Author Topic: Talk to me about country living...  (Read 4436 times)

AZDude

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Talk to me about country living...
« on: June 17, 2017, 10:44:17 AM »
This is a somewhat sensitive topic, but living in rural areas has always been somewhere in the back of my mind, but my career as a software developer has kept me in the city. I'm seriously considering career change into a lower paying field(teaching), and have thought about also moving to a more rural area with a lower cost of living, making the financial hit less pronounced.

For people who have made the leap and left a large metro area and moved into a town of less than 20,000 people... how bad was the culture shock? Any problems raising children, socializing, or neighbor problems? Did you miss having a wider range of stuff to do in the city?


extremedefense

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2017, 10:53:06 AM »
Also a software developer,

You don't need to switch careers! You can find employers that allow remote working and as long as you have Internet you can work.

AZDude

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2017, 10:56:46 AM »
Also a software developer,

You don't need to switch careers! You can find employers that allow remote working and as long as you have Internet you can work.

True, and I do work remotely right now, but I want to leave software development. The (much) lower salary has me looking at ways to reduce expenses. Moving to a rural area would allow that. Homes can be had for $50K, versus the $200K in the city.

NV Teacher

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2017, 11:44:46 AM »
For people who have made the leap and left a large metro area and moved into a town of less than 20,000 people... how bad was the culture shock? Any problems raising children, socializing, or neighbor problems? Did you miss having a wider range of stuff to do in the city?

Depends on the place, the people, and your mind set.  I grew up in a rural community.  The new people that moved in and wanted things to be just like the place they left had a hard time.  Yes we have a much smaller selection at the grocery store, fewer books in the library, only one show at a time at the theater, and the town pretty much rolls up the sidewalks at 7 pm.  The biggest issue for most people was that the vast majority of the people in the area belong to one religion that can be a bit closed off to nonmembers.  Some people were able to work through that and have flourished and others found it suffocating and left.  Just research the areas thoroughly and know what you are getting into before you make that jump.

MrsDinero

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2017, 12:37:07 PM »
I'm a software consultant who moved with hubby to a rural area.  We live near a cluster of small towns (each about 3-4k people) and close to a small university town. 

The biggest struggle I have had is making friends.  I work 100% from home and have 2 babies.  My husband works from home and travels.  He is from this state and has friends from childhood who live in our area. Me I have been here almost 2.5 years and feel like I'm just starting to make friends.  I'm somewhere in between an introvert and extrovert and can feel shy at times.  I'm also an atheist so church isn't an option.

I make an effort to go out to town and "put myself out there" but sometimes it feels so much like dating! Most the people I meet have lived here their whole life and already have roots and a cluster of friends.  It is very hard to break into those groups.  Still I'm starting to meet people and people are starting to come up to me in stores to ask how my family is doing, so that is progress. 

Despite that I have loved living here.  I never would have imagined I would even live in a rural area, since I've always been a city-person, but I love it. We have a lot of space to live and move around.  We don't feel on top of other people.  yes we need a car to get anywhere, but right now I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Syonyk

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2017, 12:54:28 PM »
It is a ton of work.  Maintaining a few acres, especially if it has been left to nature for a decade or so (our current situation) is quite the workout.  Not in a bad way, just worth stating.

I did this (moved to the country, closer to family, cut back on work), and we couldn't be happier.  But, we also have family nearby (a 3 minute walk, or roughly 10 minutes with a toddler who has to inspect every weed she comes across and hasn't seen before).

It's certainly a religious area, which isn't a problem for us (turns out, our pastor lives up the hill from us).  But the area we live in is predominantly Christian or Mormon.  Take your pick.

I moved out here from Seattle, and the "culture shock" was very welcome - we hated Seattle and all that it tried to be.  If you're a coastal city type who loves such places, you're unlikely to find many people you get along with in a heavily rural area.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2017, 12:56:03 PM »
This is a somewhat sensitive topic, but living in rural areas has always been somewhere in the back of my mind, but my career as a software developer has kept me in the city. I'm seriously considering career change into a lower paying field(teaching), and have thought about also moving to a more rural area with a lower cost of living, making the financial hit less pronounced.

