Rural Relocation - Considerations and Adjustments
So you're thinking about going country? It's time to abandon the
frenzy of city life, drop the 'G' from the end of your verbs and
trade your Gucci for goats. You long to be in a place where
business is done on a handshake, where your backyard is
bountiful and where folks welcome you with warm apple pie and a
smile. You want the simple life.
Over 1.6 million people moved to rural communities during the
first five years of this decade. Several stayed. This migration
continues - reinforced by dozens of national and regional
periodicals presenting sanitized 'country chic' to millions of
armchair rednecks. Having read a myriad of books and magazines
about goin' county, you are convinced it is for you. Why not?
Editorials immerse you with prose of serenity found. You are
infatuated by the ideal of carvin' your own nitch in the
wilderness, collectin' the morning eggs and whittlin' on the
porch swing each evening. Throughout the country, gentlemen
greet women with the tip of a hat and a polite, "Howdy Mam." You
long to raise your children in a community where graciousness
abounds while folks commune with nature in perfect harmony. With
each flip of the page of County Cool Magazine you feel your
stress level dip.
Before you lapse completely into a coma, bear a few things in
mind. Full-page glossies of family reunions held beneath
towering, shabby-chic barns make for better magazine copy than
centerfolds of locals trying to avoid making eye contact with
your U-Haul. Stylized black and whites of cowboys branding in
the parched mid-day sun sell better than snapshots of the
Mayor's dead horses being left to rot all summer long, directly
in the center of town. Furthermore, triumphant tales of battling
the elements flow better than ancient country septic lines. No
one knows why the media doesn't 'glam-up' peeing in your barn.
It must just be a fickle public.
Fickle indeed. I for one moved my son from our life long home in
San Diego to my birth state of South Dakota three times before
it stuck. Each time I recoiled in under a year. Best friends,
scores of humanities, the Pacific surf and Thai food are a lot
to give up at one time. Harder still was the shattering of my
rose colored glasses.
The secret to a successful relocation is knowing what to
honestly expect so you can laugh cathartically when the
inevitable bizarre scenarios emerge. Sudden disillusionment is
rarely a knee-slapper. Nonetheless, once adjusted, country life
is closer to Nirvana than most get here on Earth. Thus, while
everyone else pumps pure country sunshine straight up your
knickers, I consider it my obligation to provide balance to the
Almost daily I question my reasons for living in the hinterland.
For these moments of apprehension, I maintain lists in my mind.
My lists remind me both what drove me out of California and why
I cannot abandon country life. A hardy dose of big city burn out
definitely came into play. For starters, I realized I was so
sick of commuting I'd rather endure seven months per year in an
icebox with no sunlight than sit in another traffic jam. With
that thought alone I was ready to pull up my roots. I also
decided to move.
In fact, developing a loathing of the Urban Jungle was vital to
my eventual 'success' in relocating. In retrospect, my twig was
definitely about to snap. Of course, so many city folk run
around with fully bent twigs, we never realize the contorted
conditions of our existence. That many people living in close
proximity, under the confines of excessive regulations, is the
proverbial pressure cooker. Urbanites and recent country
converts wondering if your view on life may be intensely
contorted are welcome refer to my lists. They provide
perspective. For example: Signs of how 'screwed-up' you may be
would include the following.
You're having your morning coffee, a cow walks through the front
yard. You don't own a cow. You freak out, hit 911 and sue the
Meat Packers of America.
You believe shoes matching your nail polish is in any way a
You don't recognize that it is morally bankrupt to apply for a
permit from a homeowners association to put out a lawn ornament.
You carry more electronic gadgets on your person than Radio
You drive to work past 'that same old group of homeless people.'
You smile and say, "Hi," to strangers only because you know it
screws with their minds.
Your horse board expenses equal the Gross National Product of
Guatemala You're convinced you are invisible and need two years
of plastic surgery just so city gentlemen won't let the C-Store
door spring back in your face.
You pitch a fit when your favorite salad bar serves cheese made
with non-vegetarian rennet, then drive the kids to Burgers
Your children spend more time in the TV den than in treetops and
you think that's acceptable.
You get a building permit and three estimates to hang a
Any chimes ringing? If so, remove yourself form Urbania
immediately! Your twig is at maximum contortion! Give the
country three years and you will stay. Transition is difficult,
but once your up-tight attitude is vanquished, your twig
unbends. These are the indicators you are settling in to the
You're having your morning coffee. A cow walks through the front
yard. You don't own a cow. You sit down and drink your coffee.
Shoes' matching each other is low on the list of daily
Your outhouse is not just a chic lawn ornament.
You save getting the chickens drunk for when you have
You have no idea where your cell phone went, but the Border
Collie is wearing your pager.
You drive to work past 'that same old herd of buffalo'.
Your bird feeder expenses are equivalent to the Gross National
Product of Canada.
Elk mounts ordain the walls of your favorite salad bar.
Your children spend more time in the their tree house than in
Yes, these are definitely telltale signs, you have lost that
city pace. Although you can never voluntarily raise your stress
level back to match city slickers, you have not lost yourself
completely. Search the little places. Vestiges of your past will
appear. These are the traits of an American Hybrid. While having
your morning cappuccino, a cow walks through the front yard. You
don't own a cow. You toss it a biscotti.
You can't decide whether to paint the walls of the outhouse in a
contemporary or impressionistic motif.
You use the word motif in the same sentence with outhouse.
You actually make homemade preserves - wild chokecherries with a
boisterous zinfandel you picked up in Napa last season.
Mascara before milking.
You winter in the gulf of Siam. You summer in bib overalls.
You smile and say, "Hi," to strangers only because you know it
screws with their minds. You could never shoot a deer, but you
can dress that sucker out in under two hours.
You fence in a sarong and thongs. (This one gets the neighbors
You frequently run to town for Hawaiian Tofu and Goat Chow.
You have a different pair of hiking boots for every occasion.
Egyptian cotton sheets and a commissioned replica of Picasso's
Woman with Three Breasts enclose the baby chickens being reared
in your bedroom closet.
It's true, every day more and more of us are getting too screwed
up to ever return to the city. Still, for all our differences
country folk and city slickers posses one commonality. Neither
group thinks twice about the US Government's Food Pyramid. I
guess we have to start somewhere.