Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
In Fall of 2013, I had just relocated to Boulder, Colo., with the company I was working for as a graphic designer. Graphic design is what I went to school for, I had a decent job making $48,000 per year, a rockin’ apartment in the city, a brand new Subaru Legacy, I hiked or snowboarded on the weekends, rock climbed on week nights, and thought I was finally living the life.
However, despite having what I was taught to be “the perfect life,” I was deeply unhappy on the inside. I was becoming increasingly unhappy with my job. It wasn’t the work itself I was growing to despise; it was working a corporate job altogether.
‘Having it All’ but Wanting More
I hated commuting to work, I was bored most of the time despite expending significant amounts of energy to stay motivated, and after doing the math, I was broke at the end of each month despite making $48,000 per year.
I was a chronic consumer and wasn’t able to practice self-sufficiency in any way — I couldn’t even have a garden patio in my 4th-floor apartment. At the rate I was going, I was never going to “get there.” I didn’t see that I would ever own my own home in this location, I didn’t have the freedom to explore self employment so that I could have control over my time, and I felt just overall defeated. I knew I needed to make a change but wasn’t sure what the next step should be. I was hoping that it would become obvious with time.
Just months later, I was laid off from the job I relocated for. This left me stranded in Boulder with a lot of bills, but it was my chance to spring into action!
Setting Priorities for the Good Life
Jesse and I had a lot of heart-to-hearts during this time to determine what we really wanted in life. Jesse owned a business in Southern Oregon that was running without him for the most part, but we were both unsatisfied with our lives and were trying to figure out what next.
After weeks of discussion (if not months), we had the perfect plan that we thought would give us the best odds of having the freedom that we wanted in life, both financially and physically. We wanted to buy naked land, build a home ourselves which would save a tremendous amount of money, and begin homesteading.
Coming from deep within the system, this was no easy feat. I was in Colorado at the time, Jesse was in Oregon with a brick-and-mortar business, I was jobless, and we wanted to build our homestead in Idaho!
While Jesse had built a small house before, I had barely picked up a hammer at that point. We didn’t know exactly how we would make the transition to own land in Idaho, but how do you eat an elephant? You eat one bit at a time.
Step-by-Step Toward Our Homestead Dream
Over the next two years, I moved back to Southern Oregon to be with Jesse. I worked hard to become self-employed. We worked to reduce our overhead which meant lowering our standards of living so that we could save up for land. Jesse worked hard to get his business sold, and we spent the rest of our energy building micro-businesses online in hopes we could create some passive income streams to give us the time and financial freedom to buy land and start our homestead.
We took a handful of trips to Idaho to get to know the area, decide where we wanted to buy our land, and ultimately to find a piece of property to buy.
No words can describe the chaos, stress and excitement of this two-year time frame. We lived in four different houses, worked 80-90 hours per week each, and worked into the wee hours of the morning frequently. It was a great test of our relationship to say the least!
However, we knew that we were going to need a significant amount of cash for a down payment on land and as we would be living in a remote area, we needed to have an income stream that was not tied to the local economy. Even though we pushed ourselves to the ragged edge, it felt right.
In the early parts of 2015, we were working harder than ever, made multiple trips to Idaho, and nothing was falling into place! We made a couple offers on land even though the properties didn’t feel quite right, we had a small stream of passive income coming in from the internet, we were building a bit of a savings, we were uplifting our roots in Oregon, and kept pressing forward optimistically.
In July of 2015, we took one more trip to Idaho because we found what we thought was the perfect property. That’s when things finally started falling into place.
In Part 2 of this blog post, I share the next part of this journey, which will include buying our property and making the transition to living on our land. We have been living on our land for three weeks now. Feel free to check our homesteading blog!
Alyssa Craft moved to Idaho after purchasing 5 acres of land where she will build a homestead from scratch. In the meantime, she lives in a 19-foot travel trailer while beginning construction on a timber-frame home. Follow her many DIY projects, including building a barn and a house, an off-grid hot tub and starting an organic garden. Find Alyssa on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
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