For people who have made the leap and left a large metro area and moved into a town of less than 20,000 people... how bad was the culture shock? Any problems raising children, socializing, or neighbor problems? Did you miss having a wider range of stuff to do in the city?

I grew up in a small town of 12.000 people and have lives the last 17 years in a smaller place, close to a slightly bigger city and still within 45 min from the capital.

Where I live there are several sports clubs, hiking clubs, musical orchestras where you can become a member of. Sometimes hikes are public. If your neighbourhood has a private road, you need a board to manage it and you can meet people there. There is also voluntary work like building a playground. You'll need to look it up, but the options are there. Meeting your neighbours is usually easier than in the city. It is not difficult to just chat to a neighbour you meet outside. When we moved in to our current and our previous house we knocked on the door at all closets neighbours to introduce ourselves. This was well received.
There is also typically a local theatre with some bigger artists or local artists performing. But typically for big international gigs you'll need to visit the city. Also the number of museums is not big. Restaurants are a better number, because there appear new ones sometimes. But the choice of restaurants is not like in a big city. What is typically less is public transport. The good thing is less traffic noise and more nature close by. You might also need to travel to the city for bigger healthcare issues that require specialists.

TartanTallulah

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2017, 01:25:30 PM »
I'm in the UK so it may be different.

Six years ago we - my husband, two teenage daughters and I - moved from a large city to a town with a population of less than 3,000 in a rural area. It was an important time in the girls' education and we would have rented in the city between selling our house and them finishing high school had they not come to us and said, "Let's just do it." My son was in a special educational needs college and moved in with his father (we're divorced) who lived in the same city until he finished college, when he chose to come and live with us. My oldest daughter was already a postgraduate student living away from home.

We knew the area we were moving to from having spent weekends and vacations in a neighbouring tourist area.

I was fortunate in that I have a portable occupation and walked straight into a people-facing job in a nearby town. The girls went to school; within days you wouldn't have known that the younger one wasn't born and bred in the area. It could have been hard for my husband, who had been keener than I was to get out of the city because he grew up somewhere remote. He is sociable but introverted and was a SAHP. It was hard for him - he developed a Netflix and Sky Sports habit and had a wife who came home raging about the stress of working 12 hours a day while his time was his own and he didn't even cook my dinner (that was unfair, I knew beforehand that he didn't do cooking). But when the girls had to move to a high school 15 miles away to complete their education, having him available to drive them to and from school instead of relying on an expensive bus service which added 90 minutes to each end of their school day was a godsend.

If I'd been at home, I think I'd have been more proactive in getting out, sticking my nose into the social scene in the town and finding some paid work, because I'm more outgoing. But we'll never know because it didn't happen.

Some things about living in the country are a minor pain in the neck. Realistically, unless you're young and fit with no kids and are happy to provide your own entertainment most nights, you need a car. Going out running in winter when the daylight hours are short is difficult because there are few lit streets and policing cutbacks mean that people are relaxed about DUI or speeding on the country lanes. It's a fair distance to the nearest big store, though you can buy everything you might need in our little town apart from underwear (there's a nice little charity shop for clothes, but even I draw the line at second hand knickers). And the mud. Oh, the mud!

But we've never looked back. We may never truly "fit in" but people are friendly and chatty nonetheless. It's pleasantly quiet, we're surrounded by scenery and wildlife, and you reset your expectations - we don't need a dozen different supermarkets within a five-mile radius, everything happens at a slower pace and that's OK. We can go out and do a 100-mile bike ride and only need to unclip from the pedals once or twice. Kids play in the street outside our house like we used to play when we were kids ourselves. Everyone goes around wearing cheap hiking gear all the time so there's no pressure to dress up.

And there's a postal service and the internet. We're connected enough with the rest of the world.

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2017, 05:03:46 PM »
We left Seattle for a very rural place (we have 80 acres about 6 miles from the town we work in and 10 miles from the nearest grocery store). Unlike Syonyk, we liked Seattle just fine for many years, but had always dreamed of living like we do now. Like Syonyk, I can attest that there is a lot of work to do on a rural property!

