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What to do when you have no support system around you?

 
pollinator
Posts: 299
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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So… I’m sure we’re not alone when choosing to homestead off-grid, so I’d like your suggestions, recommendations and advice, on what to do when you have no support system around you?

Our specific situation is that we moved to a new country, a small island actually… we don’t speak (yet) the local language, and where we are no one is speaking anything but the local language.

We’re pretty isolated, 10km in each direction of the nearest village, or the nearest small town.

Our families and friends are half way across the globe (and most of them don’t really understand our values, and way of living).

We are OK financially, and basically retired (except for a little online income) - so no real income sources (for now).

So… we didn’t have any support system when we came, and here are a few things we did:

1. We encouraged a few friends and family members to come and visit, got them a little excited with what we do, and enrolled them with some of our projects.

2. For three years we hosted regularly (365 days a year) 3-6 volunteers that contributed their time, energy, talents and care in return for a room and meals… that stopped when COVID happened - but until then it gave us a huge boost.

3. We made friends with a few locals, which we sometime hire for small projects, or share our produce with them. Language is still a limiting factor… but we know that if we get stuck, we at least know a few locals we can call… and they’ll come…

I would love to hear from those of you with experience, or with some advice and recommendations… what to do when you have no support system around you?


 
steward & bricolagier
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I have no good answers, being as I have no support system either.
Watching this thread in hopes of ideas.
 
master pollinator
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Eight years ago, our whole family moved to Singapore. I had never been to Asia or the Tropics. On the plus side, Singapore was at the time a very friendly place and welcomed overseas workers. I didn’t have to learn a new language - English is the business language and all local kids are taught in English, although for many it was a second language. We lived in a new complex with a mixture of local and foreign workers. We initially had no support system. That all changed quite quickly. We made friends through our children going to school and my wife’s work. Almost everyone we knew was in a similar situation, living there on a work visa, making good money with low taxes. We had a lot in common with our friends and there was a good network of stay at home Dads. It’s also a small island, very easy to get around, so no one we met was more than an hour away and many lived very close by.

Two years ago I moved to the US and it was a very different situation. We are living in a very well established community which we have nothing in common except for one working adult and kids in a school. We’ve made friends and know people here but they’re all a long drive away, so meeting up is hard.

My children are now a lot older and although they made friends, they socialised online. I joined a group for new neighbours but was basically blackballed for being a bloke. My first coffee morning was a total culture shock. They suggested I join a Dad’s poker night or Game Night, which I’m sure a lot of American Dad’s would love to do but not me. I decided I had to find my people - people who appreciate nature and the great outdoors. I joined a hiking club and did conservation volunteer work. I met lovely people but failed to make any friends.

Then Covid struck and we went into self isolation for fifteen months. During that period we decided we had to move and at that point, I basically gave up trying here. My number one priority was to find a community where I would be excepted for who I am and I can find likeminded people. I think I’ve found that place. I’m going to join lots of local groups, anything relating to permaculture or where I can spread the word.

Your existence sounds less isolating than mine even though I basically live in the largest conurbation on earth. I’m not sure what advice I can give you as I’ve failed in NJ. I’m guessing you are staying put though for a long time. Where were you before moving to Spain? And I’m guessing your biggest hurdle would be language. I’ve tried and failed at French, Russian, German and Japanese. I find languages fascinating, my father is a linguist, but nothing sticks with me. I looked on your website and you have a pretty amazing set up which I’m also guessing is full time and then you’re still short of time. Could you work with the local community, maybe taking on apprentices. You could offer English, food, accommodation(?) and the apprenticeship in permaculture and in return, they speak Spanish and you build links with local families.
 
pollinator
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My first thought upon seeing the name of the thread was you pay for one. I have an amazing therapist. But it seems what was meant was how to meet people, and to that end, I took the Land Steward program at the local extension office. That's the only way so far that I've met people I like around here. I'm not a big people person in the first place and my experiences with the locals have not been good. I'm cordial but I have no desire to get to know these people better. The good thing is more and more Californians are moving here. I'm hoping to do a PDC in the area next year, hopefully I can meet more people then.
 
master pollinator
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What Pearl said. Commenting to follow the thread.

