticed farming skills.
- A survivalist’s life. Another way to partake in the rural revolution many people instinctively think about is the survivalist’s lifestyle. This usually means going there with the full intention of living a bit more isolated than most people. The survivalist’s life typically means living off your own farm and property – growing everything you need, maybe taking care of your own livestock as well.
Full separation from society isn’t necessary of course – things such as medical help, electricity, water, etc., don’t need to be discarded. But the survivalist typically relies on their own work and preparation whenever possible.
- Retiring to the country. Probably the easiest way to go about it work-wise is to move to the country once you’ve retired. This is the dream of many people – to go to the country to live in peace off of your retirement fund. To only farm if and as much as you want to, not out of necessity – it’s a sweet life.
Most people don’t get to live it, unfortunately, as it requires that you retire pretty comfortably, from a financial point of view. Additionally, living in the country in the later stages of one’s life requires even more preparedness in terms of taking care of your health and well-being.
- Long-distance work from the country. For younger people coming from the city, this is usually the best option. If you have a job that can be done online, that often means that you can do it from everywhere. So, all you need to do is find the right rural spot, settle in, and start adapting to your rural life while still keeping a healthy budget through your standard long-distance job. That’s pretty much the best of both worlds.
Is it too late to start?
Obviously, now more than ever, people are thinking about moving to the country. With the continuing lockdown and quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lots of people in the inner cities are dreaming of rural life while staring at their computers.
Is it too late, however? Should you have done it years ago?
Well, you probably should have, yes. If you had started working toward your rural dream years ago maybe you were going to spend the quarantine there, on your farm, and not locked in a small NYC apartment.
That doesn’t mean it’s too late to start, however. The Covid-19 pandemic will pass sooner or later and you can start preparing for your future rural life now. Whether it’s by trying to raise and save funds or just by planning how exactly you’re going to go about it, it’s a long process that should be started as soon as possible.
Is it too early?
The opposite notion seems to be similarly prevalent – that moving to the country is easy, properties there aren’t too expensive, and living off the land is not that complicated.
If only that was true.
We’ll set the property and money issues aside, as those are mostly personal and not what we’re here to talk about. Even without them, however, starting a farming or a survivalist life in the country is no simple task. Many people think that they are prepared to go and live off the land because they’ve read several books or blogs about it or because their indoor greenhouse is doing well. While we do hope our blog is helpful and has given you plenty of know-how, please keep in mind that it still doesn’t beat actual experience.
Most people who’ve actually gone through the rural revolution will tell you that there are lots of things no blog or book can fully prepare you for. Bad soil, unwelcoming weather and climate, ever-increasing droughts (7), abundant and unmanageable prairie weeds, the wildlife, and many other issues – the possible problems you can encounter are numerous as they are significant.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it, of course. It only means that you should be prepared.
What do you need to do if you want to transition to a rural lifestyle?
Depending on what you want from your personal rural revolution, there are lots of different things you can and should do. In all cases, however, the key phrase is always “be prepared”. We can’t possibly list all the things you should consider and do, but here’s a quick list of what you might want to think about:
- Where are you going? The U.S. is a big place, not to mention that you aren’t even restricted to just the U.S. Rural life in the Midwest is very different from that in the High Plains or in the South. The climate, the soil, the weather, the wildlife, the costs of living, and even the people are different.
Choosing where you want to buy a countryside property and/or live a rural life is the first and biggest decision you will have to make. You’d do well to go through as much research and planning as you can – what cost of living are you looking for (8), what climate conditions would suit your farming plans and preferences (9), what about the local laws, and how they would affect your plans?
- How many finances are you going to need? The decision to move to rural life for many people is usually related to an overall weariness from the complicated financial decisions that plague our modern life. Yet, they still matter even when you decide to become a part of the rural revolution.
Or, at the very least, they matter in the beginning. If you don’t own a property in the countryside, you’re going to at least have to buy or rent one. But the costs don’t end there – you’ll likely need funds to renovate and customize the place, as well as to move there and get all the gear and tools you’re going to need.
- Factor in a wide margin of error. As you’re doing all those financial and other calculations, remember to err to the side of caution. Rural life can be very punishing for any miscalculations and mistakes – there’s a reason why many people there tend to be more conservative.
So, whatever plans you’re making, be sure that there’s enough of a buffer to them so that your well-being and near future are always secure.
- Get all the know-how you can. We mentioned above that simply having know-how isn’t enough and that’s true. Nevertheless, it’s still a vital thing to have – it’s better to know what you’re trying to do and fail due to lack of practice than to not know what you’re doing at all.
Farming, in particular, is a tricky thing to master, regardless of whether you’re doing it professionally or for your own gain. Practice as much as you can beforehand in your yard or terrace and make sure you know as much as possible about the conditions at the place you’re moving to.
- Get to know the people around you. Distances in the countryside may be far greater and social contacts – less frequent, but that only makes them that much more important. You can afford to not get along with your neighbor when you’re living in the city but in the countryside – you all depend on each other.
- Make sure to always be prepared to switch to a “survival mode”. This doesn’t mean that you should start hoarding food in a bunker under the barn, of course. It only means that things happen and you should be prepared. From bad crop years to full-blown natural disasters, having an emergency kit, some stashed funds, long-lasting food, and a plan – are always a good idea.