The Realities of Countryside Living

Can it really be just 16 months that we’ve lived in our countryside home? How can it be that less than two years ago I was lived in a Manchester suburb, frustrated by the lack of greenery that surrounded me. I’ve previously wrote articles on my blog talking about why we moved, how the move has changed my life and (almost exactly a year ago) my general thoughts on whether the move was all that we expected - this time I'm going to be talking about the realities of living in a rural area.

In reality, where I live isn’t actually that rural. Yes, the woods loom behind our back garden and the view from the front of our house is all rolling hills, but we’re not that isolated. We live on a hill a couple of minutes walk from the centre of a small town that’s bustling with life and creativity. The train station is just a five minute walk away with easy connections to Manchester and Leeds. But this is the best of both worlds - a five minute walk in the opposite direction finds me wandering down country lanes and across fields. Hopefully I’ve set the scene a little better for you. We definitely live in the countryside, but it isn’t remote.

I think that’s one reason why this move worked for me, at this time in my life. I’m currently 34, and still want to be close to my friends and within proximity of places where I can attend gigs, browse bookshops, eat a variety of cuisines and listen to interesting talks. Yes, I love spending time outdoors, walking in the hills and through the woods, but that’s not all that I’m interested in. For me, I needed to live someplace quiet and relaxing, surrounded by nature. Someplace where bats fly outside my window at night, I listen to owls outside my bedroom window and can gaze up to see stars in the sky. But I also needed that connection to all things creative and my social circle. I’m a strange blend of introvert/extrovert (I have traits of both) and the place I call home is ideal for that balance.

Despite not living in a place that I would call ‘cut-off', there are several frustrations with countryside living. I don’t drive, something which is becoming increasingly frustrating in a rural setting. Many of the places I’d like to visit don’t have public transport connections and I often find myself at the whim of my boyfriend and friends. I can’t just head off in search of beautiful scenery at the drop of a hat - I have to entice my boyfriend to drive us if I wish to visit someplace far flung. I’m also confined to the train schedule when it comes to visiting friends in Manchester. I often have to leave gatherings early or often find myself lacking the motivation to head into the city. When I’m feeling the need to escape, I usually take myself off for a walk, although I’ve actually spent less time exploring the local area than I expected I would. I’ve found the paths that I know and use the most for evening dog walks or weekend strolls, and have to remind myself that it’s OK to just go off wandering.

Honestly, I’m struggling to think of any negatives other than my reliance on the train network. I’ve never felt isolated or alone, and certainly don’t miss grey views of concrete and brick. I’ve never been closer to nature and relish the changing seasons in a way I never have before. I love watching how the view outside my window changes - on a weekly basis, not just with the four seasons. I notice that the light is different throughout the year, that the trees don’t stay one shade of green all summer long. I’m more in tune with what happens when - the first frost of winter, the first buds of spring. I grow my own food and pick fruit fresh from bushes and trees. I see deer in my garden and watch birds of prey soar above.

One thing that is different here is the light. In the city, I barely noticed golden hour but in the country you can’t avoid it. I wake up to the sun rising over the hill and a golden glow cast on the valley. Evenings are the same, drenched in gold. We’re frequently treated to soft pink glows across the valley. The weather, too is different. I often see rain sweeping across the valley, followed immediately by blue skies. I can look out of my window and see two different types of weather right in front of my house. The landscape changes with the weather - as I write this, the hills have vanished behind a dense cloud.

things to consider if you’re tempted to move to the countryside

Consider how rural you want to be. Are you looking for the best of both worlds (like us) or would you prefer to be completely isolated? If you want to be surrounded by nature but within easy reach of a town or city, do your research and take the time to find the place that is right for you.

Make a list of what you can’t live without. For me, this was a train connection into Manchester so I could get to work and visit friends. I miss the convenience of takeaways and having a wide choice of places to eat out, but these were things I could live without.

Be realistic about whether you’re an outdoorsy person. Honestly, if you don’t like spending time outdoors, a move to the country probably isn’t for you. I go walking in all weather and am incapable of keeping my shoes clean. If you don’t like rain and mud, don’t move to a rural area.

Think about your commute. It takes me one-and-a-half hours to get work on a train and a tram, costing me an obscene amount of money each day. But I only go out to work three days a week and this was a sacrifice I was prepared to make. If you work full time and hate the idea of a long and expensive commute, think long and hard about a move.

Know what you want to get out of your move. Are you in search of a bigger house? Do you want to be surrounded by nature? Perhaps you’re looking to escape the bustle of city life? Keep in mind exactly what it is that you’re looking for when you’re searching for your countryside home and don’t get tempted by beautiful cottages that perhaps aren’t quite right for you.