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Should I stay or should I go??
November 29, 2010 11:39 AM   Subscribe

25 year old single female (kinda) city mouse might go country mouse. How well advised is this move?? I would like to hear from people that have done this and loved it or hated it.

I am debating leaving my life in Big City and heading to Little Town to put down some more roots there. It seems very trendy lately to "go back to the land" but I think my situation is a bit different. (snowflake alert!)

I lived in "Little Town" for about four years of my childhood and loved it. My parents still have a weekend residence there where we spend holidays, and my grandparents and a couple extended family members live there as well. It's an historic town (tons of pioneer structures and houses that have been restored) in a valley between big mountains of about 2,000 and about two hour's drive from "Big City".

About 10 months ago, I moved back from DC after working on the Hill there for almost 3 years after college. I liked it but missed the mountains and outdoors. I currently have a good job and own a house in a large Rocky Mountain city- vacation, benefits, etc in a career path I am interested in (government). I don't have a computer at my house, nor a TV (just to give you some context that I am not some urban technology goddess). People think that is crazy enough but I prefer to read or listen to the radio or play music.

However, the siren call of Little Town is beckoning me. I've always been interested in living in Little Town, but always thought it would be something in the future, maybe when I was older. My parents moved us to Little Town when they were about 30, but gave it up because the commute was too hard on my dad (pre-internet days). After spending Thanksgiving there, I started thinking of what it would be like to live there full time. I do have some friends that live down there (living off the land types/art types/out of the rat race types.)

I own my house in Big City, but could rent it out and make the move down to Little Town if I could find a decent job and a place to live (rent is dirt cheap). I already have chickens at my house in Big City, and could get goats, maybe a cow, bees, etc in Little Town. That is part of the appeal to me.

I could maybe get a job down there with a state or federal agency with the contacts I have in my current job.

TL;DR - As a 25 year old single female, am I crazy to be considering this? Yesterday I shared this idea with a couple of close friends who now think I am now insane.

Pros: Living in a snug house on a chunk of land zoned for uses that I am interested in pursuing, along with good neighbors (there is a strong art/alt community in this town and lots of interesting people), having more access to land for projects I am interested in, more focus on music and other pursuits. Beautiful wilderness literally a mile from the town. Having a car will give me access to Big City. Living close to my grandparents, who are getting up there in years and not as mobile as they used to be.

Cons: The potential to isolate myself in this small community, and giving up a good job? I wouldn't move before securing employment but still these are shaky times. Leaving my little life in Big City for Little Town might have more downsides I'm not thinking of.

To sum up:
Has anyone out here done this at my age?
If yes, what would you have done differently?
Has anyone done this and regretted it?
What are potential job opportunities I am not thinking of (most people work in agriculture or ranching down there)?
What things am I missing/not thinking through??

I have a good emergency fund saved up, my car is paid off, I think financially I could handle it but want to make sure I'm thinking this through and am not missing anything obvious.

Throwaway: littletownorbigcity@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
As someone who's gone 'country mouse' I whole-heartedly approve and encourage it. It's wonderful, I wouldn't change it for the world.
posted by unixrat at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being a landlord sucks. What would you do if your tenant flaked out on rent, damaged your property, etc? Would you be close enough to Big City to still visit the house on occasion, arrange for repairs, ensure the place doesn't get trashed?

What's your romantic situation? Little Town usually = Fewer Prospects. Are you prepared to fish out of a much smaller dating pool? I think Little Town sounds wonderful, but if I were you (and I'm not...), I would wait until I had found my life partner to make the move.
posted by litnerd at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's a great idea.

Is your pension locked in? (i.e. can you go back to Big City and government job in a few years time and still have your old pension rate/accrued service years/whatever's in your retirement fund?) It's nice to know that if things go south, you can always resume your old career, rather than having to start over completely.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:49 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought I was a country mouse, having loved the country on summer vacations. So after college I moved there. It was beautiful, but it was very hard to meet new people and very few people nearby were at all likeminded. I drove everywhere, and nothing was less than a 20 minute drive away. There were few restaurants/theaters/anything cultural around. I'm now a happy, car-free urbanite who is still surprised at how much she loves city living.

Your mountain town sounds very different from my mountainous area, so I'd say that if you have friends there already you're on a better track. But I would look for the jobs first - my (and a friend's) experience with rural areas was that jobs are fewer, and more linked to who you know personally.

