There are so many reasons why people like us ponder the decision of urban vs rural life. Emergency preparedness, peace and quiet, becoming more self sufficient in food… all are quoted as reasons people want to ditch the city and move to the boondocks.
As we talked about in Part I, emergency preparedness seems to be the driving force behind many decisions and dreams to move to a rural area. But there are so many other reasons. Here are a few of ours…
Peace and Quiet
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the relative quiet that comes from living in the forest. The country isn’t dead quiet, of course – the city noises are just replaced with others, but these ones don’t keep me awake at night (at least not usually). The log sort down the road often runs all night, so there’s the sounds of back-up beepers, big machinery and the odd log barge creating what sounds like an earthquake (or a giant explosion), but it’s muffled and, well, usually not that unpleasant. There’s the sound of chainsaws in the distance, and my dad’s sawmill down the hill… and the woodworking noise of the guy who has his carpentry shop on the property. As for traffic, we’ve got the staff working at the log sort and log home builder arriving at work at 6:30 am and leaving at 4:00 pm, and of course the assortment of logging trucks that keep them supplied.
Then there are the noises we came to hear – the ravens and owls and elk, the songbirds and the wind, and now, our chickens clucking and chattering.
So no, it’s not totally quiet – if we wanted that, we should have moved much further away from ‘civilization’, but compared to the relentless 24/7 traffic, emergency vehicles and loud neighbours we experienced in the city, I’ll take the chainsaws any day. Urban vs rural? For us, rural wins, hands down.
Reduced Cost of Living
To say we’re living much inexpensively here would be an understatement. Sure, the internet connection is about 3 times what I’d pay elsewhere, and we’re obviously not within walking distance to any stores (or friends), but that’s more than made up for by the fact we aren’t always being pressured to buy the newest clothing trends or furniture, and we own the property, so costs on that front are about nil, save for taxes and maintenance.
Now, if you’re buying a property, obviously you might have a mortgage payment and the costs of fixing up an old house or building a new one, installing systems and outbuildings, but all in all, day by day, rural living is considerably less expensive than living in the city, if for no other reason than you and your family aren’t being bombarded with advertising every moment of every day. Not having to keep up with the Jones’ is a stress relief all in itself!
Being Surrounded by Nature
My son is a nature boy – always has been. So watching his only exposure to wild creatures be the wood bugs and ants in the courtyard of our townhouse and the odd bird that winged its way in (usually a crow) saddened me greatly. This was a huge push for me to move him somewhere where he could get outside and get dirty without worrying about stepping in dog crap or being impaled by hypodermic needles – both of which were everywhere in our upper-middle class North Vancouver neighbourhood. So watching him now, outside in all weather, exploring and experiencing the creatures we share our 7 acres with really makes me happy. He’s pretty happy too!
The benefits I’ve seen are multifold: increased confidence being on his own, the ability to spend quality time alone without having to be ‘entertained’, health improvements, vast increases in knowledge about wild things and weather, an almost complete lack of desire for material things. While so many kids his age are drooling over the latest technology gizmo or flavor-of-the-moment pop star, he’s got absolutely no interest – except as it might apply to his love of making little documentaries about the things he’s finding and doing. He’s got friends and goes to school five days a week, so he’s far from isolated. And he gets to spend a tonne of time with his grandparents, something I was never lucky enough to do – at least not in any ‘regular’ way.
So yes, the move has had a huge impact on his whole being. And it hasn’t been too bad for me, either. Just the reduction in noise alone has dropped my stress level dramatically. And while no one would ever accuse me of being ‘laid-back’, I’ve learned to let a lot of things go. Sure I’ll always be a recovering Type A, but at least I’m much happier doing it (most days, anyway… ;). There’s just something about waking up to bird song and looking out over trees instead of ambulances and the neighbour’s bedroom window that will do that to you.
The John Walton Factor
You know those guys who can do just about anything? Like Pa in Little House on the Prairie or John Walton from The Waltons? That’s what I want for my son as he grows up. To be intimately connected to the land and its rhythms, creatures and transitions. To be involved in community and family. To know what it’s like to work hard, be uncomfortable every once in awhile, and care for others.
As you can imagine, it’s pretty difficult, though not impossible, to get that in the city.
If he chooses, I want him to be able to build things and fix things and survive in the forest if he had to. I want him to be comfortable being outdoors. I want him to live without fear of the things so many children who live in the city are afraid of. Mostly, I want him to know himself, deeply, and unfettered by the constant whir of pop media and what it says we should and shouldn’t be/like/do. What a freedom it would be to grow up without that sort of pressure.
Whether he embraces this or not remains to be seen, but so far, the things he’s learning, be it how to play flute and knit at his school, how to fix an electric fence and cut lumber with his grandpa, or how to create videos on my iPhone, his experience with life is far richer than it ever would have been living in our townhouse. For that, I am very thankful.
We all have our own reasons for living where we do, and for those of us with dreams of country living, those reasons are even more varied. Mine will be different from yours, though some may overlap. Ultimately, I think most of us are looking for more independence, and the ability to be more self-reliant, while at the same time connecting with like-minded people.
If you’re yearning to move to the city, or you’ve already moved – or maybe you never left – we’d love to hear what it is about country living that you love, or imagine that you’d love, in the comments below!