Take me home, country roads.
Sometimes you explore a new place and are surprised to feel so at home. A feeling deep down in your gut that you belong there. And everything just seems to flow together.
Although I live near the Rockies now, I spent most of my life in big cities. I have great memories with friends and family… but after spending a little time in the country, I immediately felt that I needed more. It was far from convenient for me to pick up and leave, but I made the move and gave country life a try. Several years later, I look back and know in my heart that it was the right choice.
Like me, you may be someone who spent most of your life in the big city and wondered what it would be like to live in the country. Small Town, USA. Here are the top 5 reasons why I left the big city, found myself at home in the country, and you may too.
#1 Too many people, cars and buildings
Visiting big cities today gives me a touch of claustrophobia. Walking downtown in a major city like New York, stuck in a herd of a hundred people on the sidewalk is a nightmare to me.
Some big cities are much more sprawling, but certain things you can’t escape. You’ll drive for an hour and all housing subdivisions look the same, every neighborhood has the same Big Chain stores, and the streets get jam packed during rush hour.
In my old big city career as a technician, I spent hours a day driving on the freeways. Always in rush hour traffic. Sitting. Staring. Inching forward. Life spent gridlocked in the Concrete Jungle.
Welcome to the Jungle via Wikimedia Commons
They call it the Concrete Jungle because all you see in every direction are concrete buildings, pavement, and cars. In the summer, the heat radiates off all this and intensifies. If a breeze does reach you, it feels like it came from a preheated oven.
Is that how we’re meant to spend our time? I don’t think so.
Let me tell you, today I live in the country. When I need to drive into town, I pass acres of farms, fields, deer, and mountains exploding up from the horizon. Because I live “far from town” (main street) it takes about 14 minutes and there’s hardly ever any kind of traffic.
I may only leave my property once a week, or every two weeks. But when I do, I enjoy a peaceful drive. Traffic and road-rage aren’t common around these parts.
#2 There’s too much smog in the city
It’s not normal or healthy to be surrounded by smog. This sounds obvious but millions of people choose to do so.
I remember the first time I visited Los Angeles. I went for a business convention and to take in the sights. In the morning, I drew back the curtains in my hotel room to watch the sunrise. Even though I lived in Arizona at the time, which has smoggy and dusty days, it paled in comparison to the sludge-filled horizon I saw that morning. It looked just like this:
Call me crazy – I just don’t think it’s natural or healthy to live in a place like this. Image via mashable.com
Breathing in dirty, dusty sand is bad enough. But heavy smog from industrial pollution is deadly serious to your health. Respiratory problems, skin conditions, cancer, and other damaging effects are to be expected when you live in a cloud of toxic pollution. Plus, if you are going to spend money to live somewhere – shouldn’t it be pleasing to the eyes?
And this isn’t a static condition. It’s something that gets worse every single day. Eventually it leads to the crisis China faces.
Welcome to China – hope you brought your mask!
Here is a quick rundown of the nightmarish situation in China via Wiki. And perhaps soon in places like LA:
According to the Chinese Ministry of Health, industrial pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death.
Every year, ambient air pollution alone killed hundreds of thousands of citizens.
500 million people in China are without safe and clean drinking water.
Only 1% of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union, because all of its major cities are constantly covered in a “toxic gray shroud”. Before and during the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing was “frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.”
Lead poisoning or other types of local pollution continue to kill many Chinese children.
A large section of the ocean is without marine life because of massive algal blooms caused by the high nutrients in the water.
The pollution has spread internationally: sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo; and according to the Journal of Geophysical Research, the pollution even reaches Los Angeles in the USA.
The Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning in 2003 produced an unpublished internal report which estimated that 300,000 people die each year from ambient air pollution, mostly of heart disease and lung cancer.
Chinese environmental experts in 2005 issued another report, estimating that annual premature deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution were likely to reach 380,000 in 2010 and 550,000 in 2020.
A 2007 World Bank report conducted with China’s national environmental agency found that “…outdoor air pollution was already causing 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths a year. Indoor pollution contributed to the deaths of an additional 300,000 people, while 60,000 died from diarrhea, bladder and stomach cancer and other diseases that can be caused by water-borne pollution.” World Bank officials said “China’s environmental agency insisted that the health statistics be removed from the published version of the report, citing the possible impact on ‘social stability'”
To each their own. I just don’t think someone could pay me enough to live in places like that!
#3 No mineral rights or water rights
This is something I never thought about until I started exploring life outside the big city.
In the city, usually your home purchase does not include water rights or mineral rights. Water, for instance is owned by the utility company.
Most properties used to have these rights. But over time people began selling off their water and mineral rights when they sold their property. From that point on, the rights were owned separately from the property. Often by the utility companies. And then you have companies like Nestle who buy water rights in small towns, so they can charge money to sell bottled water back to the residents.
Out in the country you often have the opportunity to buy a place that still has these rights. Our place is on utility water but came with another form of water rights – irrigation water. For a small flat yearly fee, we (and the farmers around us) get all the fresh rocky mountain water we need for our gardens, crops, pastures and trees.
Here, an irrigation ditch carries water throughout the neighborhood.
The water flows 24/7, even during last summer (2015) when the California drought made it illegal for CA residents to over-water their lawns and pools.
