adventures
Comments 43

Should I move from the suburbs to a forest community? I need advice

Moving to the forest is a new idea over 50

Could this be my new view? #Australia #forest

I live in a small country town near the seaside in Australia, and am essentially a small-town girl. I love cities, and have spent years living in both Sydney and Adelaide, but I do love the friendly simplicity of cycling round a limited number of streets and shops, seeing familiar faces.

I’ve been lucky enough to own my current home since 2005, so my share is now way bigger than the bank’s- hurray! I live left of the town centre, down a quiet yet popular street, within a 7-minute drive to the beach.

And since ’19’ flew the nest, I’ve been house-hunting. Yes, I’m just one more statistic: downsizing now that I’m at home alone.

Until three months ago, I’d been looking at properties almost every week. Then I suddenly realised I felt like I was trying waaaaay too hard, for no result.

So I stopped. I took a deep breath, sanded and oiled the front stairs, did a gardening blitz, then chilled out.

Australian summer is hot and humid when you're a cat

This is the only way to get through a humid day in a fur coat: e l o n g a t e

I’m very blessed: my elevated home faces a small mountain, so I get nice breezes to keep me cool. The place is small, but easy to clean and tidy (especially now ’19’ has taken his ever-evolving mess elsewhere).

The cat and I have as much peace and quiet as we like…

Apart from the yapping dogs two doors to the right, and the one yapping dog to the left.

Apart from the renovations four doors to the left, and across the road, and in the street behind.

Apart from the husband and wife who yell at each other sometimes, and the teenagers who yell at everyone.

Apart from those noisy Airbnb folk three backyards over, playing bad guitar at midnight round the pool.

Apart from the back neighbour starting his hotrod car at 7am on Saturdays, and the occasional garden parties two doors up with bad music which go on past midnight.

You get the drift.

And now that I will be turning 54 this year, I’m taking up my deserved title of ‘Grumpy Old Lady.’ Not all the time, sure. But hell YES, when everyone’s disturbing my peace.

Now into my lap has fallen the opportunity to buy into an ‘intentional community’, or Multiple Occupancy (MO) as we call them here. A two-acre share on a 40-acre forest valley, with creek frontage, and only 5 shares in total.

A very different lifestyle: surrounded by birds and trees, with an enclosed veggie garden, a dam for water as well as rain tanks, and a cute 2-bed house with off-the-grid solar system and batteries.

What do you think? Does anyone out there have any experience of community living: the Pros and Cons? It’s been going for 30 years, with 3 of the 5 shareholders either yoga teachers or artists, so there’s a lovely mindful tranquility in the air as soon as you step out of the car…

Negotiations are ongoing, and I admit I’m feeling quite excited, in both my heart and mind.

Any opinions? Thanks!

In gratitude for consultation, G xO

 

43 Comments

  1. I like country living, but only in my own home. I suppose community living has its advantages, but what if the person you live close to in the community doesn’t get along with you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for commenting, & yes, a good point. I’ve met them all, & they all seem lovely… we’re all similar ages with grown kids, and no one is a party person, so that’s important. I think I’m good to get along with… but maybe I’m not! 😬
      Thanks for your thoughts 👍🏿 G 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, for my first comment on your site, opining on something pretty personal! My first concern would be the community and how easy it would be to have friends. Moving after a certain age means it’s difficult to make new friends and you do need them day to day. I think the share idea is a good one. But folks could move and the community could change. Then would you be able to unload the property or would it be hard to sell? Just a few thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello and welcome, thanks for joining the gang 🙂
      Great questions, thank you: there are only 5 shares, and 3 of those shareholders have been there for 25-30 years. The shareholders all have to meet the new proposed member, and approve them, so that helps keep the vibe harmonious, with shared values etc (health and wellbeing seem to be the core ones of this community).
      It’s not like a retirement village (I’m not ready for that yet), and I have plenty of lovely friends nearby who would come visit. I actually want to spend more time in Nature, reading and writing…
      Re-selling the share could take a while, if it didn’t work out, but I hope to be there for 10 years at least.
      Thank you so much for making me think 🙂 G

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like the idea of this lit a spark in your heart. I loved living in the country, but I’ve also enjoyed this house in a peaceful community. The neighbors keep to themselves, but they’re always up for a visit, so it’s nice to have people nearby.

