A few weeks ago we packed up our homesteading essentials and moved across country to Vermont to begin a new chapter of our lives.
To my regular readers, the ones that have followed our off the grid journey for the past five years, I know this sentence may seem shocking. In many ways, it has been hard for us to wrap our brains around: “We’re leaving a beautiful property with maturing fruit trees, wonderful neighbors, and very low expenses to move to a rental in a state with a high cost of living and start all over again?!?”
I’ll start by saying that the decision to move was incredibly difficult, as we love our home and adore living off the grid. But we are also very practical people who recognize when areas of our life need adjustment. We were entering a new phase of life with older children and it required a significant pivot.
As a life coach, I encourage my clients to think big picture before taking action on the details of their lives. The process starts with looking at your overall values and vision for the future, and making sure your life is aligned with your values. Brian and I approach our big life decisions in the same way – What is most important to us at this time in our life? What is working well and what is not working?
Our experience creating an off the grid homestead in Missouri was one of the most fulfilling, adventurous experiences of our life. Living without running water or electricity for months at a time (or years, in the case of running water) has made us incredibly flexible and resilient. Living in a tiny house with four people has made our family incredibly close-knit. Growing multiple businesses has given us freedom to work at home, sharing our passions with others. Living in an intentional neighborhood, we ended up with the gift of amazing neighbors, most of whom we did not know before we moved to Missouri, but came to love as family.
What ended up not working was related mostly to our kids, homeschooling, and imagining their future in our very rural area. Homeschooling is a beautiful form of education, one that we’ve really enjoyed, but it requires a significant commitment of time and energy. In the past, we co-homeschooled with our good friends, but when they left Missouri, our homeschooling support and our kids’ best friends left as well.
Brian and I saw the writing on the wall – we were barely able to keep our life in balance between living off the grid, homesteading, running multiple businesses, and homeschooling with the support of other parents. There was NO way we could continue meeting all of our family’s needs. Something had to give, and we did not feel good about giving our children’s education the short end of the stick.
We also had come to realize that while we loved the beauty of Missouri and deeply value our close neighbors, we yearned to once again live within driving distance of family and longtime friends, which meant moving back to the east or west coast.
So, a few years ago, we began to contemplate moving. Yup, a few years ago. We have never wavered in our clarity – we knew it was the right decision for our family at this stage of our lives – but where we should end up took some time and a lot of emotional energy.
We spent the summer in Vermont last year to feel it out. We shifted our thinking from homeschooling to school, applied to schools in Northern California, Oregon, and Vermont, and spent lots of time visiting towns and pondering the pros and cons. Ultimately, this spring we came back to Vermont for a three-day school visit and fell in love with a sweet little Waldorf school in the Montpelier area, which is where we ended up.
Finding a place to live was the next challenge – we are deeply committed to the homesteading lifestyle and wanted to make sure we could continue growing food and raising animals. At the same time, we knew we were not ready to look for land – we want to take time to get to know the region. I contacted everyone I had ever met in Vermont (literally) and asked if they knew of rentals on some acreage (Vermont is NOT an easy place to find an affordable rental, or any rental for that matter!). We ended up with the best possible situation – a gorgeous home on 57 acres with a landlady that is the most generous, flexible person imaginable. We have a few weeks of camping at a local campground until our rental is available, but it’s worth the wait.
So here we are. Sporting a brand new Vermont license and plates, figuring out the many details of a move. (Which bank? Who cuts your hair? Dentist? Doctor? Car repair?) Vermont is a beautiful place with so much to offer in terms of outdoor recreation, culture, and a homesteading lifestyle. We will rent the home in Vermont for the year and make sure that this is where we want to sink in our roots (because we’re ready for some root sinking after two enormous moves in 6 years!!) and we will continue to assess what is working and not working.
We will not be living off the grid this year. In fact, we’re not even living in a tiny house! We have bedrooms and bathrooms and flush toilets! And I couldn’t be happier.
I’m so excited to divert some of the energy that was required for day to day survival into new areas of homesteading. I can’t wait to tap maples, forage for local plants, continue my exploration of herbal medicine, stock up on storage crops for the root cellar, and bake tons of yummy food. We just got a shipment of 35 broiler chicks, and I’m looking forward to stocking the freezer with homegrown meat. So much homesteading goodness awaits.
As for our Missouri property? Several of our neighbors will continue to develop their homesteads into a Community Land Trust, which is a unique form of property stewardship, and our homestead will become a part of this newly forming Community Land Trust. It’s going to be a very exciting opportunity for the right family to take over stewardship of our beloved home, and when we are ready to begin the process of selling, I will share the details here.
Thank you for being a part of this wild ride and for sharing in our excitement for the next part of our homesteading adventure!