Yesterday we looked at the idea of relocating to a different location, and whether that’s something you’ve already been thinking about or are just starting to wake up to, there are a lot of good reasons to do so. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and move, there’s the (not so) little matter of funding. Moving is expensive, but there are ways to fund your quest if you’re willing to put work in and get creative.
Retirement Accounts and Savings
One way to fund your move is by cashing in your 401(k) or other retirement accounts. While many would gasp at such a notion, let’s parse it out a moment. It wasn’t until the last 100 years that the concept of “retiring” was even a thing. People worked until they couldn’t, and in most cases their families took care of them in their twilight years. If they couldn’t farm or engage in manual labor anymore, they did other things, such as helping raise the children or doing smaller tasks within the family structure. The idea that at some point you stop working entirely and live off of Social Security or retirement accounts is a fairly new idea, comparatively speaking.
If your goal with retirement was to buy a nice RV and travel the countryside, move to Florida or Arizona, and generally enjoy not working, then getting rid of your retirement funds is probably a bad idea. If, however, you’re chasing the freedom of sustainability and a greater liberty in your own life, or if you believe that you NEED to get out of the location you’re in, then it’s an option. Liberty is a harder existence, to be sure, full of hard work and effort. You’ll simply need to ask yourself what you’re willing to do in order to make it all happen.
I’m not advising that you willy-nilly cash everything in and go on a spending spree for preparedness. There is, however, an argument for using at least some of the funds to get started in your new place. Keep in mind, however, that the more complete and realistic your plan is, the better this works. If you have enough in your retirement to also pay off any outstanding credit card debt, student loans, or auto loans, pay those off FIRST, before your move. In addition, if you do decide to cash some funds in, you’ll need to figure out any penalties and/or taxes you’ll need to pay for next year and set that aside right off the top.
If you can’t bring yourself to cash in retirement accounts, then you may need to simply start budgeting for it. Forego your family vacation and put the money toward your planned move. Start making your coffee at home and pass on the daily latte. Even if you’re getting only one $4 coffee per day, and only on weekdays, you’re spending almost $1000 a year. In some rural locations, that’s rent on a piece of property, or several months of groceries. That’s more than a quarter side of beef, which translates to a few months of meat for your family.
Go through your bank accounts, add up all of your subscriptions and auto-debits, and then take a hard look at them. How much of it do you really need? You might be surprised to see that between the cable TV, the streaming services, the Candy Crush, and other “nickel and dime” stuff, you could be paying out $200 a month that could be going toward your move.
Cutting back on certain conveniences you may be used to, such as dining out, pizza delivery, or your various shopping habits will not only save you money and get you to your goal quicker, but they’ll also be good practice for your new location, which may not have these things. When I made the move from the greater Seattle area to rural Montana, I ended up giving up a lot of things I was used to—pizza delivery was a big one. It also changed how I cook and shop for groceries. Instead of deciding what I wanted for dinner and then making a trip to the store for anything I was missing, I was forced to ask, “What can I make with what we have?” As a result, however, we learned to plan our meals, shop local with a plan in mind, and spend more wisely—and that means more money in our pocket and better quality food.
Another option is selling the stuff you don’t need. Have a garage sale, put it up on Craigslist, get rid of it. You have more than you need—that’s a guarantee. If you’ve been prepping, obviously keep that stuff, but your TV, video game consoles, extra clothes, your collection of fiction books that don’t teach you anything, and all of the assorted junk you have can all go. Not only will you get money to put towards your move, but you’ll have less stuff TO move later.
If you absolutely cannot get enough money to move, even after all of the things above, you could look into borrowing. It’s not ideal; in fact, it’s a horrible idea in almost all cases. Some families, however, find themselves under a time constraint. Maybe their child is involved with destructive people or activities and they need to get their kids out. Maybe they’ve decided that they want to be moved in time for the next school year. Maybe they want to get in on some lucrative seasonal employment in the new location. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself in need of moving sooner than you can afford, and you have literally no other option, you could borrow or use credit.
If you have a specific career, it may or may not translate well to a more rural location. If you have a corporate job that doesn’t really have a rural equivalent, for instance, you might have to either make sure that you’re within commuting distance of someplace that has your particular function—or get creative.
Some skills can find work anywhere. Bartenders, auto mechanics, secretaries and assistants can usually find some kind of work. Even if you’ve never done the work before, if you’re willing to learn and are in good physical shape, sometimes you can get work outside of your regular career path and learn on the job. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll almost certainly be making less than you did in the city. If you’re smart, it won’t be that big a deal; you’ll learn to live on less, and generally the cost of living rural is less than in the city.
Don’t be afraid to look far outside the box for work. Many people who live in rural communities work in the small towns nearest them, or even from home. There are thousands of jobs available to telecommuters of all types, and there’s no rule that says you have to only have one job. Many people raise and sell a specific type of farm animal or use their milk to make homemade soaps for sale. You could also write articles or design websites. People with graphic design experience could open up a virtual firm online and work as a contractor. The sky is truly the limit in terms of what you can do to make money if you’re motivated and have skills to offer. Even if you get a “regular” job in your new location, you can always supplement that income with producing or creating things.
As part of your preparation to move, you might even learn a skill or get certified in something you already know how to do, and start your own business doing it. Here are just a few ideas of things that can supplement your income:
- Arts and crafts (crochet, needlepoint, knitting, soapmaking)
- Raising chickens or other livestock
- Detailing cars
- Seamstress work
Even having a “business” in which you pick up scrap piles or do other odd jobs can be fairly lucrative if you have a strong work ethic and can get some word of mouth built up. Everything takes time—but if you visit a few farmer’s markets or see a couple Etsy shops (crocheted shawls, for example, go for $100-$200 each, easily), you can get some really interesting ideas.
If you’re looking at a move, then you should also be aware that it comes with a lifestyle change, and that’s hard. Everything worth having is. The real work begins when you get to your new location. There’s a lot more to it than just getting into a new place and figuring out where the grocery store is. That’s what we’ll talk about next.