I wrote this article about working at home and jobs in the country for GoodByeCityLife.com back in 1999. Long before the recession and before the oldest baby boomers grew to retirement age. Now, North America is at a crux in employment – I’m talking both sides of the Canada-US border – our largest workforce demographic wants to retire but not enough people are entering the work force. To make matters worse for corporations many of the new workers want to work at home.
Working at home is something I’ve done since 1995 and write a lot about on this site. Since the focus is on country living this specific article will discuss the various ways to earn a living while living in the country.
It’s not as hard as you think to find a job in the country and survive…
Most people cry that they can’t enjoy country living until they retire or win the lottery. They complain that there are no jobs to be had and the few there are don’t pay as well as the jobs they once held in the city.
Today I hope to bury any misconceptions you may have about country jobs and employment in the small towns of USA and Canada. Plus ease your mind by showing you that it costs a lot less per month to live in the country than to live in the city – no matter how large your family is!
Let’s Get Started…
There are no jobs in the country or in small towns. (False)
I work, and all of my friends work. My husband works and so does everyone in his family that is old enough to get a job.
The misconception to blast out of your consciousness is that gainful employment and a weekly income has to be thought of in only a traditional manner.
Some of us:
- work from home,
- drive 45 minutes to a job,
- are away 4 days a week working (where the company pays a board rate for motel, meals, and travel expenses),
- change our jobs per season (snow-plowing, cutting wood, etc.).
But we do work. We all live in villages outside of small towns and yet somehow we all make enough money to make ends meet and afford our luxuries. Sure, it can be challenging at times, but it certainly isn’t impossible. If you really want to move to the country, you can either find work or create your own opportunities (which, in my opinion is the only way to go!).
You can live on a lot less money in the country. (True)
When I first left the city I was worried as well. I came from a high profile job in a government office in downtown Toronto. Back then, my monthly mortgage payments alone matched what I lived on when I first arrived in this small town.
Now in the last 10 years I’ve been working online so my income has increased considerably since, but I did support my child and myself on less than 1/2 the income I had in Toronto.
My mortgage is less, taxes are less, car insurance is less, and our needs are less.
Now you wouldn’t need to do everything I did back then to save money – growing your own food in the garden (to can or freeze), buying groceries in bulk, raising my own poultry, beef, pork, etc. – but if you could you’d be even further ahead of the game.
Life is also cheaper in the country because we don’t spend a pile of money entertaining ourselves (i.e. frequenting movie theatres every weekend – where a family of four can easily spend $70 plus parking for just a few hours of entertainment).
Instead we go skating, hiking, fishing, swimming, tobogganing, visiting our friends, or horseback riding. None of it costs us a cent more than we might have spent otherwise. It’s a mind shift really – we visit friends when we’re out and about anyway (so there are no extra fuel costs) and the keeping of our horses also isn’t an entertainment expense, because they are an investment.
Jobs in the country don’t pay as well as city jobs. (True)
Sadly, this one is absolutely true, but it isn’t as much of a problem as you might think…
As stated above, your cost of living could be 1/2 as much as it is in the city. Therefore, taking a $2-3 cut per hour isn’t such a big deal when you look at the big picture.
That $2 decrease per hour, over a 40 hour week, works out to a movie night per week for a family of four. Can you give up a movie night per week to enjoy life in the country year round?
Unconventional Country Jobs
In closing I ask you to consider the option of working in an untraditional way…
I know this is hard for some people and the challenges of working on your own and not having a boss and a job can be too drastic of a change right away. But consider the notion of gaining your income by working from home, or starting your own business, or freelancing for your present employer (they get to keep you as their skilled and trained staff and you continue to enjoy your regular paycheck, but in a rural setting).
Follow your heart! If you’re drawn to the country life, don’t let any barrier stand in your way! Certainly not the threat of never finding a job! If you’re driven enough, you can make it work financially.
Laura Childs – Country Living Writer, Internet Entrepreneur and Work at Home Mom