The older we got, the less likely we were to go out to take advantage of the various events, etc of the city, so we don't find ourselves missing those things. Our little town parades/festivals are fun, and there are quite a few community groups that do events as fundraisers, so we've been able to find things to do if we want to. Honestly, we're homebodies, and now that we live in the house we designed and built to suit us, it's even harder to motivate ourselves to come down out of the hills!

If you have kids, you will find it easier to become part of the community, because the schools are really central (especially high school sports). We don't, so it has been a little more work for us. There will probably always be a divide between newcomers and the people who grew up and never left here, but I can live with that.

Heed the best advice we got before moving: learn to cook all your favorite ethnic dishes, because you aren't likely to find Thai, Ethiopian, etc., out in the sticks. Mexican food is the only exception to this in our area.

Neighbors-who knows? We lucked out with great neighbors, though we did meet with them before we finalized the land purchase and got along immediately. I have certainly heard horror stories, but that can happen anywhere.


Cadman

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2017, 05:16:14 PM »
Location, location, location. We live 10 minutes from a university town of 30k, 5 more minutes puts you in a 70k population area. If we didn't leave to go work, we could go days without seeing or being bothered by anyone. We have some of the fastest internet in the nation, excellent schools, low cost of living, practically no crime and an endless choice of restaurants and entertainment.

Conversely, I just got back from a camping trip from an out of state rural area. Also gorgeous, but interactions with the locals had me wondering when I'd start to hear banjos in the woods.

Rural

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2017, 08:34:47 PM »
We did it, including the career shift to teaching for him, a more rural area than you're describing (this county has about what you're contemplating in a town population, and probably not much you'd recognize as a town). He is from this area, which helps a lot. Food, services, etc. are also cheaper, not just housing. Also there are things you just can't buy/ do, which does save money.


Frankly, the bigger shift was to teaching, and that was a mistake. It's a miserable occupation (I mean high school; a college or community college can be quite rewarding). But the ways in which it's miserable are hidden from the public until it's too late. In a rural area, if you're actually interested in educating kids, you'll be punished by parents and administration until you give up and quit. If you're coaching football (and if you win), all will be well.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2017, 07:32:46 PM »
Cadman points out something really important.  University towns have some of the amenities and culture of the cities, even if they're in rural areas.  Unless you're seeking to avoid city culture, look for university towns.

Pro tip (I grew up in such a town):  Universities have staff jobs, and are mostly the elite of the area.  Consider a nationwide job for university staff jobs that you're capable of.  Though switching job titles might make getting the chosen job difficult. 

The real problem is that salaries go down along with real estate costs.  If you're not at FI with respect to your new area, the main advantage is only the equity you bring, but by definition you still need income.  I suggest defining the new job first, then finding a low cost location for it.  Rural areas are already full of people who want jobs, plus those people already have local connections.  If you're quitting your original career, how will you overcome the local competition? 

Obviously from your posts you're very smart, just wanting to point out the landscape up front. 
« Last Edit: June 18, 2017, 07:37:47 PM by Bicycle_B »

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2017, 07:56:48 PM »
I went from a big city to a place of a few hundred people. I loved it.

Unfortunately, housing costs in that rural space started at $450k, so no savings in owning.

What made it wonderful:
The specific demographic was a real fit for me (artists, entrepreneurs, politically/socially liberal)
Stunning environment.
Lots of places left empty, so cheap places to rent/housesit
Grounds maintenance was done by landlord or landlord'sa agents
Kids could find each other and play, with zero parental involvement, no traffic concerns, etc.
Fresh air.
Swimming, hiking, etc, all within a short walk.
Lots of silly/fun community events.
The services I consider essential: library; emergency corner store; programs for kid.
Only a 20 minute drive from a town with everything else I like.

Once kid had aged-out of the basic programs, I did go into town a lot more. But living there was still worth it.

So, I think rural can rock if you find the right town.