I am married, but my husband and I have very different ideas about the way we want to live - we've both changed in the years since we married. I have a few good online friends living on the other side of the planet.  One close friend died due to Covid over the summer. I have no friends locally, and health issues that make it hard for me to attend groups to get to meet new people. I feel I'm the support person for many of the people in my life, but due to their fragile situations, it's less easy for me to seek support.

I'm glad to have my faith and a relationship with God, or life would be very lonely..
 
pollinator
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Starting in a new place is hard. In my life I have moved about four times and rebuilding support systems is hard to do. It can be done but will take time. When I was in a new place school was the way I would connect to people. Also going to events helped too. Many years ago I when to Germany for a month. My German at the time was ok but it got better after time. I did not talk like a native but listening to people help me a lot. Learning a language can be hard. I find if I watch a show in the local language with subtitles in English helps.

Also remember to check out the Regional and Iberia forums. Maybe there are permies in your area!
 
Posts: 69
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
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Hi N,
I'm not sure what you're really asking. Do you want to find new ways to meet more people and build a better support system or do you want to find new ways to do the things you want to do on your own? And it sounds like there are 2 of you.

I have plenty of people nearby and I know lots of them would be willing, even eager to come by and spend time in my garden and help me out. But I love my solitude and I  HATE asking for help. I don't know why but I just don't. I love being super independent and doing for myself. It is immensely satisfying! And even though I'm getting pretty old that hasn't changed. I found a couple of T.V. shows on the Discovery channel about 20 years ago. I'm sure I was watching reruns so you can probably find them online now. They were both about people living in Alaska. One show was called 'Alaska, The New Frontier' about an extended family living separately but close together. They often worked together on big projects but most often they were out in the wilderness alone trying to accomplish things by themselves with limited resources. Another Alaska show was about individual people or couples called 'The Last Alaskans'. Again, they loved being out in the wilderness and depended on their own strengths and thoughtfulness  to get stuff done. I was often amazed at their ingenuity!  I learned SO MUCH!!! It's wonderful what we can accomplish all by ourselves!

We can accomplish so many  things when we put our minds to it. I have sometimes amazed myself! If you have an internet connection I'm sure you can find these shows and they will inspire you. But let us know if you're looking for new ways to make friends so we can give you better suggestions.
Best wishes,
Debbie
 
master gardener
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While I understand your question in one sense, I am confused as well.  I have never had a support system  ( other than Permies rather recently) frankly, I have  found it liberating.   Aside from a brief period when I realized I was alone, I quickly realized that being alone also meant I was independent and free from social restrictions.
 
pollinator
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Hi,
I am really surprised that you can't find people who speak English in Tenerife, since it's one of the most touristic islands. Maybe you are trying to make friends in the rural, which could explain.

People in small villages, living of the fields, can be really tough to be accepted as one of them. Unless you become relative to some ole inhabitant, you are always to be considered a foreigner.

The very first step I will suggest is to learn the language. You are going to do very little progress if you can't communicate. The only alternative to learning Spanish is to find a british colony. I'm pretty sure there are already retired german colonies in Tenerife and I would be surprised if you can't find the brits. They might be living far from you, though.

Then, have as many treats with the locals as you can manage.
- Offer yourself as a native English teacher. Learning English is a must for people that wish to make a career in touristic services. Even if you don't make big money, that will make you closer to them.
- Local sports. I am not very into sports, but I know many social ties are bound by playing sports together. Many dads where I live keep in contact with their friends by playing soccer or tenis.
- Help at a local NGO. Gifting your time for a noble cause makes good ties. If you can't find any NGO that interests you, you may always create your own, but make sure that the locals will appreciate it. It would be silly to advocate for rabbit freedom when your neighbours hate rabbits in wilderness.

