Where would you move?

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by sz, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. sz

    sz Junior Member

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    I've been thinking about this topic for awhile myself, but I thought I'd throw it out to the forum and see what people think. Maybe I'll get a new perspective on the matter.

    Where would you move if you could? More specifically, if you were looking to shift into a much more self-sufficient, permaculture-oriented lifestyle, and you didn't have any particular attachment to a given country or location due to other matters, where would you go? (Don't assume you've won the lottery....that makes the question much less interesting.) Where we live now is problematic simply because of cost of living, and buying into an intentional community is not really in our plans, even were such available.

    Sometime in the not very far future, my wife and I are planning to travel (wwoof, helpx, hostels, camping, etc.) to different places around the world, and one of the goals I have for this is to think about where we might want to move. I already have a rough set of criteria to frame my thinking about locations, but input from others would be really helpful, especially as most of you are further along with this lifestyle than we are, and have perhaps a different perspective on what's important and what's not.

    I'll resist posting my own list of criteria at the start so as to not bias the responses.

    Thanks,

    sz
     
  2. Cornonthecob

    Cornonthecob Junior Member

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    New Zealand.
     
  3. sz

    sz Junior Member

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    Hi, Cornonthecob.


    New Zealand was already high on my list of places to look at because of a number of reasons. I'm curious, though - why would you rate it so highly?

    sz
     
  4. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    We're talking about a "permaculture-oriented" life, yeah? That means that you adapt to the environment you have, you don't seek out the perfect environment.

    As I see it, location is not important. Apart from extremes like deserts, concrete towers and permafrost, you can adjust to anywhere (and some people can adjust to those extremes, too!), making use of the natural resources which come your way, and helping them increase. True capitalism - take out the profit, then reinvest that in the thing to make it produce more next year. Wherever you are, you can adjust things to produce more with less (energy, resources, labour, etc).

    You've seen the articles and photos of the permaculture project in Jordan, yeah? [Edit: photo gallery here] If they can turn that dreadful desert into a food forest, using only the local resources, poor rainfall, etc - it can be done just about anywhere. Permaculture is about adjusting to the environment you have, and making the best of it you can.

    Where's the best place to live a more "permaculture-oriented" lifestyle? Where you are right now.
     
  5. sz

    sz Junior Member

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    Jim Bob,

    I think maybe you are missing the point, but perhaps I was unclear.

    Sure, I've read some of these same articles (and am working my way through the permaculture manual), and seen the pictures, and I'm not disputing that one of the basic ideas of the permaculture movement is making sustainable, eco-friendly living work anywhere by adapting to the environment.

    That doesn't, however, negate the fact that external factors which have nothing to do with the (non-human part of the) ecology, climate, soil, etc. can have a great deal of effect on an individual or a group's ability to focus energy and effort on developing a site in a permaculture way.

    Cost and availability of land, housing codes and zoning, local and regional/national economy, population density, existence of other, like-minded people in the nearby area, and other such factors will certainly affect anyone striving to find, purchase, and build up their own patch of land.

    Land/house prices where I live are crazy and not getting better. Both I and my wife work full-time+ 'professional' jobs in order to pay our mortgage and put away a little money in the bank. I commute 2 hours each way, 5 days a week, just to bring in enough cash. Even were we to move to the cheapest piece of land we might find out here, we would probably not be able to give up one source of income. And we both drive old (14 year-old+) cars, and cook most of our own meanl, and in general don't spend a lot of money.

    So where is the time to 'transform' our property? We both work on our projects (gardening, house repair) in the evenings and on weekends, and such goes painfully slow in the limited hours left after work takes its pound of flesh out of our lives. We don't yet have any children, either. How will that fit into this grand plan, when we hardly have time to garden as it is?

    So what are our options? I see that moving is a smart one. Pass the house on to someone who is wealthy and values living out here, or who is content to be a well-paid wage slave for many, many years just to afford a home they don't spend time in.

