Do You Have The Green Acres Syndrome?

Green Acres, a classic 1960’s TV show, tells the story of Eddie Albert (Mr. Douglas) and Eva Gabor (Mrs. Douglas). To the joy of Mr. Douglas and the disdain of the Mrs., they moved from New York City to a country farm. Anyone over the age of 45 can likely recite the lyrics to the catchy little tune that opened the show:


Green acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out,
so far and wide
Keep Manhattan,
just give me that countryside.

New York
is where I’d rather stay
I get allergic smelling hay
I just adore a penthouse view
Darling, I love you,
but give me Park Avenue

The Chores….The Stores….Fresh Air….Times Square

You are my wife.  Goodbye, city life.

Green Acres, we are there!


Did you find yourself singing along with the lyrics, even if only in your head?  (I think I know the answer.)  If you don’t know the song, or if you just want a trip down memory lane, click on the picture below to view the memorable opening to Green Acres.  I pulled the video from YouTube, which claims this video is in the public domain, so I’m taking their word for it:

green-acres-you-tube

There’s something about that song that just penetrates the brain (trust me, I know.  I had to watch that opening scene several times while putting together this post, and I just CAN’T get that song out of my head).

What Does Green Acres Have To Do With Retirement?

Why, you may ask, am I writing about Green Acres in a blog about retirement?

In hind-site, I realize the lovable Green Acres couple were trendsetters.  They paved the way for many of today’s “downsized focused, get out of the city, and enjoy life” Financial Independence seekers.  (Don’t believe me?  Check out one of my favorite bloggers, The Frugalwoods, as they blog about their move from Boston to a 66-acre farm in Vermont.  It’s a fantastic blog, and often features their young daughter (Babywoods) and their dog (Frugal Hound). Good stuff, this.

the-frugalwoods
The Frugal Woods – living a modern day Green Acres reality  (source:  www.frugalwoods.com)

Hey Frugalwoods, have you ever thought about how much your life mirrors Green Acres?  You need to buy a pig and name him Arnold!

Or, how about the Bumfuzzles?  They’re “living small, and venturing wide” in their 1968 International Travelall, pulling a 1966 Airstream Safari and hauling their two wonderful children along.  There’s is a “visual blog”, with incredible photography telling the story of their Green Acres lifestyle.

bumfuzzle
The Bumfuzzle expedition. Source: www.bumfuzzle.com

So, I stand firm on my thesis that the Douglas family were simply trendsetters, and any of us with a focus can follow their steps to the Green Acres lifestyle of our dreams.

The Green Acres Syndrome

My wife and I suffer from The Green Acres Syndrome.  I suspect many of you do, as well.  It’s a syndrome I may have just “invented” for the sake of today’s article (yeah, sometimes my mind goes to strange places).  However, I think there may be something to it.  Perhaps The Green Acres Syndrome is real, but not yet diagnosed?

Symptoms Of The Green Acres Syndrome

Following are a few of the symptoms associated with The Green Acres Syndrome (if you have any of these, please do not tell your Doctor that you’ve self diagnosed yourself based on reading “something on the internet”).

  • A strong urge to leave “city life”, or the job, or the suburban estate,  behind.
  • A yearning for simplicity.
  • A desire to return to the basics of life.
  • A recognition that money doesn’t lead to happiness.
  • Realizing what’s important, and not wanting any regrets on your deathbed
  • Thoughts about moving to the country (or mountains, or beach, or Costa Rica).
  • A tug on your heart when you drive through the countryside and see “the perfect” farm property.
  • An irresistible urge to pick up real estate pamphlets when you’re on vacation in the “ideal” spot.
  • A droning frustration during your daily commute, and realizing there’s more to life than this.
  • Daydreams about “What if we just…..”
The Green Acres Syndrome Can Be Serious. Don't overlook the symptoms. Click To Tweet

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What To Do If You Have The Green Acres Syndrome

First, don’t panic.  It’s a common syndrome, and rarely fatal.

If affected by The Syndrome, you need to do some serious thinking.  You need to prioritize.  If it really is your dream to “head out to the farm”, you’ve got some work to do.

You Need A Plan.

Spend some time developing a timeline to turn your dream into a reality.  Focus on both the financial and non-financial aspects of your dream.  Can you turn a “side hustle” into a stable enough income to allow you to survive? If your job doesn’t allow tele-commuting, is there another job you should pursue?  Can you get aggressive and put yourself in a position to retire early?  Run your numbers to determine when you can retire. If you are going to get serious about this, it’s time to get serious about this.