About the rural, there's also another factor that makes your life harder. I'm following a german youtuber that has bought land in southern Spain and he explains the issue fairly well. This is: locals do not appreciate you trying to show that their ways were wrong. These people are used to employ all kind of toxic products to keep their fields producing, they plow their fields and they think you crazy for not doing the same. They get a yield and they make a live. If you ever suggest that what they are doing is wrong, you are not going to receive any sympathy, and the funny thing is that you don't even need to say it aloud. They see you refusing to work as they do, so they understand that you dislike they way they work. That's a big stick in the wheel. (By the way, this is the same issue some omnivores have against vegan people, if you ever wondered why some people is so against other people's eating practices).
I don't know what you can do to prevent this problem, other than sacrificing a part of your land to be worked traditionally or offering yourself as a worker to learn the local customs.
Maybe if it were only the way you work your fields, some people could allow, but if you refuse to learn the local customs (and language is the very first thing!) then you are never to become one of them. Learn to like or at least accept what they eat, what they drink, when they sleep, when they rest, they way they dress, the so many social habits (don't be afraid to ask what is proper). Maybe it is a religious village and people meet in the catholic church; you might not be catholic, but that's where you will find people in Sundays. Don't miss their festiivities.

In a pinch if you want to be accepted, then you have to start by accepting them as they are, to live as one of them. One or two eccentricities can be tolerated, but otherwise you will always be a foreigner.
 
gardener
Posts: 489
Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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I will echo some of what Abraham said.

Expats can often find camaraderie among other expats, and although views may differ it is certainly an easy way to find a support system.

If you want to join the local community, then I agree that language is paramount. I will talk a lot more about that aspect now:

But there is more to it than spoken language. Learning the local language is also about learning body language. How people greet each other with their eyes and hands. Do they ignore you the second time they see you or is there a set greeting for second or third meetings. If you start to learn and pick-up these verbal and non verbal cues people will start to forget you aren't one of them. Manner of dress and headwear are similar. Customs like washing your hands at specific timings or removing shoes at particular places or even arranging things in particular ways can be very important cues.

I went through a long transition period as an expat in Japan. It is inescapable being identified as a foreigner here as a white person. BUT after picking up on the small cues people don't even look at me in public anymore. I used to draw the looks of half of the people in a store. Now there is rarely more than one person in several hundred that find they must stare at me. And I live in a very rural area with very few outsiders. Even people from other prefectures in Japan draw looks...

A lot of it is verbal too. As my fluency improved I became able to quickly assure people I'm as local as you can get with a well chosen comment, phrase, or appropriate greeting. Sometimes I can see the mix of interest/worry/fascination suddenly disappear when I smile and a say a swift "atsuisne" (Sure is hot today isn't it?)

Learning to fit in with the community made me feel at home and made the pressure of being an outsider less intense. Even if I naturalized as a Japanese citizen, I would never be "Japanese" to many people... but I most certainly feel like a "local" here and I think that the community now counts me as one too.

I felt the transition happen after about five or six years of being here.


As far as learning the spoken language - if you drink socially and that is a thing that happens among the locals then it's often a good way to learn a lot of language and paralanguage (body language and the like).

If you don't drink then find where people congregate socially and participate!

Language learning happens quickly when you're immersed. Spanish language resources are abundant on-line. Given, the local dialect will probably vary greatly, the basic grammar and structure will get you pretty far. If you speak English then Spanish is only a few steps away and shares a huge vocabulary. It won't take long to become conversational.

 
L. Johnson
gardener
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Location: Japan, roughly zone 9b - wet and warm climate
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I forgot to mention, one tip that accelerated my language improvement was singing Japanese karaoke songs with Japanese people. Something about music has a magical effect on socialization. Especially if you can find the local equivalent of "soul" music or "blues".
 
pollinator
Posts: 274
Location: Basque Country, Spain-43N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
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I live in the same country as you, but about as far away as it is possible to get from your location, culture and climate while not crossing an international border. Even so, hopefully I can say something useful.

