Why an acreage tree change is so desirable by many city dwellers?

As our inner city suburbs suck people in by the thousands to fill every plausible living space, other people have had enough of the ever tightening human squeeze clogging up our capital cities and are looking for a way to get out.

To me, living in a capital city is like waking up with a pillow over your face and finding it difficult to breathe. It’s easy to remove a pillow from one’s face, but not so easy to leave the city, or is it…?   

For the record, I’m not at all interested in converting someone who just adores city life and thinks anyone 10 kilometres outside of the city centre is a bumpkin, nope, this post is not about converting or convincing anyone that acreage living is better. The main reasons for writing this are to briefly explain my views on what makes acreage living so good and also to give a little information, from my perspective, to those who are considering leaving the city for an acreage lifestyle.

Lowden Ridge – This acreage owned by one of our SSC forum members who is in the process of making a tree change to a large property (image above)

Reasons for acreage living

It’s fitting (I reckon) to get straight into the reasons for why a tree change is so appealing to so many. Firstly, there are many reasons but as far as I’m concerned the most common “open” reasons why people move to acreage are: to have more room, grow more fruit trees, have a large vegetable garden, keep more pets (including horses), raise poultry (like chickens), keep some domestic livestock, be closer to nature, and experience more of the outdoors.

The less expressed reasons or the elephant in the room (depending on whose company you’re in) are: live somewhere less noisy, breathe cleaner air, have more privacy, and get away from people.

Yes, I said it… “Get away from people” and I’m not an unsociable person (quite the opposite) it’s just that I/we got fed up living in other people’s pockets and them in mine. I don’t want to hear what people are taking about at their dinner table and I don’t want my neighbours listening to my conversations. I don’t like hearing my neighbours dunny flush every 15 minutes (at all hours) or the sound of traffic zooming by my front door, and if I decide to leave some curtains open I’d rather do it without the likelihood of several weirdos peering in for a cheap thrill.

Besides space and all the benefits that brings, my favourite reason out of the above mentioned about acreage living is definitely the noise or more pointedly the lack of it. Sometimes it’s so quite where we live that I can hear my ears ring and when we go away even on holidays in a nice city hotel the constant noise is really hard to get used to again. Poor me, hey…

I haven’t mentioned exercise or a sense of achievement as legitimate reasons for people making a tree change because these motivators, although strong, can be easily done wherever one lives and are largely subjective. However, I have no doubt moving to acreage has forced me to become more active and fitter in general not just from doing major tasks or “working the land” but also from routine activities like walking around a bigger garden and being drawn outside more.

Same goes for a sense of achievement, for example, I recently built a fence around my poultry pen and this not only took time and effort but it also took me out of my comfort zone and made me call on inner skills and problem solving I never thought I had or even contemplated using before on a standard suburban block. In the end, 200 metres of fence-line dog proofed on top of a shallow rubble rock trench was a proud achievement and I’m really glad I took the job on solo.        

This turkey enclosure was built by Scott, an SSC forum member, out of self-milled timber from his own acreage (image above)     

I have able friends that cringe at DIY projects around the home and it’s like they’re addicted to having other people do everything for them. Sometimes, they outsource even the most basic tasks like cleaning a BBQ or pool, washing the car, building a simple raised vegetable bed, or installing a watering system in the garden. Imagine how they shudder at maintaining an acreage, making and tending to several vegetable beds for rotational growing, caring for over 80 fruit trees, or building your own 200 metre dog proof fence… They think I’m crazy! But, of course, I’m completely normal and it’s them who need to take a reality check and do less supervising and more doing – they’d be happier, healthier, and better for it.

Working the city, living the lifestyle

I know many people who, you might say, go through extraordinary lengths just to live “outside of the city walls” even if it means long hours commuting from their lifestyle plot into the city to work. One of my ex colleagues used to travel over 2 hours (one way) each workday from his hobby vineyard into the city and he was quite happy doing it. Even commuting 50 – 100 kilometres to the city for work is still quite a long drive but it isn’t all that bad really, however, lots of inner-city dwellers would be absolutely horrified at the concept.

