James and Kimberly Van Der Beek Pose with Their 5 Kids (and 5 Dogs!) at 'Amazing' Texas Homestead

"We wanted to get the kids out of Los Angeles. We wanted to give them space and we wanted them to live in nature," James Van Der Beek tells Austin Life magazine

James Van Der Beek couldn't be happier having his family surrounded by nature.

The Dawson's Creek alum, 44, announced in September that he and his wife Kimberly were relocating their life from Los Angeles to Texas, and in a new cover story for Austin Life magazine, they pose with their five kids and their dogs (Windsor, Theo, Abel, Rocky and Sky) to talk about the big move.

James and Kimberly, who wed in 2010, share son Joshua, 9, and daughters Gwendolyn, 3, Emilia, 5, Annabel, 7, and Olivia, 10.

"We wanted to get the kids out of Los Angeles. We wanted to give them space and we wanted them to live in nature," James tells the magazine. "When we were flying here for our anniversary, I felt an energy to Austin. The energy was the same energy that I'd felt shooting Varsity Blues here when I was 21, and I realized that feeling wasn't just where I was in my career or the movie I was shooting, all of which were very exciting, but that the energy is the place. It was really cool to realize, 'Oh, I can go be there. We can drop in and bring our family to that.' "

Van Der Beeks
Laura Morsman Photography

Kimberly adds, "It's expansive and nature will hug you and heal you. We just had been through a crazy year with two late-term miscarriages and my body was still healing and it was hard for me to walk around at that point. I was still just a couple of months out of the hospital from my second one, so I was exhausted."

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.

"It felt like L.A. had kind of birthed us out and there was a real calling to move. It came from desire, it came from dreams, and by the time we left L.A. we were in a deep gratitude for everything it had given us, but Texas was saying, 'Here's what you need and we can provide this next layer for you,' " she adds.

"That was exactly what we needed. We needed a change of scene, we needed to be immersed in nature, we needed to heal our bodies, our hearts, our spirits."

James calls their Austin ranch "amazing" and "incredible," while Kimberly explains that it fulfills a lifelong dream of hers.

Van Der Beeks
Laura Morsman Photography

"I'm a farm girl at heart who had never lived out her dream. Nature was calling. I wanted to be immersed in nature, in trees and fields and the sky," she says. "We found this property and it's been like a dream come true."

"Everyone looks out for each other here," she says of the local atmosphere, as James adds, "I do really feel looked out for. And to be able to show that to our kids and how we help out and become part of that process, in addition to giving them room to run and ride, it's been amazing."

The scenic Austin Life photoshoot was styled by Stephanie Coultress O'Neill with clothes all from Estilo Boutique, with snapshots by Laura Morsman Photography.

The couple also offered parenting advice that they've learned with their big family.

"You're less precious and have more boundaries with each child," says Kimberly. "You realize boundaries are okay and if you keep them for yourself, kids learn to have them for themselves. And to be less precious. I think we really underestimate a child's ability to maneuver in the world, to climb a tree, to explore, to go through a discovery process of who they are."

Van Der Beeks
Laura Morsman Photography

"I'm also in a space where self-care is important, and that's a boundary I'm creating with the kids," she adds.

"Sometimes I need to take 10 minutes and show them how to self-care, whether it's laying down, reading a book or having a cup of tea."

Says James of his tips: "Be as careful as you need to be, not as careful as you can be."

Related Articles