I have changed countries several times, and some places are much harder than others to establish a network of support or even contacts. Where the locals are very settled, and tend to grow up, live and die in the same place, it is much harder. You can't compete with people's friends from elementary school, people who knew each other's great-grandparents. But in the end, there are things you can do... in every population there are people curious about new ideas, people, and experiences, people who like to open their world a little bit, and if you try enough ways of doing things with the locals, you will find one or two that really work to establish good relationships.

First I'd echo what Abraham and others have said about the language. Spanish people are very accepting of foreigners with bad Spanish, AND they really appreciate your efforts to speak to them in their language and improve every day. Make it clear to them from your actions that you really want to relate to them on their terms, explore and absorb the local culture, and do things their way. You don't have to give up your culture, just be open to question your own ideas, attitudes and culture and try on theirs regularly and see what happens.

I really would encourage some kind of language exchange offer. You teach them English and or your native language and they teach you Spanish. I would do it even exchange, free is a price that everyone loves and could be conducive to long-term relationships. Try it for a clear, limited time (1 month? 3 months?) and renew it if you like.

Another thing would be to become a regular at a local hangout, a café/bar or whatever. Show up at the same time every day/week, at a time of day when there are enough people but not too many, so you can have a conversation. Chat up the owner of the bar and the waitstaff occasionally, that's a beginning. Slowly establish natural relations with the other regular patrons. Give it time.

Social relations in most of Spain, I suppose the Canaries are no different, are on the street and not at people's homes. People can be intensely protective and private about their home life and you usually need to be a very close friend to invite or to be invited to people's homes. You might have an easier time inviting to yours as your place is so big, remote, and has set up essentially public spaces, so I wouldn't be too shy about that. If people make the trek up to yours, of course, I would be very generous with them giving them some fruit and veg from the garden when they come, as well as offering snacks and drinks. But I wouldn't expect reciprocation ever, except from other farmers or homesteaders. Farmhouses in my experience can be kind of exempt from the privacy Spanish people expect at home.

I would try to connect up with the expat community too. There are loads of people of very differing attitudes, ideas, ideals and life situations, and your sure to connect with a few. And they are in the same boat as you are in some ways, so you can establish relationships quicker and meet each other's social needs in some ways. A friend in need is a friend indeed as they say, as long as it's mutual.

I have only really integrated myself well in a new community once I started getting involved in local projects, courses, organizations, etc. with local people. Community gardens, charity work, in-person courses of any kind, is there an organic farmer's association on the island?, etc. That's when I really started getting friendly with locals. With some language skills, even if limited, and some enthusiasm and willingness to help despite everything, you will easily gain some people's respect and friendship, at least that's my experience. And all these groups will probably organize occasional social get-togethers, so definitely go to those and keep your eyes peeled for how the locals do it (what they're like, what to wear, bring food/drink yes/no?, how long people stay, what they talk about and don't talk about, etc.) and enjoy! Spanish culture is great for just enjoying life, especially in a group context. So participate with others and enjoy yourself, don't get too serious, and you'll contribute to the atmosphere.

Most of these ideas involve you going all the way down your mountain into "civilization," which will of course cost time and fuel. But in the long term, I think you can connect with people and have them coming up to yours occasionally, which I'm imagining you would like. Just a couple of solid relationships with locals can really pay off in a lot of situations, so for me, it's well worth the time and effort cultivating them.

And by the way, awesome place you've built so far!! Good on you for all you've built!
 
pollinator
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I also moved country, my husband is a native but his friends do not live close and the family are all to busy to help with anything, they couldn't even find time to attend his birthday after 2 months notice.

