Back when Jess and I hiked the AT we talked about it and decided to stay in normal fulltime tech work a while longer to build up some money. We succeeded in getting a nice little nest-egg for ourselves, and as you all know quit our jobs and went on adventures this summer. The goal though was always eventually to use that money to get some land. The hope was that this would open whole new worlds of opportunities to live with the land, and help it help us prosper.
Several months back Jess and I were talking and trying to decide what we wanted to do next. We rolled around various crazy things to do related to stuff we talk about on this site - like guiding, teaching outdoor skills, homesteading, tanning, hunting, logging, farming, land-management etc.
As we talked it slowly sank in that neither of us wanted to do any of those things full time. We were also both loath to give up software engineering entirely. This may sound odd to some who read this blog, but I love programming, and I crave that type of problem solving. It's such a pure form of thought, requiring and thus inspiring a type of clarity of thought in general. That clarity becomes a habit at invades how you do everything, I LOVE it. That way of thinking is why I got into computer science in the first place, and I have no desire to give it up. I really want to do woodworking and all the rest, but I still want to program, I just want to do it *less* than I used to.
My old "server"
Then we realized that part-type remote tech work exists. In fact, there's a fair amount of it out there, especially for my skillset. With that in mind, Jess and I have been trying to decide where to house-hunt since before the holidays (with that little medical side-trip in the middle). Jess will get probably a fulltime remote job because she wants to keep doing techy management stuff, and I'll likely find some part-time tech work. Then we can spend the rest of our time on the type of stuff you see in this blog.
So, how does one decide where to live? Not knowing where to start, and being nerdy engineers, we started like any one of those proclivities would. With a list of goals:
- Good enough internet for videoconferencing
- Forested land to manage
- Deciduous trees (we both have a fondness)
- The right mix of folks, politics, and education levels
- Large public lands to play on
- Has Weather
With this in mind we quickly paired it down to a short list. We visited a few places on the short-list, did some research on local politics, temperatures, etc. and after not too long had it down to Washington, Vermont, or Virginia. Vermont and Virginia beat Washington in the end for being near our families. After a few road-trips looking at examples houses and towns we chose a small area in Virginia and another in Vermont that we decided we liked. Decisions are hard, but all things together Vermont looked better in most dimensions, so right now we're pursuing the Vermont idea. The snow's made it interesting as well.
Our next step is probably to rent a place in that area of Vermont while we find a place and strike a deal. I've been spending almost all of my free time for the last couple of weeks reading about buying land, researching different types of house construction, researching various methods of transportation on the snow, different ways to clear driveways, off-grid systems, passive solar systems, insulation, housing codes, outhouses and composting toilets, etc. It's a lot to learn, but it's fun and exciting! We've been using a (slightly older version of) this book:
In the meantime it's been pretty cool hanging out with both our parent's again. It's always great to have a place to go back to in-between things, and people who love you and who's counsel you can consult.
So, with some luck you should be seeing a bit more of us around White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, and out on the Long Trail.