Are you close enough that you could start weekending there more, building ties and looking for work? Transition a little more slowly?
posted by ldthomps at 12:00 PM on November 29, 2010


I'm 2-3 years older than you and just did exactly the same thing, with only cosmetic differences. (I brought a girlfriend for example - don't tell her I referred to her as a cosmetic difference.)

I'm totally happy with my decision. I'm living a rural lifestyle not far from where I grew up, and I don't miss the city for a moment. Similar circumstances: very accepting, artsy-ish small town near childhood home, etc.

The key difference here is work. Part of what I love about my move is that I did it on the back of a very good job. I am not sure that I'd feel the same way about it without that, and there's a reason that so many people live in the city: work outside of urban centers is increasingly hard to get.

Don't do it if you have to sacrifice any hope of a career. Plan career/finances well in advance, and only do it if you can make it work in regards to those.

Romance, well, I imported my partner with me. But you might want to take into account that there are fewer romantic options out there. Not none. But fewer. I wouldn't let that be a deciding factory myself.

I guess the short answer is: Do it, but get the job first. That's how I did it, and I have zero regrets.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:01 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


All of your reasons for NOT going are concerns about what other people think and what you think you "should" do. Other people aren't living your life, and it's too early in your life to hold a steady job closer to your heart than your dreams. I think you want to move to "Little Town" and you are passionate abou that decision. You may be romantizing it a bit, but you can always go back to "Big City" if you decide "Little Town" isn't for you.

You won't be isolated if you have friends there, and it sounds like you are more excited about these friends than the ones who think you are crazy anyway. I think 25 is perfect time to take a risk. With a spouse and kids it will be harder to leave a "good" job.
posted by rainydayfilms at 12:02 PM on November 29, 2010


I grew up in Big Northeast City and, for a time, enjoyed the fun and the noise and the nightlife and the excitement and the job opportunities, and made do with the traffic and the pollution and the general grar. Now I live in Small Southern City and am thoroughly enjoying the quiet, the lack of party-all-night neighbors, the spread of Nature, the quirky little local customs, the laid back atmosphere. I wish I'd done it sooner. It sounds like a dream for you, and I can't see a reason for you not to go for it, provided that you're not too impulsive and you do come up with a solid plan including secure employment, which it sounds like you're doing.

As for landlording being a pain, I would encourage you not to be a landlord, and just hire a good property management company to rent out your house for you. One less thing to worry about.

I would also not be too concerned with finding your soulmate before putting down roots where you want to put them down. (I suspect nobody would even consider giving a man the same advice.) Personally, I think the less everybody fretted about that sort of thing, the happier they'd all be. Don't give up a perfectly good dream for a Mr. Right who might not even exist. If anything, now is the time to take chances like this (like rainydayfilms suggests, as I see on preview).
posted by Gator at 12:03 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


What Stagger Lee said about a career. This economic era is not one for indulging one's hopes I am afraid.
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:12 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


My advice is to do it, but make sure where ever you move has DSL. All over things, you can go around, make changes, ect. but make sure it's got DSL.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 12:15 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would wait until I had found my life partner to make the move.

please don't wait until you find "a life partner" to do anything. you may or may not find one, but in the meantime, your life goes on and you, at your age and with your circumstances, can live your life in a way that makes you happy.

i would, however, make sure you have a job before you make the move. then hire a management company to rent your house and get on with the life you want!
posted by violetk at 12:35 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would do it because it might be a great fit for you and because you are single and childless (sounds like, anyway) so if you change your mind, no harm done. After all, it's undoable too, particularly if you keep your house in Big City.

However my experience has been different from some previous posters. I'd lived my whole life in the suburbs or downtown in large cities. Where we live now is 1 1/2 hours from a huge metro area-doesn't seem that remote, right? But it drives me freakin' crazy. The nearest Target is 35 minutes away. I never realized how important it was to me to have stores/malls/movie theaters/museums/zoos/zumba class etc close by until I didn't. Needless to say, after 5 1/2 years here, we are not staying. Hubs is happy but I've gone steadily crazier every year that we've been here. Now, in my case I also have two small children so the 1 1/2 hours to MSP might as well be a day and a half for all that I have the time and energy to get over there, so perhaps that colors my thinking. But before you make the jump, consider the stupid practical stuff that can sometimes be harder in a small community. Nothing like driving half an hour to mail a UPS package to make you rethink small town living.
posted by supercapitalist at 12:38 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I moved from Philadelphia in my 20s to a little town in New England. It had some challenges but I can't imagine my life without having done that. I was immediately happier, because it's where I needed to be.

