Farm House

Steps you can take to finding your perfect farm while you’re stuck in a tiring corporate job

13 March 2024 | Veronique |

An old client of mine asked a question this week :

“I wanted to find out how you are enjoying farming…it looks idyllic and I want to make life decisions. I am so tired of corporate. I am starting to look at areas where we can settle and what I will be able to do . I should still be able to contract. Right now I am looking at properties in the Western Cape, but not knowing where to look is daunting. What was your process when you bought?”

We love farm life. The thing is though, that if you still need your corporate job once you move, not much changes except the damn view! I’ve come to this horrible realization lately. We are offgrid and eating some things from our farm; but we are mostly still just city slickers now living in the bush! It was an awful realisation.

So honestly? Yes, we need to get out of the cities asap, but we are still trapped in the system if we can’t quit our jobs at the same time. This is where you need to start also planning your escape, more about that below.

If you can sell everything in the city and buy a farm cash with some money left to spend for year one, you will have a huge head start. Farms cost a lot of money to develop then maintain. As much as having my corporate job (even though it’s my own business) and running a farm is exhausting; there is no way we would give up our day jobs. That would add even more stress.

Your first goal is to be able to work from home before you buy a farm. Set up that lifestyle arrangement first. My husband commutes and it’s brutal. If your bosses have a work from home policy, you’re golden. Take it with open arms and start doing that now. If they don’t, now is the time to start nagging. I have one golden rule when it comes to corporate : he who nags the most, wins. If working from home is never going to be an option, consider changing jobs. This is no small thing, especially later in life. You don’t want to jeopardise your career if you are a soul bread winner, or dependant on both incomes. So plan this long in advance, a year or more. You want your career and income to be stable when you move to a farm, because that life change is extremely disruptive already. You don’t want to compound the stresses.

Once you’ve moved to a farm and settled, you can start looking at ways to escape corporate permanently. That’s where I am now. I’ve found a methodology I like and have a 3 to 5 year plan to implement it.

Choosing the area – the area chose us ultimately. It took me 10 years and 7 attempts over a 200km radius before we found this place. So many doors shut in my face on so many properties it wasn’t even funny. I did a lot of crying in that time.

Lots of people go the Western Cape yes. For me they are too regulated. You can’t move without some fascist government official deciding your every move. I will not live like that. So while the ANC is useless, it plays into our favour in Gauteng as they don’t have the political will or energy to police everything. And for us, the whole point of leaving the city was for more freedom. This entire province basically does whatever it wants. It’s very much a live and let live culture.

We also wanted to be within an hour to hour and a half from the city. We originally wanted to do a lodge and our client base was here. We’re not doing that anymore. Being only 1,5 hours away made a huge difference once we started building however. There is absolutely no way we could have built from scratch across provinces. We drove up every single weekend and got it done. Different story if you’re going to buy an established farm, then it’s just one or two visits, then once off relocation. You could go anywhere. We bought vacant land and started with nothing.

I think you end up exactly where you are meant to be. I wanted this lush, edible garden, going to a more tropical area might have been better for me. It’s a tough gig trying to tame the African bushveld, but here I am. I look at it that I was sent here to bring a point of light where it had completely faded. The Universe doesn’t make mistakes.

When I first started looking, I went in bigger and bigger circles out from where I was, starting in Sharonlea. The furtherest reaches I got was Hekpoort, Hartbeespoort Dam and Walkerville. All fell through. Two properties in particular where the “ones that got away”. I cried for months.

During this process, I met my husband. We started looking together. We went to the bush during lockdown and while we were sitting one evening having a braai and watching the sunset; we kind of at the same time asked why we don’t just come live in the bush as we both love it.

We hit the internet that same weekend, found a property, called the agent for a viewing, loved it and put in an offer. That turned into a 3 month fiasco. We didn’t get that property we wanted, nor the one next door. It was a switch bait situation. However, we got one just down the road instead where we are now.

But how I sobbed over those other 2 properties, for weeks. I could not understand why I couldn’t have them.

Fast forward about 8 months. Our new friends next door asked us to farm sit for them. We’d been here permanently only a couple of weeks. The day they left us with the keys and went to the coast, a HUGE fire tore through the whole area, burning 350ha to the ground – including half of their land and all of the land we originally wanted to buy in a conservancy.

I went back the next day too look at the damage, and when driving around I finally understood why we were not meant to have that farm. It was covered in rocks and ant hills, as far as the eye could see! Our goal is a self-sustaining kitchen garden and food forest – we would never have been able to achieve that in nothing but rock. So I said thank you to the Universe for the lesson and moved on.

The beauty of it is that we can drive those other 2 farms anytime we want to because we’ve been given keys to the conservancy they are in. We get to grow what we want, not have to deal with the politics of conservancy management, live however we want here; and go for a drive there to enjoy the view anytime we like. Best of both worlds.

The secret is to ensure you have written down exactly what you want from a farm and farm lifestyle. Once you are crystal clear on that, the property will be revealed to you. Just saying “I want a farm” is too vague. The Universe can’t deliver on that, and hence your move will be delayed. Bottom line – write it down.

Buffy and I were driving back from a weekend away once, and we made this long wishlist of what we wanted. Then we asked ourselves how would we know we had found the right property based off that list. So the last item was, “the owner has a 3 legged dog”. We felt that was pretty specific. Over a year went by, we didn’t even think about that list again. We bought vacant land and never met the owner. A few months after we moved here, we got invited to a new farm owner friend. When we drove up to their house, they had about 11 dogs and one of them had 3 legs!!! I shouted out “look, look! A 3-legged dog!!!”. We took it as our sign that we were exactly where we were meant to be.

The Universe works in mysterious ways.

Decide what sort of farm life experience you want. Build from scratch, or just move in? What sort of climate do you like, Karoo, Cape or KZN? Do you want something super lush? Then maybe you need high rainfall areas like KZN and Western Cape. Or more tropical like Mpumalanga? Can you tolerate freezing temperatures? The Karoo and Walkerville / Henley will work. Do you want mountains? Then Harties, the Drakensberg, Waterberg will work. Do you want the ocean? Maybe then Port Alfred.

On your environment – don’t specify the exact area. Rather write “I am surrounded by a lush garden in a mountain setting with a view of a lake”. That way the Universe has flexibility on where that might be based on all your requirements in total. Add to this :

How you feel.
What your ideal day looks like.
How much money are you earning.
How much time do you spend working a day.
Who are you with.
What is the dynamic of your relationship out there.
Are there animals and pets.
Are you growing things, what things.
What are the neighbours like.
How long do you need to travel to town.
Do you have internet access.
What sort of house do you live in.
What are you driving.
Who works for you.

Things like that. Just be very specific to include how you feel every step of the way. You don’t want all your material dreams to be delivered, only to be miserable all the time.

For example:

“I wake up every day to my natural body clock. I am rested from a good night’s sleep. I am so happy to wake up to this view of nature. It’s so peaceful and quiet here. I am so excited to start my day”. Etc etc

And always write in the present tense as though it is happening now.

Start now.

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