Language, get into classes you MUST learn it, after a year of classes it becomes much easier to do things.
Yes it's hard to make friends, where I am everyone met their friends in school, I started volunteering for all the local functions, making food, cleaning up etc. I now volanteer twice a week at a center for socially isolated people. I started the first before I could really speak Danish, but the second I couldn't do before I could speak it well. (Danes here do not speak English). I now get invited to things and included in things, people know who I am where I live and what I do.
Keep an ear out for other expats, they will be the fastest route to meeting people, but they won't generally help much with integration into the wider community.
And last possibly not relevant to you but maybe to others, get a job. If you can find a job that doesn't require language skills or if you can get good enough at the local language then get a job somewhere where you will meet people, I work every other weekend in a local bar. So now I cannot walk around my local town without seeing at least 2 or 3 people I know by name.

The last thing, is that connections take work, they take work to create and commitment to hold onto.
 
master steward
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As John said, Permies is my support system.

Many years ago while still living with my parents we moved to Mexico.  I had taken Spanish in school so I could communicate somewhat.  Neither of my parents knew any Spanish.

We survived for the year that we spent there and I greatly improved my knowledge of Spanish, made friends, etc.

Now we live in the boondocks.  We have been here since 2013 and of my neighbors, I only know one person.

To me where we live is not much different from living on a "deserted island".  I have my dear husband for support and that is all I need.

I also feel I am my own support system. I have read enough books like Your Erroneous Zone by Dr. Wayne Dyer and his other book, Pulling Your Own Strings that I can be my own support system.

Though everyone is different and have different needs.

Years ago, if I felt I needed support what I did was to go shopping.  I also found that to be a great stress release.  That usually meant buying a pair of shoes that I would return back to the store the next day. Though nowadays, I hate shopping and hate the long trip that is required to get to town.

My suggestions for finding a support system, especially if I were in a foreign country would be to find some language classes, or classes for something that is of interest.  Maybe an herb foraging class or a survival training class.
 
gardener
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It's already been said, so as another person who's lived in multiple countries I'll just reinforce: learning the language and making some efforts to be part of community is critical.
(I taught languages for a long time, it's been a while so maybe there are better options now, but DuoLingo was free and good. App, or browser if you prefer to not use cell phone apps)

I would also add: I've been in my current country now for 15 years. I speak the language, have established family and community, and still-- Covid totally demolished my social structure, really threw me for a loop, and I'm just now trying to put it all back into place. My social group from work is gone, but I'm now going back to the gym, trying to sort out a seed saver meetup, figuring out where the antique car people I used to meet up with have gone, etc. It takes a lot of effort, but give it a shot.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Anne Miller wrote:To me where we live is not much different from living on a "deserted island".  I have my dear husband for support and that is all I need.
I also feel I am my own support system.


Actually, Anne, I can totally relate.
I’m the same, and so is my wife.
We are our own support system.
I’m not looking for emotional support, or even social… but more for a support in things go wrong in the world around us…
We can’t grow all our food, we don’t know how to fix everything we own, we can’t build everything we want on our own…
 
Anne Miller
master steward
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N. Neta wrote:
Actually, Anne, I can totally relate.
I’m the same, and so is my wife.
We are our own support system.
I’m not looking for emotional support, or even social… but more for a support in things go wrong in the world around us…
We can’t grow all our food, we don’t know how to fix everything we own, we can’t build everything we want on our own…



As a young mother, I was really concerned about all the stuff that goes to landfills.  I talked to people I knew though it was like I was talking to a brick wall. At one point I wrote a "Letter to the Editor".  I got a personal letter from this person that was basically "chewing" me out.  I didn't realize I was really writing a letter to the Editor.  I thought it was just a column in the newspaper.

I am still concerned about what goes to the landfill, I just do my part right here with what I put in the trash or what I buy.

When we bought our homestead we wanted to grow all our own food. Fire ants thanked me by not allowing me to pick the harvest.

Over the years at different locations, we have been able to grow some of what we eat. Never enough to sustain us.

I have read articles where people claim to do that and maybe they do.

The house we live in was a shell, just the outside walls, roof, windows, and door.  My husband and I finished the interior ourselves.  Previously, we have built chicken houses, a pig house, a loafing shed for a pony and a horse.  We no longer can do that.  I can't even hire anyone to do it.