    I concede that an intentional community might work for some, but it's not something either of us are really comfortable with, nor are there exactly a great number of them or are they particularly easy to set up legally and financially. And the other option, renting, depresses me greatly. Pouring energy and life into a place that can be taken away from us at any moment by the whim of a landlord seems a monumental waste of time. Far better to own your land someplace less desireable than to rent in the most beautiful place on earth.

    (1) Before we can transform land, we have to be able to acquire it. That's the first barrier. The limitations there will be pretty obvious once we've sold this house.

    (2) Having satisfied (1), it'd be great to live someplace where there are some other relatively like-minded people to be able to periodically organize with and to help define the local legal/economic climate in a permaculture-friendly manner.

    (3) Some outside sources of income will probably be useful while we get established, so I have to consider the job market, being flexible and open to doing new jobs to bring in working cash until we are (hopefully) able to generate enough from our daily activities to get by.

    (4) And yes, I know you are supposed to be able to transform land *anywhere* using these principles, but as another thread laments, most of the people living this life live in relatively fertile, gentle-climate regions like coastal Australia. I have to say that given the choice, I'd rather do the same. Obviously, (1) and (4) are probably in a certain level of opposition.

    (5) Political/social situations matter. I'm perfectly open to moving to another country and learning to deal with it on its own terms, but shifting I and my family to someplace that is seriously politically unstable or very, very non-open to outsiders does not seem like a wise idea to me.

    Hopefully travel will help us sort out these issues.

    Respectfully,

    sz
     
  6. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    You hadn't explained your financial position in your original post. Certainly that's important.

    However, I think it's an entirely separate question from "where should we move to?" in terms of permaculture. Money is one thing, permaculture is another.

    Wherever you are, you can adapt to your environment. I've a good garden in my backyard. My unit's backyard is about 16 square metres, and I've got 6 of that in the form of food and flowers. I get about 50kg of food from this each year, not much, but a start, and as much as I can do given the facing of the place, etc. I'm renting, but a Greek landlord appreciates the idea of growing fruit and vegies, even if he's overly fond of concrete.

    What with using public transport, fluro lights, meat just one serve a week for me and two for the spouse (women need it more than men) recycling, water efficiency and the like, we do as much as we can, pretty much. Are we "living a permaculture lifestyle"? Yes and no. Yes, we've adapted somewhat to our environment, making efficient use of what we have. To do more we'd have to own the place, so that's the "no", part. Finance limits us, too, there are few houses we can buy on our joint income.

    If I were you, I'd look seriously at my spending of time and money. I don't know you, so bear in mind I'm speaking generally, not to you specifically - in general, middle-classed people spend a lot more money and time on things than they need to.

    For example, my spouse and I spend $60 a week between on food, and we eat very well indeed, lots of fresh fruit and vegies. The average for two is about $140. We achieve that by cooking most of our own food. There's no frozen packaged processed rubbish in our fridge. So that's $4,000 a year we save compared to the average two person household.

    Our gas (stove and hot water) is 50MJ daily, and our daily our water 217 litres (including garden water), our electricity, 8 kWhr. All these are 1/2 to 2/3 the state average for a two-person unit. I assure you we are not wandering around in the dark and cold, shivering in starvation and smelling bad from lack of showers.

    There are many spending reductions you can make which will save resources (more permie!) and money (more financial!). For example, replacing incandescents with fluros, the average $5, 18W fluro on for four hours a day will pay back itself over that $1 75W incandescent in four months - that is, $4 will have been saved on your power bill. So you'll save $3 a year per globe's burning for one hour a day. Doesn't sound like much, but if you've an average of two globes burning for ten hours a day total (less than the average household), then that's $60, and that's a week's food for me and my spouse. So those globes bought fed you for a week. Not bad.

    Then there are computers and tvs and so on with their "standby" modes, using power. Simply switching those off will reduce the average household's power bill by 10%. What's your power bill now each year? The average household, it's about $2,000. Saving 10% of that, again, that's not much, just two hundred bucks, but it's something. $200 extra on your mortgage annually for a 20 year term is $4,000, saving you about $6,000 total. That $6,000 is a very good trip domestically, or a modest overseas trip, or the cost of caring for a healthy infant for the first few years of its life.

