Have you ever just wanted to get away from the city? I’m not talking about a vacation, those are always great, but as far as you go you’re always coming back to your urban jungle. I’m talking about packing your bags, selling your condo, giving notice to your landlord, and moving to a small town to lead a simpler life. Amidst all the drama and gayness, the need to be coiffed and ‘put together’ while performing mundane tasks like grocery shopping, and the speedy pace of life that the city demands, wouldn’t it be nice to just say
That’s exactly what one of my best friends and his husband did about three years ago. They were tired of the pace of city life and trying to afford a decent lifestyle in a tiny apartment so they decided one day that after they got married they would move to the interior to a small community of around 10,000 people- over 5.5 hours from the big city! Of course they had friends they would miss, but my friend’s husband has family up there and a few opportunities for work came up for the both of them so they jumped on it. They ended up with a big house on a half-acre lot, big garden, a dog and two cats; all for less than it would cost for a fully loaded high-end SUV. And what’s best is that they have never been happier!
Not only are they able to afford the lifestyle they’d like-they’ve been to Hawaii, Florida, California and Las Vegas (twice) in the last 18 months alone, but they are able to focus more on their hobbies and meet a lot of genuine, non-pretentious people they’ve made meaningful relationships with. My friend has been dabbling with art and creative writing in his studio room and is currently putting the final touches on his first novel- seriously!
The first time I visited them, I have to admit, I was a bit shell-shocked. Having grown up in an urban environment my entire life I had no understanding as to what the pull factor was to moving to the middle of nowhere. Where are the services? Where is the nearest Starbucks? The closest Costco? There’s a sushi place here, right? OMG, you have to buy your clothes where? I know some of the other homorazzi cast members grew up in small communities like this ( link to Patrick’s article) and have fond memories of their upbringings, but quickly add that they would never actually return to live there.
I didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into, and was a bit worried. I kept asking my friend if this was just a phase and if they wereg serious about this, and if the simple life would make them happy. But the more time I spent there, the more I saw the warmth of the people, and the relaxed pace of life that rural living afforded them. These people aren’t going to look at the label of your jeans and judge you. Sure there’s no Odyssey to go out to on Saturday nights, but the neighbours are great company and can BBQ a fantastic steak, just be sure to bring the red wine. They even had a decent spot for Sunday brunch not 20 minutes away overlooking a beautiful lake!
Sure there would be a few sacrifices: no bars, no loud and proud gay community, no Holt Renfrew, but do I really need these things to be happy? All this makes me look at my life and wonder if I’m doing everything right. Is my 488 square foot condo in the heart of the city worth busting my ass everyday? Are those Nudie jeans that I put on to pick up my dry cleaning worth the hefty price tag and me having to change out of my sweatpants just to head out the door?
In the end, personally speaking, I don’t think I could do what my friend and his husband did. As much as I could use less drama in my life, a bigger living space, more disposable income (and less ridiculous things to spend it on), I couldn’t leave my friends and family. Also, it would mean an enormous change to my personal and social life; I love my friends’ parties, going out dancing, eating out at great restaurants. These things are too much a part of my life that I could just give that up for a a chance at rural living.
That’s not to say that I haven’t ever ruled it out one day living in a small town, but I think having one of my best friends experience this, and getting to visit him and speak with him about his life there has taught me more about what is important to life in general and what I can do to take the positive things about small-town living and incorporate them into my own life.
When it comes down to it, whether you live in a big city or a small town, your life is what you make of it. Yes, there will be a lot more distractions in the big city that will try to reduce you to a speed walking, consumer-driven, time-maximizing person; that’s a given. It’s how one chooses to react to it. I don’t need to pack my bags and move to the middle of freakin’ nowhere to become more down to earth, I can do that here just fine, with a little help from my friends and family.
Just to keep everyone up to date; In the past couple of months my friends bought a place much closer to the city, still a town of about 10,000 but only about 2 hours away and much closer to ‘civilization’, and are in the midst of moving. The reason they moved closer to the big city was because they missed the amenities, missed their old friends, and for the warmer winters! I’m really happy about the move because they’ll be that much closer.