The minute you decide to move to the country, you know your life is going to change.  With big dreams of organic gardens and fresh, GMO-free eggs, your children exploring ponds and fields while you relax on the porch with a cup of tea after a long day of gardening, you’re excited about what’s to come.  And you should be.

But there’s something else you need to consider. 

If you’ve lived in the city most of your life, or even just for awhile, the move to or back to the country doesn’t come without a time of transition… sometimes a painful one.  I’ll use my own experience as a case in point:  the first few months here I barely slept, fearful of being alone with my young son at the end of a road with no other homes nearby.  Every crack outside in the dark caused my heart to jump.  Every car going by late at night was a potential intruder.  Walking out to the car in the dark required a flashlight and a BIG voice.

Needless to say, I was tired a lot… and therefore grumpy – all while still having to commute to the city for my job.  I’m thinking maybe I wasn’t a very nice person during that time…

Now, I got over all those things eventually, and after about 6 months we were pretty comfortable with all the new sounds and experiences, but it was definitely a transition.  And we didn’t even have to get to know a new community, as I’d grown up here and it felt familiar – moving to a brand new town where I knew no one would have added a whole other layer of ‘getting used to it’.

And of course, then came the power outages, downed trees, crazed squirrels that kept us awake at night for months on end…

Why doesn’t anyone talk about this?

With all the magazines and books out there on the topic of modern homesteading and rural living, you rarely see or hear stories about that transition time, the period when you’re trying to get used to everything, when you’re possibly frustrated, confused, and depending on your situation, pretty lonely.  It can be an incredibly isolating and disappointing experience – I’ve heard of more than a few people who packed it in and headed back to the city when their rosy dream didn’t quite play out in reality.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d ask the kind folks on our Facebook page what their toughest adjustment was when they moved to a rural area.  I think you’ll find their answers enlightening – they include a lot of things we never had to deal with, and I never would have thought of…

“For those of you already living in the country (and who moved from the city), what would you say has been the toughest adjustment?”

  • “For me it’s the mice. Many more mice get in than in an urban area.”
  • “No pizza delivery!”
  • “Scheduling my meals so that I only have to make one trip to the groceries a week and that’s on Sundays when we go to town for Mass.”
  • “The ‘goat path’ we have for a road has been my hardest adjustment. Has beat up more than 1 vehicle. During ice/snow events we are stuck.”
  • “No high speed DSL.”
  • “Moved from Nashville, TN (where I had a stimulating career) to rural Ohio on the farm. Sometimes I miss the fun of music, shows, house concert parties, always meeting new interesting people- but I always miss my friends- the creative support and long talks over wine. In the country- the friendships are just different.”
  • “Not having your next door neighbor living next to you.”
  • “Keeping warm. Moved into this 80 year old wee house in the middle of nowhere just after Christmas. The geothermal heat/AC system is shot (knew when I bought but the price was right) and a new unit is $10,000 which I can’t afford til the city house is sold so electric baseboard heaters for now ($$$$ kaching) plus there’s no heat at all in my bedroom or office. Attic insulation R50 but nothing in the crawl space. Just had that foamed and it makes a big difference.”
  • “Living with the fact that when the power goes out… so does the water from the well. No big deal we can carry water from the spring, but it is huge inconvenience.”
  • “Learning how to fix things. Trades people are few and far between out here and can pick and choose their jobs. Not many want to come out here in the boonies and if they do they charge you a premium. Learning how to fix things ourselves has been tough but incredibly rewarding.”
  • “Ways not having enough time to do all we want in the country, too many ideas and not enough time to do them all.”
  • “We love in Maine and I think one huge thing people under estimate is time…drive time if you need to pick up something at the store.”
  • “Since my husband travels a lot and we are a good 20 miles or so from the shops, the two biggest adjustments for me have been learning how to plan my day as a disabled person with limited to no access to immediate transportation and getting to know the local emergency personnel and where the neighbors who can help live.”
  • “Learning who we could trust. Rebuilding the reliable network of tradespeople who do the things we can’t.”
  • “Cell phone reception sucks where I am. I chose to cut corners on my budget got rid of the land line. Love to drive so distance no problem. I work in a grocery store so no problem there. Love the peace and quiet. No traffic. No traffic lights either. The way life should be!”
  • “Trash is a problem. I was used to just taking it to the curb. Now I have to tote, burn and still have stuff I don’t know what to do with.”
  • “Making due with what you have….when its 2 1/2 hours to get anything to fix something…”
  • “Er, how do I say this nicely….people being all up in your business. Yeah, that’s been the biggest adjustment.”
  • “10 yrs ago, the hardest thing for me to adjust was the mud room, literally covered with dirt and mud everyday. Dirt drives me crazy, but much better now.”
  • “Not having “take-out” as an option when I just don’t want to cook was a pretty hard adjustment, but it just made me plan meals better. I wouldn’t change the small-town atmosphere we love here for the concrete jungle we escaped years ago, no matter how many conveniences we would have there!”
  • “Making new friends.”
  • “Small towns roll up the sidewalks at dark. but you learn to adjust and slow down.”
  • “For me, its been a physical challenge that I didn’t fully anticipate. The transition from working at a desk behind a computer, transitioning to the physical strain required on the farm…not to be underestimated.”
  • “Not being able to just “run to the store”, whether for a missing ingredient or when a fix-it project hits a snag.”
  • “The hardest thing for me was getting used to remembering to get everything I needed from the store. The store was no longer 1 mile away – it was 20 and not practical to rush back for 1-2 items. And getting used to life without fast food. I went to town once just for a cheeseburger and my husband had to remind me that it was time to learn how to cook at home Its been 11 years here and sometimes it is still hard to organize my day just right to get it all down but at least I no longer have to make special trips.”
  • “Our lifestyle was such a huge transition for some of our friends that they are no longer our friends. It also takes time to be accepted into a new community and develop new friendships and that can sometimes be a lonely road for awhile until you start making connections.”
  • “I live in a small community, the only way out is by plane or boat so we are isolated. Specialists means a trip out of town or being flown out air ambulance (20 min to Vancouver , bc) shipping costs have to be tacked on to food ect. So things can be more expensive and limited selection, but like someone said earlier, the pads are dead after nine except for the critters.”

And this one, which is so tragic, and an issue many of us never think about when looking for a new community to call home:

  • “The very worst adjustment has been the lack of emergency services – it took a very long time (what seems like eternity) for the ambulance to get to our house when my son collapsed. He was eventually air lifted to the nearest big city. He passed away three days later.”

The Wrap-up

As you can see, there are a lot of things our fellow modern homesteaders either didn’t expect, found minor inconveniences, or were major, life changing events.  So as you plan your move to the country, take a look at this list and try to answer the question, “How would I handle this?”.

I’ve also put together a list of some of my previous articles on the topic of ‘preparing for living in the country’ that I hope you’ll find useful:

If you’ve already moved from city to country, what was your toughest adjustment?  Please let us know in the comments below – you never know who you’ll help!

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