Country Life

small_town A buddy of mine moved out to the country a few years ago.  It’s not country like Mayberry, RFD country, but it’s definitely a less urban setting than where he’d live most of his life prior.  After he had to sell his house earlier this year, he moved into an even more rural area, a little sleepy burg of less than 10,000 people.  In this area, houses which are about a third the cost of the median home where I live are considered big, expensive estates.

Since his move, he’s been trying to get me to relocate.  Tonight I started to think about the proposition for the first time in any seriousness.  He’s doing pretty well for himself now, and his fiancée – who makes less money than I do when I’m working, or when I last worked, at least – makes a very handsome living in this sort of setting.

The lights and noise around here are becoming a bother to me.  I don’t necessarily want to have to live on (and work!) a farm, but farm living has its appeal in many ways.  I’ve begun to think seriously about moving to an area where the cost of living is a bit easier, the incomes required lower, and the housing costs still reasonable.  In this area, there’s enough affluence and professional athletes to make the housing costs ridiculous, the taxation of this county is pretty high for property, and while things aren’t as expensive here as in The Big City and its enshrouding county, they’re high enough.  It’s more reasonable to live here than where I have in the past, but the appeal of that easy, small-town countrified life holds a lot of draw for me, especially as I get older.

I don’t see a ranch or farm anywhere in my near future, and I still think it’d be nice to have neighbors and friends within reaching distance for some reason, but the idea of a tiny little town and being in a place where noise and traffic haven’t yet reached is … well, really frickin’ cool.

I thought I was a city boy once, but I’ve changed my view on that over time.  The older I get the fewer people I want around me.  Most times I’m content with my wife and children.  And when I’m not content with that, I want to be all by my lonesome.  So right now, I’ve got all the comp’ny I need.  But I’d love to go to sleep at night without the constant drag of sound on my ears, the whine of the interstate, or the roar of the too-near thoroughfare.  I’d love to hear the breeze rustle through the grass, or listen to the crackle of a fire in a fireplace without the heavier drone of the dishwasher, the furnace blower, the refrigerator compressor, the water heater blasting … I want to be able to have all of that be somewhere else, muted and toned down, gagged.  I want these comfortable autumn nights to be affairs where I can open the windows without fear, and without the dread of the din of the outside crashing in an audible tsunami around me.

For now, I’m stuck, and this isn’t the worst area in which I could live.  But sometimes, I ache for the simplicity and quiet of the rural setting.  More than the urban sprawl of single family dwellings which passes for “suburbia” now, and less than a remote farm where isolation can be a hazard.  But something where I can’t hear my neighbors or have to deal with the sounds of cars, voices, planes, trains, buzzing electric wires, cascading sounds of life in the 21st century.

How about you?  Are you a city or suburb dweller?  A ruralite at heart?  What’s your preference, and why?


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15 thoughts on “Country Life

  1. We have lived in our current home for about 17 years. Our town’s current population is right around 26,000. It’s nice. We almost always run into someone we know when we go to the store. We know and spend time with neighbors. When any friends come into town they know right where to find us. Still, there is something attractive to me about change. I would love to live in the city. Hear the bustle, have a corner coffee shop in walking distance, and be surrounded by energy. Or maybe a quiet cabin in the mountains. Just far enough off the beaten path that I need a 4×4. A different type of noise – streams, wind, and wildlife. I don’t really feel a need to run from what I have but I do like the call to a new adventure.

    The mountain cabin sounds really nice, and where you live now sounds sort of like the nearest “big town” where my friend lives. I think I’d miss having 24-hour grocery stores and fast food restaurants, but that’s really the only thing I’d miss. I lived in The Big City for a while when I first moved here. I didn’t like it, but that’s probably because of THIS big city as much as not being a city kid. Now, though, I just want the quiet. 🙂

  2. Cliche, I know, but it does seem the grass is always greener …

    Maybe sometimes it IS greener, no? 😉

    I’m city born and bred, and now live in a smaller city, but a city nonetheless, and yet I am a country girl in heart. Or a cabin in the woods girl, to be more precise. The hills, the woods, the quiet all call to me … as long as there’s internet access. 🙂

    Yeah, I remember how much I wanted out of the valley region in NoCal. I’d have loved to get either FARTHER north, nearer OR, or into the foothills of the Sierras. North coast would’ve been nice too, but hey — who’s got THAT kind of money? 😉

    Then again, I do not relish the idea of snakes curled up in the laundry hamper.

    For me it’s bugs. Insects. I don’t know about snakes, but anything with more than four legs? No thanks.

  3. Ha! City boy, we ruralites would sick our pet spiders on you and you’d run back to your precious apartment living! lol just kidding. I live in a town with 6,000 or so, so let me give you a few details about this particular town, which may or may not represent what you encounter in a small town in your state.

    Pff. That’s why cowboy boots are so danged pointy, ain’t it? Killin’ spiders in the corners?