I agree about not waiting for a partner. YES, it's harder to find a partner or even just people to date in a smaller pool of prospects, if you never leave town. However, if you have enough income, you can counter that by planning travel and weekend activities that will bring you into contact with your kinds of people. Make sure to plan and do those things to keep your life vibrant.
posted by Miko at 12:42 PM on November 29, 2010


Farmwife here. I grew up in the suburbs and lived in college towns and cities as an adult, and the rural life beats it all. It's not just the occasional bald eagle-spotting (in my PASTURE, just sitting there!) and the joys of home-raised bacon with a side of fresh-from-under-the-hen eggs, but it is also a damn lot of work. Here's what I wish I'd understood before becoming a farm woman:

* The work is endless. Entropy works overtime on a farm, and there is always a fence to repair, a hose that needs replacing because you hit it with the mower, wood to split, weeds to pull, vegetables to can, bread to bake. Sounds delightful, yes? It is, when you can do it by choice. When you're out of wood in the house and it's sleeting outside, *you still have to do what needs doing,* whether you want to or not, sick or well, no matter what time it is. Your discretionary time will disappear because you'll always be trying to keep up with your To-Do list. No TV? That's fine. I miss sitting down with coffee and The New Yorker--I'm too busy tending the fire and rooting around the barn for the heated pan so the chickens' water doesn't freeze.

* Animals are complicated. With each animal, factor in: the expense of feeding; potential veterinary care; housing; and transportation. Do you have the right fencing? A dry barn, or run-in shed outside? Is there a feed mill nearby? How do you haul animals when you must? How do you provide water in freezing temperatures? Are you prepared to put an animal down if necessary? Sheep and goats and cows only look like they just stand there when they're in someone else's field and you are driving by, admiring their beauty. Are you hands-on enough to do your own processing, or do you have a butcher nearby? Do you have the knack for picking up weird skills (maggot-picking, chicken-catching, coop-building)? If not, then I hope your friends do.

* Man does not live by strength alone. My husband is super handy but, with only two hands, often unable to lift and brace heavy lumber by himself. I get called away from whatever I'm working on so I can help do things that require two people. You are not going to be able to do *every job* by yourself, because sometimes the work requires a second human being. Factor that into your planning.

* Small town = limited pool of appropriate candidates for friendship (romantic or otherwise). I've met a lot of good people in my area, but thanks to my own quirkiness, I don't find them close friend material. I like books and politics and art and geek culture and... well, Metafilter, whereas most folks here are interested in other things. Like religion as a central force in their lives and right-wing radio in their trucks. Good people. But not my best friends. It gets lonely out here.

* Money. Argh, there are always things that you NEED and don't have. A post-puller, a post-pounder, a tiller for the tractor, a dump cart for the mower, chainsaw...I might as well belong to the Church of Ace Hardware, because that's where I tend to head most Saturday mornings. I can make do, until I can't. And that begs the question of storing all this stuff, taking care of it, sending it off for repair when absolutely necessary...

* Your standards will fall. Yeah, your pristine kitchen with all of the country-themed furniture and porcelain roosters? Gone. Think mud all over the floor, perpetually encrusted boots, dried mud on the carpet inside the front door, piles of stuff sitting there waiting to be dealt with because they're not on fire, unlike the HOLY SHIT, PIGS THAT ARE LOOSE! FUUUUU--- (True story. They were lured back to their pen only because I called "Treats! Treats!" and ran through the pasture waving corn cobs above my head, all the while reflecting that the dissertation, while not as much fun, certainly had the virtue of not stampeding me.)

"Bread was my first defeat and I lowered my standards a notch. By the end of the first winter, in view of my record of notable failures, I would probably have had to retrieve this standard with a post-hole digger." --Betty MacDonald, "The Egg and I"

Yeah. What she said. In fact, you should just go read it.

Farm life showed me that I was not who I thought I was. I have become someone more skilled, less judgy, more stressed but also more balanced. I am more than I was, in some quiet way. I am also really. freakin'. TIRED.

Before you move back to Little Town--off the grid--back to the land, go spend a chunk of time living the life and see whether it speaks to you. If it doesn't, then be content to visit. But if it does--and I hope that it will for you--do it because you feel you must and can do no other.

Good luck!
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:44 PM on November 29, 2010 [295 favorites]


Things to consider:
Buying a computer / having high speed internet at your residence - You may be able to get a telecommuting job located in Big City that you can do from Small Town. Having internet access would also open up avenues for dating despite having a smaller pool in Small Town.

