There is a certain draw to the rural life. A desire to slow down and live a more simple life. But does living in the country actually make for a simple life?
Rural Life and Simple Living
With a pull towards simplicity, many people long to live in the country. There are a lot of lovely things about living the rural life, but it is worth discussing that moving to the country does not automatically create a simple and stress free life.
Misconceptions about Rural Life
One of the first times I realized that there was a misconception about rural life was shortly after we moved out to the country.
Now, for a little context, we moved onto raw land and lived off grid for the first five months we were out here. While we may have been living in the most basic of conditions, we were definitely not living the simple life!
A lot of our time and energy went into basic survival. Like figuring out how to haul in water, how to set up our solar power system, how to safely store our food. We were even washing our laundry by hand on a daily basis.
On top of that, we were also in the very early stages of building our house. While we are doing the bulk of the work and building our house ourselves, we decided to hire out the foundation.
That meant we were meeting with various contractors and getting bids for pouring the foundation while also finalizing our house plans.
In the midst of that chaotic season, we took a trip to visit some family. While we were there, somebody asked with complete sincerity, “So, are you just living the simple life out there on your property?”
My husband and I immediately gave each other a knowing glance. When this family member used the word “simple,” it was not in the context of “simple” as in living in the most basic of conditions (as we actually were), but “simple” as in serene, calm, charming, and stress free.
Thankfully my husband was able to answer the question. He said that we definitely were not living the simple life. He went on to explain that living in the country was hard, but a different kind of hard than life in the city.
And I think that nails it right on the head. Life is hard no matter where you live. And moving to the country is essentially trading one kind of hard for another.
The Real Rural Life
Moving to the country does not magically make problems go away. People who live in the country still have modern day problems. There are bills to pay, family to tend to, a living to make, and many other life issues to deal with.
By moving to the country, it is quite possible that you may be trading one set of challenges for another.
For example, while you may no longer have to deal with a busy rush hour commute in the city, in the country you may find one morning that you are unable to go anywhere because rodents chewed through the wires of your car and it will not start.
And while you may no longer have to deal with issues associated with dense population, you might find yourself a little lonely as it can take awhile to find community in a rural area (more thoughts on that here).
Living in the country forces you to be more self sufficient as well. Any number of curve balls will come your way, and you will be forced to adapt, learn, and innovate.
Wanting to Live in the Country vs. Actually Living in the Country
Another point to consider is that sometimes people are more enamored with the idea of living in the country than they are of actually living in the country.
I am guilty of overromanticizing things in my mind. And I think it is easy to fall into the trap of picturing an idyllic life in the country.
I know people who have entertained this romantic notion of rural life and chose to move to the country because of it. And then a few years in they realized it actually was not their cup of tea.
There is nothing wrong with that! Some people are more wired for country life, and others are more wired for city life. The point to take away is to not fall into the trap of moving to the country based off of romantic notions alone.
Living with a Country Mindset in the City
While living in the country may not be for everybody, what if somebody lives in the city but really, truly yearns to live in the country?
Sometimes due to life circumstances it just is not possible to live in the country. But it is possible to live in the city and still cultivate a more “country” existence simply by making intentional choices.
Maybe that means moving closer to work so you can cut down on your commute. Or maybe you could move to the edge of town where there is less traffic and you can have a bigger yard for a garden, and even chickens.
In my opinion, the single most important part of cultivating a more simple life regardless of where you live, is to limit the amount of activities and commitments that you let into your life.
Country life tends to make you slow down because you have to drive farther to get anywhere. It makes you slow down and consider if an activity or commitment is worth the expense of gas and time required to get from point A to point B and back again.
This principle can be applied in the city as well. Just because you live in the city does not mean you have to live a fast paced life.
This past summer a dear friend stopped by for a short visit as her family happened to be in our area. We went for a walk through the lane on our property and we caught up with each other as we chatted about life.
She asked me if I liked living out here. I told her that I did. And I followed that up with saying “It is not an easy life, but it is a good life.”
And full disclosure, as lovely as a summer walk through the lane sounds, we came back from that walk covered in ticks!
Living in the country is beautiful, but it also comes along with dirt, mud, bugs, predators, rodents, livestock to care for, exposure to extreme weather elements, and a whole lot of hard work.
So no, I would not say that rural life is the simple life, but for the right person, it is a good life.
What are your thoughts about rural life and simple living? Do you have any experience or insight? Share them in the comments!