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Living off the land

I am toying with the idea of buying a detached cottage and living off the land withing next 10 years. Currently i am being made redundant but still quite young (35) so it is too early for me to retire but i feel like finding another 9 to 5 job asap and save save save to work towards a goal to buy and little cottage with a few acres of land and become self sustainable. It is possible that i can buy the this cottage earlier and start work earlier at weekends.

It's something i want to work towards because i cannot feel that i can work in this rate race until i am at retirement age of 65+ or whatever it will be in Ireland by the time i retire. Am i dreaming here at such a young age to look at retiring around 45 years old? My partner is 10 years older than me and i would rather live our lives together happily without this constant 9-5 nightmare. I cannot see myself changing career now. I am happiest outside, working with nature. I am not a monetary person and feel that i will live a happier live surrounded by nature and surviving day to day. 

I don't have much experience growing vegetables as a gardener to date so perhaps i should find an allotment nearby to help me in by planning towards this goal? I would appreciate any feedback or tips. 

I love where my garden where i am at the moment but i just feel like i want bigger and more land to achieve this goal.

Thanks for listening  :)


  • Hi Jaffa, I'm sure we all feel like that sometimes.  I have worked since I was 16, mainly office work, and 3 years ago I cut back to a four day week.  My Friday off is precious to me, I don't know how I get managed a full working week! I'm prepared to take the financial hit for more leisure, and gardening, time.

     I'm in Mayo, on the coast, our adventures with spuds and veg have been scuppered by the wind and rain.  Hope you are in a sheltered spot!  

    You are only 35, are you single, with someone who shares your goals, have children?  All these things will colour your choices.  If it's possible, go for it.  Most people regret the things they didn't do, rather than the things they did.  Good luck X.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 81,422
    edited October 2019
    I’m all in favour of dreams and ambitions but you need to be realistic ... you need much more information ... have a look at some self sufficiency blogs (the disasters as well as the triumphs ... and remember that few folk post about the disasters), as you say, get an allotment and learn more about growing fruit and veg (and more about yourself 😉). Maybe do some courses in the practicalities of self sufficiency ... hedging, fencing, laying drains etc even basic plumbing etc can be handy. Your local agricultural college will be a start. 

    Are you intending to keep livestock? Do some short courses in poultry keeping, keeping sheep and lambing, pig/goat keeping, cheese-making bee keeping etc. and find out not just how to do stuff but also the duties and regulations around keeping livestock and producing food for sale. 

    You our also have to remember that although you’re young and fit now, you will get older and believe me the hard physical work will get harder.  And things go wrong ... if you break your thumb who’s going to milk the goats? Who’s going to do the work if you both get flu? And if an elderly parent has a fall have you siblings who will do what is necessary to help ‘cos you won’t be able to just go at the drop of a hat?

    I know this all sounds as if I’m pouring cold water on your dreams but I’m just pointing out the truths of the matter.  I grew up on a farm and I ran a nine acre smallholding while my husband continued his established building business. The produce/income from the smallholding would not have supported us and maintained our home without the income from the business.  And yes, I broke my thumb and my OH couldn’t milk the goats ... he just couldn’t 🙄 

    And then I developed a long term health problem ... the doctor said it could well have been triggered by tiredness/overwork during one of those extremely hard winters in the1980s. 

    Im not saying don’t do it ... I don’t regret doing it ... but be properly prepared ... and good luck 👍 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    You don't say what you currently do for a living, but would it not be an option to train for something you'd enjoy more?  You could still have your allotment, maybe a few chickens and a hive, while retaining the benefits of employment, such as holidays, a pension and social contact.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,627
    All the biggest costs in life seem to double when you move to the country. I'm of the opinion that it is cheaper and easier to live within easy public transport links of major facilities and that means living in town usually. If you can give up using a car it's a big step to being self sufficient. Food is cheap but growing it can be hard and unpredictable so having a backup plan is always a good idea. A modern house with good insulation and solar panels can be really cheap to run. I'd be looking at finding a knackered suburban bungalow with a biggish garden and DIY renovating with lots of sustainable features. Get an e-bike with a trailer and make friends with someone with a good nature who will give you lifts in their car to pick stuff up that you found on freecycle.
    Some people bring joy wherever they go. Others, whenever they go. - Mark Twain.
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,354
    Having a goal to work toward is a good thing, but you also need a plan, building up your knowledge and experience whilst still working to fund your goal. An allotment is an excellent first step, as are the courses Dove suggests. If you can find weekend courses without eating into precious holiday time, so much the better. Volunteering as a Wwoofer is also a good way to gain experience without the expense of courses. You will learn so much from other allotment holders, but if taking on a full-size allotment is too much of a commitment, look at the possibility of sharing one or volunteering if there are any community growing schemes in your area.

