rural living http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8873/all en-US How Inconvenience Helped Me Save Money http://www.wisebread.com/how-inconvenience-helped-me-save-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-inconvenience-helped-me-save-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5706996047_3a98262839_z.jpg" alt="rural grocer" title="rural grocer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="164" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I live in a rural area where a family grocery store, two pizza shops, a Chinese restaurant, a Dollar Store, and one gas station/convenience store are our only retail establishments. We have lived in this area for many years, and it definitely took some time to get used to not having anything we could possibly need in consumer goods right at our fingertips.</p> <p>If we ran out of milk, there was nothing we could do about it after 9 p.m. Things got much worse about a year ago when the only grocery store we had within a 25 mile radius shut down with almost no warning. Long story short, the family-owned grocery store had been operating for months with rarely stocked shelves and often-expired merchandise. We as a community dealt with it because it was all we had, and when the doors finally closed, we felt it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thirteen-convenience-foods-i-think-are-worth-the-money">13 Convenience Foods I Think Are Worth the Money</a>)</p> <h3>Convenience Creates More Spending</h3> <p>In the eight or nine months since the grocery store closed for good, my family has changed a lot. We couldn&rsquo;t just run out and grab what we needed unless the Dollar Store carried it. If you wanted a loaf of bread, you had to get there when it opened or you&rsquo;d be out of luck for another day. Either that or you&rsquo;d have to drive 25 miles to Walmart for what you needed. In the interest of saving gas, we learned to live without.</p> <p>The inconvenience of not having a grocery store made it necessary to do many things we may not have otherwise tried. Here is a brief overview of what we learned living without a grocery store and how it ultimately saved us a lot of money.</p> <h3>We Planned Ahead</h3> <p>A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/behold-the-secrets-of-the-grocery-store">trip to the grocery store</a> was no longer for one or two things. We had to have a month&rsquo;s worth of groceries figured out so we didn&rsquo;t have to run out for anything besides milk and bread. If we forgot anything, it would be another few weeks until we went shopping again, so even our 10 year old learned to think ahead.</p> <h3>We Learned to Do Without</h3> <p>We had to change our way of thinking about groceries. If we didn&rsquo;t have it, we learned to live without it. We actually became pretty good at figuring out ways to use what we had. In the past, we just went out and bought what we needed. Again, our 10 year old jumped on the bandwagon and thought more about how to make do with what was already in the cabinets.</p> <h3>We Ventured Outside the Box</h3> <p>We live in a rural area and have access to many farm stands throughout the summer and a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-at-the-butchers">butcher shop</a> right down the street. However, we never patronized these stands until we could no longer get vegetables and fruits from the grocery store. Since then, we've sought out the local farmers market and visited every Friday night. We've learned to cook different meals based on seasonal produce. We&rsquo;ve improved our cooking skills and actually prefer eating dinner at home rather than blowing our budget on one family meal. We save <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-more-tips-for-eating-in-restaurants-and-sticking-to-a-budget">restaurant nights</a> for special events like birthdays.</p> <h3>We Shopped Smarter</h3> <p>While I have always been a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-awesome-reasons-to-shop-at-aldi">fan of the food store Aldi</a>, it wasn&rsquo;t until we had to shop for a month&rsquo;s worth of groceries at one time that I really started to see the benefits of the shop. I could get a month&rsquo;s worth of stuff for roughly half of what I would pay at Walmart and even less than what I would have to pay at other grocery stores in the area. I did have to drive a bit of a distance to get the lower grocery bills, but by doing it just once a month, we saved money.</p> <h3>We Stuck With the Changes</h3> <p>A few weeks ago, a larger chain grocery store opened its doors in our area. Luckily, the chain that took over is providing the community with very competitive prices, fully stocked shelves, and gas-savings rewards we didn&rsquo;t have before. It was almost laughable at how excited the locals were about the reopening of a grocery store during the ribbon cutting ceremony and the grand opening festivities.