I struggled with choosing which forum to put this in, so please let me know if there's a better place for this message.
I'm part of a group of 3 guys + our partners/families who are looking to "get back to the land." We all grew up together in a small town, so the trust levels are high. Two of us got out of that small town and into much larger cities as is a natural inclination a lot of people who grow up that way. We're now all in out late 20s/early 30s, and are all itching to get out to the country and form an intentional community for ourselves.
I'd say we're pretty typical for guys our age. Some of us have a little bit of debt, but nothing that's life-ending. We are all now at least a few steps into our careers. None of us are making TONS of money, but we all have good, stable, above-average incomes.
We've prioritized paying off debts and building up some basic savings with left over money. Those of us who aren't already self-employed are looking to start self-employed side-gigs to generate some extra revenue. We have weekly phone calls to check in on each others progress and are all pretty dedicated to making this work.
My question is this: besides increasing our revenue streams and saving/investing money, what else can we be doing in the short term to prepare for our move to the land? One thing we've discussed is all trying to choose a skill to develop that none of us currently have that would be beneficial to the group as a whole on the homestead. Things like 3d modelling, welding, carpentry, etc. What else can we do? Are there items we should be looking out for good deals on that we will definitely need in the future that we could hoard now? Maybe something like used/damaged solar panels we could fix up? Maybe water storage barrels/tanks that other people are getting rid of?
I am working on city homesteading, and I found that playing around with ideas and design (you know like kids have toy kitchens before they actually cook) was helpful to build skills, reduce tuition to the school of hard knocks, and create brain circuits to handle the situations I'd run into. I still "play" with anything I'm considering before I do it, if I can and map out as many details as possible plus look at as many alternatives as I can to ensure it's the correct direction. You may want to look into holistic management decision making and farm planning since that has some great planning tools that work with small groups.
I'm in a similar pre-commune situation, and I've worked on tool maintenance, basic gardening, permaculture knowledge, chainsaw repair, and carpentry. I'm also trying to figure out group land ownership strategies (co/op, LLCs, HOAs), conservation easements, other tax strategies, online work options, and sustainable forestry. Also, de-cluttering and down-sizing, hunting, mycology, and herbs. Definitely not an expert yet on any of those things!
I've found that I'm going to need a tractor and trailer pretty soon, and that's just for an acre property. Large water storage tanks are expensive... but I don't think you need one if you have a farm pond or well water. Solar panels might keep going down in price; not sure if I would stock up on them unless I got a great deal.
On skills, I'd learn how to build homes (carpentry, masonry, etc). Houses are not cheap!
I'd also recommend learning a lot about the climate you want to settle down in - soils, rainfall patterns, zone, etc. And then learn about all the plants you want to grow there, including their PH, organic matter, water, and light preferences. I've only scratched the surface myself, in terms of understanding about 10-20 trees and cover crops that will be useful in my area.
We too are seeking members &(or) trying to raise enough funds to purchase a large parcel of land for community type living. Both of us are carpenters with a wide range of skills & knowledge in a variety of fields. Been small scale homesteading for the past 6yrs. Have some animals, truck, trailer, tools, useful equipment, etc. My partner is 36 & I'm 27. Genuine, honest, hardworking people just seeking to do more with our time & talents.
We have a notebook full of plans & ideas to discuss with serious folks. We are not in debt, own our home, have some money saved, but finding it hard to find the right people willing or ready to take that leap.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or anyone who may read this & be interested in potential working with us.
What a fine vision. I'd say if things pan out, you'll be working on this for about ever - job security! <g> Here's my $.02, FWIW.
While I personally doubt many of the plans you consider will ever materialize (I would say that to anybody), they set a direction and talking back and forth a _lot_ and working up "plans" helps discover what each of you presents and feels about the future and your part in it. Don't be afraid of the hard questions - will a partner kill it for one of you; if children are on the horizon, how will medical needs be met; what each of you will contribute; what the exit strategy might be if there are unforeseen insurmountable problems. Details are hard to pin down ahead of time, but talking them over allows discovery, establishes direction and maybe brings up new and different slants. That's all pretty important because misunderstandings and disagreements down the road can sap a project pretty quick.
The other thing is, DO stuff now. Determine and execute small or even baby steps where you each carry some weight and _do_ it. Insist on moving forward. Don't wait on anything. There are material things to be done now - start actually doing them. As you go you'll begin see how each person develops on _this_ path (as opposed to past history), what your strengths and weaknesses are, how feelings solidify or change. Now is a much better time for that that later when you're waist deep in big buck$. Executing doable but slightly challenging projects now is how you learn about the team.
Oh, and JIC, not to forget, the "partners" (SO's) really have to be there in the thick of it. Right now and always. I doubt seriously whether a world vision like you're considering can succeed w/out the full and active participation of everybody involved.
Lastly, time matters. Face it head on. If _the_ plan isn't working on any reasonable, plausible, schedule, prepare yourself to change it, change your expectations, change your relationships, search in other ways, cast a wider net... Maybe even walk away in order to get and keep moving while your energy, hopes, health, etc have a head of steam . Many ways to move - marathons, sprints, jogs, walks - and rest stops can be a _very_ good idea, necessary, even. But. To proceed under our own helm, we need, on the whole, to keep moving. Somebody once said God gave us the issue of time, including deadlines, in order to emphatically encourage us to make decisions, act, move. Not everybody is always ready, but the river keeps flowing...
It's great to hear of your startup. Best luck to you all on this really hopeful endeavor!