(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)
In Part 1, I discussed the primary reason for getting out of the big cities: It is just not safe. The main reasons I have been told that people hesitate on moving to a rural location is not knowing what to do for a living – getting a job. The money thing. Secondarily, the inconvenience of being far away from customary activities. Thirdly, fear of the unknown. There are many reasons why people can’t fathom moving away from the big city.
If you can’t “take your job with you”, for whatever reasons, get a pencil and paper out. List all your strengths and weaknesses, and those of your family members. Encourage your spouse to go through the same process. If you have children old enough, ask them to join in. Everyone in the family has a different perspective. Something you might think is a weakness, could be a strength from a different perspective. Include things you love to do and things you hate doing. Not to say your new life will be nothing but honey and flowers. It won’t. But, understanding yourself and increasing understanding within your family is key to success. This process might take awhile, so give yourself some space and grace, but don’t dally.
Maybe you have a hobby that you can turn into a business. Something I’ve noticed in the rural areas I’ve lived, is there is a lack of trades people due to the influx of city dwellers. You name it – plumbing, electrical, painting, flooring, general building, etc. There is a lack of all kinds of services: housekeeping, clerical, tax/accounting, tailor/seamstress, hair/nail salon, etc. There aren’t enough little shops: curios, fabric, cinnamon buns, coffee, etc. Look at your current life and think about all the services you avail yourself of. Are you good at any of those things? Everyone in the city is “too busy working” at their professional job, and commuting, to do too much outside of work and family. City dwellers rely on services and generally take that desire for available services with them when they move. If you leave that job, as many have, to move to a rural community, and you have to start over, you’re going to miss that drive through Starbucks every morning. So are all the other tens of thousands of folks who are moving out. Coffee shop anyone?
While you’re mulling around ideas, pick up a couple of good books on how to run a small business if you have no experience. It’s quite different than how a large corporation runs. You wear all the hats: sales/marketing, accounting, reception/clerical/billing, maintenance, and then there’s the actual work to be done. Maybe you will accept the idea of commuting to a nearby city for work until you have all your ducks in a row. There are many, many, options. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck on the money thing. Opportunities abound if you open your mind to them.
Making your new life work
As I said in part one of this discussion, inconvenience is your friend. You will have to change how you “do your life”. If you decide to purchase a bit of land as part of your new rural life, expect to spend a good bit of time maintaining it. The grass doesn’t mow itself nor do fence posts dig their own holes. Expect to spend money on tools you’ve probably never had to purchase, let alone know how to use (youtube is your friend in this regard). You will most likely have to plan daily living in more detail because it’s not as simple as getting in the car, and hopping on the freeway to get to the office, where your desk and assigned work is waiting, and picking up your dry cleaning and restaurant order on the way home.
Since it’s not convenient to obtain the services you are used to, you have to do things like “meal planning” and monthly shopping trips to say, Costco, because Costco could be a several-hour drive away. If you are able to get deliveries via UPS and FedEx, then you can continue that online ordering. But be aware, you aren’t going to get the same level of service as you did in the city – so don’t get frustrated when two-day delivery is five to seven-day delivery, just be aware. You might think about the idea of not wanting deliveries to your property, for the sake of security.
One thing I noticed, there is a very stark contrast to how city dwellers live their lives versus how rural people live their lives. The City folk spend a great deal of time indoors – in the car, in the office, in the home. Weekends offer some time for out of door activities, but City folk may spend time in front of a computer, or a big screen television, or meet up with friends in their homes or at a restaurant, bar, or gym. Rural folks often have a “real tan” because more time is spent out of doors than indoors. Oh yes, there are people who never leave the couch, but they are in the minority. There’s just too much to do outside (necessity being the mother of invention). I would venture to say that Rural folks get a lot more exercise than City folks. For one thing, it’s a hike to the mailbox. Not always. I know a lot of City folks who moved into newly planned and built communities, out in the country, in order to preserve as much of the familiarity of their City life as possible. They have a mailbox at the end of their driveway. Most of us don’t, if we have a mailbox at all.
How far out you move is going to depend upon what works for you, and your family. A word to the wise: If you have very social family members, they are going to feel a deep loss if too far removed from other people. You may like the idea of being a hermit. I do. But, I have some family members who would curl up in a ball without social interactions. This is actually more important than one might think. If you decide to move to a remote northern region, there will be less people, and also shorter days too (less sunshine). Some people get “SAD” (seasonal affective disorder) which manifests in depression. In one case of someone I know personally, it was a combination of lack of sunshine and lack of social interactions that caused the depression. It can become quite severe. The only answer for her was to move back to an area where abundant sunshine and friends were available. Going rural does not have to mean being lonely, but you may have to go out of your way to form a new social group.
Everything is new and different
Don’t underestimate the impact of upending your life. I have a habit that I have developed over the years. When I start to whine and complain in my mind, I immediately start saying out loud all of the things I’m thankful for. Or, I make up a silly song and belt it out loudly about whatever stupid thing is frustrating me. After all, no one can hear me way out here. I don’t let the fear of not knowing what to do or how to do it stop me from doing it. It just takes more thought and more time.
I love to beat the sun up in the morning and watch it rise over the hills, breaking through the low-lying clouds, while sipping on a delicious mug of coffee. It seems to be a small daily miracle to me. In my former life, early mornings were spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic with nothing but the bright red glare of tail lights in front of me. I didn’t dare sip coffee on my long, early morning commutes, or I’d have to make a potty stop, or worse, I’d spill coffee all over my suit trying to avoid a stupid driver. I’m happy to trade stressful commutes in rush hour traffic for slow and peaceful mornings. Don’t worry. It’s only peaceful for about fifteen minutes and it’s off to farm chores!
But, what about the things I miss about big City life. When one is in a professional career, and successful at it, there are a lot of “rewards”. It could be a big paycheck, an exceptional review, a bonus, or accolades from peers, a highly visibility project, etc. Now, my most rewarding experiences include my dogs running to greet me, a chick eating out of my hand, the satisfaction of accomplishing a new and difficult, for me, task. I was always a problem solver and it worked well for me at work, and it works well for me now! The skillset out in the country is completely different than the city, so I have to be extra creative in solving a problem, for instance, that requires a lot of physical strength. I’m learning a lot about “leverage”. Every day will be an experience in learning new things, and solving different problems than you are used to. Do not be afraid – just tackle each new thing with enthusiasm, rejoicing that you are mostly out of the rat race.
Country folk do not understand city folk, and generally do not want to. Why? Because city folk are generally demanding and used to very quick response times. Remember that old saying “Your problem is not my emergency.” Sear that into your brain and don’t bring the demands of city life with you. You’ll make a lot more friends if you “chillax” (chill out and relax). Thank everyone kindly. Be patient. Pay promptly. Be respectful. That guy in the overalls probably owns hundreds, if not thousands, of acres… so your net worth is probably a pittance in comparison. Basically, just drop all the pretense and superiority complex and you’ll be fine.
When my well failed a week after I moved into my new country home on acreage, I was at the mercy of the only well drilling company that would help me. Had I been a screaming me-me and demanded service, I’d still be without water. The owner had more work than his crew could handle and they were a year out on orders. Why did he help me out? I was gracious, kind, thankful, and paid promptly. He went out of his way to help me out. When he saw me sitting on the front porch with my head bowed (because I was seriously praying for a miracle), he came over and sat down next to me and promised that he would get things working again. Kindness is so much more important in this world than money and possessions. Kindness is a common language no matter where you’re from.
Get out of the cities! You can do this. You will be so grateful once you’re out.