    We just got a McDonald’s! And the drive-thru is open 24/7! Before that our fast-food choices were Sonic or Taco Mayo, but we also have restaurants in the form of diner, Chinese, Mexican, barbecue, and Italian. We have a historic hotel, an active library, an acupuncturist, a gym, a few gas stations, and a tiny grocery store. It’s a nice, quiet life, where I rarely lock the doors when I go out, and we enjoy a big yard and a low cost of living.

    That sounds pretty cool. I can live without the McD’s, but if it’s the only 24/7 thing going, I’d rather have it than not. And what? — no Wally World? You kiddin’ me? How’d they miss you?

    However…culture and the arts are hard to find unless we drive to the big city. Seeing people you know everywhere means you have to talk to people everywhere you go. In Oklahoma, we have a piss-poor public transportation system so a decent vehicle is a must, since all the good jobs are in the next big town.

    I wouldn’t want to live without a car anyway. You never know. (“Decent” is relative, by the way.) I don’t mind having to chat with people when I go out — which ain’t often, mind ya — and I’m not “cultured” anyway, so I’d not miss much. Sounds like a really nice place, frankly.

    But those are things one can adjust to. I’ve lived in a big city (big for OK, anyway, 400k maybe) a small city (30-40k), and a bunch of small towns, and I think I liked the small city best. Perfect blend of opportunity, cost of living, amenities. But I also think if you find a really good small town close to a larger one (like mine), you can get the best of both worlds.

    Yeah, the best of both worlds. That’s what I want. Why CAN’T I have it all, dammit?! 😉 Thanks for the insights, Sher. I don’t know how it reflects what goes on in these small towns I’m referring to here, but I do know the whole “talk to people everywhere you go” thing probably won’t fly here. 😦

    • I forgot to mention I also lived in the boondocks. Great to be so close to nature, but for daily life, that sucked rocks.

      Yeah, having to drive a hour to do anything — like basic grocery shopping or grabbing a bite to eat — would suck. There’s also the matter of cable, Internet access and pizza or Chinese delivery. Important matters all. 😉

      • Yeah, I forgot to mention the two pizza places we have, and the Dollar General and Family Dollar stores which sit right next to each other down town. 🙂 No Wally World, and I’m a bit surprised myself, but I guess that’s why we have 2 dollar stores.

        Yeah, I am too, and I guess that’s not a BAD thing. 😉 But they have the cheapest groceries. 🙂 Do those pizza places deliver?

          • Haha! There’s one on I-40, but it’s about a 20 minute drive. 10 miles, I think. I personally think a small Wal-Mart would do well in my town, but whatcha gonna do?

            • Phew! I thought for a minute there my sanity was paging me! LOL

              20 min isn’t too bad – we’re about 10/15 min away on either side of us. I think a Walmart probably would work well there where you are. A super one with groceries might do really well if all you have now is a tiny store. They tend to charge a lot more.

  4. I’ve always been a suburbs kind of guy — not like new-subdivision suburbs, but “small town within an hour’s drive of a big city” suburbs.

    My situation when I left NJ in 1990 was that I could move pretty much anywhere in the US that I wanted to, for a couple of years anyhow. I found a book called something like “Places Rated Almanac,” which scored every metropolitan area (something like 250 of them) on, I don’t know, a dozen different dimensions: cost of living, crime, arts & culture, sports, education, and so on. An index at the back rank-ordered them, which seemed like a convenient shortcut except for one thing: it gave every one of the scoring dimensions the same weight.

    So I laboriously transcribed all that freaking data into a spreadsheet. (I think it wasn’t Excel or even Lotus — whatever the Borland spreadsheet was. Quattro Pro?) For each of the categories, I added a column for “weight”: how important that category was to ME. E.g., I couldn’t care less if the metro area had a pro sports team, in any sport at all. (Current editions of the book/Web site probably let you do this without all the data entry, via enclosed CD maybe.)

    The moment just before I clicked the OK button to sort the data on my personally weighted scale was pretty thrilling. Expectation you could cut with a knife, etc.

    At the top of the list, unsurprisingly, was any place between Philadelphia and NYC. (I do love NJ.) So I put them aside. I also discounted any place further south than Virginia — HATE summertime heat and humidity, y’know, and love having four seasons, too. (The irony of my living in N. Florida now for 15 years is almost too much to imagine.) There were a few other things to consider: I really wanted it to be an adventure, for instance, which meant I wanted to live someplace where I knew nobody. I didn’t want to live anywhere where I couldn’t walk to most places, like a college campus (for the library), a market, the PO, maybe even a theater. Etc.

    Then I arbitrarily drew a line below the remaining top five places, and discounted anything below that line. And hit the road for several trips. As it happened, the place I settled on was just absolutely perfect, although it was below (but not by much) my arbitrary line. Which may make you wonder, as I did, whether all the data entry and angst had been worth it after all.

