Before making my decision to move from the city to the country, I obviously did a lot of research first. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what the pros were: fresh air, more space, friendly people, peace & quiet, less crime, and a slower pace of life. Fortunately, those turned out to all be true! But what about the cons? It seemed everyone was warning me that living in the country would be less convenient, that there would be no internet to speak of, and that medical services would be scarce. I can happily say that those things turned out to not be true! Let me explain:
Believe it or not, but even though I am surrounded by farms and my neighbors are cows, I have fiber optic internet. Being able to have fast reliable internet is often the biggest concern of people wanting to move out to the country. Both my husband and I work remote and having crappy internet was not something we could risk. Frustratingly, real estate listings do not list if there’s internet capabilities on the property. I also found that if you had your agent call their agent and ask before going to the showing that the other agent would either say they didn’t know or even outright be deceptive about it. Fortunately, after awhile I did develop a spidey sense about this and could tell just by looking at the pictures if a house had internet or not. There are definitely some “tells”. That’s a post for another day, but I can say right off the bat that if the house looks like it’s in the middle of the woods or if the interiors look especially “religious”, don’t even bother seeing the house.
We ended up buying a property just outside of a small town that has a University. Surprisingly, there are a lot of Universities and Colleges located all over rural America. These institutions need good internet. By being nearby, you can pretty much guarantee that you will be able to have at least cable internet, or even fiber like we do.
Of course there are others options which you’ve probably come across in your research. I had heard of Nomad internet and brought their device with me when I went to see houses. I couldn’t get their device to pick up a signal at a single property I looked at, and I looked at dozens. So unfortunately that did not turn out to be an option for us.
There were definitely properties we looked at where you couldn’t even get a cell phone signal. But what if it’s your dream property? We found one such property that my husband absolutely fell in love with. What we decided was that we would work in a co-working space in the nearby town until Starry Internet became available. In the end, we got outbid on that house, but co-working spaces and Starry Internet is definitely something you could look into as well.
Another oddity of living in the country is that it’s actually much more convenient than the city! Before moving out here everyone warned me “Get ready to drive an hour just to eat at a restuarant!” After having lived in Boston for 14 years, I wasn’t really buying the argument that city living was oh so convenient anyway. For one thing, it seemed to take at least an hour to get anywhere in Boston whether I drove or took public transportation. And then once you got there, forget about being able to find a parking spot. Sure there were businesses within walking distance of my house, but they tended to be little bodegas that sold products or services that I just wasn’t interested in.
When I lived in Boston, going out to run errands (grocery shopping, post office, etc) would basically take all day. I shocked myself my first weekend in the country when I completed all my errands in about an hour. Everywhere I want to go is within a ten minute drive of my house. There is no traffic and plenty of parking. There is never a line at the post office and the staff are friendly and attentive. When I go to the grocery store, again, there is usually not a line for checkout. I couldn’t believe how fast I was in and out of Lowes. There are staff around and they actually want to help you! I LOVE Southern hospitality!
I actually receive better healthcare here than I did in Boston. That one was especially surprising for me, but I am so glad it turned out to be true. I have multiple autoimmune diseases and taking care of my health is important to me. I was warned that I probably wouldn’t be able to get a gastroenterologist and if I did, the wait would be months and months. I would need someone to be able to take over my Humira prescription pretty much immediately after moving out of State, so waiting months and months wasn’t going to be an option for me.
As it turns out, there are multiple gastroenterologists I could choose from and they were all able to get me an appointment immediately. I actually had the luxury of being choosy, and was able to pick someone at the local University Health System and was able to see him in just two weeks. He refilled my Humira no problem. Again, the staff were competent and attentive and I’ve found that all refills, paperwork, referrals, etc. are done the very same day. I can’t say that about my experience in Boston.
Even my new Primary Care is a dream experience compared to Boston. Once again, the doctor was able to give me an appointment right away. I walked in and the waiting room was empty. Before I even had a chance to sit down the doctor was ready to see me. Nothing felt rushed. The doctor took the time to actually talk to me and I really felt like she cared. I asked her about a lump on my back that had been there since I was on prednisone over a year ago. None of my Boston doctors wanted to deal with it, but she made a referral to have it surgically removed and filled out all the paperwork to have it approved by insurance that very same day. That next Friday I had it surgically removed at the small Hospital in town. It turned out to be a benign tumor, but I felt really happy to have it gone.
Imagine going from a doctor’s visit to surgery in less than two weeks! Because the population is not as dense, there doesn’t seem to be a wait for anything here. None of the medical staff I have encountered have seemed hurried, stressed, or burnt out. I used to feel like a bother when I would go to the doctor, now I feel like people want to help me.
But what about being Vegan in a rural area? This too has turned out not to be a problem! My local Kroger has all my favorite fake meats, plant milks, nutritional yeast, and eco cleaning products. Again, this may be because I live near a University, but it’s simply not an issue. I’m able to eat at multiple restaurants in town with items clearly marked “vegan” on the menu. There is a vegetarian restaurant in town. There is even a vegan raw gluten-free baker at the Farmer’s Market!
If you’ve seen movies like Deliverance, you may be worried about how the locals feel about having city people move to their rural areas. When I was checking out areas to move to, I made it a point to talk to people and see what the general vibe was around this. Overwhelmingly, the response from locals was “Please move here!”. For generations, these areas have seen people move away for jobs in the city, leaving these small towns on life support. Shops, schools, and hospitals can’t stay open unless there’s enough people to support them. Everyone knows this and they feel flattered that someone from far away would choose their small town of all places to move to.
Despite all the buzz about people moving out to the country in droves, there is no risk of running out of rural properties anytime soon. Here in Virginia, you can see abandoned homesteads dotted all along the highway. You can buy these homes, fix them up, and have your own slice of paradise just like we did. No one is going to resent you for doing it. People seem happy to see life come back to these properties.