Again, back when I was a young mother, in the US there is an organization called the United Way. I did my part by volunteering my time.

Through the years I have volunteered at other places.

Maybe where you live there is some sort of relief agency where you could volunteer your time to help someone in need.

I don't know the answers, I just do my part when something comes up.

Nowadays, I volunteer my time here on the forum, answering questions, etc.

I write a daily-ish every so often and feel that is one way I can get what I want people to know, like the trash issue, into thousand of homes.

Have you thought about writing a daily-ish?
 
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I am a people person. I have a hard time finding people I want to be with, or that want to be with me. Just like the fox and the grapes..... humans start to say when they think they can't have what they want, "I don't like people anyway!" It's really distressing to be honest that the one thing we can truly do for each other, we just choose not to.

I don't find texting or messaging that satisfying. If I meet you I will want to see you in person. I would normally think this is a human characteristic. But with so many people saying "I don't like people" or "I don't need people" I wonder if I am just needy. I still think I am a normal human.

What is the difference between a support system or not? It's a choice by people to involve themselves with other people. If it's at the base level of what all humans need to be happy, why is it so elusive? Why don't we just go after and receive what we really want.... each other?  

I don't get it. And btw, I'm available if you want to talk.
 
Abraham Palma
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A support system is when someone in your social network becomes worried because you are not where you are supposed to be.
Say you go every wednesday to a grocery. Then one day you are injured and can't call for help, but there's that person who cares about why you are not showing up at the grocery and tries to contact you. Or in case of evacuation, people that check whether you are among the others. It's the safety network that cares for you when you can't care for yourself.

This comes in hand with the human need for belonging. We all want to be part of something, something big or something small, but never alone. It can be your family, your town, an organization or the wilderness.

 
N. Neta
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Abraham Palma wrote:A support system is when someone in your social network becomes worried because you are not where you are supposed to be.


I would phrase it a bit differently, but it’s the same principle as yours, Abraham.
For me it would be more about being able to call someone and ask for whatever it is that I need at the moment, KNOWING - that the person would say “yes”.
 
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N Neta:  I am not 100% sure what your definition IS of a support system...

Is it friends, confidants, buddies you are seeking?  Is it Psychological, Medical or Behavioral support?  Is it like minded Permie types to swap idea's with?  Is it ways to make money/be of service?

For myself, and my interpretation of support system you are seeking a way of belonging in what is still seeming like a foreign place; to feel accepted, that your presence is not to be feared or viewed suspiciously but to be included as one of the "locals".  For this to occur, I think you need to become "useful" to the community in some way - be it donating excess produce, helping out with sharing a product, method or skill at no charge, or simply joining some sort of "group" from search and rescue/fire fighting to sports or something in the "arts" to volunteering at the library, a food bank....

I do not mean to criticize, and I apologize if any of the following is hurtful:

The community is unlikely to "come to you" you must go to them, offering something of value.  Otherwise I fear after all this time that you will continue, at best, to be "those weirdo's from _______ " who engage in odd activities, to outright hostility as in their eyes you "contribute nothing to the community but take up land from the locals."

Further, I find it unusual that you have not learned the local language of yet; that alone would be a massive barrier to inclusion, and might even be a permanent barrier if not resolved.  Without language, even the simplest ways of meeting folks and creating relationships (such as grocery shopping) are lost opportunities. Yes, there are more ways than speaking to communicate, but as humans, it usually is the primary way relationships are formed.  Perhaps find someone who wants to learn english, and you trade skills?

That said, there is absolutely no reason in this day and age that you must rely on those in shouting distance to be your verbal/emotional support system; with the internet, phone, video chat etc. you may find your "best friend" lives halfway around the globe, and you may never meet in person, but they know your deepest, darkest secrets, and are ALWAYS there for you, at least virtually!
 