</p> <p>Now that we are back to living two blocks away from convenience, our family continues to live as we have been for the last year. While it is nice to know we have the option to head over to the store when we are without, we have also come to realize how much better it is having more money in the bank. Our change of habit was forced upon us when the first store closed, but it was ultimately a financial blessing in disguise.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tisha-tolar">Tisha Tolar</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-inconvenience-helped-me-save-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-15-foods-that-are-worth-buying-organic">The Only 15 Foods That Are Worth Buying Organic</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-healthiest-grocery-stores">The 6 Healthiest Grocery Stores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-other-grocery-stores-should-steal-from-trader-joes">5 Things Other Grocery Stores Should Steal from Trader Joe&#039;s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-creative-ways-to-save-money-on-food">8 Creative Ways to Save Money on Food</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-buy-organic-and-still-be-frugal">8 Ways to Buy Organic and Still Be Frugal</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink dollar stores food shopping grocery stores rural living Tue, 06 Nov 2012 10:36:47 +0000 Tisha Tolar 955163 at http://www.wisebread.com Live Where It's Cheap http://www.wisebread.com/live-where-its-cheap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/live-where-its-cheap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kerr-cabin.jpg" alt="Kerr Cabin" title="Kerr Cabin" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>More effective than giving up luxuries, using coupons, choosing store brands, or buying in bulk, the most powerful enabler of frugal living is to live where it's cheap. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/voluntary-simplicity-as-hedonism">Voluntary Simplicity as Hedonism</a>)</p> <p>For basic stuff like rent and food, it can easily cost two or three times as much to live where it's expensive. For example, compared to where I live now (Champaign, Illinois), my rent in Manhattan would be 326% more while groceries would cost 57% more. (That according to this <a href="http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/costofliving/costofliving.html">cost of living calculator</a> at CNN Money.)</p> <p>Of course, there are downsides to living where it's cheap. There's probably less to do and less to buy, although the internet eases those burdens immensely. (There's a lot less need to go to the big city to shop, and between on-line entertainment and DVDs, you don't miss out the way you would have just one or two decades ago.)</p> <p>Many will argue that they <em>have</em> to live somewhere expensive. Maybe their family is there. Maybe their job is there. (If you're a ballet dancer, you have to live where there's a ballet company. If you're a TV scriptwriter, you have to live within commuting distance of Hollywood.) Maybe they just really, really want to live there.</p> <p>That may be. I'm not here to second-guess the necessities of your life. Rather, I want to suggest that you think deeply about what you want and about the best way to achieve those wants.</p> <h2>Learn From My Experience</h2> <p>Even if you really want the amenities of an expensive location, think about whether living there is the best way to take advantage of them.</p> <p>I lived in Los Angeles for a while, back in the mid-1980s. That gave me the opportunity to do all sorts of things that aren't possible anywhere else. (For example, I was able to shop at a store dedicated to selling survivalist supplies &mdash; they sold foods preserved for long-term storage, books on building and stocking your survival retreat, water purifying equipment, etc. There aren't many of those around.)</p> <p>But living there was so expensive! Working at a regular job, I only had so much time to take advantage of the unique opportunities of my location.</p> <p>For example, I only managed one visit to the La Brea tar pits and only went to one comedy club. (My life wasn't quite that boring, but my other adventures &mdash; such as camping at Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Forest &mdash; didn't depend on living in Los Angeles. In fact, they'd have been easier if I'd lived in some small town in Nevada &mdash; less traffic to fight through when heading out for some weekend camping.)</p> <p>The money I saved the first year after I moved to Champaign <em>just on rent</em> would have covered the cost of flying to LA, staying in a hotel, hiring a limo, and admission to the La Brea tar pits, with enough left over for cover and drinks at the comedy club.</p> <p>Throw in the savings from everything else being cheaper as well &mdash; food, gasoline, electricity, clothing &mdash; and it probably would have paid for two such trips.</p> <p>What you're <em>actually going to do</em> (as opposed to what you'd theoretically be able to do) makes a big difference. If you're not going to buy something, it doesn't much matter how easy it is to buy.