Before you Reach for Those Greener Pastures, Make Sure They’re Actually Greener

There’s been a sudden shift in the way people are viewing housing and lifestyles. We seem to be either going completely urban, easy to walk to everything, no need for a car, tons of nightlife, or we go the complete opposite and leave for bigger skies. A mad exodus from clogged up cities for small town living and country skies. You know, living the simple life. Which Paris and Nicole taught us isn’t so simple.

For me, it has been that simple. I love it. I love that people are waking up sleepy towns and making them thrive again, but is it actually right for them? For you?

It’s always the small town that wins over the heroine or hero in romance novels or blessedly typical Hallmark Christmas movies. The city is portrayed as the villain, the busyness of life worse than death. The picturesque towns look inviting and like it would win you over thousands of followers on Instagram in seconds, but there is a reason why people leave them for the city.

Living outside of the city comes with way less of those conveniences city life will have you accustomed to. It means no delivery, no app ordering, limited internet (until Elon Musk changes it all), and quiet — very quiet — nights.

For some, this sounds like a blissful oasis that they get to call their home. I’m that some. But, it was a huge adjustment to go from just picking up a little something on the way home to realizing that there arne’t too many options close by and I have to — gasp! — actually eat what’s in my fridge.

Country living, or even suburban living, isn’t for everyone. It takes a while to get home, there’s a lot less to do right around the corner. The lots are bigger, which means yay the lots are bigger! But, also means boo that’s more work.

No, buses dont run through (but they really should).

No, you won’t have a great grocery store, or one to begin with. It also means you won’t have a fancy cheese shop, a bakery (but plenty of old ladies who will be willing to teach you how to bake!), or a nice wine store.

Yeah, there may only be one bar and only a couple of restaurants.

Yeah, it may take you 5 minutes to drive through main street of town — and that’s hitting all the lights.

If that sounds like a nightmare, why move? Small town living has been romanticized, but it’s still the same as it always was. Boring, quiet, gossip-filled. That’s not going to change, even if people leave the city in droves for an idyllic life set amongst rolling hills and grazing cattle.

If you love open spaces, tractor meet-ups and jams, and crave slow mornings without Costco parking lots, small town living may be for you.

If you don’t care about clubbing or fancy restaurants or much of entertainment than the old dive bar and maybe a movie theater, if your town is big enough, then small town living may be for you.

But, if you’re going to miss these things, miss them from your regular weekend nights (taking the pandemic out of the equation), then why move? Why leave the things that make you most happy?

Maybe, instead of moving and looking for that simpler life, why not strive to live a simpler life where you still enjoy things? You can go simple by making changes to your life inside the city. You can get back in touch with nature with a garden, even if it’s small and hanging off a balcony or a windowsill. You can learn how to bake and cook, and go ‘old school’ with your way of thinking. You can take the things you like about country living, which might be the slow living bit, and do that from where you are. Live a little simpler, live a little slower, enjoy the little things. Make your life what you want it; you can do this without uprooting your whole life. Because that may not be the best option for you.

The same goes for jobs. We keep changing and switching things up, looking for better places that fit our needs, and that’s great. We should be trying to find the right fit for ourselves, we should be paid what we deserve to be, but what if that greener grass is more of a browny green? What if it’s filled with weeds and is kind of thorny? What if it looks good on paper and seemed great when you first went in and now it’s starting to feel a bit…blah? Are you still looking for even greener grass? Are you looking for that perfect, over-use of chemical golf-course green?

We keep pushing for things to be perfect, looking for that perfect work-life balance that we aren’t thinking about how to make it happen in our own worlds. Maybe living a simpler life is best before moving you and your whole family outside of the city. Maybe staying at the same job can still work if you asked for a raise or broach the subject of working from home. Maybe it won’t. But, it’s better to try living the life you want, where you are right now, before you reach for something that you’ve romanticized into a fairytale.

Why are we always chasing better things? Are they actually better? To some, of course they are. Just like to me living outside the city is much better than living inside, for a lot of people who move outside of the city for that ‘country living’ hate it. Because it’s not like the movies, it’s not like you would expect it to be. Everything isn’t necessarily better, it’s just different, and that’s what makes it better for some and worse for others.

Better for a lot of people means more bike paths and walking paths. While others would rather have roads fixed so that their drive isn’t a bumpy mess. I guess it’s why we don’t get to decide, exactly, where our money goes when we pay taxes. I would want to pay for different things than my friends and neighbours would want to pay for and they would want to pay for different things than their friends and neighbours would want to pay for. We’d never get anything done because we would be arguing too much about it, allocating too small amounts of money to each issue.

Moving to another city may be the perfect change for you; you may have gotten a better job, you may like the vibe much more, you may have better access to community events. It could also mean it won’t be good. And, that’s okay. People’s lives look different from one another’s, people’s interests are different from one another’s. We don’t all have to be chasing greener pastures; we can just sit here and realize that we, probably, have it pretty damn good where we are.

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