The Frugal Homestead Series Part 1: Why The Woods?
I’ll admit it right now: I talk about our future homestead a lot. If you’re a regular reader, you’re probably sick of me starting sentences with, “when we move to our rural homestead…” In case you’re new here (or you’ve selectively tuned out my near-constant mention of the H word), Mr. Frugalwoods and I plan to buy 20+ acres of wooded land, likely with an existing home and outbuildings, in rural southern Vermont.
We’ll purchase the property as soon as we find what we’re looking for (our most recent search with our realtor was last month). And, we’ll move there on a full-time basis once we hit our version of financial independence in the fall of 2017, if not before. Once we decamp to the homestead, we’ll rent out our Cambridge, MA home. Our lifestyle of ingrained frugality and 65%-85% savings rate are what make this dream possible.
I realize, however, that we haven’t delved into the specifics of why we want to do this or how we’re going to do it. I guess both are pretty crucial, eh? In my defense, I never claimed this was a linear blog… Before you shake a fist at the computer and say, but isn’t Frugalwoods about cutting your own hair, eating rice-n-beans, biking to work, not turning your heat on to save money, and generally being notorious frugal weirdos? Well, yes, fair reader. But more importantly, Frugalwoods is about what we want our frugality to accomplish–the “woods” part of our equation if you will.
To that end, and in response to the many comments and emails we’ve received asking us to please, please, please spill the details on the homestead situation, we’re starting the Frugal Homestead Series, of which this is Part 1. Never fear stalwart frugal comrades, we’ll share new installments on a regular basis.
I figured I’d kick off the series with the point of origin for our homesteading dreams: What makes two young, urban hipsters* who’ve lived their entire lives in cities and suburbs decide to up and move to a rural plot of land?
*We are hipsters insomuch as it saves us money (bicycling), is practical (baking our own bread), and/or fits with our aesthetics (Soviet tank pistons and beards).
Our Story Thus Far
If you haven’t read our About Us page yet, I highly recommend you do so now. I tried really hard to re-write it fresh for ya, but, I kinda wrote it best the first time. So, check out the About Us and come on back. Frugal Hound will wait here for you.
Even though our homesteading goal wasn’t crystallized until early 2014, we’ve been working towards it ever since we graduated from undergrad (8 years ago) and got married (6 years ago). We knew we wanted to live a life outside the ordinary and we wanted options. Frugality gives you options. When you don’t spend most of what you make and when you don’t limit yourself by debt, there are a lot of possibilities open. Thankfully, frugality is a way of life for us, not a struggle.
As I shared in How We Live Frugally In The City, we’ve spent the last 8 years as residents of major US cities: NYC, Washington, DC, and Cambridge, MA (twice). I’m grateful for this trajectory because, without the experience and frame of reference that urban life provides, our homestead plan wouldn’t have come to fruition. I don’t see the homestead as a bizarre deviation from our life path, rather, I see it as the evolution.
Why Go Rural?
Being in the woods and on the trail together are among our best experiences and memories. There’s something deeply soothing and soulfully right about spending time in the woods. Nothing else comes close for us. When we hike, the world fades into the background. There are no unnecessary distractions, no requirements to impress/answer to/appease anyone, and there’s no need for money. In case you were wondering there’s nothing to buy on a hike, which suits us just fine. Hiking gave us the clarity and presence of mind to solidify this decision.
Working from the ideal scenario of Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods hiking all day everyday for the rest of our lives (which isn’t practical for many reasons), we began to formulate a plan that would incorporate the woods and hiking as integral and daily occurrences.
What we devised is something of the proverbial “if the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will go to the mountain.” We realized we need to shorten our commute. Living in the city and driving 2+ hours to reach decent mountains and woods (I’m looking at you, White Mountains of New Hampshire) is not tenable and doesn’t foster a good quality of life.
It was a revelation: why not just move to the hike?
Change is not scary for us. A component of the homesteading appeal is that we’ve never done it before. It’s exhilarating, terrifying, and something of an all-consuming obsession. We crave adventure and this, above all else, is an epic adventure we’re embarking on.
There will surely be things we fail at, wish we’d done differently, and days of outdoor physical labor when we pine for our lazy desk jobs. But we know this is what we want to do. The easiest thing would be to not do it. To keep living our normal, conventional lives. But we don’t want the easiest life–we want the fulfilling life of wild creativity and passion.
We shy away from saying that this is the last move we’ll make, or the final project we’ll embark on in our lives. We’ll keep ourselves open to what the world has to offer. I firmly believe that remaining flexible and amenable to a diversity of experiences yields a richer life. It certainly has thus far.
Insource All The Things
Mr. Frugalwoods and I are both fiercely independent. We like to figure things out ourselves and prefer to insource everything from cleaning to home improvement to brushing Frugal Hound’s teeth. The great side benefit is that insourcing is incredibly frugal. Coincidence? Nope.
Living on our own land will give us the latitude to tinker, create, and otherwise pursue all sorts of random projects. Already on our list: woodworking, welding, writing, gardening, building an Airbnb property, astronomy, preserving and canning foods, cooking, forming hiking trails…. to name a few things.
We’re striving for a life where we work hard, but on projects that are rewarding and produce just enough revenue to support us. By adhering to a lifestyle of low expenses, we’re in a position to support ourselves through these nontraditional means.
The Power of Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods Combined
Mr. Frugalwoods and I make a darn good team. We’re partners and collaborators in every sense. Each of us has areas of expertise that we bring to the relationship and we’re very clear in our division of labor and responsibilities, which allows us each to specialize.
We want to work together all the time. At present, our best hours, our best creativity, our peak energy and viability as humans are funneled into our 9-5 jobs. So much of our time is spent at work and we’re usually exhausted when we get home. That pace and allocation of hours leaves precious little time to pursue anything else of true purpose and depth.
I’m inspired and energized by Mr. FW’s endless font of ideas on a daily basis and he’s similarly grateful for my ability to organize our plans and execute. Working together full-time on the homestead is essentially our idea of paradise. Spending everyday doing interesting things with your best friend is pretty much where it’s at for me.
And with that, I conclude the first part of the Frugal Homestead Series. Next up in the series: “How the heck we’re going to make this bizarre plan work financially” (working title). Want to make sure you’re among the first to receive Part 2 delivered hot and fresh to your email machine? Sign-up in the Frugal Hound email box below and she’ll send you a message.