Moving to the ‘country’

by L

NYT fake trends alert?

We moved to the ‘country’ (10,000 people town) and I usually commute twice a week like the people in the article. I’m not slowed-down enough to have a ‘rich inner life’, though!

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71 thoughts on “Moving to the ‘country’

  1. We go camping around Saugerties and Kingston pretty often so I know that area. It isn’t a typical rural area at all. There have been artsy hippies there forever. Plus, Kingston (pop 23,000) and Saugerties (pop 19,000) are towns, not rural areas. Both towns are quaint, artsy, funky, with restaurant scenes.

  2. I don’t want to use my NYT freebies, so I haven’t read the article.

    My only comment is “moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches”

  3. These occupations read like an HGTV House Hunters episode…

    MM – I agree. This has always been a hippie region (heck, one of the kids profiled goes to school in Woodstock). Now, how would these people fair in, let’s say, the upper Adirondacks in the winter?

    But nonetheless – if you want to move out to the rural areas (however you define rural) go for it. I prefer the suburbs for the convenience.

  4. Former city people might find themselves chopping wood (even owning multiple axes), growing some of their own food, heating their homes with wood stoves or learning to spot signs of wildlife, like the marks a buck makes when it rubs its antlers against a tree.

    Breaking news. New Yorkers live like Southerners and Midwesterners for a stretch of time and discover it is not wholly backwards or insufferable.

  5. “like the marks a buck makes when it rubs its antlers against a tree.”

    As on the young peach tree I planted a couple of springs ago in my backyard. Easier to see from our kitchen than the deer droppings on the ground near the tree. Both are ‘signs of wildlife.’

  6. “Breaking news. New Yorkers live like Southerners and Midwesterners for a stretch of time and discover it is not wholly backwards or insufferable.”

    Lark, I suspect most residents of Southern/Midwestern places like Atlanta, Nashville, Miami, St Louis, and Chicago are also not very familiar with woodstoves, wildlife and axes.
    And there are plenty of New York State residents who do own multiple axes and woodstoves.

    I think this is more of a rural vs city thing rather than a Southern vs Northeastern thing.

  7. Hasn’t this been happening forever? Artsy types get fed up with the city and move to hippie upstate artsy towns? Hard-driving corporate types moving to the country for a slower pace?

    (Heck, Baby Boom was released in 1987)

    I will say this – as a person who has lived in a small town, the suburbs, and the heart of the city, I have zero interest in living in the traditional suburbs. It’s the worst of the city mixed with the worst of a small town. Either I want to have a premium location right next to everything the city has to offer, or I want a LOT of land and a LOT of privacy.

  8. A friend of mine moved to the country several years ago. Her DH still commutes to the city, but they live way out on a horse farm (and not in a hippie/trendy weekend locale). She will be the first to tell you it isn’t glamorous, or any cheaper than living in the city. Yes the house and land was cheaper, but the expenses of maintaining the land are high, food at the grocery store is more expensive because there isn’t competition, and she is in the car driving to places a lot more than if she was in a suburb. But, she knew exactly what she was doing, even moving to a exburb first to see if she liked it. She wanted space and her children to have a more relaxed life.

  9. ” she is in the car driving to places a lot more than if she was in a suburb. But, she knew exactly what she was doing, even moving to a exburb first to see if she liked it. She wanted space and her children to have a more relaxed life.”

    We lived like that for a few years in MA (and yes, groceries were more expensive in our crappy little supermarket). I never felt like it was a more relaxed lifestyle because of the need to drive everywhere. It was at least 5 miles to get to ANYTHING and in winter, it was simply miserable. And this was before kids. I can’t imagine having to shuttle my kids for miles so they could do youth soccer or visit their friends.

  10. One of our neighbors moved to Asheville a few years ago. They said their lives in my city were getting too hectic with four kids to shuttle around. He had gone from consulting to being a high school Math teacher. She was a SAHM, very involved in the church. It was a surprise when they upped and left. Asheville is a retiree/foodie mecca, getting bigger, but in the mountains, but how much less hectic I don’t know.