</p> <p>If you're a serious skier, living close enough to the slopes that you can ski any time you get a couple of hours off is a huge boost to your standard of living. If, like me with the comedy club, you only get on the mountain once or twice a year anyway, you might just as well live somewhere cheaper and then take a ski holiday.</p> <h2>Income Also Varies</h2> <p>For some work, the amount of money you can earn may vary depending on where you live. For other work, it doesn't.</p> <p>The amount that writers, artists, or web designers can charge has little to do with where they live. For other jobs, especially for jobs providing personal services to locals (hairdresser, receptionist, clerk, massage therapist), it's possible to earn a lot more per hour if you live somewhere expensive than it is if you live somewhere cheap. That's partly because the people who are hiring you have more money, and partly because your competition can't afford to undercut your price (because they need more money to live there just like you do).</p> <p>On the other hand, where you live will usually have no influence on non-work sources of income &mdash; your stocks and bonds will pay the same dividends and interest no matter where you live.</p> <p>This insight sometimes leads people to figure that they should live where they can earn the maximum amount during their working years, planning to save up money (investing in those stocks and bonds), and then move somewhere cheap where their dividends and interest will go further. That can work, but it often doesn't. The high costs of living somewhere expensive &mdash; especially when you figure in the higher taxes on that higher income &mdash; often leave you with little in the way of actual surplus savings.</p> <p>The details matter. There's no alternative to actually doing the calculations yourself if you want to get the right answer.</p> <h2>Live Where It's Really, Really Cheap</h2> <p>One option worth considering is living where it's really, really cheap. Especially in rural areas, it's often possible to find <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/twelve-ways-to-become-rent-or-mortgage-free">housing that's virtually free</a> (or even actually free, such as in exchange for a few hours of work as a caretaker).</p> <p>Another option for living where it's really, really cheap is to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/live-abroad-for-less-also-at-home">live overseas</a> in a country with a lower cost of living. You have to live where people are poor if you want to save money (otherwise you can do just as well living <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bohemians-then-and-now">someplace cheap in the U.S</a>.), but there are plenty of places where it's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thrive-as-a-starving-writer-lessons-from-the-experts">cheaper to live than it would be anywhere in the U.S</a>.</p> <h2>My Strategy</h2> <p>To my mind, the winning strategy in this, as it is in most financial decisions, is to think carefully about what you really want, check prices, and make a budget that lets you afford the things that are most important to you.</p> <p>My own calculations have led me to live someplace fairly cheap, yet fairly close to some big cities. (St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Chicago are all close enough to make day trips; Chicago <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-on-amtrak">by train</a>.)</p> <p>The decision was pretty easy for me. I want to be a writer. What I get paid is the same no matter where I live. By living somewhere cheap, I'm able to be a full-time writer. If I lived somewhere expensive, I'd have to get a day job. And then I wouldn't have as much time for writing. I'd be less productive and less happy. I'd also make less money from my writing, putting me even further behind.</p> <p>Many people choose to live where it's expensive, but to do so on the cheap &mdash; a house in the far-out exurbs and a fuel-efficient car for commuting. That may be the best choice for them &mdash; as I say, I don't want to be second-guessing somebody else's life &mdash; but a lot of people make that choice by default, rather than because they <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">ran the numbers and figured out</a> that it put them ahead of where they'd be if they lived someplace cheap.</p> <p>If you've been living in a big city, you'll probably be pretty surprised how much cheaper you can live in a small town or a rural area &mdash; and even more surprised how accessible the big-city amenities turn out to be for someone who's not spending every waking hour earning enough money to pay their big-city rent.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/live-where-its-cheap">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-awesome-uses-for-milk-crates">20 Awesome Uses for Milk Crates</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beginners-guide-to-finding-your-interior-design-style">Beginner&#039;s Guide to Finding Your Interior Design Style</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-prevent-plant-theft">How to Prevent Plant Theft</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Lifestyle cheaper housing costs rural living urban living Tue, 21 Jun 2011 10:24:25 +0000 Philip Brewer 589557 at http://www.wisebread.com Effective Networking in a One-Horse Town http://www.wisebread.com/effective-networking-in-a-one-horse-town <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/effective-networking-in-a-one-horse-town" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/horse_cart.