Thinking of leaving your comfort zone in the city and moving to the countryside? Before you ditch the urban life and come to the platteland, there are some crucial questions to answer.
Q: What jobs are available in the platteland?
A: The Internet has opened the world to country-based entrepreneurs. These days, if there is decent connectivity, you can sell your product to anyone out there. Small towns also value skills of all kinds, from artisanal abilities to digital. Even if you’re a barista from a trendy city suburb, chances are there’s a coffee bar in the country waiting for you.
Q: When is the right time in my life to move to the platteland?
A: With the modern trend towards small businesses, you don’t have to wait until retirement to move to the platteland. Young families and the 50-plussers are the two main groups of city-to-country downsizers.
Q: Where is my perfect platteland town?
A: It all depends on who you are. There is no one-size-fits-all platteland town. Go on road trips to see what’s out there. This is where the fun begins – doing your platteland homework.
Q: How do I find the right school for my kids in the country?
A: Education options in the countryside have grown immensely of late. All manner of private schools are popping up, some government schools are still flourishing and there is always the option of homeschooling – more popular than you’d think.
Q: Will I and my family be welcomed in a small town?
A: If you trade with a smile, a lot of kindness and a bit of friendliness, you’ll be just fine in platteland society.
Q: What about crime in the platteland?
A: Don’t let your guard down completely – crime follows the money. It also follows opportunity. You can breathe easier in the country, but you should still take common-sense precautions.
Q: What is the negative side to life in the country?
A: General small-town downside dynamics and an occasional dearth of fresh veggies. And the rooster that thinks 4am is a good time to wake everyone up.
Q: Aren’t the shops very far away?
A: As more ‘incomers’ arrive and populate small towns, so do the consumer options grow. Just remember: being far from a shopping mall can be a blessing for your budget.
Q: What about access to medical care in the platteland?
A: Some dorps have good private local hospitals, others do not. Yet others make up for it by offering a private ambulance service, which is crucial in emergencies. Medical access is very important when figuring out your move.
Q: What would I gain by moving to the platteland?
A: Give yourself a chance and you may well discover your creative side; get fitter and healthier; make a positive difference in your community; live within a leaner budget; have a better-rounded social life and gain at least three quality hours a day that you would normally have spent in the city rush hour.
But there’s more to rural semigration, as you’ll find out in Moving to the Platteland – Life in Small Town South Africa by Julienne du Toit and Chris Marais.