What We’re Doing About Our Syndrome

My wife and I have been under treatment for our Green Acres Syndrome for several years.  As we entered “The Red Zone” (+/- 5 years of retirement), we started getting serious with our plan.  We laid out a plan to achieve early retirement, and have been intentional in our steps.  After selling our house in 7 days,  we had no choice but to get aggressive and downsize away all of our stuff in 24 hours.

This entire blog is, in some way,  about our treatment for Green Acres Syndrome.

My wife and I have The Green Acres Syndrome. Here's what we're doing about it. Click To Tweet

If my wife and I can self-administer our treatment, you can do the same for your Syndrome.  You just need to take responsibility for your future, and get intentional about the next steps you take in your life.

Our Green Acres

As I wrote about at the time, we recently sold our “City House” and moved to the mountains.  Our Plan Was Wrong, but we made adjustments and continued moving toward our Green Acres.  In March of this year, we officially relocated and now call the North Georgia mountains “Home”.

moving-in-to-our-cabin
Taken on Mar 19, 2016, the day we moved into our Green Acres

We took the proceeds from the sale of our primary residence, and paid off the cabin’s mortgage.  As of April 12, we became officially “Debt Free”!  What a great feeling, and all part of the plan.

Unfortunately, I still have to work “In The City”, and I’m not yet able to live at the cabin full time (know your numbers, and don’t retire until the numbers say you can).  We knew we’d have a “transition period” where I would need to get a small city apartment near my work.  I head down on Monday morning, and try to return Thursday night.  Most weeks I can make that happen, some weeks I cannot.  My better half stays in the mountains full time, caring for our 4 dogs, 1 cat, and her Mom (who’s now living in a nursing home a few miles from our cabin).

Arnold The Pig

No Green Acre’s story would be complete without a pig.  Ours is no exception.  Ironically, my wife and I had a “Green Acres” experience with a pig just this past weekend.  We were on our way home from our volunteer work at Tri-State Pet Rescue when we saw a man on a bike attempting to keep a pig from wandering onto the country road near our house.

pig

We rolled down our window and asked if he needed some help, then jumped out of our car and helped corral the wayward pig off the road, and up the driveway of a nearby farm.  Shortly after this picture was taken, two of the farmer’s sons came out to help, and the pig was safely returned to his pen.  Ah, a true Green Acres moment.

Our “weekend living in the mountains” was all part of our Green Acres Syndrome Treatment Plan.  We knew that we’d have to work through a transition, and we’ll keep working the plan until we can live in the mountains together full time.  For now, I keep myself busy through this period, and attempt to keep the “Teeter Totter Of Life” tilted in favor of time in the mountains vs. time in my City Apartment. It’s not perfect, but it’s a sacrifice we realized would be required, and we built it into our plan.  When I’m at work, I focus on work.  When I’m at the cabin, my wife and I are enjoying our new retirement town, volunteering with local charities, getting involved in a church, building new friendships in the community, and rescuing wayward pigs.

image
Our Green Acres

We’re making good progress on curing our Green Acres Syndrome, and are confident the symptoms will be eliminated in due course.  We have a “countdown calendar” we’ve started (thanks for the idea, FreedomIsGroovy!), and we’re continuing to work the plan.

How about you?  Have you taken responsibility for the direction of your life?  Do you have a plan?

Conclusion

If you’re suffering from the symptons of The Green Acres Syndrome, pay attention.  Think about what you want out of your limited time here on earth.  Develop a plan, and be intentional in the steps you’re taking as you transition into retirement. There may be a few sacrifices along the way, but that’s ok.  Recognize them as you build your plan, and agree on the steps required.  Take the steps now to insure the highest probability of success when you launch into retirement.

If you decide it’s what you want, you can get there.

Be persistent, and soon you will be enjoying your own Green Acres, whatever that looks like to you.

 

19 comments

  1. You realize, of course, the acronym for this? So yes, I’ve got GAS.

    That was some pig adventure. Handsome fella! …I’d move to Montana in a heartbeat. That’s my Green Acres. All photos of MT tug on my heart.

    The cabin looks great! Nice hearing about your generator and water backup plans when we talked last night.

    1. “GAS” – Now THAT’S FUNNY! Yes, I’ve got GAS, too. Great talking with you last night, congrats on DAY 1 OF RETIREMENT! (hmmmm, potentially my next blog post!?). I’m with you on Montana, my wife and I LOVE it out there, and have always dreamed of moving to Flathead Lake / Kalispell area. Near Glacier National Park, great town, nice lake. It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings!