I'm currently in my second "right rural town" and loving it just as much (actually, a touch more because it has more than a few hundred people -so even more fun stuff- as well as stuff for older kids).
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 09:19:36 AM by jooniFLORisploo »

Alf91

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2017, 05:35:42 AM »
Lots of pros about rural living, but here's some cons to consider.

My experience has been that rural areas tend to attract folks on the conservative/right political spectrum.

Everyone knows everyone, and your business. (pros to this as well - can make for a tight knit community)

Medical care - limited options, particularly if you require anything more than a family doctor. Also, takes a while for the ambulance to get to you if you need it (morbid but true in my experience).

Fishindude

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2017, 07:27:06 AM »
There are many rural areas in the midwest within a 45 minute drive of nice towns and / or university towns of 100K population or greater.  Some of these mid sized communities are really thriving with lots of employment opportunities.   It is very common for someone to live out in the boonies, 30-40 miles from their workplace in one of these larger towns, and the daily commute is as easy as a 10 mile commute in a large metro area.


Syonyk

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2017, 07:40:08 AM »
My experience has been that rural areas tend to attract folks on the conservative/right political spectrum.

A good chunk of the population considers that a pro... :p

itchyfeet

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2017, 08:27:30 AM »
DW and I grew up in a smallish town, where our families still live. We both enjoyed our formative years there a lot.

We moved away in our mid 20s for my career and have lived in big cities all our adult lives from then on. However, we have been talking about leaving the city for a quieter and cheaper life post FIRE. But I am not sure as the city  life still offers a lot for us so am hesitant to move.

Financially, it would be difficult to return once we left the city, particularly as I would probably have to go back to work, but not want to :-/

Trudie

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2017, 08:36:04 AM »
I live in a rural college town, but technically within the city limits.  So I guess you can't say we're really country folk.

Pros:  The college (which my husband works for) offers lots of great amenities.  It's also a progressive little place -- vibrant main street, craft breweries, food coop, farmers' market, artists and venues...  In general, though, university and college towns are attractive places to be.  Due to the student population they tend to have decent public transportation (including shuttles to the airport), library systems, and other amenities -- things that are attractive to us at any age, but especially as we get older.

Cons:  It usually requires at least one person to commute to work (that person is me).  The upkeep of rural property is tremendous.  A co-worker of mine just moved to an acreage and his costs have not gone down.  What he might save on property taxes is spent on caring for outbuildings, grading, graveling, installing culverts and fixing his long drive, equipment for snow removal and lawn care (and repair).  Look this reality squarely in the eye and make sure it's something you can cope with and even enjoy.


Syonyk

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2017, 08:56:14 AM »
A lot of the equipment is a one time purchase if you take good care of it, though.

You might also be able to work with the previous owners to sell you some of the stuff with the property, depending on where they move. Farm tractors being sold with a farm is apparently quite common.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2017, 09:20:34 AM »
Updated my list to include: liberal, and grounds maintenance done by landlord

Syonyk

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2017, 09:26:00 AM »
Updated my list to include: liberal, and grounds maintenance done by landlord

In a rural area?

You might be OK on the first with Vermont, but a few acres with maintenance done by the landlord?  Good luck...

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2017, 09:29:54 AM »
Yes. 30 acres.
Currently I'm renting a tiny lot, and again all work done by landlord.

And both socially liberal.

300 miles apart, extremely different climates, but both low cost with the above features :)

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2017, 09:33:34 AM »
^ My point is really: "Rural" doesn't tell tell us much about the nuances of a place, nor in itself determine a lot (politics, amount of work, cost, demographic, etc). When considering rural, look for the version that rocks for you, because there are so many versions!

Trudie

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2017, 03:12:33 PM »
^ My point is really: "Rural" doesn't tell tell us much about the nuances of a place, nor in itself determine a lot (politics, amount of work, cost, demographic, etc). When considering rural, look for the version that rocks for you, because there are so many versions!

