Planning a fabulous new permaculture life abroad - people care tips

by Jo Holleran, Permaculture Association member

Jo Holleran is a permaculture practitioner, designer and Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design tutor. Newly located in Poitou-Charentes, France.

Planning a fabulous new permaculture life abroad? Here are some People Care tips for the transition…

Sometimes, wild dreaming reveals a vision of a permaculture paradise in a new country. There is so much potential, perhaps a lush food forest dripping with exotic fruits, an eco-renovation project for a fabulous home, eco-village living with like-minded people, a new cultural experience…

Equally, relocating abroad can place great demands on personal resilience. It can be hard going at first, at a time when we have made a break from so much that is familiar.

‘Fresh off the boat’ for the second time, these are some of my personal experiences and tips for the transition to an abundant new life abroad.

Integrate, don’t segregate

Make connections before arrivalIt feels so much better to be welcomed to a new home, to see a few familiar faces and to have others to turn to for help and to share the learning with. We can listen to our instincts with new friendships, they transcend any language barriers that may exist.

Keep in touch with the important people in your life
Our loved ones represent our support structure and our personal guild and we are equally important to them. Staying in touch links and involves family and friends so they can also be part of an exciting new future.

Design for integration

Successful integration into the local community is important for social fulfilment and is worthy of a design in its own right. There are so many exciting opportunities: attending local events; meeting key community figures; joining hobby groups; taking a language course; meeting the neighbours; chatting and listening in the bakery; volunteering locally; finding work, the list goes on!

It is good to observe and understand the local ‘grapevine.’ Used wisely, it can be a helpful communication tool.

Check-in regularly with your partner
In times of change, new skills, strengths, anxieties, ideas and priorities emerge as we tackle new things together. Regular check-ins provide the opportunity to re-align with each other.

Health and Wellbeing

Prioritise a suitable living space
If we plan to get cold, wet and muddy, it makes sense to plan to get warm, dry and clean again afterwards. Challenging living conditions are an energy drain and can contribute to health problems. The more efficiently we can perform basic functions and the better we are able to feed ourselves, then the more enjoyable the experience and the more time and energy we have available for other activities.

Plan for good health
When we are passionate about achieving our goals, it is easy to push ourselves beyond our physical, mental or emotional limits. Working with nature by listening closely to ourselves and keeping a personal observations diary and/or maintenance plan enables realistic goal setting. It can also help to identify the ‘tweak’ points before they become break points.

We need to establish our healthcare entitlements in our new country, identify any gaps and work out how to fill them. It is helpful to have a list of emergency numbers and some basic language by or stored in the phone in case of need.

Work/Life Balance

Set your own pace
Others may be working to their own agenda causing them to push for quick decisions or actions. We shouldn’t feel embarrassed about slowing things down if that’s what feels right for us.

Make time for leisure and hobbies
Many of us take on hugely demanding projects and it’s really easy to spend every waking moment working on them. We can refer back to our wild dreaming regularly and plan time out in the here and now to pursue our other interests.

Record your progress

As we look forward the task list can seem quite daunting. However, we can also look behind us to our achievements for encouragement. Recording progress in some way, either privately or within our guilds reminds us that we really are moving towards our vision.

Celebrate your achievements
There are so many different ways to celebrate both our own achievements and those of others, we can be really creative. Personally, I love to celebrate in simple ways, with friends, with food and with a toast.

So, here’s to your good health and to your new adventure!