    Being entirely self-sufficient without some form of additional income is a near impossible challenge, but the fact that there are two of you means one could keep working whilst the other gets your project off the ground, or you could both investigate part-time, flexible or remote working opportunities and gradually decrease your hours and dependence on the 9-5 slog as your self-sufficiency levels rise.

    Taking the first steps re courses/allotment/volunteering may be enough in itself to fulfil your yearnings and provide the missing soul food in your life.
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,102
    I suppose as long as you can be self sufficient for the two of you and grow enough to sell to make a decent wage you’ll be ok but that’s not easy.
    Don't forget money for car expenses, rates , ok maybe generate your own electric, but there are a lot more things you will need money for. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,184
    lots more to think about than just feeding yourself. You need to clothe yourself, heat yourself and you may have tasks which, with the  best will in the world, you can't do.
    You'll need money to pay others from time to time. You need to make provisions for times through illness or old age, when you can't work.
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,208
    True self sufficiency in the UK is almost impossible and I'm guessing Ireland will be much the same. For one thing, you can't avoid all monetary costs - council tax, some sort of phone/internet, insurances. So you need some cash income to pay for those. We also have very variable weather and total crop failure of one thing or another is pretty common, which is annoying when you grow for pleasure, catastrophic if you're relying on it to eat.

    Having said that, if you can collect together the money to invest up front in, for example an electric car and some solar panels (no road tax here - at least for now - and free fuel), you can drastically reduce outgoings. Not working 9 to 5 saves you money - less outlay on travel to and from work, little or no food consumed outside your home, no need to be presentable all the time so less spent on clothes. And of course not much socialising, so less money spent on outings and down the pub.

    If you want to have children, forget the whole self sufficiency idea. They are far too expensive.

    My real caution against retiring at 35 or 45 or even 55 is the risk of mental stagnation without the grit of having to do things you don't chose to do. It may seem like a dream now, but 5 years in you may start to feel that life is passing you by and it's very hard to get back in once you're out.

    On the other hand

    There are places in between the two extremes. It is possible, in the modern internet age, to do a lot of wage earning work from home if you have the right qualifications and contacts. Or you could set up a small rural business that brings in just enough cash to cover costs and keep your mind active while allowing a lot more freedom to (for example) work when it's raining or when it's dark and make the most of daylight and good weather to get the garden/allotment work done. You can get away from fixed hours without entirely getting away from work. You can strike a different balance if you're brave and if you don't have children.

    We have done something similar - we took a massive drop in income in order to have more time. We work from home, we have built our own house, we don't have a mortgage. It's been very uncomfortable at times and that is one strong reason why I would disagree with those who say you should wait until you're in your 60s. If you do it when you're in your 40s, you still have the energy to get established in your new home and life. Living in a cold caravan in the mud is an adventure when you're young enough to laugh when you fall flat on your face trying to break the ice on your water supply. It becomes less funny as you get older - there comes a point when indoor plumbing is very close to essential.

    You need enough capital to be able to go mortgage free, and to be able to invest in the things that will save you money in the long run. And then go for it. But don't get pregnant.

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,354
    edited October 2019
    I retired inadvertently in my forties and although that was a shock and a challenge, I am glad now it happened.

    Our life change was to move to spain, prompted by the early death of a relative, which induced a ‘life’s too short to wait’ moment. We both had well-paid professional jobs in the UK. It was sensible for me to give up my job as OH could easily work between here and the UK, whereas mine was location-dependant. Plus I had the construction, design and building management experience to develop and run the planned rural tourism project. The inadvertent retirement came when the credit crunch caused the bank to withdraw their funding offer and kibosh the project. I got some local work with horses and dogs, but it was peanuts really and the costs of being self-employed outweighed most of the gain.

    It took a while for me to adjust to my new, dependent on OH for cash reality, but since we moved to the Catalan countryside and I took charge of house renovations, established the veg plot and started developing my gardening knowledge and skills, I feel much more fulfilled. Yes, I miss the intellectual stimulation of work, but there are many compensations of a simpler life and the physical satisfaction of working on the land. We can still afford some of life’s luxuries because of OH’s income. Oh and the fact we don’t have children - unless you count our two dogs and two and a half cats  :)
  • jaffacakesjaffacakes IrelandPosts: 424
    Thank you so much for all the advice. A lot to think about. I didn't think about the health issues i might encounter as i get older and try to be self sufficient. I think what i will do is get an allotment or volunteer as suggested.

    I may need to revisit the plan though and perhaps try find employment that is either flexible or will allow a cut in hours in the future when i want to move towards even being even partly self sufficient. Eventually that would involve selling and purchasing a new property with land also which is the big step. Next year i will look into the allotment :smile: But first i will need to find a new job soon. :neutral:
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