My wife and I used to live 7 km from our employment in the city but after we purchased our acreage our trip increased to 50 km and we did this for several years before we changed jobs. Actually, my wife still does commute into the city quite regularly but she’s used to the travel and it doesn’t bother her at all.

Regardless, the extra travel time is still a bit of a drag, no doubt, but the tranquillity and extra rewards for living on acreage particularly on non-work days is so much worth it. Some politicians and most bean counters want to stop urban crawl and instead find ways to pack more people into our cities. This may make economic sense from a governance POV except what’s totally forgotten is liveability. Cheap accommodation in inner cities is a fallacy, the reality is housing affordability will continue to grow worse as long as city-centric politicians and economic morons push their “stop urban crawl and build-up not out” policies.

Truthfully, if they want to improve the general population’s health and well-being whilst keeping housing prices reasonable, politicians need a good change in attitude and make access to cities from outer suburbs and regional areas MUCH easier. Then, people wouldn’t be manically outbidding each other for pathetic tiny pieces of inner city real-estate with no room to swing a cat on let alone grow a food garden. If the current trend in property prices continues here in Oz, only the wealthy will afford city living soon anyway…   

Also, if commuting by car or public transport was made faster, more comfortable, and less expensive through better roads and smart infrastructure more people would choose to live further out, have smaller mortgages, a better standard of living, and a healthier lifestyle. This would take some pressure off inner city property prices or at least slow the growth rate to make it reasonably affordable for those who need or want to live in the city.

Acreage size                   

Having said that, for those of us with the will to move from the city and the willingness to travel for work (if required) the desire for acreage living is far too strong to let distance be a factor. Nevertheless, there are other limitations and considerations when making a tree change; such as, where to buy, lay of the land, affordability, size, social factors, and more.  

Drought Master cattle on a property at Mt Mee QLD, Aust owned by Graham, another forum member, who is currently in transition from city to country living (image above)

These questions really need to be dedicated to a separate blog post and I will write about them in more detail another time. However, I will quickly touch on sizes – so, what size acreage should you get – small or large? It depends what you want to do on the land and what you can afford (I’m talking hobby acreages not commercial business/farm). If you want a good sized block to grow plenty of edibles (fruit and veg) and run a few chooks then an acre or less could do nicely but if you’d like to run some livestock like a few pigs or beef than several acres is required, naturally.   

Affordability can be the surprising aspect when buying into acreage and we were able to buy our property (50 km from Brisbane) double story/6 bedrooms/3 bathrooms for far less than a small house in an inner city suburb. I personally would love to own 100 plus acres of land; however, we all must live within our means and practical limitations so we have 3 acres instead and use every inch of it! I do dream of owning more land and the ability to raise larger livestock and not just poultry but it probably won’t happen – it might…

Nevertheless, through our forum Self Sufficient Culture (just click the forum tab at top of page) I can get my fix of wonderful properties by reading posts from our members. I really enjoy browsing our member’s awesome acreages and I love reading what they’re doing and what their future plans are for further development.

Some of our forum members own large properties, some are on small acreages similar to mine, others are working towards a goal of buying their own acreage, and some on our forum don’t have any plans for acreage ATM but appreciate self-sufficiency and do amazing things on their smaller suburban blocks or units. 

Acreage living is becoming more desirable by city folk of all ages and demographics and it’s easy to understand why. Personally, moving out of the city and onto an acreage has been life changing for me and my family and surprisingly the move was very easy and affordable to do.  

My point is, if you’re leaning towards making a tree change you’re not the only one – the list is growing. But if you’re not quite sure about making the move, don’t let fear hold you back and make your acreage desire a reality because I assure you the positives far outweigh the negatives, if there are any negatives that is, because I can’t immediately think of any…

Mark Valencia – Editor SSM

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes…

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