  11. Asheville may be in the mountains, but it is not rural at a population of 90,000. Asheville has been an artsy resort town at least since the 1940’s, when my mother’s family used to vacation there. back when I used to play fiddle, a lot of the musicians I knew raved abuot Asheville, which has a huge alt-trad music scene, lots of vegans, and both an art museum and a science museum
    https://www.exploreasheville.com/things-to-do/attractions/museums/

  12. I like my 9 acre slice of heaven, but if anything were to happen to DH, I’m not sure I could handle the maintenance an my own. I’d definitely have to get rid of the livestock a.s.a.p. It’s about a 12 mile drive into work, which takes about 20 minutes when the roads are good. I love the space, the huge vegetable and flower garden, and all of the room for the kids to play. One thing that I don’t particularly like, that I miss from my own childhood in town, is that the kids can’t meet up with neighborhood kids to play. Our acreage is an a rural highway which is NOT safe to walk or bike on. So, even though there are kids not too far down the road, there is no unscheduled play time.

  13. “I can’t imagine having to shuttle my kids for miles so they could do youth soccer or visit their friends.”
    Part of the relaxed lifestyle is that she doesn’t have the kids in all those youth activities. Thus far, part of the deal is if the activities doesn’t happen immediately after school, they aren’t doing it. So far she doesn’t feel pressured by other parents, or her own kids, to want to do a lot of activities.

  14. I completely agree with Ivy on the worst of city life and the worst of the country being combined in suburban living, absolutely. HOAs make things even worse, with regulations on the colors of your house and garage door, and whether you can have fruit trees or a basketball hoop. If you have so little freedom to set things up as you wish, and are so close to others’ homes that you hear them pull into the drive, why not live where you can enjoy amenities on your doorstep?

    Mooshi, I completely agree that it’s a rural vs urban thing, rather than different regions of the country.

    For the eclipse a couple years ago, I considered spending a few nights in Ashville, but changed my mind when I realized it was not the kind of small town you can poke around in on foot that, say, Santa Fe is. From the website Mooshi linked to Here you’ll discover artist havens, distinctive shopping districts, and historic neighborhoods tucked all around the region. Located within a quick scenic drive from downtown, these destinations make a perfect addition to your day trip itinerary. In other words, there is no downtown that everything is clustered around. We stayed in Midtown Atlanta, walked to the Botanical Garden our first evening there, drove to Tenn to go rafting the next day, and to S. C. to see the eclipse the next day. And then we joined the crush of people on the roads, trying to get to the airport. We barely made the last flight out, but it was better than doing another 8 hours worth of driving (in 15-20 hrs!) to get home.

  15. I think kids play youth sports everywhere, even in rural areas. Kiddie ice hockey was huge in the part of MA where we lived. And if they play sports or want to play with friends, they will have to get schlepped.

  16. “I completely agree with Ivy on the worst of city life and the worst of the country being combined in suburban living, absolutely. HOAs make things even worse, with regulations on the colors of your house and garage door, and whether you can have fruit trees or a basketball hoop. If you have so little freedom to set things up as you wish, and are so close to others’ homes that you hear them pull into the drive, why not live where you can enjoy amenities on your doorstep?”

    Inner-ring suburbs FTW! ;-) No HOA, lots of stuff within walking distance, almost an acre of land, good schools, and a 16-minute commute to work. . . .

    There is no way on God’s green earth I would move to the country. As I’ve said before, my people worked too hard to get off the farm for me to idealize that life. And I am not nearly arty or hip enough to survive one of those artsy retreats.

  17. While I love city life, I also really like my walkable, smallscale, suburban town. Since it was developed as a train ‘burb in the 20’s, it doesn’t feel like the more modern suburbs where you can’t really walk anywhere. When we moved here from MA, just knowing I could walk a few blocks to the supermarket instead of driving if it snows took a lot of stress away from me. And as my kids got bigger, I could send them out on errands like the post office or the CVS. Best part – most of their activities during the school year are in walking distance, and all of their friends are in walking distance.

  18. I have a friend who moved to a more rural/exurb area in NC. She has 4 kids, all of whom are involved in Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, and sports like baseball and softball. She doesn’t work, and spends a lot of time ferrying kids. They do have a lot of land, though, and a big house. I don’t think they can see any of their neighbors. I guess I tend to think of her as more of the norm of modern rural living.