    Of course, you may decide you can't be bothered cooking, you've no "time" for it. But put it this way: imagine that $4,000 a year is paying someone else to partly cook your meals for you. Imagine that you're paying $200 a year to avoid the trouble of turning off your tv and computer etc at night.

    And so on and so forth. I've yet to see anyone who's bills I couldn't reduce by my advice. But the simple fact is that most people would rather spend money than spend time and effort. And they're concerned with brand names, and like to do all their shoping at the supermarket, so they buy the $2 Ardmona tinned tomatoes instead of the $1 home brand ones, or the $3 supermarket bread instead of the $1 bakery bread. If they want lamb this week, then they'll have it, even though it's $33 a kg, instead of having some beef at $10 a kg.

    The middle classes are also fond of their home renovations. I've a friend who works in IT, and his spouse has her own dog grooming business, very successful, makes more money than the IT guy. They had a quite large three bedroom and two-lounge house. They decided to have children, and his spouse declared that they couldn't possibly have children in such a small house, after all where would they put the visiting family? So they extended, added three bedrooms, a bathroom, made the primary lounge larger. This added $66,000 to their mortgage - a year's before-tax salary for the IT guy. At their current repayment rate, this will add $150,000 to their total payments over the course of the mortgage. That's $7,500 a year, or $144 a week. There are entire units going in my neighbourhood with rents not much larger than that. So, for the aesthetic pleasure of these extra rooms they never use, they're paying an extra $144 a week.

    That's their choice, a lifestyle choice. But they do cry poor, which is pretty amusing to me when they're crying poor to me, with me and my spouse's substantially smaller income. Of course now the first child is on its way, the soon-to-be mother has stopped working, and their income has more than halved.

    That's an extreme example. However, it's characteristic of the middle classes. Socially, we can talk about people as,
    • Impoverished - cannot afford necessities[/*:m:3bbf1r87]
    • Poor - can afford most necessities, but have no luxuries[/*:m:3bbf1r87]
    • Middle-classed - can afford all necessities, but must choose between luxuries - "the overseas trip, or the new car, the house extension, or the boat."[/*:m:3bbf1r87]
    • Rich - can afford all necessities, and any luxury.[/*:m:3bbf1r87]
    In the UK recently they did a survey and found that the people who are most stressed about money are not, as you might think, the impoverished or poor - but the middle classes. That's because you're stressed not because of what you don't have, but because of what you hope to have. The poor can't reasonably hope for much beyond survival, and so learn to be content with what they have. The rich have everything and so hope for nothing. The middle-classed, on the other hand, have enough but have dreams of more. That's why they get into staggering debt, like my IT and dog-grooming friends with the better part of a million bucks being drained away from them.

    If you examine your spending closely, I'm sure you'll find areas which you can reduce, without a real impact on the happiness of your life. Your talk of "house repair" taking up so much time makes me wonder if you're renovating a house in the hopes of selling it for more later. Like my IT/dog-grooming friends, that's a choice you've made, a choice with forseeable consequences.

    A permaculture garden, once set up, will take you less time to manage than all your renovations. The idea of permaculture is to work with nature, not against it. Ever cut wood? When you cut against the grain, it's bloody hard work. Cut with the grain, it splits easily. That's permaculture - cut with the grain. House renovations are definitely "against the grain" work.

    Again, bear in mind that I don't know you, I only know what you've told us. So I speak of generalities, of the sort of things we see coming up as patterns, again and again.