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N. Neta wrote:So… I’m sure we’re not alone when choosing to homestead off-grid, so I’d like your suggestions, recommendations and ]





Hello, I live 50 miles from town and 90 miles from a super store...3 hours from an actual city. There are neighbors 5 or more miles away. I'm in a lovely location with extreme weather patterns and wild animals (rodents too) I have 2 working cats and a micro homestead and my transmission went bad so no car! I'm 63. I do this alone.

I've hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, lived in Central America and in indigenous villages before. I know my limits.

I found a call in and online Nomad Chapter.org Morning Meeting that has been wonderful and quick. It's only week days and this combined with my bi weekly phone therapy appointment have been so helpful at this time in our history.
Perhaps there's something similar that could work out for you...
 
N. Neta
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:N Neta:  I am not 100% sure what your definition IS of a support system...
Is it friends, confidants, buddies you are seeking?  Is it Psychological, Medical or Behavioral support?  Is it like minded Permie types to swap idea's with?  Is it ways to make money/be of service?


For me it would be more about being able to call someone and ask for whatever it is that I need at the moment, KNOWING - that the person would say “yes”.

And just for the record, I do have 3 people from the village that were there for us before, exactly the way I describe above… and we’ve been there for them, and I’m sure they’ll be there for us in the future…

Lorinne Anderson wrote:there is absolutely no reason in this day and age that you must rely on those in shouting distance to be your verbal/emotional support system; with the internet, phone, video chat etc. you may find your "best friend" lives halfway around the globe, and you may never meet in person, but they know your deepest, darkest secrets, and are ALWAYS there for you, at least virtually!


For the type of support I’m looking for, online, won’t do…
But thank you for sharing your ideas…
This is definitely a support.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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For me it would be more about being able to call someone and ask for whatever it is that I need at the moment, KNOWING - that the person would say “yes”.  



Ahhh, okay, that to me is the distinction between "Friends" (with a capital 'F') and "acquaintances" or friends with a small 'f'.  

To me Friends are those rare humans you can call at 3am and all they ask is "how can I help?" the ones you would never hesitate to put down as an "emergency contact" or keep your spare house key; whereas acquaintances are, well, anyone else.  You might already be there!  In my opinion, most folks can count their "Friends" on one, maybe (if they are really lucky!!) two hands.  Honestly, I think beyond that may not be reasonably attainable or sustainable.

I have "Friends" I have never met in person, and yet we have spoken on the phone for over a decade; then there are those who I may not have spoken to in a decade, and we can pick up as if a day has not passed...  Then there are those small letter friends whom you may talk to/visit often, but whom you would NEVER call at 3am, let alone want around you in an emergency - oddly, they often take up the most time and cause the most stress...

Finding like minded folks is often a struggle, especially when ones criteria is quite strict (as mine is) - there are certain things that are simply non-negotiable (racist, sexist, violent) followed by personal 'isms' that drive me nuts (soap opera addicts, mall shopping junkies, being wasteful, selfish or hard hearted).  Of late,  US politics and Covid have been major friendship stressors and I have had to insist with some that we MUST agree to disagree and certain topics have become taboo - the only way to maintain a precious friendship.

All my real Friends come from our shared passion for things dog/animal/wildlife related, including the manager at the local feed store, and my vet, to note a couple.  Hmmm, I had never really thought about that, seems my greatest passion in life (animals) is what has driven the source of my truest, dearest and closest Friends, and brought me my husband just before I reached 50 (that was a damn long wait!).  

Perhaps this offers a path for you.
 
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A sincere smile with cheerful eyes can bridge almost any language barrier. An out-stretched hand in friendship can "seal the deal."  Food is a universal language all its own...Who on this planet doesn't love freshly baked treats?...Surely, someone near your new abode is bi-lingual or nearly so....I've been there. You'll be just fine.
Don't be afraid to make the first moves. Usually, the 'natives' won't do that. They'll wait for you to show your hand...You'll be fine. trust your fellow man and it'll all work out.
 