  19. Same with the 16 minute commute.

    It’s more like this. See how close the houses are? And it’s not even 2 full baths? And the commute is 45 minutes to downtown on a good day – and this is the VERY closest inner ring burb. And I still need a nanny of some sort because aftercare is non-existent or not long enough to cover the commutes. (We looked at a lot of houses just like this – maybe even this one – when we were considering the inner ring suburbs. I am so thankful we did not go this way.)

    https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/610-Gunderson-Ave_Oak-Park_IL_60304_M77737-63531?view=qv

  20. Ivy – I thought that too, but i realized I was wrong. We have some very large lots in our “inner ring” suburb. Actually my city is considered a city, but it’s more of a suburb in structure. I have nearly 1/4 acre, and I have friends who have 1/2 acre or more. But you pay for those lots as well… it ain’t cheap.

  21. @Ivy — I love that house! Especially the original part of the first floor; the updated kitchen and baths are kinda meh. But I agree, 1.5 baths would be a PITA.

    But it’s not that far off — here is sort of a classic option around here: https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/211-N-Beaumont-Ave_Baltimore_MD_21228_M69238-57436?view=qv. Or this with a little more land — https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/241-Ridgeway-Rd_Baltimore_MD_21228_M63758-22561?view=qv

  22. Then again, RI is a bit weird with what’s considered an “inner ring” suburb… arguably, a large % of the state has a 20 minute commute. And in that ring, parts of MA are included and at least 2 other large cities (mine has 80k people in it).

  23. But this is the sort of classic “summer home” that was originally built here — https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/109-Montrose-Ave_Baltimore_MD_21228_M53006-51481?view=qv — big, gracious house, large yard. Wondering why this one is so cheap — it’s on probably the best street in town, and homes there usually go for at least $100K more than this. Clearly the kitchen/baths need redone, but they are also pretty standard for what I’ve seen on the market in this kind of house. Maybe it’s an estate sale or something.

  24. Here, we are now in an “inner ring suburb” of older homes with bigger lots (the original suburbs of the 60s). The outer rings are all new. It’s urban/suburban. Now, in my area the city is creeping outward. Former rural residents now have subdivisions nestled here and there. After the subdivisions come shopping plazas with their mix of stores. It’s different from already thickly populated developed areas.

  25. Ivy – that looks so much like our neighborhood! I like that lifestyle. I wouldn’t want to live in the more modern type of suburb with bigger lots and no sidewalks. I really have no need for an acre lot – just more grass to mow…

  26. @mm (1236 post)

    The list is horrible. It may actually be accurate as far as it goes (i.e. the unemployment, poverty, avg income, home cost AVERAGES) but speaking about that which I know the most, there are lovely, lovely neighborhoods in Rochester, mostly on the south/southeast side of the city with large homes on large lots. In truth, while we landed in suburbia, if we had chosen to rent for a year and then buy/build a home we might have ended up in one of the places I’m referring to. Since we ended up sending our kids to parochial and then private schools all that would have probably worked out the same for our guys. I know it’s the same in other places. There’s a lot of blight/poverty across large swaths of cities, but in my experience every one of them has the nice, old money neighborhood.

  27. LfB, I love the first house photo you posted – the house with the porch. That is kind of my ideal. The second one would not make me happy.

  28. @Mooshi — I like that one too. That’s a very classic style around here, and that one has been nicely maintained (and is practically across the street from the library and maybe 1/4 mile from both the shops and the elementary school).

    Part of the reason I like my neighborhood is because of the sheer variety — from actual mansions to little brick rowhouses to new construction to Victorians to Craftsman bungalows to ’40s brick ranchers and capes to newer “colonial” style homes, and on and on. And it’s all within about two miles of two major interstates.

  29. So what counts as “city” and what as “inner ring suburbs” and what as “outer ring” and what as “country”? For example, our town is about 10,000 people. Is that an outer ring suburb or country? And Woodstock, VT is 3,000 people but has more restaurants than our town (tourists).

    Mooshi, the driving is a big part of why we keep our nanny. She does all the schlepping and we don’t have to. :) I grew up in a town where everything was 10-15 minutes away, and here is 15-20 to activities, so not too different.

  30. “Part of the relaxed lifestyle is that she doesn’t have the kids in all those youth activities.”