    As to places with "like-minded" people, if you want to exclude the "intentional communities" like Nimbin, then there simply isn't anywhere in the Western world. Permies are considered loonies, sorry. Slowly this is changing, as formerly "radical" ideas like water tanks and solar hot water systems become... mandatory. One day people will be as conscious of where their food comes from as they are becoming about water usage. Until then, you're going to be living as a minority, sorry. I can only hope, a happy minority ;)
     
  7. Nathan Edwards

    Nathan Edwards Junior Member

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    I couldn't say the exact place, but for me the place begins to dictate itself or become revealed by the criteria you have. For me, I set up my criteria first; some of which is
    - must be less than an hour and a half away from a reasonable job market (for me Melbourne)
    - must be within a 30 minite push bike ride to a medium sized town as I am a social animal and a town of less than say 4 or 5 thousand people would send me to the looney bin.
    - must be a property costing less than $100,000 because mortgage repayments must be doable for the two of us, and I wash dishes and the missus is in retail.
    - property must have the potential for council approved owner builder rights/permit
    - median rainfall above 350 mm cos I like grapes and water(the two need each other)
    - would prefer to be in an active ish bio-regional perm-style hood

    Castlemaine
    Population 7000
    Rainfall 580mm p/y
    119 kms from Melbourne with new Calder freeway and New upgraded rail line
    Daylesford/Hepburn Springs 35kms away, Bendigo (pop-100,000) 38 kms away
    We bought 10 acres Nth facing backs onto 7500 hectare forest to the south 10 minute walk to the supermarket the pub or the cinema for $90,000 last November

    Work out the Criteria and then research like mad :lol:
    Ladyboy
    And don't wait the time for action is now Homey
     
  8. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    My criteria: Bananas and Coconuts.... Bananas and Coconuts... 8)
     
  9. Nathan Edwards

    Nathan Edwards Junior Member

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    Persimmons and Apricots!
    I just wish my hands didn't get so cold in winter!

    Why did I ever leave Queensland? :?:
     
  10. Jim Bob

    Jim Bob Junior Member

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    For ninety grand, that must be scrubland with no house on it, yeah? The building expense is something significant... My old man lives out of Newstead and his dry, clay-pan 11 acres backed onto state forest, with not exactly glamorous home cost him that five years ago, but are worth twice that now.
     
  11. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Relocation Considerations

    Hi SZ,

    Your question is one I've been mulling over for quite some time. As I am nearing retirement and fully intend to move away from the overpopulated area where I currently live and work, I have a short list of criteria that helps me to describe potential areas that MAY be desireable destinations for living out the rest of my life.

    Stable government not operating at the extreme: I live in the US and have some reservations about staying here. There is a terrible groundswell of anti-US sentiment building around the world that, coupled with peak-oil possibilities and a myriad of other considerations makes me wonder what the near-term future will bring here. Some central/south American countries appear attractive. NZ of course. Canada? Perhaps a Pacific Island nation?

    Distance from large population centers: I include here distance from major thoroughfares/transportation arterials and distance from military installations. The thin veneer of "civilization" is easily shed in times of hardship and I don't want to be around to see it if sh*t hits the fan. Major roads are infrastructure that is protected during times of strife. I plan to avoid. However, if employment is necessary, some compromise may be required here.

    Overall climate: This begins to get into personal choice. Tropical? Sub-arctic? Somewhere in between??? Look for a place near the ocean that's about 40 feet above mean sea level and plan on having waterfront when the polar ice melts??? :lol:

    These are "macro" considerations. Once a general area is selected, the "micro" considerations of Permaculture can be applied. Jim Bob is correct in one sense, when he propounds "do it where you are". However, given personal situation, choice, and intent, I believe you are being very prudent in examining all of the aspects of "place" in your quest to relocate.

    I have "leanings" towards:

    - Eastern Oregon, USA
    - North Central Washington, USA
    - Southern (panhandle) Alaska, USA
    - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
    - South Central Chile
    - Northern Peru
    - Plate River, Uruguay (from what I've read, this is a truly wonderful place and highly desireable from the perspectives stated above)
    - Western Australia (although I have become concerned about the political situation in Australia after some research)

    Good luck in your search! Are you looking worldwide or just within Australia?