    I don’t recommend this level of OCDish decision-making. But it makes for an interesting story! (People are always entertained by stories of others’ neuroses. Heh.)

    This is true. Sounds like you put a lot of brain power into deciding where to live, and I can’t say that’s a bad thing. Honestly, it’s a big decision, why NOT take the time to do a lot of research and make a good choice?

  5. Right now, I love where I live. I live on the outskirts of a city of 100,000 people. The opposite end of my city borders Toronto, the nation’s most populous city. With that in mind, consider the following. I live down the street from 2 golf courses, a cemetary and some farms. Where I live is in a little valley, accessible only from one “major” thoroughfare. It’s very quiet. I am very undisturbed where I am. It is not a single house, but a neighbourhood of many houses, all bunched together. Not huge homes, not estate lots, just a quiet subdivision in the middle of nowhere.
    I LOVE IT!

    That SOUNDS awesome! That seems like the best of both worlds to me. 🙂

    Slowly, somewhere has been creeping up to my nowhere, but the position of my neighbourhood in this valley allows me to be surrounded by wooded greenspace.

    Well, that’s good.

    And yet, it is not a long drive to places. Work, play, civilization, all within a reasonable driving distance.

    This coming winter will bring my 11th year up there. I see no reason to leave. I’ve found that beautiful sweet spot for me. Now, if I can only get my parents to move out…

    Hey, if I lived with ya in a place like that, I wouldn’t leave either. 🙂

  6. Knyt

    City..born and raised…..relocated to the country..farms..horses….the air is fresher..less noise and better fruit and vegetables..the best way to live….the only way to live…..zman sends

    Hard to argue the appeal, though I could live without having to raise vegetables and horses. 🙂

  7. I am now sort of both. We live 30 miles outside of Wichita on 10 acres which makes for a quiet day-to-day with neighbors close enough to holler for if need be but far enough away that they aren’t right in your face.

    That’s the stuff, right there. 🙂

    Problem is, I hate Wichita and have the whole time we’ve lived in this area. I moved here from LA 32yrs ago and let me tell you that was one heck of a dose of culture shock!

    Oh, I can imagine!

    Daughter and SIL live in Liberty, MO which is technically part of Kansas City, MO and I much, much prefer there to here. There is more to do and more hustle ‘n bustle which is what I miss about LA, (besides the beach) and KC is a bit more like LA. If we moved up there I would like to be about like we are now, close enough to the large city to be able to get to with no problem yet far enough out in the boonies for it to be peaceful.

    Can’t say I’ve ever loved LA, but I can see how it would be hard to adjust to Wichita from there. 😉

  8. I grew up in the boondocks. My dad still loves it there, but after I’ve appreciated the sunset, I’m done. You know I live in Austin and you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming to live anywhere else. I’ve also lived in Indiana, Ohio, and Colorado, and Bulgaria. I liked each in some ways, but didn’t want to stay. It helps that I live in a nice neighborhood, too. I go to the same places and the owners know me. People are friendly. But I have friends who don’t like it here at all. A place speaks to you or it doesn’t.

    True enough. And where I live, definitely doesn’t speak to me. Well … okay, it DOES speak to me, but it’s a screaming, insulting, demeaning argument about how much we hate each other.

    I haven’t stopped by in a while. I’ve been crazed with projects, but I’m here!

    Not a problem! No pressure! And now with NaNoWriMo in the mix too, REALLY no pressure! Thanks for taking the time!

  9. For sure, small towns. NO TRAFFIC! 🙂
    I have traffic anger…I know, surprising, right? 🙂

    I get road rage too. Don’t feel alone. I’m only now at a point where I can keep myself from dreaming of driving a tank when I’m stuck in traffic.

  10. I live two miles out of a town with a population of 351. That is not a typo. We have 1 convenience store, a K-12 school (graduating class is less than 10 kids), a library, 2 bars, 3 restaurants, 2 motels, 1 mechanic, 1 hairdresser, and 5 churches (2 Baptist, 1 Mormon, 1 Episcopalian, 1 Catholic). I work 30 miles away in a town of less than 8,000 residents. Things get a little crazy in the summer with all the tourists, but during the winter it’s pretty quiet.

    Wow. Just wow. You win. THAT’S rural. Love the K-12 thing and FIVE churches for 351 people!

    The benefits of my small town: all kids get to participate in sports, low rent/housing, peace & quiet, everybody knows you.

    Well … that last can be good AND bad.

    The drawbacks of my small town: everybody knows you and your business, nothing to do, no jobs, the only people we hate more than each other are outsiders.

    Um … well. Guess moving there’s not a good idea, huh? This sort of explains the low population.

    I would shoot for the under 10,000 mark not the under 1,000 one. Small towns are small for a reason.

    Certainly that’s true! I don’t know if it’s universally true, but I ain’t gonna argue; never been in a place THAT small before.

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