Let me tell you something about "rural" -- having now lived it for 15 years.  It IS incredibly nuanced.  The place in which I live is rural, but a college town.  It leans blue, and within the city limits it's deep blue (because of the college).  The more conservative folks are, for the most part, moderate.  We have back to the land folks and touring rock stars running organic farms next to conventional farms and farmers with more conservative politics and its pretty civil.  There are also some pretty active Republicans who are huge conservationists (not climate-deniers) and run organic farms.  I say this not to rudely correct anyone, but must point out that I have had my own assumptions checked and been pretty surprised at times.

However, I drive out of that town about 30 miles to another rural community and it is deeply red.  I'm one of three Democrats (I know because people are more than happy to share their politics in the lunchroom) on a staff of twenty.  To me, the rural America in which I work is the rural America that voted for Trump. The rural America in which I live went for Hillary and a lot of conservative folks didn't vote for Trump (they wrote in or just didn't cast a vote for President.)  And some of them voted Trump.  But it was much more of a mixed bag.


teen persuasion

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2017, 10:31:03 PM »
This is a somewhat sensitive topic, but living in rural areas has always been somewhere in the back of my mind, but my career as a software developer has kept me in the city. I'm seriously considering career change into a lower paying field(teaching), and have thought about also moving to a more rural area with a lower cost of living, making the financial hit less pronounced.

For people who have made the leap and left a large metro area and moved into a town of less than 20,000 people... how bad was the culture shock? Any problems raising children, socializing, or neighbor problems? Did you miss having a wider range of stuff to do in the city?
Biggest drawback I've found to living in a rural area and raising kids is transportation.  Everything is far away, and you need to drive all over all the time.  Grocery stores are over the county line in another town, or even further away the other direction in the little city nearby.  Sports or clubs for the kids?  Drop them off or pick them up after school.  Gifted math program?  Drive twice a week back to the university in the wealthy urban area we left.  Decent job - commute 25+ miles (bad in blizzard season - if weather is good at home, the snow is at work, or vice versa).  Declining membership in local church?  Merge services with several other churches scattered over a few counties - more driving.  Kids go to college?  Get scattered in a number of different cities an hour+ away, and tend to find jobs in those communities. 

Other drawbacks - lack of services you expect from urban living.  No public transportation.  Internet may just not be available in your locale.  Poor cell reception.  No natural gas for heating on our street - oil is expensive now, but was cheap when we moved in.  Summer jobs for the teens are hard to find - the fast food places are miles away near the shopping.

The community itself is the biggest perk to living in our rural area.  It's tight knit, and everyone knows everyone else.  Community events are the important ones - the Memorial day parade with the t-ball teams where you know the kids names, know the firefighters and EMTs because your spouse is a member, everyone heads to the village square for the VFW speeches and 21 gun salutes (even if it's the same speech each year), all followed by a Rotary duck derby on the canal.  You can safely let your kids wander even in that crowd, knowing all the parents are watching the kids they know (which is all of them). The HS musical and local theater troupes and school concerts are big events (our district has a great instrumental program).  HS graduation is a village event - it's held on the front lawn, and locals watch from a lawn chair on their front porch. 

Growing up in the 'burbs, it was much easier to disappear into the general anonymity.  Village life is a fishbowl (kids school is there, and I work in the local library, so we are in the village often).  Our house is further out in the sticks/farmland, so neighbors aren't much of an issue - they are a quarter mile away.  There are times I wish we'd bought in the village, but we like our privacy, too.  As we explore areas to downsize to, DH wants to go more remote, but I'd like to be nearer to things like grocery stores and doctors.  I'm another vote for a college town.

LifeHappens

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Re: Talk to me about country living...
« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2017, 03:17:27 PM »
My parents moved from a large city to a small town just before I was born. Honestly, I wish they hadn't. I was a shy, intellectual kid growing up in an environment that was pretty closed off and judgemental. My parents still live in the house I grew up in, with quite a bit of acreage. It defines their life. For the most part they seem happy with it, but it a large responsibility that keeps them from doing much traveling or seeking out relationships or other hobbies.

My only advice is that you think long and hard about the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family before committing to rural living.