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="177" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>[Editor's note:&nbsp; If you recently lost your job, take a look at Wise Bread's collection of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off">tips and resources for the recently laid off</a>.]</em></p> <p class="MsoNormal">My dad still conducts business via &ldquo;a handshake and a smile&rdquo; and prides himself on being a man of his word.<span> </span>Similarly, many of the business people in my rural township enjoy meeting potential business partners and clients (preferably over a cup of coffee) prior to even discussing a deal.<span> </span>This can make networking a bit of a challenge, as time doesn&rsquo;t always permit for long courting sessions before making a pitch.<span> </span>There are some very unique ways to make quality contacts in a small town, however, and they are really as simple as they seem.<strong> </strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Know your Chamber.</strong><span> </span>The Chamber of Commerce exists in most small towns.<span> </span>They usually consist of the most prominent business people and represent generations of business partnerships.<span> </span>What better way to get to know business folk than with a nice meal and some casual banter?<span> </span>Check your local paper for the head of your local Chamber and see how you can join.<span> </span>Even if you don&rsquo;t get any solid leads from the members themselves, you will get the scoop on everything and everyone in the community (and this can mean early entry into potential deals.)</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Post Flyers (Really).</strong><span> </span>Many small towns still allow flyers to be pinned to the bulletin boards near the entrances and exits of their busiest storefronts.<span> </span>Public libraries, senior centers and municipal buildings will usually allow you to post your contact info or service descriptions simply by asking.<span> </span>Be sure to provide &ldquo;tear-off&rdquo; tags so that they can take your info with you!<strong> </strong></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Join the Festivities.</strong><span> </span>Getting the word out about your service or product may be as simple as attending a party.<span> </span>If everyone in town is hyped about the next rodeo, charity fundraiser, farmer&rsquo;s market or bicentennial bash, be sure to show up!<span> </span>Bring lots of business cards, sponsor a booth, or walk the parade route with goodies in tow.<span> </span>Small towners love to know who their neighbors are, and if you can make your business stand out, they&rsquo;ll ask for you by name!</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Offer a Free Service.</strong><span> </span>The best way to get business is to give something away.<span> </span>This is especially helpful for products or services that may not be seen as &ldquo;necessary&rdquo; to a community.<span> </span>Looking to sell web services?<span> </span>Give the school district 15 hours of design services in exchange for a good word.<span> </span>Do you work on cars?<span> </span>Offer a simple &ldquo;how-to&rdquo; class to local moms on how to monitor tire pressure and fix a flat.<span> </span>If you can seem valuable to a community, they will come to you.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Take Advantage of Cheap Advertising.</strong><span> </span>Do you know the difference between a &frac14; page ad in my local paper and the nearest metro paper?<span> </span>I&rsquo;m not completely sure, but it could be anywhere from several hundred to $1000.<span> </span>Market to those closest to you with the medium they read the most.<span> </span>Invest in local ads that will be seen by everyone in your small town.<span> </span>Get listed in your local business directory.<span> </span>Don&rsquo;t skimp on the even the least-circulated publishings.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Don&rsquo;t Screw Up.</strong><span> </span>You know the saying that it takes a whole boat-load of good deeds to make up for one bad one, don&rsquo;t you?<span> </span>This holds especially true for smaller communities.<span> </span>Do one bad job, and you&rsquo;re looking at a really hard road ahead.<span> </span>Take your time to be sure that you understand what is expected of you before you fulfill your agreement.<span> </span>Follow up to be sure the client is happy.<span> </span>Don&rsquo;t be afraid to make good on a misunderstanding immediately.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Ask for Referrals.</strong><span> </span>The flip side of the previous rule is perhaps the sweetest part of doing business locally.