I want to move to the countryside
July 13, 2007 7:46 PM   Subscribe

How can I make a living in the rural countryside?

My husband and I have been living in the metropolitan New York area for the past 9 years. A few years ago, we bought a little cabin in the Catskill mountains to get away to. Although having two places has served us well these past few years, we're both finding that we are increasingly drawn to the idea of living in the countryside full-time.

Basically what's holding us back is a fear of not being able to generate enough income to live on. I currently work as a massage therapist, and my husband is a musician and piano/drumset instructor. Although we'd probably be able to find a little bit of work in our respective fields, more than likely we'd have to find another means of generating income.

Is there anyone out there who lives in the rural countryside and might have some income-generating ideas? I'd be willing to learn new skills.

I'd also be interested in hearing from any homesteaders if there are any out there.

posted by oilygoily to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Country Baby jam?

Could you use your knowledge of massage therapy to do some writing and lecturing about stress relief, workplace stress, self-relaxation techniques, self-massage techniques, etc?

The best thing I can do is recommend 2 potentially life-changing books. They were life-changing for me, anyway:
Finding Your Perfect Work
Working From Home
posted by The Deej at 8:26 PM on July 13, 2007

I just moved to rural Ontario from downtown Toronto. I am a writer so it makes no difference to me where I live. My wife is trained as an animal behaviorist and veterinary technicican, both of which are skills which seem to have rural demand.

From my own experience, the key rural skills are basically 'skilled trades' of one form or another. Around here it is anything allied to construction... including interior decoration/design... but basically carpentry/electricians/plumbers/cabinet makers/painters/masons/landscapers and so on.

There is also a strong market for good, small, rural stores which provide a small, highly targeted array of basic commodities.

Traditionally there are a lot of people who do hair and mend small engines... 'Pa fixes your lawnmower and Ma fixes your hair'.

Rural internet is a niche but some people make money out of installing and running P2P and satellite (hughesnet) connections.

A lot of people work different trades seasonally... snowboard instructor in the winter, mason in the summer.

The rural economy is different from the urban economy because word of mouth matters much more... if you are really good, word gets round almost instantly. If you are a dishonest drunk, everyone knows.

Home tutoring of kids is a strong possibility especially in subjects which schools may not offer or be strong in... art, music, remedial math and so on.

At least around here, people with a decent skillset do not seem to have much trouble making money and having a very good life. It is just not the same skillset as in the city.
posted by unSane at 8:33 PM on July 13, 2007

Also, addendum, for your own sanity find something that you really enjoy. This may require you to move to the country *first*. For example, I love landscape work. I had no idea until I tried my hand at it.
posted by unSane at 8:37 PM on July 13, 2007

Get some equine massage experience and you can make a pretty penny petting people's horses for $100/hr.
posted by britcoal at 8:38 PM on July 13, 2007

I spent a good part of my 20s trying to figure out how to settle down in a little mountain village that captured my heart. My income ideas included small engine repair, freelance writing, outdoor guide, and spending X months per year "outside" in some high income occupation--fishing boats in Alaska, working an oil rig. A lot of people I knew pieced a living together that way.
posted by LarryC at 10:34 PM on July 13, 2007

We live in the sticks; I program and design for clients all over the place, and my wife does medical transcription.

Depending on the "touristy" nature of your area, you might be able to hook up with a resort or a batch of local B&Bs to offer massage to their guests?

Your income requirements will be lower, generally speaking, in the country, so you may be able to get by on less than you think you otherwise would need.
posted by maxwelton at 11:09 PM on July 13, 2007

I think maxwelton's idea of trying to hook up with hospitality businesses in the area is a great one, certainly for you, probably for your husband too.

You could both offer retreats in conjunction with B&Bs, starting by spreading the word through your current clients.
posted by Good Brain at 12:05 AM on July 14, 2007

become a doctor, although this does take probably more time than you may be willing to devote
posted by caddis at 4:52 AM on July 14, 2007

One of the reasons I am a librarian is because I wanted to have a job that would let me live in the country. There are a few jobs like this that you can do in rural or urban locations. The most popular ones (decently paying) are: librarian, teacher, nurse, police officer, post office worker and road crew. Now these are people with one job that they do in a country setting. There are also people who piece together a few little jobs (in fact MOST people where I live do this) or people who have jobs that are mainly "work from anywhere" jobs. The thing about the piece-together jobs is that it can be tough to get/maintain health insurance or maintain a steady income, so it depends how you feel about steady incomes, for one thing.

I second what unSane said, word of mouth really really matters. If you are doing something where you'll need clients, there will be a lot of rural networking and getting to know people in your future, so work that it to what you'd really like to do. I found once I was out here that I had more work than I could handle, just helping people learn to use computers and make little web pages. Coming from the Pac NW, that surprised me.

I found, and I know this is somewhat off-topic, that in a rural setting it's easier to manage your expenses than your income. That is, it's easier to not spend money and live off a budget than it is to find ways to bring in enough money to pay the cable and cell phone bill. So, I assuem you are already doing this, btu when you make a budget think about it in a few ways "this is the amount of money we think we'd need to maintain our lifestyle at this level" and "this is the barebones amount I'd need to keep myself alive and not miserable"
posted by jessamyn at 9:05 AM on July 14, 2007

posted by TomMelee at 10:32 AM on July 14, 2007

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