    1. I really like her site, but didn’t know she lives in Flathead Valley! Small world! (Gorgeous place, now that you’re retired you’ll have to check it out!!)

  2. So much of this hits HOME, if you know what I mean.

    You got me thinking Fritz about the great Tom Jones classic ” Green, green grass of home”.

    As you know, we’ll be leaving our commute, suburban home and increasingly frustrating jobs in less than 2 years to relocate to our mountain home in northern New England. It is a home we call HOME already. We spend three weekends out of four up there, public holidays and nearly every vacation period. We’ll be sad to leave our current home with so many memories of our life together and raising the boys but much fun awaits us in the mountains.

    Our plan is made, the wheels are in motion and ain’t nothing gonna stop the PIE wagon from headin’ on out.

    1. Mr Pie, I still find it amazing how much we share in common! Parallel paths, my friend. Parallel paths. I’ll race you to the finish line!

  3. Fun post – and a great message! I think many might be afflicted by the Syndrome, and it seems like the only cure is to give in and get life in order already! (Or maybe more cowbell. That also cures stuff.)

    I’ve never personally been too attracted to farms, which seem like way too much work, but I’ve endured many of the other Green Acres symptoms you identify…and am happy to report being cured. No cowbell necessary.

    Thanks for the fun read, and congrats on being so close to curing that nasty case of GAS you’ve got. 🙂

    1. Hey, as a guy with an MBA from a Top 5 school, who has had his info presented in front of the Supreme Court, your words carry weight!! I’d be interested in how your “cured” your GAS? Thanks for the input on my blog, and good luck with yours!!

  4. Too funny – and too real!!
    We have lived on 25 acres +/- for the last 23 years. Raise goats (breeding pair of livestock) as the government penalizes you for GAS, and have horses.
    Our retirement plans are to downsize as we now have raised the kids in a wonderful setting and want to simplify. The only problem being; where do you go from here?!? Can’t return to a cookie neighborhood……
    Great article!

    1. 25 Acres….every GAS sufferers dream!! Good for you that you were able to enjoy your farm for 2+ decards, I can understand your desire to downsize. You do, indeed, have a dilemma with regards to what to do next! When you’ve already lived the dream, what do you do for an encore? Keep us posted, sincerely interested in what you decide!

  5. I do think there is a LOT of idealizing country life these days. Including lots of people dreaming of moving “back” to the farm who’ve never so much as grown a vegetable. 😉 But I also understand it, and just encourage folks to take a serious trial run before committing to such a big change. All of that said, we moved from the city to the mountains five years ago and completely love it — but we’re not off grid, hours from civilization or anything like that. We live in a small town but still have access to big city things within a few hours, and that makes a huge difference for us in a good way! Also, no pigs in our mountain town. 😉

  6. “Think about what you want out of your limited time here on earth. Develop a plan, and be intentional in the steps you’re taking as you transition into retirement.” Indeed. Very well stated, my friend. I absolutely believe success, however someone defines it, can only be achieved with a plan that is well designed and managed.

    1. Thanks, James. I enjoy your work, and appreciate your engagement with my site. I agree, “success…can only be achieved with a plan”. Words of wisdom, from an intelligent man. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. My wife has an extreme case of GAS. She wants to leave city life so bad she can taste it. She wants to move to a slower pace of life and raise chickens and goats. I’m a bit resistant as I’m not sure I want to be a goat farmer just yet. But thank you for sharing your thoughts and it’s nice to know my wife isn’t the only that fantasizes 🙂

  8. Well, there you go. I finally have an actual diagnosis for this “illness” I’ve been inflicted with for all this time. For me, it was Costa Rica… and then, as you well know, the mountains reeled me in and refused to let go. We, like you, are on a mission for the only prescription that will cure this affliction (see how I rhymed there, Fritz? ) Great post. And glad to know that we’ll be sharing the same mountain air with neighbors like you and Jackie when we both find ourselves waking every day to those beautiful “green acres.”

  9. On the other hand, I think people sometimes romanticize things too much, thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. I grew up in a popular vacation spot, where many people have told me they would love to live. They always ask why I ever left or how great it must be to live there. I constantly see people posting online asking about how they want to get away from it all and move to this town. All they see is great weather, beautiful scenery and outdoor activities, but they ignore the overcrowding/traffic, crumbling infrastructure, high cost of living, poor political climate, poor education system, welfare and subpar living standards for many, etc. A lot of people move there only to leave a few years later.

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