<span> </span>If you made someone very happy with your skills, ask if they know of anyone they could refer to you!<span> </span>The best businesses have a whole community behind them and willing to give repeat business.<span> </span>Trust is still your best networking tool.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">As with anyone, I enjoy the high-tech and worldwide scope that the internet and social media has given me and my business.<span> </span>Even the most connected of entrepreneurs know how to keep it close to home, however.<span> </span>If your neighbors and friends don&rsquo;t know what you do, isn&rsquo;t it time that you told them?<span> </span></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/effective-networking-in-a-one-horse-town">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-use-social-media-in-business">13 Ways to Use Social Media in Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-start-up-tips-apprentice-finalist-dr-randal-pinkett">Get Business Start-up Tips from “Apprentice” Finalist Dr. Randal Pinkett</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-career-advice-sites-you-should-know-about">15 Career Advice Sites You Should Know About</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-helpful-tools-to-manage-your-small-business">6 Helpful Tools to Manage Your Small Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Entrepreneurship networking rural living small business Wed, 25 Jun 2008 04:18:43 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2195 at http://www.wisebread.com Rural living in a world with expensive fuel http://www.wisebread.com/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/farm-near-gettysburg.jpg" alt="Rural living" title="Rural living" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Rising fuel costs are hard on everybody, but one group gets hit especially hard:&nbsp; Rural folks--especially rural folks who work in town.&nbsp; On my previous posts on expensive fuel, commenters have said that, even after doing all the stuff I talked about, they still can't make ends meet.&nbsp; They've got a point.</p> <p>There are actually two groups who complain that my &quot;expensive fuel&quot; posts don't help.&nbsp; This post isn't for the ones who find the idea of driving less to be inconceivable.&nbsp; This post is for the people who have already eliminated unnecessary trips and combined the rest as best they can, already started running any errands they can on bicycle or by foot, already insulated their house.&nbsp; But when they plug higher fuel costs into their budget, their income just doesn't cover it--because every little errand is a long drive to town, and some of those errands have to be done promptly.</p> <p>If you live in the country, but you work in town, you're stuck driving the round trip every work day.&nbsp; You can fiddle around the edges--maybe arrange to work 10-hour days and only go in 4 days a week, maybe telecommute one or two days a week, maybe buy a very fuel-efficient car--but the basic calculation doesn't change.</p> <h2>Looking back</h2> <p>The arrangement of living in the country but working in the city has been working great, up to now, only because fuel was cheap, but it's worth observing that this isn't a new problem.&nbsp; It is, rather, a very old problem. &nbsp;</p> <p>Until the invention of the railroad, rural living meant self-sufficient living--if you couldn't make it yourself, you'd better have brought it with you.&nbsp; Depending on just how rural you were, trips to town might be monthly, or they might be something that you did just one or two times a year. &nbsp;</p> <p>Even the railroad didn't mean that everyone could pop out to the store anytime they wanted, but it was a big change.&nbsp; It meant that even in a small town, you could (eventually) get pretty much any manufactured item.&nbsp; For rural folks who only went into town monthly or semi-annually, that was good enough.&nbsp; You went to town, you ordered the stuff you needed at the store, and they had it waiting for you on your next visit.</p> <p>The car, of course, worked an even more drastic change on the landscape.&nbsp; For a brief period--less than 100 years--it's been possible to have the advantages of rural living without giving up the advantages of living in town.&nbsp; Because it's been this way for as long as most people have been alive, it's easy to forget just how different it is from the way people had always lived before.</p> <h2>Looking ahead</h2> <p>Maybe energy prices will stabilize, or even fall from current levels.&nbsp; In fact, markets being what they are, I can virtually guarantee that oil will, at some point, be cheaper than it is right now--maybe a lot cheaper.&nbsp; I think, though, that the long-term trend is up.</p> <p>If I'm right, anyone who lives out in the country needs to do some serious thinking. &nbsp;</p> <p>One option is to continue with ordinary efforts at saving fuel.&nbsp; This is a nice incremental strategy that actually scales well.&nbsp; Wise Bread has already had some stories on how to increase the fuel efficiency of your driving--slow down, keep your tires inflated, etc.