City Mouse or Country Mouse?

I grew up in a small town two city blocks from my local elementary school, where I walked each day, and came home for lunch, walking again. Right when I started junior high school, we moved to the country of that same small town, literally a stone’s throw from the city limits sign, on four acres, across the street from my grandparents. We soon built a barn and bought two horses: one for my mother and one for me, around my junior year in high school.

My hubby grew up in the country on the opposite side of this same small town. They had a pond and some woods, but no animals. They lived down the street from a family campground where he spent just as much time as well.

When we were dating, we often conjured up images of where we wanted to raise our children. Both of us agreed it would be in the country, with animals, and a tractor, and lots of acres. Well, almost 21 years of marriage later, we’ve not ever lived in the country because of the path that life led us on, but we are now really wanting to finally make that desire a reality.

But . . . I find myself nervous. I mean, we’ve been “corporate gypsies” most of our married life, both when we were in the working world and even while we were in university. We’ve lived in various places anywhere from two weeks to three years, until North Carolina, where we have been living for the past six years. We’ve lived in Allegan, Michigan; Okemos, Michigan; East Lansing, Michigan; Tempe, Arizona; Allegan, Michigan; Ypsilanti, Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Delaware, Ohio (two places); Gibsonia, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Kentucky; Elliottsburg, Pennsylvania; Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania; and now here in Trinity, North Carolina. That’s fourteen homes, twelve cities, and six states. All of these locations have either been in rentals in the city or in suburbia.

So, my role as woman, wife, mother, homeschooler, and citizen has been as a city mouse. That’s all I’ve ever known for the past 21 years. What if that’s what I’m now comfortable with? What if I don’t know how to be a country mouse? What if I hate it after all? What if I’m biting off more than I can chew going into my 40s? What are the cost/benefits to each individual child? The tale of the country mouse and the city mouse certainly comes to my mind, and it has an interesting tale (tail?) to tell about appreciating where you are from and to each his own. On the other hand, I remember having to be the main breadwinner for our family the first seven years of our marriage and being worried that “what if” I don’t like being a full time mother? But I loved it. It was something I had always wanted, and certainly I was doing it some of the time, so maybe it’s not as big a leap as going from city to country living.

Here are what we have enjoyed as suburbia dewellers: a nice, big house that gives us room enough for our big family of mainly introverts to have their own “space” to get away and/or keep their projects, “safe” neighbors although not always the friendliest, safe roads to ride bikes on (and we’ve almost always chosen a cul-de-sac location), manageable yard care (we usually live on acre lots), easy access to convenieces and community activities, right now we have a bit of both worlds with a 97 acre farm adjoining our backyard and an empty lot next to us (for exploring in the woods and taking our dogs and children for long walks in the field, although the owners are trying to sell it and our subdivision just beat a recent proposal to put an “anthill style subdivision there”, so it is probably a matter of time . . . .).

What I think we’ll enjoy about being in the country is being able to get horses and other farm animals of our choosing, room to run and explore and move particularly for my high energy younger boys, more opportunity for outdoor work (again great for my younger boys), land enough to give to some of our children who will probably live with us for always and even to those who might want to stay around, a larger garden, more space away from neighbors, being able to do what we want with our land/place without restrictions, working toward more self-sufficiency, etc.

Some of the downsides for country living as I’m contemplating is that it might be more work than I realize and do I have time? Most likely, with investing money into the land and barn/fencing aspect, we will have to have a smaller house, and am I ready for that change and is everyone else? Although we are SO different from our neighbors in our “fancy” subdivisions and are often ostracized from them for not acting “rich enough”, will we fit in with the country personalities any better, especially down here in the South (and us being from the North)?

I would love any input from others out there in blog land about your experience with country versus city living!

5 responses to “City Mouse or Country Mouse?

  1. salamandercreek

    Wow. I would (do) feel pulled as well. We dream at times, but have settled with something a little in the middle. We have space and wildlife, but no space for a barn and farm animals. Creeks, but no pond, and we would love one. Did you ever see that show where people have up their “lives” for a new life of “less,” but more in value to them? I forgot the name of the show! It was about finding home (and purpose) and settling into a sense of belonging there, in a sense.

  2. Dumb Ox Academy

    Hi Cindy,

    I don’t have any wisdom to share except that I too have always dreamed of living in the country. I am child of suburbia. Our house backs up to an orchard though and there is a stream and pond behind our house so that we get lots of wildlife. I love it. We tried to move out the country 5 years ago but my dh decided it was too long of a commute. He already felt like he didn’t get enough time with the kids and then to add 1.5 hour commute into the bargain just seemed wrong. We talk about when we retire, we want a farm on a river because my dh loves to boat.

    Anyway, I’ll support you in your dream to move to the country!



  3. momof3feistykids

    We have always dreamed of living in the country, too. 🙂

  4. After dreaming for more than 20 years about getting out of the city, we moved from a big city (Denver) to the country. We bought 5 acres of prairie, a decent barn and a house that needed a lot of fixing up. I was apprehensive about the move… we had small house payments (on a house that was almost paid off!) and I was working from home in a job that I felt really good about (although serious burnout had settled in as well)… both our youngest children have serious disabilities and my husband has a chronic illness as well.

    Making a major life chance like this really didn’t seem to make much sense.. but I just felt like it was the right thing to do, at the right time.

    We moved a year and a half ago. I absolutely love living in the country, and the only thing I can think of that I miss about the city is some of our old neighbors… I love taking nature walks on our own property, and letting the kids play outside without worrying about traffic (or bad guys). I love all the wildlife on our land and learning, along with the kids, about them. I love being able to have animals for the kids to care for, and enough room around us that we can look out the window and see more than the neighbor’s house.

    It was a scary, and difficult move… but, at least for us, it was the right move.

    I hope things work out well, no matter what you decide to do…


  5. applestars

    Wow, Maura, your situation seems VERY similar to ours, doesn’t it? It gives me courage, then, to see that it has worked out so beautifully for you and yours! I loved your deer picture and if those pictures of your awesome home is a result of “fixing it up”, boy, did you do a superb job! Thanks for sharing your story to let me know that making such a huge change can be good even later in life . . .