- I lived in big cities all my life until finally buying a small-town home during the pandemic.
- I love my slower pace of life and increased square footage, but I want more — I want land in the country.
- To get there, I’m investing in my home and making a plan for my parents to move with me.
I grew up in a big city and have, until very recently, always lived in cities. I achieved my goal of buying my first home by leaving the city for small-town life during the early days of the pandemic. I’d already been on the hunt for a location within commuting distance of the big city when the pandemic hit. I spent eight months, including one of the hottest summers I can remember, in isolation in my tiny one-bedroom apartment on a busy street, feeling like the walls were closing in on me. Those very same walls let in all the many sounds and smells of my neighbors’ lives, constantly reminding me why I’d made the decision to finally leave the city.
House hunting in a new location in an increasingly hot market — as a result of the mass exodus from the big city — was like taking on another full-time job. But, I did it. I made the move in October 2020 and have been enjoying the slower pace, overall lower cost of living, and increased square footage ever since.
This taste of the good life has made me feel grateful. It also has me thinking about what my next steps might be. I came in search of quiet, and I got it. But now I want more. More peace, more privacy, and more green space around me than I can get living in town. Now, I dream of owning land, a rural property with space to spare. I suppose you could say I’ve moved the goal posts — and I’ve moved them out to the country.
My three-to-five year plan now includes the lofty financial goal of buying a remote property with more land and more freedom. Here’s how I’m working to make my dream a reality.
I’m making lifestyle changes, like learning to drive and buying a car
My name is Allison and I’m a non-driver. But not for much longer. I’ve managed to make it this far without a driver’s license, but living in a small town without a car is a challenge. I still have neighbors welcoming me to the neighborhood after nearly two years living in my home; no car in the driveway = no people in the house. LOL. But seriously, having a car is going to be essential to my new life. To that end, I’m saving up to buy my first car and this summer you’ll find me in a driver’s ed classroom with a bunch of 16-year-olds learning the ways of the road.
I went fully freelance in the summer of 2021 and have been actively building my businesses and focusing on opportunities that give me total control of how and where I work. While I initially moved away from the city thinking I’d have to commute to work once or twice a week, I, like so many others, now firmly believe that remote work is the future.
As a writer, I can do my work from anywhere with a good internet connection. In my career as a dance teacher I teach both in-person classes as well virtually. How will I make my teaching work once I make the move to the country? It’s always been a dream of mine to have a home studio, which I have now, albeit a modestly sized one. When I eventually begin the hunt for my rural home, I’ll be looking for a property that will allow me to either convert an existing out-building into a dance studio or build one from scratch. I’ll work out of my home studio, teaching both in-person and virtual lessons, with the income opportunity to host events, retreats, and artist residencies on-site.
I’m investing in my home and building my savings
In terms of how I’m getting my financial ducks in a row to make my new dream an eventual reality, I’m periodically and incrementally increasing my monthly contributions to my savings in relation to my fluctuating income. I’m making saving a priority.
I currently live in my biggest investment. It’s my home, and I love it. It’s also the key to my lofty financial goals. I regularly invest in improvements to my home, not just so that I can enjoy them, but also to increase the resale value of my home.
I’m strategizing with my parents
I’m a big advocate of multi-generational living. I lived abroad for most of my 20s and now that I’m in my 30s and living within a two-hour drive of my parents and sister, I can’t imagine living that far away again. Especially as my parents are getting older.
When I first moved away from the city I casually started campaigning for my parents to sell their house in the big city and move to my new neck of the woods. Now, I’m hatching a plan to purchase my dream remote property with my parents. I would live in the existing building — in my dreams it’s an old red brick farmhouse — and we would convert a barn or another outbuilding or perhaps build a new sustainable, passive house all on one level for my parents to age in place in comfort and style.
We would each sell our houses, pool our money, and buy a rural property. Or start a hippy commune or kibbutz. We’ll see. The extra buying power the three of us would have by combining our resources could help us create something very special that might have otherwise been beyond our financial reach.
Of course, much of the success of this plan hinges on the housing market. I have an idea of where I want to live, but I’m keeping my mind and my search area open. I’m keeping a close eye on the housing market in the surrounding areas and learning about up-and-coming locations. Having a clear sense of market patterns, pricing, and demand will help me ground my lofty financial goals in reality.
I’m keeping in touch with my mortgage broker
Lastly, I’m maintaining close ties with my phenomenal mortgage broker, the wise and wonderful Lisa Okun. She was instrumental in helping me navigate a very challenging market when buying my first home. I suspect she’ll be my secret weapon in the next house hunt. Up next: I’ll be reaching out to pick her very big brain about my plans and I trust that she’ll give me the real scoop on how to make things happen.
I’m happy where I am now. I have the space, the quiet, and the healthier pace of living I was looking for. And, I’m always looking forward, thinking about what’s next. For me, it’s more space, more quiet, more freedom and it looks like an open field in the rolling countryside.