It’s easy to be biases in favor of living situations we like and against living situations we don’t like, but does living in either the city or the country lead to a simpler, more deliberate, more responsible life?
The answer is complex, but I’m willing to offer a few points on this topic if you’ll share some comments and ideas of your own.
I recently realized that I’m something of an expert on city living versus rural living since I spent the first decade of my adult life living in a city apartment and this second decade of my adult life living in a rural home.
I usually like to keep things positive, but no lifestyle is perfect, and choosing between city and country living really is about deciding which has the fewest disadvantages for you, so I’ll tell you what I don’t like about each lifestyle.
The Rural Life
A decade ago, the city apartment we in which we had lived for nine years raised our rent $50 a month and promised to raise it another $50 in six months. We knew we needed somewhere else to live with a more stable monthly payment. Because we couldn’t afford a home in town, we moved to a rural area miles from the freeway and also several miles from a town.
Here are three things that I’ve found unpleasant about living the country life:
- Every trip is a journey. It isn’t possible to simply run out for something. Trips must be planned, and since it’s miles to most places, days out can be very long because several saved-up errands must be crammed into every trip. That means having lots of meals out too.
- It’s a gas-wasting, resource-hogging, money-wasting lifestyle. Since every trip starts with a couple dozen miles of driving, it takes a lot of fuel to live a rural life. Repairmen sometimes charge more for rural calls, too, and wells and septic tanks require repairs and service that take money better spent on living a grand life.
- Death, sadness and captivity are everywhere. Animals are held hostage at every turn, and dead wildlife and household pets litter roadways. Every trip to town involves seeing hundreds of captive animals and at least a couple of dead ones. The carnage, captivity and general sadness of it all can be depressing unless you do what most rural citizens do — ignore it. If you pretend it’s just the way things are, it eases the pain. For some.
The City Life
In my decade of apartment living, mostly on busy and fun Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth, I discovered three things I don’t like about city living:
- Distractions are everywhere. I was always running out for lunch, running to Walmart or just running somewhere to combat the loneliness or boredom of not really having enough to do, especially when I was between writing assignments. I’m sometimes easily distracted, and living on a busy street just moments from everything made it difficult for me to get anything done.
- Housing is expensive. It would have been cheaper in the short term for us to accept the $100 per month rent increase and stay where we were, but a fixed mortgage assures the same housing costs (except insurance, property taxes and repairs) for years. Our decade-old mortgage requires payments less than the starting price of many small apartments in town now.
- Safety can be an issue. Affordable city housing is often in high-crime neighborhoods. Even in those areas, only a small percentage of people are ever victims of crime, but peace of mind is important, and I never feel unsafe at my country house. I never felt unsafe in an apartment either, but I’m not sure I could afford something in town now that meets my safety standards.
Reaching A Conclusion
When I get upset, depressed or mad, the first thing I blame is this country house, its distance from the things that matter to me and its declining condition. I’d love to move into town.
Of course, this house is worth less than we own on it, and I haven’t yet seen a town living situation with which I would be comfortable. Where could I have four cats in town? Where is a house we could afford or an apartment that truly feels safe?
My moments of discontent with my current housing situation are probably just discontent in general. I’d like to live in town again, but I don’t dislike living in the country.
Both lifestyle have serious disadvantages. Both have some pluses, too.
Do you have experience with both ways of living? Do you think one way of living is better, simpler or more responsible than the other? Let me know what you think.
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The animal abuse is perhaps the worst thing about living in the country. It’s horse country around here, and the way we see animals being treated is amazingly sad. We have one neighbor who keeps two horses in a small enclosure, rarely letting them out. Then we also see dogs running loose on narrow roads where a fence could save their lives.
I’ve done the country thing. It sucks big time when you don’t have transportation and you have to walk to the grocery store. BTDT.
I guess it is okay if you like raising the animals to slaughter and growing a huge garden but I find I can do everything I need in town. I live in an inexpensive cottage in town ($250/month) and while it isn’t a perfect neighborhood the neighbors know I don’t own anything that interests them and so they leave me alone. I must confess I wouldn’t want to live in super cheap housing in a big city, however – but in a smallish town or smaller city it is safe enough.
There are some trade offs but I have access to fast internet, which saves us money and I don’t have to drive my van at all. Eventually I will eliminate my van and reduce my expenses another thousand a year.
Great post, I love your reasons for liking country life even if it isn’t for me.
Annie from Annienygma.com
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It’s interesting since I’m not sure I do like living in the country. Transportation is certainly an issue. We only have one car now, but a car of some kind is essential. And if it needs repair, it creates a big problem. I dream of living in town again, but I’m not sure I would actually prefer it.
I appreciate you taking the time to comment, Annie.
