The picture above is from our living room window -- we call it our million-dollar view. But in order to have our million dollar view with a less than a bare-bones budget, it means that our commute to town is rather lengthy. It's an hour or more drive to town. And I don't know about you, but spending 2-3 hours on the road everyday sounds miserable and expensive. So we had to get creative about occupations when we moved to our current location. And that is what this article is all about - thinking outside the box. Some of the options may be obvious, while others are less so.
I think I’m safe in saying that employment is probably the most difficult issue that most homesteaders will face. We know many people who made the move into the country and faced serious challenges with finding work. We certainly did.
But it doesn’t have to be stressful. In order to have a good experience with homesteading, solving the income issue beforehand makes the whole experience SO much less stressful.
We have heard people say ‘Oh, we’ll find a job when we get to the country.’ Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Often the kinds of areas that have the elbow room to homestead, are also areas that are often economically depressed. And certainly, lower population areas where jobs are a little bit more challenging to come by. Or perhaps your personal skillset would not connect with the area you are looking to move to. That would leave you high and dry at a time when you need income the most.
Homesteading isn't cheap...
Let’s face it, homesteading is not cheap. A new piece of property or homestead will often need a lot of work. Renovations, a new solar system, redoing the water system, putting in a garden, planting fruit trees, fencing for animals… and the list goes on and on.
Planning to find a job once you’ve moved is a poor decision in our opinion. We want to deeply impress upon you the extreme importance of nailing down a job FIRST before making any kind of transition to a homestead. It’s just as important as having water, trees, food, etc. If you don’t have a reliable income, you likely won’t be staying at your new homestead for very long.
We have connected with thousands of folks across the nation, and here are a few things we've gleaned.
Your Current Occoupation
You already have the training, experience, and contact to be successful. Why “upset the apple cart” right now while you have so many other big changes happening in your life? What you are already doing is what you are highly skilled at. So just go with that. Look for a homestead that would be close enough to your current job. No need to add any additional stress to your transition to the country by making a big job change as well. Perhaps you can find a new employer, doing the same work you are currently doing.
Another option is if your job is such that it could be just as easily done from home. Check with your employer and see if they might consider a remote working option for you. Same job, same co-workers, just a new office - home. With some jobs, this just isn’t possible, but for others, you might want to just ask.
We had a friend who worked in IT and payroll for a corporation. It was an office job that she went into each day. When she and her family moved several hours away, she naturally turned in her resignation. However, her company considered her such an asset to the company that they offered her to continue the job, just remotely. She had to travel to the office every few months. Think outside the box!
If you rule out the possibility of keeping your current job, then the next option I would recommend would be:
Previous Occupation or Hobby
While it may not be as ideal as your current employment, it may hold the key to opening the door for you to make that transition. Try and find something you’ve done in the past and see if you can’t make that work. An example of this that comes to mind is of a friend who was a dental hygienist. She had a hobby that was filling a need in her community. So she would make her product on the side. However, over time, the demand grew exponentially that she had to scale back her employment to part-time. Later she was able to quit altogether and devote all her time to her growing home business.
What I’m trying to recommend is: don’t just try to jump into a hobby thinking it will support you. Make the transition more gradually and be sure it will support you before you make the move. Jumping into a new home business cold turkey and expecting it to support you rarely ever works.
A New Occupation
So much caution is needed when working toward this kind of change. I would suggest you choose an occupation that would not require extensive or expensive training.
As an Employee: Hunt around in the area you are looking to move to and evaluate your personal strengths and weaknesses. Think outside the box and ask around.
As an Entrepreneur: Don’t forget to answer the most unasked questions - Is there a real demand or need for this service or product? You can’t just assume that because you want it, enough other people would want it to support your homestead. You could find yourself spending months or even years preparing for a business that only a few people need or want.
Be aware that just because a particular niche doesn’t have much competition doesn’t mean it’s a great niche to go into. When there is no competition, there may not be a need. Do your research before you launch into a new project.
Remote Job Opportunities
Working remotely is becoming more and more popular in our age of ‘online marketplace’ options. And it’s a great option that is a great fit for some people. But as you think about this option, be sure to consider your personality. If you are someone who thrives on working face-to-face with others, then you might not do as well working by themselves. First of all, working remotely you need to be sure that you’ll have two things: Reliable internet & phone service.
Here is a great resource for looking for a remote job option: https://weworkremotely.com/#job-listings
A Word About Online Businesses
The internet provides some incredible opportunities for connecting with customers all over the country, and really, all over the world. However, there are a few cautions I want to mention from our personal experience. First, if you build a website, they will not necessarily come. So many times we think that if we just build a website on the internet, we’ll magically have loads of people coming and visiting us, sort of like setting up a shop in a mall. But this is not so.
A website is much like a flyer or a catalog. If you don’t put it into someone's hands it won’t do you or anyone else any good. That’s where a lot of internet marketing genius is so necessary. It’s all about inviting the right people to visit your website and converting those visits to sales.
My personal suggestion is that you make paid advertising an important part of your business plan. However, it takes a lot of wisdom and skill to put those advertising dollars in the right place. If you don’t, you’ll be wasting a LOT of money VERY quickly in many places that do not give you the customers you really need to make an income to support your family. It really can be a tight-rope. For some, that’s a challenge they are ready to conquer, but for others, it’s not a good idea to try.
Some of you might be thinking of this as a way to make money. Many of these MLM’s are an incredible waste of time. What often happens is people work their tails off just to earn a bunch of money for their uplines. We know a dear lady who worked with almost superhuman effort, only to still need her day job years later. She should have been making a lot of money for the time she invested.
You might wonder why anyone would be sucked into such arrangements? Well, first, the company is taking care of pretty much all the business end of things (legal, shipping, etc, etc). That leaves you free to just connect with potential customers while offering support to them. In exchange for doing all the back end stuff, you wouldn’t make as much as you would if it were your own company. But it is much less of a headache than running your own company.
There are some legitimate MLM companies. To identify those, first, you want to see a very high percentage of customers instead of just representatives (builders). This gives the business a lot of stability. Another thing you want to look at is the pay scale. Make sure that the pay for the amount of time you put in is worth it. Go through the compensation plan and talk to a number of people who are successful to see if it’s working.
We have covered a lot of different options here. We realize that these are just some suggestions that might get you started on the right track. One important key point: Make sure that you have a reliable income BEFORE you make a move to a new country location.
What options have you come up with for working from a country location?
Did you like this information? All this info is covered in our newest 6-DVD set: Sustainable Preparedness 101