    When my daughter spreads her wings, I can live wherever I want, but you know me my darling. The heart knows the way! I would thrive in a community of Yogi’s, Artists and solar energy. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel a little out of the loop G!! Lol

    19 left home?! What?!

    Are you still in your relationship you were in? After H, the one who asked you not to blog about her? If so would she come with you? What does she think?

    I personally think you would do well in such a place. Just from our conversations and reading your blog. I think with big life decisions like this it’s important to listen to our guts! It sounds like you are all set to embark on this change! All the best if you do!

    Much love dear friend 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry darling T, yes, the loop is a little looser than it used to be!
      Yes, I’m still seeing the Comet, we are 18 months in, still a wild ride, but both learning and growing so much. She loves the place, and can see herself there in a year or two (definitely not yet for either of us).

      And yes, ’19’ slipped out into a share house up the road with his older cousin about 6 months ago- he still comes here for the weekly laundry and meal with Mum (which I love), and is trying to work out what he wants to do next- perhaps a move to a city?

      Thank you for your enthusiasm re my move… and your good advice- yes, my guts are excited too. I will keep updating, I promise xx

      Love back to you darlinxx

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi G. I totally get where you are coming from, and also what it means in AU to do a ‘tree change’ like this. In my experience, having lived off tank water for 20 years before I ‘downsized’ 3.5 years ago to move to a small town centre, the water issue is critical. even in your part of the world, I would do the calculations based on roof catchment and tank size. For a 2-4 person family, we had 25,000 gallons (not litres), so I guess maybe aim for half of that. The dam I am assuming is just for irrigation. I would ask how often (or if) they run out of water ad how much it costs to cart it in, and then allow for dryer conditions as rainfall slows in your region.
    And then there’s bushfires. Though I am assuming it’s humid and green, when was the last bushfire, and how often do they seem to come through? Was the area affected by the recent (mega) fires? I am also assuming that the community would not be defendable, but there’s that to consider too – only if it’s a solid construction with plenty of water (and a petrol generator) for fire fighting.
    Also, ‘off the grid’, I’d want to know whether any essential services are shared, like water or power? Shared anything can sometimes mean friction. If this community has been going a long time, they may have their personal dynamics sorted, but you are the rogue agent, the newbie who doesn’t know their ways. I’d ask about things like community meetings (and is it a community title? I live on one of those), and whether there is any sort of process for decision-making, if needed.
    Also, are there restrictions on things like washing machines and internet (is there NBN?), and what will that mean for for if so?
    Lastly, how far is it from friends and sifnificant others? Cafes, restaurants and work? I’m assuming you’ve thought rhrough this part – the connections with ‘city’ that you love.
    Sounds and looks gorgeous and I certainly get the need to be away from noisy neighbours, but whether this particular find is right is your big decision. It could be that downsizing is right, but the area/concept is wrong. Only you will know. Best of luck 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh you are so thorough Eve, I love and value it so much!
      The bushfire issue is of course most pressing on my mind; they ARE on steep land, and my house is at the top of the ridge. But it IS rainforest, not eucalypt, although who knows how much that helps any more? They have a specific firefighting pump and hoses, plus 3 tanks and a dam, and have never had a fire nor had to buy water. But this last drought the creek did run nearly dry for the first time in 30 years…

      No, it’s not Community-Title, so that is a bit of an issue, but there are so many places up here that aren’t.

      The solar energy system is big, plus a battery bank, so they have washing machine and dishwasher and wifi and 2 aircons and 2 electric kilns!

      Decision-making is consensus, with email chains and meetings if necessary. Everyone keeps themselves to themselves, and yes, I would be the new dynamic. I’ve met almost all of them, they all seem lovely, all over 50 with grown kids, so a nice ‘settled’ vibe.

      The place is 25 mins from where I live now, so yes, would add another 30 mins to the airport commute, or entertainment adventures… but I think the tranquility of the forest trumps it.

      I’m definitely in a process with making this decision, so stay tuned xxx

      Liked by 2 people

  6. My very first instinct was that you should move there, because it sounds (maybe) like your heart’s already there? It sounds idyllic to me personally (although my ideal would have a view of the sea) but only YOU know the right thing to do. You’re instinctive G. You WILL know.

    I’m 56 this year and as ungrumpy as I can be. There’s a calmness that’s come over me in my mid 50’s that I’ve not experienced before, even if there are things that could get me worked up, if I let them. It’s a state of mind, I guess, marred slightly by the fact that I’m back at square one, broke and without a career of any kind. I could be pissed off, but I’m not. I’d love to have the opportunity to do what you’re considering. I want to live on an island, sea and mountains, blue sky, sun and a small whitewashed artist’s studio with shutters on the windows. Menorca, possibly.