Abraham Palma
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A little word about proffesionals coming when you call for them:

I don't know if it is different in your mother country, but here proffesionals have an annoying habitude. Since the work comes in waves, some months they get 20 clients, next month they get none, professionals have the custom of accepting every solicitude and then coming when they see fit; they might see fit to come five months later. If the work you have for them involves working several weeks, expect that they will start working, and then when the place is a mess and you have no chance of choosing another professional, they will attend to other clients. Even a friend will do this to you; they can't afford to be unemployed when demand is low.

Brief, if the thing you want them to do in your house can be done in one day, they will go as soon as they find time for these 'one day works', in order of petition, which can happen in two months with some luck. If it is a long work, they will come sooner but they will leave several times to attend to other 'urgent' clients, once you are hooked. This is normal, and amazingly the works end up being done, but they take longer than you would expect.
I suspect you can shorten the waiting time if you pay more, but I have never been able to check this possibility.

What you really ought to know is what proffesionals in your area work well, meaning they will finish the job with good quality. Listen to hearsays or asks advice from acknowledges and they will tell.
 
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John F Dean wrote: I quickly realized that being alone also meant I was independent and free from social restrictions.



Yes, there is that!
 
Helen Butt
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Well, I'd say the strategy that seems to have started, finally, to work for me is to try out different groups doing different things that I'm interested in until I've a group or two where I feel comfortable.

Along the way, I learned things which led me to the groups that now make me happy. I still haven't made any friends (as opposed to acquaintances) but after a lifetime of jumping in feet first and then wondering how I depart with dignity, maybe I'm finally learning to take things more slowly!
 
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I tried all sorts of ways to meet people that would click with me; I made it through 4 years of post-secondary, a decade of employment, and a fair bit of volunteering without a single friendship that outlasted a shared circumstance.

I helpxed and volunteered, and met 'better' people, but very few that really clicked, and distance was an issue...


And then I finally, eventually stumbled into the particular farm where things mutually clicked. It was not at all the 'type' of people I would have sought. I extended my helpx stay from 2 weeks to 2 months, and the next spring moved there for a year.

Several years later, my entire non-family social network barring 1 person is still comprised of connections that branched out from that one family.


I guess the lesson I took from this is that it might only take one lucky break, and prior failures are no predictor of future results..
 
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I've pretty much lived without a support system most of my life because I do things differently than most people.  Now that's not to say I wasn't loved by my family, but I'm sure most of them (parents included) thought I'd fall flat on my face several times.  My lasting friendships are few as only a handful of people really know and accept my weird way of thinking.

I've never lived in another country (or another state for that matter) but when I first moved here 30 years ago I was extremely shy and one of only two women in the community that worked outside of the home.  I made an attempt to join the local church but gave that up because of the gossip and hypocrisy.  So I worked 60-80 hours in the fall and winter and when things slowed down in the warmer months I gardened.  I did take a master gardener course but wasn't completely happy with it as everything they recommended at the time involved chemicals.  I also spent hours reading, researching and experimenting on how to grow food, learn lost skills and becoming more self-sufficient.

Fast forward thirty years and I'm more outgoing and more social.  I gave up the regular job to become self-employed and my husband joined me a few years later.  We have a young child and I find myself becoming friends with mothers who are young enough to be my daughter.  I'm also getting involved with the school garden which is a win-win situation as I'm volunteering my knowledge, yet I'm also learning about the operation of a high tunnel.  I also joined a quilt guild and that has been really helpful as the members took the new quilter in and doesn't criticize me for creating projects using recycled clothing. I'm still not totally self-sufficient and probably never will be but I'm much happier.

As far as a support system, I'd have to say that some of the online forums have been great!  I've made several friends over the last fifteen years and though we've never met personally, I know I can rant, grieve or bounce ideas off of a few and do the same for them in return.  So I guess my point is that sometimes you have to find your support system outside of your local area.  

Language seems to be a barrier and that would be one of the things I'd strive to learn especially if you plan to stay in the area long-term.  I'm sure you've already educated yourself on some of the local customs as well as something we consider part of our normal everyday behavior can be offensive to another culture.
 
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