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It's been almost 3 months since I've traded city-living for the countryside, and I don't regret my decision one bit. Even if I had to go back in time and reconsider my options, I would still decide to jump at the opportunity of buying a country home. There's so much that I'm learning to do on my own, and with every passing day, it's been rewarding to see such hard work pay off when I take in the view of it. Since it's been such a big transition, I want to note the biggest lessons I've learned so that YOU can decide if it's right for you or not!
1) You'll have to live without city conveniences.
I'm talking sewage, garbage pick-up, water supply, fast food... the usual services you find in a city. My water comes from a drilled well at the back of my property and my sewage goes straight into a septic tank in the ground beside my house. There are only 2 chain-restaurants in the nearby town that will deliver here, but one of these options comes with a higher fee (and obviously, your choice is limited). And the more obvious - accepting that it takes a trip into town when you need things.
If you don't mind dealing with this (I personally enjoy the scenic 10-minute drive to town and make a routine trip out of hitting the stores I need), then it can be easy to adapt to the changes you need to make. Besides: small-town/village living has it's charms such as home-based shops and restaurants, roadside farmers markets, and friendly folk that are willing to help.
But if having lower housing & utility costs mixed with the potential to have a bigger home and property are your driving force, then this is the direction you want to go! Personally, it was a no-brainer for me -- for our price range, the options were to buy a condo or attached townhouse back in the city, OR, take this 2000+ sq. ft. house on a half acre of land. Perks aside though, it does come with a lot of work so you'll want to read on to get a better idea of what's involved.
2) You'll have to go green (if you haven't already)!
Having a well and septic tank means you have to be extra careful about what goes down the pipes and careful about your water usage. For me, this has resulted in setting up rain barrels (including pumping dehumidifier water out of the basement) to supply water to my gardens, and opting to go an extra day without a shower when I feel that I can. It's not as bad as it sounds (I have been able to freely cook, clean, do laundry, shower, etc. in one day with no concern), but it's something you want to be mindful of - especially during persistent heat waves when you've had little to no rain.
Since I switched completely to green (organic / natural / vegan) products back in 2017, the household product change was flawless for me... but if you don't already do this, you'll need to accept that you should. Not only do you not want to put anything down your drain that could harm your septic tank or the bacteria-eating process, but you also have to consider that anything that seeps into the ground of your property will end up in your water. Go plant-based with your household products and you won't have to worry about it!
You'll also quickly find ways to reuse a lot around the home since your disposal methods may now be limited. This will also change your buying habits! This region (also like the areas I've rented lakeside cottages in) has drop-off centres for garbage and recycling which must be cleaned & sorted for their process. Even though we're fortunate enough to have a local company that does a pick-up route (for a fee; it requires purchasing tags), you still have to be considerate - especially if you want to keep costs low. You'll also be doing the composting yourself, but this is a plus if you want to grow vegetables!
3) You'll want to grow a green thumb.
This was the biggest learning curve for me because I didn't have a garden to grow and maintain before... and now I have multiple! So if you're like me and have no experience, don't worry - it doesn't take a lot! I took possession in May and by then, the gardens were out of control. The biggest problem was trying to figure out what was a weed and what was a plant or flower -- but good news was that I quickly found an app that identified it all for me. From there, it just takes some care, digging (getting dirty), water, and mulch to cultivate a great garden.. and a couple hours a week, plus regular watering, to maintain.
But it's not just the gardens on my property that I have on my mind.... When you move to a place like this, you quickly discover that almost everyone grows their own food. If you're aching to grow vegetables, then you definitely want to move to the countryside! It's just convenient since you undoubtedly will have space and conditions to do so. You may need to put in some measures to deter wildlife, but based on what I've seen so far, it's not a big concern.
No matter what, keep in mind that you don't want to use any chemicals for gardening or growing. Yes, it takes a lot more work to pull weeds, but you can easily get away with mowing the weeds in your lawn on a routine basis (weekly / bi-weekly). It appears that you're much better off allowing the ground (as it is) to do the work... and if you really need a boost for growing, just connect with some local farms and offer to take some manure from them (if your compost isn't ready yet).
4) You need to be okay with wildlife.