    Good luck G. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks honey, I love your instinct! Yes, the sea would be divine, I agree… but I can always drive there easily.

      I agree: I am SO DAMN LUCKY and privileged to even be able to contemplate this opportunity, I can hardly believe it.

      Perhaps you will get to Menorca? That would be wonderful- your photos would be amazing- keep holding the vision and who knows what will happen?

      Thank you ❤ xx

      Like

      • Menorca’s the one place I’ve been that I long to return to. I’ve read most of your other comments and agree with some, but not with all. I wish equally that I was more spontaneous AND more sensible. The former always wins…but I’m talking as a newly single woman. We can’t live over again, we only have one life.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Your decision of course but since you asked…. where you live already sound wonderful, close walk to beach, teenagers grow up and move, renovations finish, and ear plugs are cheap. Where you live now seems a much better investment, and the other community a risk. I liken it to where you jump out on a floating log, but you can’t jump back. That log gets uncomfortable fast, and the water is cold.
    Sometimes I walk through a new car lot and those cars look real tempting, and I know I can make it happen but later I realize my car is pretty much all i need, and to count my blessings.
    I guess you know what I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mmm yes, good point. I do have a great set up here; I just feel the capacity for a new adventure, before I get too old and scared to jump onto a new floating log (great analogy). I guess time will tell, as I keep investigating the option, and hearing such varied and valuable comments from my readers. Thank you for your comment 🙂 G

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have no experience of the community you describe (sounds wonderful), but we moved into a community for 55+ in a small town and are loving it. We love our neighbours/community and turns out it is very artsy here – bonus!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am a suburban/urban boy through and through, so I may not be the person to ask.

    However, I commend your deep breath and fact-gathering. Grumpy, perhaps, but also wise. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Matt- it’s certainly not like buying a conventional house- I’ve had 5 1-2hr long meetings with them already, gathering the facts 😊

      Like

  10. All the points I wanted to mention, you’ve pretty much answered in the comments already. 🙂 … group dynamics, autonomy, financial and legal and time commitments, infrastructure, etc.
    Is it possible to stay there for a few months or whatever, long enough to get a ‘feel’ for the place as a resident rather than a visitor? If you’re planning on 10 years then you need to be sure.
    Whatever happens, let the Adventure begin!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, a term there would probably be the sensible option, but it’s not available, as the owners need to sell. I have another meeting there tomorrow and am taking ’19’; I just feel so ready for a new chapter, and this feels really exciting plus safe and supported… and there’s a creek to swim in! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. We live in our own woodland now but close to a range of villages and there is a community of like minded people. My dilemma is how I manage time with family and time in my peaceful woodland. I would think being part of an intentional community could have more positives particularly with the need to protect the land you all live in, looking after each other and having many common interests. Can you spend more time there before selling up? Gradual steps to become more involved. It is a big step particularly with issues of climate changes. But communities like this might be the answer too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm, good suggestion re renting there perhaps, but the owners really want to sell for health reasons- they’ve lived there 25+ years and need to be closer to town.
      I have no real family around, so look forward to being alone and occupied on the land, in the forest, and hopefully here on my blog too- lots to write about!
      Thank you for commenting and sharing your valuable experience 🙂 G

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, will make for an interesting journey. Hopefully will all work out. We had quite a few issues when buying our place and finally let go of it and then the sale went through. We are here as in marriage, for richer or poorer! Our riches here are what I think you want. And quite a bit of money spent! But have been fortunate to not totally give up a place in UK and where when we get too ‘frail’ to manage here.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. That is exciting! I guess you have to deal with other people regardless! You’ll be exchanging a load of random neighbours for a select set of people you’ll be closer (?) to on a daily basis. If they are good ‘uns, I’d say go for it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I love the way you’ve thought about that! I’ve met them all- seem lovely- certainly can’t say I’ve met my current suburban neighbors, a lot of them barely acknowledge anyone, too busy
      *sighs

      Like

  13. Wow, Gabrielle, I’m sorry for seeing this post so late. What an inspiring exploration to look at what would best support you (and your cat of course). Do you have an update?

    Wishing you peace wherever you are. 🙂 Bless you!
    Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

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