Owning a lot of land - someone has to take care of it. You will either need to have money to pay someone to mow grass, etc or buy your own lawn care stuff.

Landlording - I nth the suggestion to to hire a property management company to rent out your house.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:53 PM on November 29, 2010


I don't think you're crazy at all, but I think you should try it for a while first, just to see how it goes, and not think quite yet about "setting down roots" or anything permanent. Unless I'm reading your question wrong, it sounds like you're thinking of this as an all or nothing forever move, and it doesn't have to be that at this point.

I lived in a small semi-rural town for year because I'd never lived in anything like a small town before and wanted to experience it. (Medium towns, very large city, medium-sized city, and small cities, yes, but never a small town and never - this might be the important thing - in the middle of nowhere.) My Little Town and yours sound somewhat similar. Your situation is different because you lived there before and have family and friends there and a better idea of what you're getting into. But living in a place as an adult is not the same as living with your family as a child, and there were some practical things I'd just never even considered about small towns in the country until I lived there. I enjoyed many aspects of being there, and I'm glad I did it, but I realized that ultimately I'm a city girl who really loves to travel and spend time in the wilderness, not live in it.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:57 PM on November 29, 2010


I moved from Boston to super rural Tennessee and now I'm living a small city in Tennessee (suburbs of the city, I guess).

Here's what I miss:

-public transportation [thought I would never say that]
-seeing my favorite bands perform
-the internet resources/presence of the area
-cultural diversity
-friends
-less health/dental resources (currently don't have insurance but make too much to go through the health department)
-having options on things to do almost nightly
-walking to the store
-some of the clothing stores
-large airport
-lack of jobs (unemployed for 7 months before finding one and hour and half a way in the "city")
-the accents
-The absence of super religious signs/conversations/etc

Here's what I don't miss:
-the weather
-the crowds
-family (even though I don't have any family in Tennessee, but I'm closer to them)
-sporting event crowds
-higher taxes
-cost of living is higher (but now I have to pay for gas, car payment and car insurance)
-the limited amount of trails/rivers/mountains
-How loud it was

I thought I would never make as much money in Tennessee than in Boston, but I am making more. This is probably because I was able to (somehow!) obtain a government job.

So, I don't know. I move a lot. The Grass is always greener... that rings true for me.
That's why I rent.

Once the economy gets better, I doubt I'll make this my home.

You can always move back or somewhere else if you don't like it.
Try renting your house for a year and rent somewhere in Small Town and see how it goes.




-
posted by KogeLiz at 1:02 PM on November 29, 2010


I did it, about five years ago, when I was 35. It's great! I love it here. My quality of life is vastly improved. I spent my whole entire life in cities, and now when I drive down to visit friends in Seattle, I wonder how I could have lived there for so long.

It can be a very isolating life. Being a knitter and a blogger was a big help for me, since I was able to meet some friends locally, join some local knitting groups, etc. And the internet has always been a big part of my social circle, so no change there. With the Twitter and the Facebook and the email and the Skype and all.

You worry about the loss of your earning potential. This is a significant concern. Not to state the obvious, but there aren't many jobs in small towns/rural areas. I have built up a freelancing job so that I work online. Hopefully you have skillz that could be used in this manner. If not, then I predict that the job hunt will be the most difficult part of the project for you.

Take your city friends' attitudes with a grain of salt. I've been living out here for five years, and I still have city friends who ask when I'm planning to move back. You will find that city folk cannot conceive of someone voluntarily living somewhere other than in a city.

(Perhaps unsurprisingly, the same is true of rural folk.)
posted by ErikaB at 1:28 PM on November 29, 2010


As a single person who lives in a "little town," I can speak from experience that its very difficult to find dating partners. A few comments above have brushed this off, but you should really consider this. The dating pool will be very small and you will have a hard time meeting single people within your age group that will have a common background, i.e. college, job and travel experiences, etc. While you will likely meet lots of small town single men, they will mostly be very different from single men you would meet in DC or your current city. (Although, that might be fine with you.) Sure you can search out people on the internet that live in the nearest "non-little town," but it still doesn't solve the issue, unless you don't mind long distance relationships, or you find the rare person who genuinely wants to move to your little town. Long term it can be very frustrating and lonely.
posted by greasy_skillet at 1:50 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought I was a country mouse, having loved the country on summer vacations. So after college I moved there. It was beautiful, but it was very hard to meet new people and very few people nearby were at all likeminded. I drove everywhere, and nothing was less than a 20 minute drive away. There were few restaurants/theaters/anything cultural around. I'm now a happy, car-free urbanite who is still surprised at how much she loves city living.

