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Thread: City vs Country Decision

  1. #1
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    City vs Country Decision

    I was wondering the other day if the events of the last six months or so have changed any minds on the best choice of domicile in favor of the country.

    Does the Petri dish nature of dense populations, mass transit etc., raise new long-term health concerns? Does the latest rash of rioting, not to mention the more traditional commercially oriented crime cause much concern, especially in the light of city administrations seeming to appease or contextualize it? Will the switch to a greater degree of online shopping/work/education/culture gain any permanent traction?

    A couple of years ago, before the more recent issues, we made the choice to relocate from a larger conurbation to a small city. Apart from family connections, we thought it was a reasonable compromise between a large city and true small town or rural living. I canít say I regret it. We have most of the conveniences in a cleaner, safer, cheaper package than we had before. And the parking situation is excellent.

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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    The smallest I have lived was upstate New York in a town of 2k 5 minutes away from a town of 20k. Kenosha was the next smallest. My friends there go to Milwaukee or Chicago to do things. We walk the mile downtown to do things. During normal times we have a big event every weekend May through October. If you are introverted I could see the allure.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I have had such peace of mind living on a rural island in Vermont. My kids have peace of mind knowing their parents are on a rural island in Vermont. The bonus is Burlington is only 30 minutes away so we don't that we're in the middle of nowhere.

    We spent 35 years raising our kids in a NYC metro area bedroom community in New Jersey. It was very convenient to almost everything. It was kind of like small town living, but you knew you were near NY--New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, and the traffic proved it.

    It worked for us then. Would I have chosen to raise them where I live now? I don't think so. Our first house was in a one horse town in Dutchess County, NY (Stormville). It was a nightmare getting people to work, school, soccer practice, train stations, shopping malls, church, light meals out. Moving to the Princeton NJ area was like waking up from a bad dream.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    I think that it is handy to not be completely-back-of-beyond rural, but at the very least near a small village with access to some services and social activities. Ideally the small village would be within a reasonable range of a small city such as LDAHL mentions.

    Rural and small-village situations have their own issues to deal with, they aren't the Promised Land that some city dwellers seem to believe. For instance, my county and small village have only a handful of law enforcement officers to cover the entire region, so at any given time on my 56 sq. mile island, there may be one officer on duty, and during 6 hours of the day there is nobody actively on-duty. We can't handle enforcement of our Covid restrictions - there aren't enough resources to do so. We couldn't handle any significant civil disorder with law enforcement. We also are "near enough" to major urban areas, even with the barrier of crossing the ocean, that "refugees" arrive here in large numbers, and swamp our resources.

    I think the best approach, wherever you choose to live, is to have a good social network. People matter more than place, or resources.

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    I do not want to live anywhere where I have to drive to everything I need. Did that in the suburbs of Raleigh NC. Never again. Now I live within the one mile circle of our downtown. Our little corner is like its own neighborhood with SFHs, condos, etc. I almost everything I would need within a 20 minute walk and if I want a new primary care doctor, one opened an office 4 houses away. Got at least 5 hospitals within a mile, a new fire station at the end of the street, etc.

    I feel more comfortable with some activity going on around me even if only street traffic. Country living freaks me out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bae View Post

    I think the best approach, wherever you choose to live, is to have a good social network. People matter more than place, or resources.
    That is an important point. A couple of my brothers in law have farms in the area, which has worked out very well for us. Between them, they have more specialized equipment and tools than Batman, which has been very useful. And it is good to have a lot of people you can call on for support of various kinds, provided you are prepared to reciprocate when the opportunity presents itself.

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetana3 View Post
    I do not want to live anywhere where I have to drive to everything I need.
    This is a big downside to where I live now. Much of what I need is obtainable at my local village. However, my house is ~6 miles away from the village. While that is walkable, it is quite a committment, especially with the 1200 foot elevation gain. I bike to/from quite frequently, that's also a bit of an effort.

    Once you're in the village, everything is human-scale and walkable, but most folks are stuck using a car to get there.

    About 20% of the population of the island lives within the boundaries of the village. Interestingly, the state Growth Management Act demands we plan for 50% of the population living there, to prevent "suburban sprawl", but very few people move to remote rural islands to live in town.

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    And it is good to have a lot of people you can call on for support of various kinds, provided you are prepared to reciprocate when the opportunity presents itself.
    Having lived here over 20 years now, I have come to realize that my true wealth is in relationships and social capital. Any fantasies I had of being able to do everything myself, all the time, with my own resources, quickly evaporated upon arrival.

    Stupid example: I needed a backhoe the other day for a couple of hours. In my previous mode of thinking, I would of course have had a large barn, filled with cool tools and toys, like backhoes. In truth, I use a backhoe about 1-2 days every 2-3 years. Silly to keep and maintain such an expensive thing. I know plenty of people who use backhoes nearly every day. I called one of them, and she came by to help out for a bit, then left me the backhoe for the rest of the day. I made pie as a thank-you.

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    If we can ever find a house in this mess, we have made the decision to move a smaller town (pop. around 25K). Not because of current events but just because I think it suits us better at this stage. It has all the basics (great grocery, big box hardware not far) and then some and is about 45 minutes from a huge city should we need that. Also much closer to family (2 hours drive time instead of 15) which will be nice. We have both investigated based on our interests and there are very active related volunteer groups (before the virus anyway). Here, we live in the middle of the city. I have grown tired of hearing sirens all the time, petty criminal activity, weird city government, homeless people, litter and the sound of constant traffic, ie big city stuff. I just want a quiet, peaceful place to grow old.

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    We are the closest to "town living" now that I have ever been. We live just outside a small (600-ish) village. We're only 7 miles from town, though, on a main road. I tolerate it, but it's too close to too many people for me. That said, we can't do as much of our own repair/maintenance as we once could, and our funds are limited. Which is based on our life-choices, which were good ones for us, but others MMV, of course! Bae, you are right about social networks. For us they are mostly family based, and that family is shrinking rapidly. I had a raft of aunts/uncles/cousins and we all worked well together as needed, but most are older than we are and unable to help out the rest, or have died, and their kids, like our own, are not making the same type of family connections, for many reasons - distance being a major one. So we need to expand our social network, but honestly, DD and I are introverts, and DH is really good at ticking people off, so I don't think that will happen anytime soon. Or late, for that matter! So to the original question - for us, no, there is no change in where we want to live. Our second child - who is NOT an introvert- lives in a large city, and while they would like to change cities, this crisis has not made them want to live in a smaller city or rural area. Same for other members of our immediate family - no one I know is second-guessing or thinking of changing their country/city/village living.

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