Rural Living Without a Drivers Licence

Often when I tell people about my plans to move to the country I am met with “So you’re finally going to get a drivers licence then, Pavel?” My answer is always the same, “Nope. I am going to make sound decisions to prevent the need”.

All credits to Russ Roca.

People have a tendency to put house and land before infrastructure. Governments and councils literally do this with brownfield developments – they build a new McMansionville and then realise that the infrastructure is insufficient. Well, this is true with the car-centric developments that are going on in my part of Australia.

When it comes to buying or renting, people care more about the size of bedrooms and the appliances in the kitchen than how they are going to get to work, where the shops and doctors surgery are, and whether there is fast broadband internet available. I use to work for an internet service provider and the amount of ADSL relocation requests that would come through from people that had no idea about the status of their new address was astounding. It wasn’t something they considered before they bought their house and it was something they learnt to regret later on – as they settled into their dream house on 500ha that could get laggy satellite at best.

I’m a planner. A methodical planner. Spreadsheets, email and the interwebz are my best friend. As soon as I find a block I am interested in I check three things:

1. Distance from the nearest store, post office and pub.
2. Distance from a public transport link.
3. Availability of broadband.

Actually, this isn’t a checklist I have reserved for just this move, it’s been important every time I have moved. You see, I don’t have the ability to just jump in a car and drive as far as is required to get to places I need to go. In all honestly, I don’t really care for that convenience. I love slow transport – the air (or rain!) in my face, the pain in my legs, the satisfaction that I am getting from A to B under my own steam; my fuel a handful of almonds and a couple of dates. It’s amazing what you can fit into a couple of pannier bags.

“But what about building supplies and bigger items? How are you going to get them from the hardware store, 20km away, to your tiny house, Pavel?” I hear you ask. And thanks for asking. From my experience with the Australian character, a note on the bulletin board outside the village store or pub, with an offer of a crisp-fifty and perhaps a dozen farm fresh eggs, is unlikely to go ignored. And, will be a lot cheaper than running a car in the long term. Or why not ask the chap at the store if he’ll deliver for a fee? We drive cars as a matter of independence as though we’re afraid to ask for assistance. I’m happy to ask for help. But for the most part I wish to be independent – of a petrol engine especially.

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