Yep, me too.

Also, be very slow to quit your job in this economy. Perhaps you could work out a part-time city/part-time country setup while keeping your job? (Sorry if I missed any reference to the feasibility of this in the TL;DR.)

Oh, and one more thing: You're 25. Living in an area with low population density (i.e., the country) might mean fewer opportunities for lovey-type relationships. Just saying.
posted by scratch at 2:01 PM on November 29, 2010


I don't think you should worry too much about dating - now is the time to decide who you are and where you want to be, before you decide what you want in terms of a partner or family. Once you have either, it will be more difficult to make these kinds of decisions, and you may end up wondering what might have been.

I did something similar at your age - I moved from Manchester to London, and while both are cities, a capital city feels very different. I knew few people but had internet connections and a job lined up, and five years later this is where my life is. But I still wish I didn't like my job so much so I could pack up and live by the sea or in the Orkneys.
posted by mippy at 8:34 AM on November 30, 2010


You may find the Pioneer Woman blog interesting. She makes the ranch life sound fantastic, but she doesn't shy away from the scary, disgusting, or lots of work things. Plus, she married to a cowboy and has 4 kids who help around the house - so its a bit different.
posted by olya at 9:14 AM on November 30, 2010


Do you have the knack for picking up weird skills (maggot-picking, chicken-catching, coop-building)?

Wait, what picking?
posted by Panjandrum at 2:25 PM on November 30, 2010


Yeah, I said it. Maggot-picking.

Pee Cat (name changed to protect the incontinent) was living in the barn, and kept a pretty low profile. After not seeing him for a few days, I reached down to pet him, only to realize that he had an open wound...and that maggots were inside it. High fly season is such a treat. Later that day, I watched a vet tech use tweezers to remove the maggots before she cleaned out the wound.

About two weeks later, Pee Cat II, fellow barn cat, turned up with the same problem. We called the vet, requested same course of meds, made appointment for the next day. But this time, my husband put PCII on a stump and held him there as I did tweezer maggot duty. Gently squeeze sides of wound, apply a little bit of mineral oil (IIRC), wait for the maggots to run out of air and come spiraling up to the slimy surface, grab with tweezers and fling those ugly suckers right the hell away.

Let me tell you, the vet tech was *sooooooo* appreciative of how clean the wound was.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:07 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I grew up in small-farm country, so did MrR. I can do all those country mouse things (chickens, garden, fruit trees, put food by, bake, fence, trim trees, etc), but you know? they're a lot more fun when you don't -have- to. Now, having said that, you sound more like you want to try the Little Town Mouse, which is in reality quite a bit different from country-mouse-inna-middle-o-nowhere.

In the mid 60's my mother moved from a house in the city to a new house on a lot hacked out of the family farm 30 minutes from the nearest grocer and 45 minutes from work. She loved it. Eventually. But was very glad to leave the Little Town behind and move back into Big City after Dad died.

I would suggest trying it for a few weeks, not just a weekend visit before you chuck the job in Big City and move to Little Town. Take a long break from work, and "move" to Little Town. While the scarcity of dating material may be one thing, another may be a scarcity of things to do of an evening or weekend, or the distance you need to drive to do the grocery shopping. What do you usually do in the evenings or weekends? Will you be able to do it in Little Town? Is there something else you can do instead? Is there a library or other source of books (besides ordering from A/B&N). Do not rely on family to entertain you, as they do when you come for holiday. Is there reliable internet access? How far to the nearest grocer? a general store? Can you manage on one trip to the store every week? Or less?
(ack -- gotta go!)
posted by jlkr at 3:26 PM on November 30, 2010


To MonkeyToes maggot-picking, I will add:

botfly removal, palpating mares/ewes/cows/sows (meaning: an arm up their butt) to determine their ovulation cycle so as to put them in with the stud animal at just the right time so that either gender doesn't get the crap beat out of them by an unreceptive or overly eager mate. Which works yeah maybe... 80% of the time? Every time I thought I've seen/heard everything, some animal always proved me wrong in creatively devising unique ways in which to commit self-harm and/or suicide. Not to mention shovelling endless, perpetual piles of shit, becoming completely blase towards an inexhaustible supply of ghastly unmentionable substances smeared all over your hands, face, boots, clothing, etc. Standing in the freezing pouring rain at 2AM on a school night in February dizzy and shivering with snot streaming down your nose because you've had the flu for a week, holding T-posts in wet gloves so that my mom can pound them in because the local cop banged on our door in the middle of the night to tell us that our cows were out running around in the road. Colic. Bloat. Founder. Learning an inexhaustible supply of medieval-sounding animal and crop diseases, names, tools, implements and remedies, all of which come liberally sourced with blood, pain, toil, sweat, muck and exhaustion.

