I’ve been thinking a lot about couples who want to do what we did. You know? Save money so they can move out of their rental in town, buy land and raise their children in the countryside?
With the recent rise in the cost of real estate and especially with modest homes outside of town, its getting harder and harder for young folks to follow this dream. And sometimes, I feel desperate for them.
Will they still be able to do it on the wages most people have in these smaller towns and communities?
There’s part of me that can’t help but wish I had loads of money, so my man and I could buy land, build really simple homes on acreages and then let them go for a cheaper price, keeping our profits to a minimum so that first time buyers can afford these newly built homes.
Wouldn’t that be an amazing way to help others get start with this country life?
But then I think back over everything my man and I went through to get into our little cottage. And I can’t help but be reminded how as humans, difficulties do something good for us and in us.
They give us opportunity to learn and grow in a whole new way. Good things happen when we have to rise up and meet a challenge. And often, hardships end up shaping us in special and unique ways.
As I look back over our past journey to the countryside, I can clearly see how that difficult time forever changed us and even prepared us to do this simple life, well.
When we first moved into the valley, my man’s wage as an apprenticing carpenter was extra-low. When he finally finished schooling and became a journeyman, his wage only went up marginally because his boss couldn’t afford a raise.
I did what I could to help with finances, but health issues kept me from working a steady job.
We desperately wanted to move to the countryside where we could easily support my health with clean food, start a family and raise our children in a natural environment.
So we started thinking outside the box and chose to do the hard thing.
First of all, we went to the bank and did some talking and figuring. No burying our heads in the sand; we needed to know what we could potentially be approved for, how much we should save for a down payment and the hoops we would need to jump through if we were going to move into the countryside.
That’s when we discovered that we just couldn’t do it. As first time home buyers, we couldn’t afford to go directly to the countryside.
Unless we saved like our lives depended on it. And maybe…just maybe if we went through the pain, hassle, sweat and tears of building our own home from start to finish, if we did everything ourselves, we might be able to make the leap.
So we drew up a simple cottage design where costs were kept to a minimum. Our plan wasn’t anything fancy. Just a 1,100 square foot cottage that was designed for an add on later, if we needed it. Instead of having everything we’d ever dreamed of in a home, we strategically looked for ways to keep the cost down without sacrificing the necessary stuff for building a sound home.
We started looking for ways to spend less and save more. At the bank, we were encouraged to save for a 25% down payment, so we could skip paying for expensive mortgage insurance.
We went at it whole heartedly.
I’m sure folks thought we were nuts. Grubby. And dirt poor. While the first two assumptions were absolutely true, we were actually accumulating money…money that was intended for our one day home.
We started budgeting (here’s the system we developed and used) and froze all unnecessary spending. We took on weekend jobs together. We said “no” to pleasure for the sake of our goal and discovered there is real value and even an empowerment in learning to denying yourself.
Together we learned discipline and self control with our time and finances.
That season was hard. I still feel a bit raw just thinking about it! But I’m glad no one swooped in to rescue us. Because it did wonderful and unexpected things in us.
Our season of saving caused us to develop the skills and mindsets we needed to live the simple country life.
Today I find myself wanting to both bless and curse those years. How glad I am it’s behind us! And how grateful I am for the skills and mindsets we developed in that season of life!
I came out the other side with a new found confidence and abilities that made me feel settled in my role as a full time homemaker. And actually, the skills I had to develop were things I wanted to learn anyway, when we start living the country life.
Things like cooking from scratch, buying food staples in bulk, growing gardens for the kitchen, cooking with cast iron, canning and preserving, making soap, sewing, etc.
My man also had to develop new skills as well. We’re opposites. By nature, he doesn’t enjoy learning. But he forced himself to take up vehicle maintenance, fix plumbing, the freezer, our dryer and such, which put us in a good place for living this simple country life.
Those skills are invaluable when you live outside of town.
Where was I going with all this?
My heart aches for families who want to get out of town and move to the countryside. But at the same time, I have to remind myself that sometimes it’s best that we work hard, hard, HARD for what we want.
Most of the time, those tough season prepare and equip us for life on the other side. So while I feel so much for young couples starting out, I also have to acknowledge that the difficulty they face can often be a gift in disguise.
Don’t pity them. They’re being prepared for the good life they want to (and will one day) live.