    9anda1f
     
  12. Nathan Edwards

    Nathan Edwards Junior Member

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    Yeah you are totally right !LOL No Water No DAM No Power unsealed road. Did a strawbale workshop though and the house is gonna be so much cheaper than I'd ever thought. Also the opportunistic yeild factor is high, we are finding bath tubs sinks windows doors wood stoves etc etc so I guess it isn't quite as bad as it looks and the proximity to town is awesome. :p You know for $30,000 you can get a second hand house cut in half and moved onto your property fully stumped and joined back together again with an extra $7000 for the carpentry /roof if you wanted to go that way
     
  13. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    9,

    I'd be interested to hear what you find troubling about Australia's political situation that makes it less attractive than Nth or Sth America - both of which I consider to have much more potential for volatility.

    sz,

    I've spent a lot of time researching land (fertility, prices etc) job market, climate, culture and a lot of other factors around all parts of the world...the major factors remain the same everywhere.

    If there's arable land, a solid economy and job market in the area, good climate, political stability, clean environment and all the other things you appear to be looking for, then it's going to be expensive.

    The expense factor in having most things favourable is always high...here and overseas. Ex-pats from all over the rich Western countries have ensured this...wherever there was a 'good deal' for the money, properties and land got snapped up by a lot of people a long time ago. If it's cheap, then that's because many thousands of people before you have decided there is at least one major drawback to living there - and I include those who can buy outright for retirement and don't need to consider making a living.

    IMO, Australia is still very good value when all things are considered.

    If you don't want to be a wage slave spending most of your life paying off a mortgage, then IMO, you need to work out which of the 'ideal' criteria you're willing to sacrifice, or correct when you get there. The only other option is continuing to be a wage slave and burning yourself out.

    There's still plenty of extremely affordable land and properties available in Australia away from the 'ideal' places...you just need to look at them through the lens of perhaps spending a bit of the difference in purchase price on improvements. There's nothing you can't fix with a bit of extra spending (something you can easily do if you buy for much cheaper and you're not paying off much or any interest) and a good Permaculture design. It need not be really hard work...spending less on the property initially allows you the funds to make the necessary improvements (earthworks, soil improvement, right house or retro-fitting for the climate etc) the easy way.

    If you have one 10 acre block selling for $30K and another in an 'ideal' place selling for $100K+, it'll cost much less than the $70K price difference to make the $30K block into exactly what you want - quickly and without a lot of work. Simplified example, but invariably it holds true.

    Most importantly, it gets you living the lifestyle you want far quicker and eliminates what is holding you back - your hefty mortgage.
     
  14. grease

    grease Junior Member

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    Purfleet! :D where else
     
  15. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Political Instability in Autralia Or west australia..I find this remark a bit strange.....

    About the only people really worrying about the polictical side of Aussie are the Labour Libs Democrats etc....

    HAS ANYONE NOTICED the increasing numbers of greens being elected to the various state and federal governments......

    Dont expect the TV stations to tell you anything not even the ABC mentions it much either...

    Just look at the figures....Actually West Oz may be a good place to stay in..

    As of next election for west Oz it will be a 1 vote 1 value system...
    No more preferences,no more uncertaintity about where your vote goes.

    A vote for your choice is a bit more certain then ever before( well i sure hope so)

    For those looking for paradise...You may allready be living there.....

    Saving money is far better then trying to earn more....

    Permaculture .......JUST DO IT

    Tezza
     
  16. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi all,

    I've no big issue with Aussie politics. From what I read, things have been changing significantly from previous tendencies towards socialism. My understanding is that the labor unions held much power in government.

    Two items caused me to mention concern...Australia is buying large quantities of military arms, far larger than I've ever seen. I work in the aerospace industry and it is noticeable. Makes me wonder about the difference between defense and being a player on the world stage. The second item is just a tidbit that I've picked up here...it seems that there is much time spent obtaining "permissions"/pacifying your local councils to pursue your lives in Permaculture activities. The wakeup for me were the comments about pending legislation regarding the government's owning the rain that falls upon your land and home. I do not live in Australia, nor have I ever visited. Understanding a culture and politics of another country require living there, not reading. However, small items can be indications of underlying intent.

