DrJohnsonFilter (or HoraceFilter)
May 1, 2007 2:33 AM   Subscribe

AdviceFilter: City or country living?

I'm a Brit who moved to a semi-rural location 10 years ago because of a job I no longer have. I'm now freelance and work from home. In many ways, I love where I live. Fresh air, peace and quiet, plus other bonuses like almost no crime. Thing is, I was born and raised in the city, and I pine for it. Moreover, I'm in my early thirties and feel life is passing me by. I have no connections with the area I'm in, aside from simply liking it. As a single guy who works in the media, I'm also pretty out of place where I live, where it's mostly families who (ironically) have relocated from the city for a better quality of life, plus people who work locally. Has anybody made the move from countryside to city? What would you do if you were me?
posted by humblepigeon to Society & Culture (9 answers total)
I'm a Brit, brought up in a Northern town, lived in cities all my life and in a specialist career that is generally London-centric that I always assumed would land me in London. Two years ago got a job in a semi-rural location (Cornwall), was pretty nervous as to whether this was the right decision, had never visited the county before the job interview and knew no-one in the area. Now I love it, there are some things I miss out on a bit, I'm a bit of a movie buff and miss not having a big cinema nearby, plus the shops are a bit poor and there is a lack of any cultural diversity but this is far outweighed by the other amenities (sea, beaches, woods, fields, outdoor sports, etc) and by the general feeling of being somewhere pleasant, it's difficult to rate that unless you can compare that with somewhere else. I spent last weekend in London, taking advantage of shops and cinemas but got down by the sheer filthiness of the whole place, the dirt and sweat on your skin, the general press of too many people in too small a space. I would rather not consider going back to a city, if I had to it would have to be one of the more decent ones: Oxford or Bath perhaps.
posted by biffa at 3:26 AM on May 1, 2007

If you'd still be freelancing in London (or another large city) I think it's a different proposition than the 9-5 grind and commute that biffa describes so well. If you're working from home and can set your own travel schedule for meetings and so on it can take a lot of the stress away.

But it's a very personal decision. I moved out 14 years ago, am moving even further out later this year and can't imagine living in London ever again. In fact, even visiting the city is a strain because of the sheer mass of people.

Biffa's idea of a city other than London is a good one too, Bath and Edinburgh for example.
posted by ceri richard at 3:37 AM on May 1, 2007

What about Brighton? It has all the amenities of a big city (shops, cinemas, clubs, music venues, sports facilities) but without the massive sprawl and filth of London. You only need to take a 15 minute bus journey to get out of the city and into the countryside. Plus it's close enough to London that you can get there fairly easily if needed (about an hour on the train).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:17 AM on May 1, 2007

I know a lot of family men around here who stay in London all week and come back here (rural Worcestershire) on the week ends to see the fam.

I think it's pretty odd, myself. I'm an American transplant, but I was a country boy over there as well. If I were you, I'd find some leafy suburb of London and take the tube in... if you can afford that sort of thing.

Jesus, this country is expensive when it comes to housing. Best of luck.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:01 AM on May 1, 2007

If you're relatively wealthy, how about a time share condo in some city? Then you can have the best of both worlds. I lived and worked in a smaller city less than an hour from the larger city I grew up in but really disliked it. I would much rather be closer to the heart of a big city.
posted by JJ86 at 5:51 AM on May 1, 2007

I'm just about to do what you're contemplating. We left London four years ago and have regretted it ever since, so we're selling up and moving back, despite it being much easier for us to stay here in terms of work and size of house and suchlike. We've tried both living in a smaller city and living right out in the sticks, but it doesn't measure up; if you pine for London it's unlikely that anywhere else will compare favourably.

I have to add that I grew up where we live now, on the edge of the Peak District, and I have plenty of friends here. I just really miss London (sprawl and filth and all) and I cannot wait to get back.
posted by tomsk at 6:04 AM on May 1, 2007

planet earth is a cage, with over six billion rats on two legs fouling it. quality of life equals available resources divided by the number of rats competing for them. i've lived in cities before, grew up in west los angeles, but by 2001 i wanted something completely different, so i moved to the oregon coast, where there's more resources, less rats, and i'm happy as a pig in shit.

achtung, city mice, you are entirely dependent on your infrastructure, which is more vulnerable than you know. if a gasoline tanker can blow up in the wrong place accidentally and take out a freeway interchange, imagine what could be done by design. do you know where your water comes from? what would you do if your water supply infrastructure failed? the economies of your urban scale would be more attractive if they were administered by wise, trustworthy leaders, instead of the corrupt knaves you elected. the urban lifestyle is unsustainable in the long term, and many of you will face a difficult adjustment in the coming secular apocalypse.
posted by bruce at 10:14 AM on May 1, 2007

I live in a city and felt like the country was where I "should" be living. The best advice I ever heard about this topic was that there's no "perfect" place and all places have good and bad things. It's really obvious in retrospect, but it helped me stop trying to figure out what was the "right" place to live and start weighing the pluses and minuses of where I was living.

But I share your dilemna. When I'm in the city, I miss the country, and vice versa. I'm pretty happy now, in a city house with a very overgrown garden. Or, maybe you could do a temporary house trade with a city dweller? Take vacations to the city instead of the way most people take vacations to the country?
posted by salvia at 10:18 AM on May 1, 2007

I *am* you. Aside from having a media job in the country, which feels at least like your professional side is fulfilled. I was born and raised in the country, lived for 10 years in London, and am now back in (relative) country. I'm not that keen on it but other factors keep me here so you make the best of what you can do.

I'd say keep in contact with your city friends, and make regular trips to the city. Even where I am, I'm about 2 hours from Manchester, which isn't *that* far. We take the occasional holiday to the city, which helps a bit if not in finances...
posted by electriccynic at 6:05 AM on May 2, 2007

« Older Paris Jazz?   |   How do I uncover the emotional me and start living... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.