&nbsp; (See <a href="/gas-efficient-driving">Gas Efficient Driving</a> and <a href="/maximize-your-cars-efficiency-with-hypermiling">Hypermiling</a>, for example.)&nbsp; Beyond that, you can get a very fuel-efficient car, switch to a small motorcycle or a scooter, aggressively combine trips and reduce trips, make some trips by bicycle or on foot, etc. &nbsp;</p> <p>These are the same ideas I've mentioned before, that simply don't do the trick for some rural folks, especially those who are trying to get by on low incomes. &nbsp;</p> <p>It's possible to turn the fuel-saving efforts up a notch.&nbsp; In fact, it's something that <strong>everyone</strong> will be doing pretty soon--as higher and higher prices require it of more and more people.&nbsp; But to people who are used to fuel being cheap, it's going to seem extreme.&nbsp; Here are some examples:</p> <ul> <li>If you work in town, crash on a friend's couch four nights a week.&nbsp; You only have to make one round trip to town.</li> <li>Carpool even if you don't work together.&nbsp; Drive as far as the last bus stop at the edge of town.&nbsp; From there, you all take buses to get to where you need to go.</li> <li>Coordinate with your neighbors to make every trip in the most appropriate vehicle:&nbsp; The guy with the hybrid drives when several people need to get to town; the guy with the pickup drives when something needs to get hauled; the guy with the motorcycle drives when someone urgently needs a prescription picked up at the pharmacy. &nbsp;</li> <li>If you or one of your neighbors has a big enough house, close up one house and have both families live in the other.&nbsp; You can drastically reduce heating and electricity costs.</li> </ul> <p>As you see, a lot of these strategies depend on friends and neighbors helping one another out.&nbsp; That used to be ordinary neighborly behavior, but the past couple of generations, we've been so rich that it wasn't necessary to rely on your neighbors:&nbsp; Ordinary folks could have both a car and a pickup (and could drive the car even for trips that could be handled on a motorcycle, bicycle, or even on foot).</p> <p>You don't have to do any of those things, if you're rich enough to buy all the fuel you need.&nbsp; But, as fuel gets more expensive, anyone who wants to live in the country will have to adjust.&nbsp; They can continue to live much as they've been living, gradually making more and more drastic efforts to use less fuel.&nbsp; Or they can change their lifestyle completely.&nbsp; Their other choices are:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Become more self-sufficient</strong>.&nbsp; If you can produce most of what you need at home, you can reduce the number of trips you make to the city from the current 5 a week, potentially to zero.&nbsp; There's a sliding scale here--even the pioneers weren't totally self-sufficient--but the key step is finding a way to make ends meet without having a job in the city.</li> <li><strong>Move to the city</strong>.&nbsp; That drastically cuts your need for fuel for going to work, running ordinary errands, and so on.&nbsp; It also (depending on what city you pick and exactly where you work and live) puts you within reach of mass transit, makes walking and bicycling more practical, increases your opportunities for car pooling, and so on.</li> </ol> <p>It's possible that we'll be saved from this fate by either cheaper fuel or vastly more efficient cars, but I don't think so.&nbsp; I do expect that we'll see lots of fuel--it'll just be expensive.&nbsp; We'll also see much more efficient cars--they just won't be efficient enough (or cheap enough) to pick up the slack.</p> <p>Aggressive fuel efficiency will do the trick for a while.&nbsp; Eventually, though, even a maximum amount of scrimping, saving, and sharing will fall short.&nbsp; When that happens, people will be left with the same two options that people have had since the first city was built:&nbsp; Be self-sufficient in the country, or move to town.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/plan-for-expensive-fuel">Plan for expensive fuel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising">What if energy costs keep rising?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alternatives-to-drunk-driving">Alternatives to drunk driving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-in-style-for-free">How to Travel in Style...For Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirt-on-travel-insurance">The Dirt on Travel Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Lifestyle fuel fuel costs rural living Sun, 01 Jun 2008 10:59:48 +0000 Philip Brewer 2138 at http://www.wisebread.com Plumas County: Hidden (Cheaper) California http://www.wisebread.com/plumas-county-hidden-cheaper-california <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/plumas-county-hidden-cheaper-california" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/CA_10711.gif" alt="Move to Plumas County" title="Move to Plumas County" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="250" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I’m going to let you in on my biggest secret to living large on a tiny budget. Five years ago last month my husband and I –lifelong coastal Californians made the big literal move to a part of California we never heard of –the northeastern corner and Plumas County. You know, that place on the map of the state that’s square up in the corner? Nearly three hours north of Lake Tahoe? Way, way, way up there? Yup, that’s still California.