Birds, squirrels, chipmunks, bats, snakes, frogs, and feral cats live in and around my property. This is normal! It's beautiful if you enjoy it but possibly unnerving if you don't. Our first night in the house, I was crash-landed on by a bat that found it's way into our kitchen, that we then had to capture and release... and it's safe to say, "well, that's just our first day here!". The above list is just that of which I've seen and come face-to-face with, and it's a part of my everyday. But needless to say, there are bigger animals that prowl at night so you have to accept that there's potential to be face-to-face with a coyote or bear if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On the flip-side, I feel I need to mention the insects as well! While there's an abundance of butterflies, dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, ants, and more, there's also a lot of ticks. This means you want to be covered from head to toe when you start tackling/travelling areas with any tall grass, and that your dog(s) will need to be on preventative medications for longer than usual (year-around, to be safe). Embrace the plaid shirt tucked into jeans, with a baseball cap and pulled up socks - even when it's super hot - while you mow, weed wack, and squat to garden.. it's better than being bit and getting Lyme disease!
Another lesson that I've already learned is that you'll also have to be okay with watching nature take it's course. We had a beautiful robin nest on our side porch, which I was quick to shield from our view, and we got to watch all 3 eggs hatch! We didn't go near this side of the house so as to give them space, but I peeked out daily to see their progress. To my shock, as I did my morning check a week after they hatched, there was nothing but a trail of feathers, blood and poop left.... something had found the babies during the night. It's a very sad sight, and one that I inevitably had to clean up, but it's a reality that had to be accepted.
5) You'll want to seriously consider your career.
There were certain circumstances that allowed my husband and I to make this move, and even though we moved a good 4 hours away, it resulted in our career-lives going uninterrupted (a fact that undoubtedly made this decision easier to act on). We are fortunate that we already had jobs that were home-based, with no potential to physically need to go somewhere unless it's of our choosing. Since all this really requires is a good internet connection, this was one of the first things we investigated when we were considering this house.
The good news is that it's not hard to get internet in rural areas, but the bad news is you can't expect the ultra fast option you had in the city. While we've never had any struggles (we can both work on our computers and have Netflix on TV at the same time), we have had to invest in equipment to boost our connection throughout the home. Still, the concern with internet is much smaller than that of cell reception - which is something that can change from day to day. Zoom calls prove to be more reliable than phone calls, so consider how you need to communicate (and get a landline if communicating by phone is important).
If you expect to obtain a job upon such a relocation, then you probably want to put a lot more weight and consideration on this point first. As long as you don't mind commuting - which you'll have to accept in this case - then you will have options (pandemic aside, of course)... but there's also opportunity to reconsider your career! I've seen everything from selling your vegetables at a booth at the end of your driveway, to garages that were converted into shops/restaurants, to self-employed that proudly sport their business sign on their front lawn. I discovered there are TONS of local resources for small business and entrepreneurship if you search for it, and business can come from simple word of mouth. Even though I haven't yet advertised in my new area, my business has begun to flourish simply through the people I've interacted with here.
6) You may need a lot of money to start out.
Let's face it: buying a home is a huge move, no matter what you buy! We completely surprised everyone with this decision as we've been secretly plugging away at our downpayment fund for years and just waiting for the right time & opportunity to buy. Between inspections, servicing/cleaning, repairs, painting, new furniture/decor... the list goes on and you have to be prepared to start dumping money. But we found that was just the beginning of what's needed when it comes to a country home...
For starters, I must say that it will always depend on what the home inspection reveals. Personally, we thought our home inspection would send us in the opposite direction but we were pleasantly surprised. A lot of country homes have a long history... and ours, for one, dates back to 1947. What this means (as it's much like all the houses surrounding us) is that our basement is more of a cellar where the walls are the original stone structure. In order to help prevent the house from shifting, you have to have a dehumidifier running non-stop in this setting (at least during the warm months). The end result: investing in a large dehumidifier, hosing, and a pump to send the water up and outside to a rain barrel - because otherwise, you have to empty the tank every few hours!
Investing in additional routers, purchasing bigger equipment for property maintenance, setting up the dehumidifier system, and pest-proofing the exterior were additional expenses that followed us moving into this house... but based on what I've heard, we're lucky that those are the only things we've had to do. Every house needs some TLC and minor repairs regardless (unless you're aiming to completely renovate a fixer-upper), so my main point here is to be prepared for those new costs that can come with a house in the country. Based on what I've seen with this house, which has been well taken care of and renovated over the years, is that some hard work goes a long way to turn it into the perfect home!
#empath #intuitiveempath #ruralliving #empathconfessions