I guess I’ve lived a citified life, well one of the suburbs, at least! Except for 2.5 years of college and the first 2 years of my life, I’ve lived i the same area of the ‘burbs. Personally, I hate it. Yes, I can get everything I could ever need within a 5 mile radius or less. However, the scenery is atrocious unless you like everything fake & manicured. Also, I hate driving places because it’s the same shopping centers over and over and over again. It’s so absolutely boring and monotonous. My aunt lives in the country (outside of San Antonio). I adore her location and loved staying with her every summer. Although she is out of town, she is still close enough to town and to the freeway. Plus, the drive anywhere is gorgeous–hills, trees, and green! It’s a far cry from what we have out here in fake-ville. I’m dying to get to a location like hers–a place to have property, but close enough to amenities where I don’t have to drive for hours.
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The country scenery eventually starts to blend into the background. We have an amazing view, but it does us very little good.
You’re right about the fakeness and ugliness of suburbs. Fortunately, the suburban parts of the Fort Worth area aren’t on my usual path, so I mostly see the city in all its glory.
I grew up in a house that’s about 1.5 to 2 miles from the nearest side of town. It’s a residential suburb, less than two country blocks from farm country – but it’s not cramped yard-wise, the neighbors are generally friendly, and grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. are only a few miles away. A Wal-Mart just plunked down about 3 miles away from there, so now there’s even a department store – before that the closest real department stores were about 9 or 10 miles out.
I think places like that are a decent compromise between country and city living.
I’ve noticed that, in general, neighborhoods where people own their own homes tend to be nicer to live in than neighborhoods where everybody rents – regardless of where they are.
Just some thoughts. 🙂
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Suburbs are usually ugly and boring, but they are a nice compromise for people who want some distance between them and their jobs.
We have Walmarts in every direction now. We’re in the country, but so is Walmart. There are three within 20 or 25 minutes and a bunch more within 45 minutes.
The suburb area my parents live in came before all the cookie-cutter houses that looked exactly the same. It’s a nice neighborhood overall.
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I lived many years in the city and loved being able to walk or take public transportation nearly everywhere. The last three years we lived in an RV traveling the country and living in lots of off the beaten path places which were beautiful and affordable but required driving fairly long distances to get to any services. Now we are in an apartment in a suburb where amenities are in short driving range but we picked an apartment with a view over a swamp where deer and wild turkeys hang out and walking paths lead to a huge park where trails are mowed, not paved, so we may now have the best of all worlds. Except the apartment is in Minnesota which has LONG winters. I’ve become convinced there is no perfect place.
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My longing to move back into the city is probably just an interest in having one of those perfect living arrangements that don’t really exist. Most of the time, I’m happy with things as they are.
I’ve lived in the country and in small and medium-sized towns. Now I’m in a small city and it suits me. The story goes that people in small towns and the country are friendlier. I found them narrow, suspicious and nosy. People in the city (the one I live in, Albuquerque) are much more open and friendly. If I ever have to move again (hope not) I’d look for another medium-sized city.
Come on to Fort Worth! It’s a great medium-sized town with all the glitz and glamor of Dallas just waiting nearby — and lots of rural areas nearby too. While I’m not sure I’m happy living in the country, I can’t imagine an area of the country where I’d rather be.
I’ve lived in both, and I have to agree with most of what’s already been said. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind living in the city again but for the crime, noise, and pollution. And, in many places, excessive restrictions on what one may do on one’s own property.
Living out in the boonies is cleaner, quieter, and safer, but careful planning is a must to keep trips into town to a minimum. Of course, that has some advantage – if I was in town I’d have more opportunity (and temptation) to spend money frivolously. And while my internet isn’t excruciatingly slow, neither is it fast enough to stream video reliably. It makes me drool sometimes to hear how fast wired internet is in the city anymore. Heck, even my cellular broadband modem gives me 5 to 10 times the speed I get out here.
Neither situation is ideal; they’re just different. I can’t say I was miserable living in the city, but I’ve also enjoyed the time I’ve spent in rural settings. And the pace is slower. I dunno if I would have liked it so much when I was younger and enjoyed going to clubs and parties, but now that I’m a little older, I have more of an appreciation for “life in the slow lane.”
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Yes, you’re right about the property restrictions. In organized neighborhoods here in the country there are often some restrictions (like no more than one horse per acre or no storage sheds in front of the house, plus utility easements), but no one is telling us what color shingles to install or how often to mow the grass. Which reminds me…
Careful planning is important, althogh we go to town every other day it seems. The most important thing is that we make the choice. While I’d like to be in the city again, too, I may not be cut out for that. I’ve noticed that the traffic and the crowds in stores bother me more than they once did.
Internet is an issue — in fact, a better internet connection is my next problem to solve — but there are satellite, microwave and cellular choices, among others, so it isn’t an insurmountable problem. I am slightly jealous of fast Internet, but I can go to McDonald’s or a mall with my laptop for free wifi if absolutely necessary.
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