Thursday, July 18, 2013

Moving to a rural environment.

I had some business with my insurance company the other day.  The person helping me was a young fellow, in his early thirties. We finished working on my business and got to talking about living in the far woods. He is in Florida right now, living in Tampa, but plans on moving his family to eastern Tennessee this summer. He asked me about things to look out for in buying land in a country setting.  I told him about some of the things I wish I had done differently, and I also recommended this book.

Ragnar Benson is well known in old school self sufficiency circles.  That's his pen name, and from time to time somebody will put his real name on the net but I figure if he wants to use a pen name, that's his business.
He's a prolific writer, interesting and informative at the same time.  I have virtually everything he's ever written, and while not all of it was germane to my situation,  it was all good reading.

After I read that one, I'd pick up a copy of J. Wesley Rawles' book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.

 I think it's out of print at the moment, but finding one used on Amazon should be easy enough.  There are a lot of things you need to consider when you buy rural property that just don't spring to mind if you are new to doing so.  Between these two books, at least you'll be prevented from making any of the basic mistakes that a novice at country living might be inclined to do through lack of experience.

Since I've been living up here, which is to say essentially the past 30 years, I've met a lot of people who were moving out to safer locations in the mountains. I would say about 25% of them make it.  The other 75% can't handle the winter, or they find that they miss all the things to do in the city too much. Sometimes they have a medical condition that requires a specialist and it turns out to be way too far to drive there and back on a routine basis.  Other people can't be comfortable with the quiet, the darkness at night,  or being closed in by dense , heavy woods. That can be claustrophobic if you have never experienced it before.  There's also the fact that here, or in a similar location, you are probably looking at an hour or so between making a 911 call and getting an EMS team, volunteer fire truck, or Sheriff's deputy on site. People who are used to picking up the phone to get someone to solve their problems are not going to be very happy with that aspect of living in the county.

So, anyone who is thinking about leaving the city or the suburbs for the countryside, these two books will help you with your planning.  It's a good time to be doing that, since American demographics indicate the rural population is declining as urban and suburban centers populations increase.


  1. As you know I too own almost every book Ragnar has written, and I agree, fine books. It sure is nice to have you back on the net.

  2. Good to be back among the living.

    If the lights go out and don't come back on, for whatever reason, his books will stand their owners in good stead.

  3. OMG HF DON'T Help them!!!! :)

    We need to keep rural living a secret.

    I do have one advantage though, everyone thinks Missouri is a backward ass nothing State. I tell em they are correct.

    1. Missouri is a nice place, been out there and liked it. Went out there years ago to see an old friend of mine. Lots of nice of nice, quiet nooks and crannies.

      The only thing I really worry about when I talk to people about moving to the country is this. I like it really well, and I tend to be very enthusiastic. I feel like sometimes, I should be more cautious and talk to people about the hard things, and you know well that there are some. But then, what if I discouraged some young people who would never be happier than living "way out there." The other thing I think about is that somewhere down the line, as you get older, you just can't stay in a secluded location. I know you could in the old days, but that was when a man's family settled around him. If you had brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces, getting old out here wouldn't be such a problem. But now, once the kids grow up and leave, you are on your own, just you and the wife. It gets harder and harder to keep everything fixed and repaired, trimmed and mowed. Seems like the amount of time I spend on chores just keeps getting longer and longer because it takes me longer to do things. Oh,well. I have only had one cup of coffee this morning, pay me no regard! ;-)

  4. When the electricity for the whole town was off for five days, I could not make out streets at night. It was unsettling to walk around my yard at night without even one light on in my house to guide me where I was in the yard. Of course, once inside I was fine, but it was dark here, too! Of course, I am the night owl who does not care if it is dark. However, too dark would take time to get accustomed to for me.

    That said, I do wish I could figure out how to get out to the country. I can bear the dark.

    1. Parsimony, the dark really seems to bother some people who are city born and bred. I guess it is because in a city, unless something happens to take out the power like you experienced, you never see real dark. When there is absolutely no artificial light out in the mountains on a dark night, the darkness is so absolute you feel like you could reach out and touch it. At my place, I have red security lights. They don't carry far, but they let me see what's going on around the place if the dogs start an uproar. They also have the advantage of not messing up your night vision like white light does.

      It's not easy to get out into the country because there are no jobs, and you either have to do something to bring in a little money, or you have to drive a long, long way to work. It can be done, though, especially if your wants are not many.

  5. Having been out of town for just over a year, I don't understand why it took us so long...

    Good advice to those about to make "the move" is invaluable. Bless you for sharing.

  6. Dani, whatever country we live in and whatever our backgrounds, people who want to be out on their own have a lot in common. I can remember being 30 and coming way up into these mountains. I made a lot of mistakes initially through lack of experience. But it all works out in the end. I wouldn't change anything overall, and I'm sure when you look back 30 years from now , you will be satisfied that you did the right thing by making the move.