Many people yearn to move away from the city to the country, but don’t have any idea how to make it happen. They focus so much on the where; they forget about the how.
Assuming you have discovered the perfect place to live, how will you get yourself there? In many cases, people have no idea. They get discouraged, and figure they’ll just have to suffer with their three-hour commute until they retire or die.
It’s tragic because it doesn’t have to be that way. The key to moving to a place you love is setting up the infrastructure to make it happen first.
Of course, doing so may require diving into some uncharted territory: you have to plan.
If the word planning makes you sick to your stomach, don’t worry. I’m not suggesting that you map everything out to the last detail. You can’t. However, if you build some flexibility into your life, you can take baby steps to move to the place of your dreams.
In our case, before we moved to Idaho, we did a lot of thinking and testing. After we got married, James and I were living in a rental condo. Obviously, renting versus owning your own home gives you more flexibility to move.
However, our obnoxious landlord, after promising not to put our ugly pink-carpeted condo on the market, went back on her word. We needed a new place to live. (Preferably one without pink carpet.) The rental market was tight, but we found a (much nicer) condo that we could buy instead. Because we knew we didn’t want to live in California long-term, to retain flexibility we got a 7-23 loan, instead of a conventional 30-year mortgage. Our payments were lower and we knew we’d be moving in a few years anyway.
One key is to always incorporate your long-term vision into your short-term decisions.
Don’t Jump Ship
Instead of planning, many people get impatient, quit their job, move, and hope it will all work out. Over the years, we have watched an influx and exodus of people. In Sandpoint, Idaho, Coldwater Creek is one of the largest employers. The company recruits people who visit Sandpoint, and fall in love with the place because they’ve always wanted to live in a beautiful small town. They are thrilled to move here, set up a life, and settle into the community.
Then a year later, they either discover they hate their job, or they get laid off. Most of them move back to the big city. It’s sad to witness because they’ve uprooted their lives, love it here, and don’t want to leave. But they couldn’t stay because they had no long-term vision or back up plan.
By taking a much longer-term view, we have managed to live here for 15 years, through two recessions and countless local layoffs. The reason is because we planned ahead. Most rural areas can’t support much (or any) high-tech employment. Sandpoint is no exception.
We started our business, made it location-independent first, then started looking for places to move. In fact, we even planned out and tested running a business first. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, after all.
Even if you were a good employee, you may be a terrible entrepreneur. Neither of us had any business experience, so we had no idea what it would be like. We tested on a small scale first.
We read a lot of business books, took a evening adult education course on entrepreneurship, and started our business part-time. Once we had a few clients, I quit my cubicle job. We got more clients, and James quit his cubicle job.
Still in California, we worked for a year from the bedrooms of our small condo. Only after we got confirmation that we were making money and our clients didn’t care where we were located, did we make our move to Idaho.
People often ask us how we managed to craft a life that makes us happy. The short answer is, we planned it. (No one wants to hear that, but it’s true!)