Living in the country can be just what the doctor ordered, but rural areas have expenses just like urban ones do. Figuring out how to slash these costs can make your time out of the city even more fulfilling, offering financial stability that accents your new country freedoms.
13 ways to live cheaply in a rural area
Let the Land Feed You
Contrary to what you might hear, not all rural properties come with sprawling acreages begging for cultivation–realty experts at www.ashtonburkinshaw.co.uk in the UK and similar agencies can show you the surprising range of country properties you can find. Still, you’ll likely have enough space at least for a small garden. Grow your own herbs, vegetables, berries and fruits. A lot of veggies, like celery, can be grown from scraps. Enjoy these fresh all summer, but think ahead to the cold months and learn how to can. If you don’t have the time or desire to grow and can on your own, visit farmer’s markets and support your local vendors. Prices are usually much cheaper or comparable to what you’d find in a supermarket.
If your rural property offers the space, you might want to consider raising some poultry or animals. The trick here is to remember that any creature you raise is going to have costs of care, such as for feed, bedding and shelter. For this reason, look for animals that can continue to provide a return on your investment. Chickens, for instance, will keep laying eggs for you, and if you include a rooster in your flock, you can hatch new chicks.
Most people in the country are looking for ways to economize just like you are. Take advantage of this and talk to your neighbors about what you can trade. For instance, if your garden overflows with green beans and your friend has more squash than they can use, arrange a swap. Apply this strategy for services, too. A neighbor might clear your driveway of snow in the winter, for example, if you can keep their lawn mowed in the summer.
When you live in the country, you might be a good 15 to 20 minutes (or more!) away from the nearest grocery store or shopping center. With this in mind, the last thing you want to do is spend a ton on gas running back and forth. Plan to do the majority, if not all, of your shopping in one fell swoop–keep a running list of items you need on your fridge so you don’t forget anything you need to buy. Additionally, be ruthless about organizing your meals in advance and going through your pantry/fridge before your trip. This way, you won’t get caught running out of something midweek, and the odds of foods getting wasted go down. It also helps to purchase what you can in bulk, putting homemade meal portions, frozen fruits and extra cuts of meat into the freezer. To cut transportation costs even more, carpool with friends.
Go Green with Your Energy
Living in the country may allow you to explore some of today’s hottest green energy. Without a ton of buildings in the way, you might be able to install solar panels on your roof, for instance, or you might be able to set up a small windmill. Weigh the cost of going off the grid. Additionally, wood can be a terrific fuel for heating in cold weather. It also can let you explore outdoor cooking in warmer months so you don’t have to run your stovetop or oven. Something else that can help is to open up your windows when it’s mild, assuming you don’t have plant allergies. You often can get a natural cross-ventilation going, eliminating the need to run your air conditioning so much to maintain good air quality and cooling. Lastly, skip the dryer and put your laundry on a clothesline when it’s sunny. You’ll save money on energy costs and prevent the wear and tear dryers cause on fabrics.
Rural stores may not have the variety you’ll find in the city. It also can cost more to have local items delivered to you or have service personnel visit your home. Find as many ways to repurpose what you have as you can, doing repairs yourself when possible. For example, vegetable or fruit peelings and scraps can be turned into great compost or even supplement chicken feed. By taking a more independent and creative approach, you can avoid expensive, unscheduled extra trips into your nearest town or city, too, saving on gas costs. The Internet can help when you truly need something you can’t make or buy locally, and it can prevent having to go into town so much, too.
Country living can mean your wallet stays fat, provided you know how to implement a few simple tricks. Although some of these tips might require some time to get used to, once you get into the swing of things, you’ll never want to look back!5