    Having concerns does not equate to alarm (or political unstability). I have thought of moving to Australia for many years and always made the assumption that your politics/government were just like mine... :shock: Recently I've noted the differences. Although listed last, Australia is still at the top of my own personal list of desireable places to live. After all, you are the home of Permaculture!

    I do not own a television and tend to get most of the news I read from Google, which is linked to media around the world. Web and library research comprise the rest. And REAL information from people such as yourselves, so if there are any untruths in the perceptions above, please let me know.

    9anda1f
     
  17. Cornonthecob

    Cornonthecob Junior Member

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    Yeps you're right, though a lot of the major military purchases of late have been routine upgrading. But they are enlarging the army also at this time.

    Australia is in a weird position at the moment, for such a small country the government has definately taken us places that perhaps we might not have gone. We're kinda like the kid standing behind our much bigger friend (USA) throwing stones from relative safety.

    Take that 'friend' away and things are going to become very interesting indeed.

    I think we're too tied to the apron of the USA, for when they go down, we're not going to be able to break free of their doom.
     
  18. frosty

    frosty Junior Member

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    You are quite right to be concerned about military activities in Western australia (WA )

    not only is it massively increasing but tere are NO LAWS here as there are in the USA to protect the environent or close residents

    I live near the Lancelin DTA - when we came here proir to 2002 it ws used mainly for weekend reserves training with naval ship to shore training about 6 times a year

    now it is open slather with lives ship to shore up to 10 days a month plus live air to ground bombing an not just aussies ! since the USA were kicked out of training on Vieques puerto rico they now do all such live training mainly in australia - we all klnow they have been prohibited fom such acticities on he USA mianland for decades

    if you see David Bradbury's film "blowin in the wind " you will not come to WA - https://www.bsharp.net.au ......... we are all destined to die eventually from dirty uranium dust blowing from US training l

    I guees maybe the only safe place to stay to not be killed by the US military is in the USA

    frosty
     
  19. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    As an Aussie living in the empire of the USA, it is interesting to compare both cultures. Australia is definitely a much more socialist society than the US, but of course, this has been very much eroded in the 10+ years the right wingers have been in power. Still, access to basic rights such as health care and education is much more universally held in Oz. The other really different thing of course is the lack of gun culture in Oz, which is definitely a big plus. But as for the rest of it, all the consumption and profligacy, Australians are no better than the worst yanks.
    Interestingly I think the US is much less racist than Australia. At least the parts I have lived in - New Mexico and Hawaii, which actually probably aren't all that representative, given that white people are minorities in both places... My wife, who is an American copped so much anti-American sentiment when we lived in Australia, and while she probably misinterpreted a lot of the irony behind it, and her feelings were hurt when a lot of the time people were probably trying to be friendly(!), I think that the same definitely hasn't been true for me here. Maybe if I was middle eastern or something I wouldn't be so positive about it, but I think in general Americans are more comfortable with mullticulturalism.
    Then there is the fact that the Australian mismanagement of the environment is just so chronic. Given that sometime this century Australia is going to be inundated by Indonesians and Bangladeshi's, cripes I don't know that it is going to be the same place for much longer. Don't get me wrong, I would welcome those people as an Australian, I think they will probably have a lot of valuable subsistence living skills to share with us as the energy runs out!
    Well, that's enough acopolypse fantasy for one evening.
    I really do think that the tropics are the place though. If you have coconuts and bananas you also have a lot of really productive starch plants that will fill you up, and that you can grow without modern technology or slavery.
     
  20. Nathan Edwards

    Nathan Edwards Junior Member

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    It is true that Australia abounds with good "cheap" land but I can't stress enough the importance of the human factor. Are the town folk completely backward red neck types? Is all you shopping, swapping and trading going to be done at the only service station in town or on the highway? How far to a school, library, power, mechanic, pub or hospital etc. I think that all these things bdeserve consideration especially for the city dwellers making the tree change. So maybe the solution is to make some of those compromises; like scale down the size of the property you may want to get a little closer to a little action. Or maybe purchase a little house rather than a large one etc.
    I think a good bunch of people around can't be over-estimated for adding value to your life. :D
     

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