Those of us who've done the time can tell you limitless horror stories. I consider them cautionary tales. Some look forward to this, and for those people I have only the deepest admiration.

No matter what MonkeyToes or Miko, or anyone of us who've been there can tell you, for whatever your values are of "Hard. Fucking. Work", you probably need to triple that to be a successful farmer, particularly anything to do with animal husbandry. And a goat? really?! Dude, goats will either make you insane or a philosopher, but they are not easy animals to keep. They will climb everything and eat anything, for starters.

I wouldn't even worry about your concerns for meeting a potential partner. If you're by yourself on even a small farm? You will likely be too tired to even bother looking.

I grew up as a farm lass, and moved to the city the moment I had the chance. I am now happily ensconced in the suburbs of a midsized, liberal college town.

I'm not trying to scare you, really. I loved growing up on a farm and in a small town, but it isn't my gig. That's not to say it isn't yours, but you should know what you're in for.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:53 AM on December 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


I live in a town 2 hours by train outside a big city. I commute to said city 3 days a week and telecommute 2 days. I don't live on a farm, but do have a fairly big block of land with an old farmhouse on it, and baking bread, vegetable gardens, chicken coop etc.
I can walk to the train station, stores and pub.
Yeah, it would be nice not to get up at 5am those three days, but I can sleep in till 8am the days I telecommute. The big plus is the city wage.
And I get to raise my kids in a little town where they see friends and neighbours as they walk down the street, pick peaches off the tree in summer and never get stuck in traffic.
Perhaps there is a middle ground like that for you?
posted by bystander at 6:28 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The animals, I think, are sort of a separate question, the main one being the move. For certain kinds of people, getting out of the city is a really, really good thing. Once you're settled, OP, you can decide whether to take the chickens and amp things up to more animals. Maybe yes, maybe when you look around and see what others are doing with animals you will decide that it's fine for other people to have goats and for you to buy the milk, soap, whatever.

Social life issues: there are certain things a single person can look for in the exurbs to make them socially tolerable. Contra dancing, swing dancing, square dancing - these events are actually pretty fun and in addition to the others there, young people in rural zones do gravitate to them. Meetup.com has a lot to offer, and if there isn't yet a GreenDrinks or something like that in your town, you can start a chapter. Look for things to volunteer at that you care about - rural areas tend to have hunger-related and literacy-related charity gigs that can always use a hand, or maybe there are annual festivals, fairs or events you could get into helping to run. Since you have the chickens and like animals, there may well be an active local food movement which will introduce you to other young-city-refugee farmers and homesteaders and such - there are so many people in your generation that fit this description that it boggles the mind. Plan excursions to the city 3 or 4 times a year to hear music, see museums, etc.

I know too many people your age happily living outside the center cities that I'd hate for you not to try it. Go in informed, and of course you can always reverse course, but it might suit you and you'll never know unless you give it a try.
posted by Miko at 9:19 PM on December 5, 2010


After college and a brief attempt at city life, I made a change similar to the one you are contemplating. One of my classes was about intentional communities (aka "communes") and one of our readings was by one of the founders of a long-standing community in Central Virginia. I quit my job that I hated and joined the farm, and it was amazing.

The process for moving was simple enough: I did a 3-week visitor period where I got to meet the other residents and work in their various industries, from tofu-making and gardening to crafts and forestry. They also run an indexing business for academic publishers. There is a 40 hour work week, but you get a lot of flexibility in how you structure it. There are about 100 people that live there.

I intended to stay a year, but I stayed for four. A lot of people have that experience. It's a very comfortable way to live as a rural agrarian without the risks of trying it on your own. There are drawbacks that some find unworkable (income-sharing, privacy) but for me the benefits outweighed these.

This is rather different from the scenario you describe, but I wanted to add my former-communard .02 cents nonetheless.
posted by wowbobwow at 6:18 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


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