I call this article “When You Get Here” for those whom are planning on moving or relocating to a rural area. It does have some hopeful connotation, as not everyone will be planning nor will everyone who is planning make it. Realistically you should be out of the cities already. Unfortunately, going off of census data from 1996 to 2014 the average U.S. urban population has been climbing from 78% to 81%. For Canada, it was 78% and now 82%. That just means there are more people in resource poor areas.
However, let’s assume that you are going to be moved properly, or by God’s grace you manage to get out in time. You are now new to an area, with your own prejudices and erroneous thoughts and behavior. You’re now mixed in with locals, who have their own prejudices, thoughts, and behavior as well as the benefit of numbers, rightly or wrongly possibly opposed to you and yours. This is not saying that all small communities are closed societies; it’s just that you must remember you are an outsider. If you think that being shunned online is bad, wait until you say something about somebody’s second cousin at the store. I come from rural living, and I will tell you that even though most people from the city think Deliverance was reality TV, the real reality is that most rural people have an attitude of “live and let live”. They do not give two flips what you do in your own time or home. Sure, they will talk among themselves, but when it comes down to it they would rather not get involved in your life. Do not take it personally. You might be interesting for a while, but unless you build a bunker or go waving a gun you will fade into the background soon enough.
If you insist that you know better, that will get around. Having new ideas is great. Most people love to try new things. Just be humble, if nobody adopts or listens to your ideas. Maybe it is that they have their own ways that have worked for generations and they do not see a reason to change, or more than likely they do not have the money to try. Realize that a lot of the time “new” means “new to you”, not “new from the store”. Also, flashing new toys around will just alienate you. We all know guys who sold their place in the city and moved to the country and bought all new stuff and love to show it off. They do not get very far. As a bonus, it just tells everyone who it is who has the nice things to take.
Listen to the locals. A good place is coffee row; all small towns have one somewhere. It is a good way to build rapport, as well as learn things about the area and the people. Again, do not tell them how to live their lives. You are the outsider. Many outsiders stay outsiders in the country, much like ex-patriots do in other countries. In a way, you are an immigrant. Sometimes the outsiders have large enough groups of friends that they are fine. Just remember that it is different rather than backwards or behind the times.
You can volunteer. People like that. However, like in the city, there will be people who take advantage of that and quite often you will hear that you can afford it anyways. Many people from the countryside see city people as monied. I know this is not true, but too many dry pavement cowboys seem to prove this point. Flashing cash is just as bad in the country as in the city. The only difference is that we most likely will not mug you. We’ll just ask you to buy dinner or coffee or whatever every time you are around.
Most likely you will not be friends with a real farmer. They are too busy trying to keep things afloat to be bothered with you, unless you are selling them something or buying something from them. Smaller hobby farmers or semi-retired people are great people to have as friends. You can learn a lot more from them than any chat group, and usually they will love to have an extra hand or just to show you how things are really done. Just be careful of getting sucked into the morning coffee break. When it becomes lunch, you know you are talking too long.
As for helping, remember that you know nothing. This is especially important if you are coming to somebody out of the blue in a bad situation. Follow instructions. You may have a fantasy of taking some post apocalyptic role of guarding a farm or business with a fancy rifle, but more than likely if you come begging you are going to be doing the work that the farmer does not want to do himself. Too proud to fork manure? Move along. Think you will move up in a week? This is not a McJob. My best advice for TEOTWAWKI is to buy yourself and your family work gloves. Stock up, and buy insulated ones too. Water will still need to be pulled out of the dugout with pails in the winter. Unless you have your own place, if you take charity you will be earning it, if you are healthy.
If you are one of those guys who always has a hangnail or a sprained whatever, good luck. You will grow out of that, because if you don’t nobody is going to work for you.
Always, always, always keep your word. This is not the city. You cannot go two blocks over and find new friends. Everybody knows your personal worth. Many times you will hear somebody say “We’ll see” or “I’ll try”. Only say you will be there if you will be. If somebody is waiting for help on the side of the road, they need you there when you say. People die every year because they are waiting. Also, always pay what you say. This is not the city.
The rural churches are more involved than those in the cities, too, even the youth groups. This, from experience, has more to do with there being less to do in the country than piety. Please do not think it is this simplistic. Many churches will more than welcome you and you will find the pastors or priests more than willing to talk with you and be involved in your life, unlike in more urban areas, where you might find them to be more interested in the revolving door and the collection plate.
We still have drug problems and alcohol. I would simply suggest staying away from bars when you try to make friends. Go to church, the local restaurant, or auction. At the auction, get a number and look over the stuff for sale. You are not obligated to buy something. People do like to talk though. You may even find stuff that you need cheap. From time and time again, in my experience, for every once-in-a-lifetime $5 deal you are going to find too many things that go at retail prices. I believe this is because there are many people moving to the country and buying up the small items. The ones I personally dislike are the ones who come from the city to buy the quaint country folk items and then they take them back to the city to only sit on a shelf.
In my area, we have many people who are coming from the U.S.. Quite a few are moving away from what they see as American tyranny. Many of them have been trying and succeeding to fit in. We also have people from Europe and Africa who are doing well, too. If you come to the countryside, it is easier for you to assimilate to us than for you to change the region to your norms. While I read over and over about people being upset that foreigners are moving into their country and trying to live the exact same way that they were running away from and thus ruining the new country, it is very important to remember that the cultural differences between the city and country are large as well. The breath of fresh air may have a tinge of bovine fertilizer occasionally, but you moved here. If you want to build a town house in the country and be surrounded by other townhouses, stay in the city. If you want to export the citt’s problems to the country, stay in the city. We may have a village idiot, but he’s our idiot. Leave him be. His cousin might just be the mayor. Thank you for your time.