Planning our Tree Change

Buying our property in Harcourt didn’t happen overnight.  Dreams of acreage, building a sustainable house and living off the land were discussed over many a Shiraz or French Martini.  Saturdays were spent on long drives to South Gippsland and Central Victoria.  My partner is a big-picture thinker which complements my keen eye for detail and planning, so my partner would talk “vision” whilst I mapped out the details.  Here’s how we set about planning our tree change:

Getting Organised

We started a journal which I named the FWOF file.  Farmers Without Farms, thanks for asking. Ideas were brainstormed and listed, site and house plans drawn, with special mention to the coffee stains giving the book character.  Or is that dried mud?

I also created a spreadsheet listing the properties we viewed, and cells were shaded against criteria such as:

  • Land size
  • Good fencing
  • Traffic noise
  • Proximity to community/town
  • Dam/water right
  • Powered
  • Price
  • House
  • Land only
  • Permit to build
  • Aesthetics
  • Trees

Whilst we didn’t carry the spreadsheet with us, it was useful to keep these points in mind throughout our country property search, to help determine priorities of items, and where we could compromise.

We weighed up pros and cons for buying land and building ourselves (straw bale) versus an established home, and continued to look at both options throughout.

Narrowing Search

Six months into our property seeking adventure we agreed to focus our location around the Central Goldfields, meeting our needs for proximity to Melbourne and the regional centre of Bendigo.  The V/Line rail service was a plus for easy commuting to Melbourne.  On a personal note, I grew up spending weekends camping on our family’s block of land at the foot of Hanging Rock – I remember it being cold and windy, but always fun and adventurous – especially exploring the “rock”!

Try Before You Buy

I admit that it never crossed my mind to rent in the area before buying.  How sensible and practical!  What a terrific option to see if you enjoy the community and lifestyle before committing to real estate.  Perhaps, our weekends away and dining out in the region was enough to know we were making the right move.

Decision Time

There’s always an emotional response when deciding on a house purchase, where sometimes you need to trust your instincts.  Our house in Harcourt was under offer by another party and they withdrew.  A sign maybe?  When we viewed the property for the second time my partner and I had a good feeling about it.  It ticked a lot of boxes – a comfortable house on nine acres with established vegetable gardens and the added bonus of a beautiful big tin barn.  Our own Grand Design project to enjoy.

By Easter 2011 our FWOF became a FWIF – we became Farmers with Farm.


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