</p> <p>We were prompted by many things: the impending birth of our first child, the lack of space in our tiny studio apartment, me wanting to stay home with our kids, and a need for slightly less competition in our fields so we could focus and concentrate on making the family thing work, rather than killing ourselves trying to be corporate. While friends and family members were snagging up half a million dollar fixer uppers without yards in L.A., we found a great house under 200K on an acre of land with a view of a valley spotted with cows and teaming with migratory birds and awe inspiring mountains.</p> <p>While rural living is probably not for everyone, there are certain frugal and lifestyle advantages to it. In 2002, while pregnant with my son I realized that none of the things I moved to San Francisco for I was still doing. I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t going out on the town. I couldn’t afford to do anything but pay rent, basically. My husband was feeling a similar pinch in Los Angeles and though we’d been lobbying for each other to move to the other’s city, my son’s birth was around the corner and we still hadn’t come to a decision on where to live as a family. </p> <p>Enter my mothers. What about trying the mountains? My moms had moved to Plumas the year before and bought a nice house that sat in a quiet, upscale neighborhood with a meadow on one side and national forest on the other for under 150K. A whole house rented for $500 a month, there was (and still is) a shortage of professionals for a variety of necessary jobs, and our kids could start life breathing fresh air. We were broke, had nothing to lose, packed the U-haul and headed north. I mean way north. A brisk 11-hour drive up the I-5 from Los Angeles—and that’s if you are starting from Santa Monica.</p> <p>First the positives in the pocketbook. Plumas County—one of those tiny little northern California counties started in the Gold Rush—needs you. The industries of yester year: mining, logging, milling, are long since gone and there are a number of towns that were built around these industries still standing and looking for revitalization. Most of the areas original inhabitants leave the area upon graduation for Chico, Reno, the military. Rentals are hard to come by these days but they still exist—and where else in the state could you rent a whole house for under $1000 without it being a ghetto crack head neighborhood? This is probably the only place in the state where a mortgage won’t be two-thirds of your budget. Utilities other than oil are about the same as anywhere else in the state and lots of properties are zoned commercial as well as residential so if you are wanting to start that business venture…</p> <p>If you are a recreational shopper and you need your hands spanked, this is also a great place to live. There&#39;s not that many places to shop and unless hardware and general stores are a big turn on for you, you&#39;ll save money just by virtue of there being much less to spend it on (though I&#39;ve dropped plenty at an antique store in Greenville, Bookstore in Chester, the Co-op in Quincy). </p> <p>But the biggest positives are what I call the social and lifestyle improvements. Picture no waiting. For anything. Ever. I still recall with horror not having health insurance and having to go to an ER in Los Angeles and having to wait a month with insurance to get seen in San Francisco. Here it’s ‘can you make it in this afternoon?’ Have you wanted to be actively involved on a committee to oversee something in your town but couldn’t ever find a vacancy on a board? We need you. And not just for volunteer positions. Virtually all federal, state, and county jobs will be opening up in the next five years as most if not all are now held by baby boomers reaching retirement. Ever wonder what it would be like to leave your house and not have to factor in traffic as part of how long it will take to get somewhere or how long it will take to find parking? Ever wonder about not locking your doors?</p> <p>Add in the kid factor and there is a considerable advantage: no traffic for them to accidentally run into, everyone in town will know that your baby belongs to you—parents here still run into the post office while baby is asleep 10 feet away in the car. Sending your kids to a good private school won’t cost an arm and a leg. And the average daycare cost per child is the county is about $3.00 an hour. Add to this being able to raise them around horses, wild turkeys, and having a national forest as their backyard and suddenly being able to walk three blocks to the city park that’s fenced in on all sides like prison and urban childrearing starts to sound silly.