Achieving A Dream Of Remote Homesteading

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray

Many have dreams of where or what they want to be in the future. I can trace mine back to when I was in the first grade. I would daydream of living in a remote wooded area, and then when I learned to read I read about pioneers and adventurers who tamed the west it became more of a dream and a goal. The freedom they had in roaming the wilderness just fueled my dream of one day getting out of the noisy city and living in the woods. I grew up and have lived most of my life in large cities. Most dreams fade or are supplanted as we experience life and responsibilities but my dream lingered in the back of my mind as I forged a career and raised a family. I loved the outdoors and felt a certain freedom being outside in the woods, mountains or on a body of water. Sometimes a dream can be pushed aside by reality or distractions but if it is a real dream it will still be there if the opportunity arises.

Dreams Becoming Reality

Several years prior to retirement I began thinking about what I would do when I did retire. I had an opportunity to buy some mountain land that was mostly remote at a very good price and I jumped on the opportunity. A dream that had been dormant for many years suddenly became more vivid and a possibility. Carol and I talked about it and suddenly I had someone who was willing to participate in that long held dream. Her excellent financial skills made it more and more an actual reality.  We formulated a plan and stuck to it and as the time to retire neared we were well on our way to making that dream a reality.

The Plan

The first thing we did is keep a daily log of each expenditure and after two weeks we sat down and  reviewed exactly where our money was going. We cut out movies, eating out as much and small items that we didn’t even realize that we had been spending money on. As our savings began to grow we soon realized that this dream was a distinct possibility after all. We began to see where we had been wasting a lot of money on things we did not need. We made some course corrections and did eat out and attend movies but not as regularly as we had been doing. We actually worked in a couple vacations to the Virgin Islands and mountains of N. Carolina but we  still managed to put away money toward our goal. We took a long range approach to the achievement of our goal and put aside instant gratification.

Slow And Steady Progress

We doubled down on our land payments and managed to pay it off early which gave us more money to set aside for our future retirement home in the mountains. After a while we began looking for a contractor who would build us a shell house where we could finish it ourselves over several vacations. We found a builder and we used savings to pay for the construction in three spaced out payments. We now had a fully dried in home and needed to handle the remainder over several years of vacation time. We studied electrical and plumbing techniques and one summer did our electrical run. We hired an electrician to tidy up any mistakes we made along the way. We then did our plumbing which was not as hard as anticipated.

Final Preparations

With the electrical inspected and approved and the plumbing in it was time to finish the interior walls, flooring, fixture installation, and get the house ready for occupancy. Once that was done which took a few more years we decided on a retirement date and took the big plunge. The first few years were financially difficult but then it evened out thanks to my frugal wife and we were fully living our dream. It is important to have a long range plan and stick to it. Our plan worked for us but depending on individual circumstances a plan needs to developed individually.

Life In The Mountains

Life in the mountains and living remotely has been better than we ever expected. Until recently we had a couple remote neighbors but due to a wildfire ours was the only home on our road that survived. One neighbor most likely won’t rebuild and another has already initiated rebuilding. Our neighbors are and have been mostly the animals such as deer, elk, coyotes, bobcat, bear and occasionally a mountain lion. In our 21+ years we have found them to be respectful and good neighbors; in fact better neighbors than their human counterparts in most instances. Much of what we have read concerning wild animals has proved to be untrue – at least in our case. We are a 30 minute drive to the nearest small town which has less than 300 inhabitants. The next town is just over 7,000 people and it is an hours drive one way.


Irrespective of your dream we have proven that it can be achieved if you plan well in advance and stay focused and be patient. When I sat in that classroom many years ago dreaming of living in the woods I hoped it would one day be a reality but knew there was a lot of life to live first. I spent several years in the military, raised a family, forged a career and then a second family. The dream lingered but for a long time it seemed far away. When a window of opportunity opened, we took advantage of it and have not looked back since. We love our lifestyle and wouldn’t live any other way. In conclusion, if you have a deep seated dream even though it may seem a long way off or you don’t see a path to that dream, don’t give up. Plan well ahead and stay focused and you too may realize and live your dream one day.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their life in a small mountain cabin they heat with a wood stove with their three dogs, check out their blog site

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