Having water rights saves you money on the water bill. With a family vegetable garden, 12+ fruit trees and 1 acre of grass, irrigation shares save me hundreds of dollars each year. The big boys with 10, 20, 50+ acres of pasture save thousands of dollars each year.
Better still, having water or irrigation rights moves you closer to being able to live off the grid. It reduces your dependance on the outside, corporate world. Further, what do you think would happen to one of the many desert cities, if there was an economic collapse? Or another great depression? Most people only have enough food on hand to last several days. And water access is much more likely to be upheld in towns closest to the source. Those furthest away from the Colorado River, for instance, are last in line.
And spring water is delicious and super good for you. I’ll publish a separate post about water because there are a few things everyone needs to know about it. Example: big cities often recirculate the water supply. And plenty of dangerous substances are not able to be filtered out of the water supply. Like pharmaceutical drugs. So you have traces of antibiotics, birth control, pain killers, and other drugs in the water.
A lot of guys are wising up to the crisis of “xeno-estrogens” in our modern food and environment. These are compounds with estrogenic effects that disrupt your hormone balance, especially regarding testosterone. Does recirculated water, with traces of birth control contribute to this? I would argue so.
When you figure that water from a big city faucet may have passed through 8 or more different people, and their kidneys… what exactly are you drinking? That is part of the allure of spring water. To drink virgin water, fresh and pure from an underground aquifer is a special treat. I recommend you find a spring near you if possible.
As far as mineral rights, that would let you dig and claim the precious metals on your property. Not for everyone, but something to think about.
Life in the Big City just doesn’t afford you these opportunities.
#4 Legacy moves
Perhaps you already have children. Maybe you plan to in the future. Either way, starting a family is one of the most important things we can do in life.
It gives mortals like you and I the chance to experience immortality; through the continuation of our bloodline.
What type of legacy do you want to create?
Where you live is a critical part of that equation.
Your kids will adapt to their environment. They will be molded by it. If your legacy is important to you, you’ve got to think about where you want to raise your family.
- What do you want them to see every day?
- What will it be like when they walk through your neighborhood, going to the park or school?
- What type of people do you want them to interact with?
- How much time are they able to spend running around freely outdoors, in the fresh air and sunshine and nature?
Although we moved to the ‘burbs for a while, I mostly grew up in the inner city of Chicago. It was not very fun walking to and from school. As a European-blooded kid, I was the minority at my elementary and high school. Dynamics really change when that’s the demographic. How safe do you want your child to be?
When I was a young pup, my dad would take my cousin and I to the park to play football. We often went to one that was walking distance from my Oma’s house. The park was very safe when we were young. By our early to mid teens, however, walking to the park without your friends was an invitation for problems from the “vibrant elements” of the community.
Over the years, our old neighborhoods continued to run themselves down. The proud people left and the turds moved in.
A very enriched inner city neighborhood.
Something for you family minded folk to consider, too: the inner cities have a lot of problems with school violence. And violence in the neighborhoods around the school. Kids can’t ride their bikes through town or walk down the street without fear of being victim to the Knockout Game.
If you haven’t heard, that’s a “game” where a large group of blacks single out an unsuspecting white person and try to sucker punch them for a knockout. Kids, adults, even senior citizens and pregnant women are attacked. Aside from injury and being terrorized, people have actually died from the Knockout Game.
In contrast, living in my part of the quiet country, it’s more like that warm, charming neighborhood from The Sandlot.
And although I don’t yet have a large ranch, we are settled on 1 square acre. Instead of being blocked in by buildings and drowned in smog, we are surrounded by farm properties.
In the big city, I was always surrounded by houses and buildings. In the country, you can get some elbow room. And a much better view!
We have fresh air that rolls in off the mountains. Mature trees all around us; giant old cottonwoods and fruit trees (mostly apple). And plenty of space to have your own vegetable garden.
Here I am early last spring, digging through the mulch to make rows for sowing spinach seeds.
It gets better, too! There are hot springs, hiking, lakes and more within a 45 minute drive.
Happiness at 13,000 ft, standing atop the Blue Lakes Summit and looking down on crystal blue glacier lakes above treeline. There were a couple fishermen at the two bigger lakes. Blue Lakes, CO.
The lowest of the Blue Lakes, this is where most people make camp before hiking up to the 3 upper lakes.
A beautiful river walk in the mountains. Telluride, CO
A smokey haze rolls across the hillside at dawn. Telluride, CO.
Walking down Main Street. Telluride, CO.
Some very fortunate kids playing ball at a park nestled in the mountains. Telluride, CO.
It’s more important today than ever before to get yourself, and your family, outdoors. As often as possible! Break the chains with computers, TVs and smartphones for awhile. Go immerse yourself in nature. Drink in the experience.
The more I thought about starting a family, the more I knew I needed to get out of the city. I had seen enough buildings, crime, traffic and degeneracy to know that I wouldn’t want to subject my kids to that life. I wanted better for them.
#5 Where are people going to wish they lived in 5-10 years?
After having lived in the big city for so long, I greatly appreciate the quiet country life. When people come to visit, you can see the stress melting off them. They may as well be renting a cottage.
For these reasons and more, I feel that areas like this will be among the most hotly contested within the next decade. Things are getting weird quick in the big cities. People are getting fed up and they want out. Claim a spot while you can!
Location is everything. This hammock is positioned at a relative’s ranch higher up in the mountains. Every day is a living episode of national geographic; deer, elk, badgers, bears, and more.