</p> <p>But you are a life long urbanite---not unlike my husband and I and this is probably sounding way too cute and quaint. Not so. The biggest seller for me when I moved up here was the chance to live somewhere slightly economically depressed while not having my income tied to such a local economy. Enter the age of the telecommuter. Thanks to a zippy fast DSL connection, I’m doing the same work I was in the city and still getting paid my city wage. And with Internet Radio and iTunes I get to listen to KCRW and NPR in the afternoon (complete with traffic reports about people stuck on the 405) instead of some AM honky tonk station I would have gotten a decade ago out of Reno, NV. My husband, an IT guy without a degree was faced with the dotcom crash on the coast but here he’s never out of work and usually has a backlog. And while it’s true that this corner of California votes like it’s Alabama at times, that’s changing too. Morally bankrupt Rep. Doolittle (®) who never faced serious challenges to his seat is now holding on to it for dear life and is expected to lose the next election. (Yay!)</p> <p>And you won’t be alone in your move here. One out of three families I encounter here aren’t from here. They are usually ex-Bay Area residents with at least one telecommuter in the family with a smattering of southern Californians. My neighbor is from Burbank. Another neighbor is from Tustin.</p> <p>Still, I can hear the skeptic in you—not unlike the skeptic in me—screaming, yes but what about culture?! Team sports? The stuff of Little Leagues and Friday nights of our suburban youth? To this I add we have two thriving art organizations and apparently our girls’ basketball team is kicking ass all over the northern part of the state¬––Go Greenville! There are the same mommy and me-ish things, same crappy California public education, a local community college, etc. But there’s lots of cool hidden stuff too. I work out with a couple of women in a cool private gym I never knew existed. Mountain Maidu culture (the original inhabitants of this area are the Maidu) still prevails and helps distinguish the area and give it its diversity. There’s lots of camping and fishing stuff up here that apparently people come from all over to experience.</p> <p>My dealings with getting the kids some culture was making a commitment to bring them to San Francisco on a quarterly basis and Los Angeles twice a year. We pack in those short weeks with museums, movies, family, and the big one---Asian cuisines. And since we save so much by not eating out (not that many restaurants up here worth eating at), we finally get to splurge on food in the big city—something we couldn’t afford to do anymore when we lived there.</p> <p>Now as we look back and also hear the struggles of other parents of preschoolers in urban areas, we are still happy with our decision. Though there have been some hidden costs we did not anticipate well enough. The biggest one is the horrible combination of the high price of oil combined with a long winter. In 2006—a short winter—we spent $500 for the year on oil to heat the house and water heater. In 2007 winter started sooner, lasted longer and the price went up—we’ll be lucky if we get out of this winter for under $3,000. But this is kind of a freaky year for that sort of thing so we try not to take it personal. I only fill my car up once a month since I telecommute and my husband is in a carpool in a Prius.</p> <p>Still the benefits are overwhelming for the telecommuting worker or family. You get a home office that overlooks snow-capped mountains and air so clean that visitors from the city feel like their lungs are collapsing from the freshness. Your kids get to experience seasons and self-sufficiency of gardening and making things that go with the seasons, and they learn first hand what farm and wild animals look like instead of learning these things from picture books. At Christmas time you get to chop down your own tree with a $10 permit. And my goodness, if you are having children, don’t you want to afford to spend more time and less money being with them?</p> <p>So, show of hands. Who&#39;s up for the move? </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/maggie-wells">Maggie Wells</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/plumas-county-hidden-cheaper-california">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/live-where-its-cheap">Live Where It&#039;s Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-buying-a-second-home-in-retirement">5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Second Home in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homebuying-questions-youre-embarrassed-to-ask">5 Homebuying Questions You&#039;re Embarrassed to Ask</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-moves-to-make-if-you-need-to-break-your-lease">8 Moves to Make If You Need to Break Your Lease</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing cheaper housing costs childcare costs living expenses Plumas county rural living telecommuting Sun, 02 Mar 2008 11:44:51 +0000 Maggie Wells 1873 at http://www.wisebread.com