I recently went back to Indiana to visit my family. It was weird being back in the boonies. Good weird, but also so different than the D.C. area.
For two nights, I stayed at my aunt’s house tucked between two corn fields. When I went to bed, I noticed my aunt left all the windows and doors wide open. The air conditioner was off, so she wanted to bring in the cool air.
You would never leave your doors unlocked where I live. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to sleep because I would feel exposed. But in rural Indiana, it’s pretty normal.
My husband and I are considering buying a home in the Maryland countryside, and I struggle with the idea of returning to a rural life.
It sounds lovely—the quieter and slower way of life. But I have been a city mouse for the last 8 years, and now we live in the suburbs. Would it really work for me now?
Are you debating transitioning to a more remote lifestyle?
Before jumping into a rural life, we should all ask ourselves these questions:
What Type of Social Animal Am I?
There’s a spectrum of sociability that can help to determine if a rural life is right for you.
On one side is the wolf, which mates for life and stocks its wolf pack with family members. A wolf doesn’t have much need for outside socializing.
On the other side is the dolphin, a highly-social animal that depends on having others around for its survival. Dolphins live in pods of a dozen or more, but easily morph pods together to create “superpods.” In other words, they welcome all newcomers into their lives.
Are you a wolf or a dolphin? Or somewhere in between, like, a ferret?
If you’re a dolphin, understand that a rural life requires more effort to see friends and loved ones. Consider whether you can be happy seeing your people less often.
If you’re a wolf, you’re probably OK on this front.
Is the Sound of Crickets Soothing Or Obnoxious?
This is a big one. Do you like nature’s constant chirps and peeps, or does it drive you a little nuts? When my late grandfather visited our wooded home from Florida, he said he couldn’t sleep because it sounded like we lived in a jungle.
For me, I grew up with the sound, so it’s comforting. But you might think of it as more of a racket than music. It would take an adjustment if you’re not used to it.
Test the waters by renting a cabin in the woods or staying in a remote hotel with the windows open. Can you sleep OK?
If not, you can always invest in a white noise machine.
How Much Do You Like Talking On the Phone?
You won’t be able to physically see your friends as much, but you will need social contact. So here’s the question: Do you despise talking on the phone or actually enjoy it?
If you enjoy it, great. You’ll be doing it a lot more. If you would rather spend an hour texting than 5 minutes on the phone, well, a rural life might not be right for you.
Or you can always invest in a course that teaches you how to overcome your fear of talking on the telephone. OK, those don’t exist, but they seriously should.
Can You Handle Driving Everywhere?
Driving. Some people’s favorite past-time, and others’ biggest fear. Where are you on this spectrum? Have you lived in a city so long that your license expired years ago? Or do you take frequent road trips to get away?
You will have to drive if you live in a remote area. I’m also struggling with this, since I haven’t owned a car since I moved to D.C. I’ll need to buy a car if we move to the country. I find keeping up with maintenance, cleaning, and insurance such a hassle.
You need to ask yourself if this burden is manageable or not.
Here’s what I suggest: Write a list of pros and cons. Then use that to guide your decision process on whether or not to live in a rural setting. It can be magical. But it also can be a nightmare. It’s up to you to decide what it would be for you.