These days, a lot of thirty- and forty- and fifty-somethings who have been living in an urban area for most, or all, of their adult lives, are wanting to make a change.
- They are tired of the noisy, dirty city.
- They want to be prepared in case TEOTWAWKI happens. (For the uninitiated, that stands for “The End Of The World As We Know It.”)
- They want to become the next Joel Salatin (hon, google it, okay?).
Downsizing has become sexy. Living in a tiny house has become sexy. And – to our great-grandparents’ surprise – rural living has become sexy.
Actually, it’s become downright romanticized. Which is dangerous. Some people move out to the middle of nowhere, discover that they hate it, and have to spend the money, time and energy moving back to an urban area.
Some people move out with wrong conceptions. For example, somebody once told me that “organic farming isn’t rocket science.” The implication was that he could do it, and that he would be successful his first year.
Well, it may not be rocket science, but it’s far from easy. Just figuring out how to successfully grow thirty-two square feet of vegetables is challenge enough for a first-time gardener.
If you’ve been thinking about taking the leap into a rural lifestyle, especially homesteading, I urge you to think very carefully – especially about the following questions.
Nine questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about going rural
**1. Are you okay with being at least thirty miles away from a good medical facility? In many rural areas, the distance is even further.
**2. Are you prepared to drive long distances to purchase healthy food, at least for the first two to three years while you get everything set up on your homestead?
You can find mom-and-pop health food store in some semi-rural and rural locations, but not all. In fact, where we live we have to drive forty minutes just to get to a quality conventional grocery store. The nearest health food store is two hours away, and it’s smaller and more expensive than Whole Foods, which is an extra thirty minutes further.
**3. Are you at peace with insects and spiders? I mean, really at peace? They are everywhere, in much greater numbers and variety than they are in the city.
**4. Can you get a mosquito or tick bite without automatically thinking about your chances of contracting West Nile virus or Lyme’s Disease? Because, believe me, you will get them.
**4. Are you okay with long, slow processes? If you decide to homestead, you will have to think of it as a journey, not a destination.
**5. Is everyone in your household on board with the idea? Yes, I know that children are supposed to just do what the adults want, but if you have several kids (or even one kid) over the age of nine who is dead-set against the idea, they might not adapt to the new lifestyle as seamlessly as you want them to.
And if you have to twist your spouse’s arm into going, expect constant misery and frustration once you get there.
**6. Do you mind getting dirty? Even if you don’t plan to homestead, there will be a lot more of nature, and thus a lot more dirt, on a rural property than in an urban. That idyllic country home that you saw a picture of on Pinterest is surrounded by mud when it rains.
**7. Do you mind isolation? I have a friend who, early on in her first marriage, agreed with her husband to buy property outside of the city they’d been living in. She is an extrovert, and got depressed as they built their house because they had no near neighbors.
**8. Do you have ethical problems with driving a car long distances? If so, living out in a rural area may not be for you. While you can buy much of what you need online, you usually can’t get all of it. You will have to be okay with taking a forty- to sixty-minute trip (in some areas, maybe longer) at least once a month.
**9. Are you prepared to learn to be prepared? If a power outage happens, those in the rural area are usually the last to be served. If you’re planning to be on-grid for energy, you need an alternative source for emergencies such as a gas or propane generator. You will need to get in the habit of having a couple of months of food and water stored on hand at all times. You will need to have your first aid kit always well-supplied. You will need to have extras of personal hygiene essentials. And so forth.
Breaking it down
The fact is, not everyone is cut out for life in a rural area. Not everyone’s circumstances allow it. And that’s okay. A simple, fulfilling life can occur in any number of places within any number of circumstances. And if you’re hankering to homestead, you can do that on in an apartment balcony if you will just let your creative genius loose.
The rural life definitely has its advantages, but as you have just seen, it also has its disadvantages that are often ignored. If you’ve been thinking about moving out of town and settling on an acreage, however small, weigh the pros and cons carefully. It’s a different life out here.