There’s a never-ending stream of programs on TV nowadays catering to the masses of people wanting to leave their city life behind and live the rural dream. In fact, the classic daytime show Escape to Country streams on Netflix to over 100 countries and according to host Nicki Chapman is extremely popular in North Korea! How crazy is that?! But how much of the stereotypical country idyll is true? Well, as a born and bred country lass, I can confirm that it isn’t all Barbour wearing, chicken keeping and jam making! Rural life certainly has it’s ups and downs. I asked a few members of the Rural Based Bloggers and Businesses Facebook group for their pros and cons of living in the country…
Fresh air is inevitably top of the list when you ask people why they want to move to the country, and it is definitely a bonus. Although it has to be said that there is nothing fresh about muck spreading as Nikki from Notes of Life quite rightly points out! But lack of pollution is just one of the ways in which country life can be healthier. Argyll based make up & nail artist Mairi MacDonald lists cleaner water as one of her positives and also mentions the lack of fast food outlets. We’ve no McDonalds, no KFC, no Dominos…less unhealthy options mean we have no choice but to avoid them. Occasionally this can be seen as negative though, especially if like Mairi you are pregnant and struggling to contain the cravings!
“beautiful countryside, clean air, wildlife” – Nikki Trow (Notes of Life)
Nikki also added wildlife to her pros list and I have to agree. We regularly have deer & rabbits in the garden and often see birds of prey, seals and red squirrels when we’re out & about. Some people pay to go to wildlife reserves for that kind of thing but we tend to take it for granted! It’s a great way for the kids to grow up and means they have a knowledge and respect for local wildlife from an early age.
Top of my list when it comes to country life is space. I love going out for a run and within a few minutes there is no one to be seen; just miles upon miles of space, fresh air, fields, mountains, forests, lochs. Wild Scotland at it’s best! For me physical space equals head space, and I just couldn’t live without it.
“stunning countryside dog walks right from my door, no light pollution so beautiful night skies, beauty everywhere.” – Anna Riddell (Anna International)
And Anna is quite right; on a clear night the stars are incredible! I’ve been caught by surprise on a few occasions by the beauty of a rural night sky, it can be truly breathtaking.
Some of the pros of country living can also turn out to be a negative. That space that I love so much certainly has it’s faults. It can quickly turn from feeling free and liberating to feeling lonely and isolating, especially once you have children. The physical distance from amenities can be an issue in so many instances. Lack of options when it comes to childcare or baby groups; no 24 hour supermarket when you run out of milk or Calpol; part time doctor surgeries; half day closing for the village shops and Post Office (if you’re lucky enough to have one!); no card machine in some shops and yet no cashpoint for miles… the list goes on! And all these things bring with them a different way of life. You have to be more organised and live a more streamlined life which can be a challenge, especially when you have kids. And of course the lack of amenities also brings with it a lack of jobs. This is probably the reason that the majority of start-up companies and innovative businesses are born in rural locations! We have to think outside the box, us country bumpkins!
“most hospital visits including very simple 5 min orthodontic checks and not so simple giving birth are a 5 hour round trip” – Donna Booth (Vitality Retreat)
Remote living does bring with it some more serious issues, especially when it comes to accessing emergency care. It’s not uncommon for people to have to travel hours to get to their nearest hospital as Donna explains above. We’re lucky to have a small hospital nearby that can accommodate some needs but any major issues and emergencies are usually sent to Glasgow, a 2 hour drive away. In fact, we took Madeleine to our local A&E department when she burned her hand at 5 months old and I was asked if we had an appointment!
“lack of good bands/comedy acts; high street shops are dreadful” – Becky Wren (Country Bumpkin Chic)
The distance, time and extra money involved in going on holiday, seeing a performance or just having a night in the pub can be very frustrating. As much as I am a country girl at heart I do love a few days in the city to experience a bit of culture. I try to pack in as much as possible which usually ends up in a bit of sensory overload but there’s so many museums, theatre shows and shops that I miss out on, I just can’t help myself!
High on my personal list of pet peeves is the lack of affordable housing. Rentals are few and far between as they get snapped up immediately via word of mouth, which is exactly how we got our current house. I’d heard on the grapevine that the tenants were moving out and headed straight down the road to the landlord’s house to let him know I was interested! House prices in the countryside are inevitably cheaper than in the city, there’s no denying that you get more for your money, but that doesn’t necessarily make them affordable. The age old problem of wealthy ‘townies’ outpricing young locals is never going to go away unfortunately, and I can’t say I blame them. If I had the money I would love to have a city crash pad and a rural retreat, too! But it is frustrating when you see a beautiful family home sitting empty most of the year.
The community aspect is by far the best and worst thing about country life so it deserves a section all of it’s own! The rural community can give you the most heartwarming experience one day and the most infuriating the next!
Nothing beats community spirit in a time of need. Whether it’s a tragic accident or supporting a local lad’s charity challenge, when it really matters the rural community pulls together and shows the very best of human kindness. You know that saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? It’s so true! I couldn’t be without my little tribe of local Mama’s who watch out for me and my kids just as I do for them. Whether it’s a last minute shout for childcare, picking the kids up from school when you’re running late or simply meeting for a playdate to get out the house and let off some steam. Whatever you need, there will be someone to help out.
It’s not unusual for villages to have their share of small minded people that can show a certain amount of snobbery and resentment towards newcomers, especially if it’s the aforementioned townies! It’s human nature to be wary of change and this can show itself in ugly ways on occasion. But once you have proved yourself by joining as many local committees and groups as possible you will be welcomed with open arms! And maybe, if you’re lucky, in a few decades, you’ll even be referred to as a local. Patience is key to village life!
So, overall, is it worth it? For me, yes! I can understand that country life might not be for everyone though, especially if you are a self-confessed townie. The lack of shops and social life might be a bit of a shock to the system! But I was born and bred in the Yorkshire Dales and despite a brief stint living in a town my head and heart will always be in the country. Fresh air, space to roam and community spirit will always win out for me.
What are your pros and cons of living in the country? Any that I missed?