    I know a few people who live out in the boonies. They all have large families, and they don’t sign them up for lots of organized activities. One of them homeschools and gets together during the school day with other homeschool families for outings; the other families make do with whatever is available at school. People who live in these communities aren’t randomly assigned there — they tend to have self-selected out of the travel soccer set.

  31. “So what counts as “city” and what as “inner ring suburbs” and what as “outer ring” and what as “country”?”

    I was wondering the same thing. Are NYC’s outer boroughs considered “city” or “inner ring suburb”? What about Hoboken? If those are inner ring burbs, does that make Nassau and Westchester “outer ring”? I guess that would make Suffolk and Rockland Counties “exurbs?”

  32. In general, I want to live in a place where I can walk to things like the grocery store and the library. Which I can do now in Seattle – and which I could do when I lived in a small town (10,000 people) in Vermont – but not the first town we moved to in Vermont which had only 200 people and you had to drive everywhere. Sure we couldn’t see any houses from our house and had lots of land – but I have zero interest in reliving that experience. I don’t have any interest in either rural areas or traditional suburbs where you have to drive everywhere.

  33. Where I live in Westchester is about 5 miles from the Bronx. We are definitely inner ring. And the Bronx is city – trust me, if you saw the Bronx you would agree :-)

  34. Hoboken is an odd case because it did not develop as a suburb. Until the 80’s or so, it had a lot of industry. As the factories closed, artists discovered it – there was good transit from lower Manhattan, so artists started moving there to escape the high prices for lofts in Soho. Then the financial guys in their red suspenders discovered it in the 90’s (when I lived there) and prices started skyrocketing. One thing that really helped Hoboken was that it had good housing stock – there were areas where a lot of sea captains had buildt beautiful brownstones along the riverfront.

  35. People commute from Suffolk and Rockland everyday. It takes me less time to drive to certain parts of Rockland county than it does to get to the other side of Westchester. I think a better definition of an exurb is Putnam county.

  36. Do Westchester towns have town centers that are walkable but if you live outside the town center, is it more suburban ?

  37. @Louise – That is the neighborhood that I lived in when I lived in Charlotte a million years ago! It was very walkable, although I did get strange looks when I did walk to the grocery store/library/Y even though they were all very close. People at that time were very car-centric down there.

    @Mooshi – I would much rather live in an inner ring suburb like yours or Oak Park than a cul-de-sac type suburb further out where people are aggressively against sidewalks & you can’t walk anywhere useful. But…the lots aren’t large, the houses are old (which is good – character – and bad – 1.5 baths in a $500K house), and the commutes still aren’t that great depending where you work.

    “Where I live in Westchester is about 5 miles from the Bronx. We are definitely inner ring. And the Bronx is city – trust me, if you saw the Bronx you would agree :-)”

    I agree. There are outer boroughs or edges of my city that are sort of suburban in feel, but they are very much not suburbs. I don’t really want to move to them either. We did actively consider it – but again that gives you the long commute times of the inner ring suburbs with the school issues of the city. Lower taxes though.

    @SSM – Exactly – walking isn’t a problem at my parent’s small town house either. I also want an easy commute to work, my office to be close to my child’s school, and easy travel to the things I like to do on the weekend. So, for now, central city it is.

  38. Louise said “Do Westchester towns have town centers that are walkable but if you live outside the town center, is it more suburban ?”
    It really depends. And the feel does not always correspond to the town boundaries, due to the crazy town/village system. But in general, the more north you go, the more suburban it gets. And up in the far north of Westchester, you get estates. Martha Stewart lives there.
    And of course, Yonkers, right across the Bronx River from us, is classified as a city.

  39. Just looked it up – Yonkers has 200,000 people in it and is the 4th largest city in the state of NY

  40. Also, until you get to the far northern part of Westchester, there isn’t any open space between towns – there are no discernable boundaries or separation. It is like that for the towns right around Boston too, and likely other cities as well.

  41. “there isn’t any open space between towns – there are no discernable boundaries or separation.”

    I think that’s pretty common.

    The SF peninsula is like that, and south of San Jose, development has been filling in the gaps that used to separate towns like Morgan Hill and Gilroy.

    Similarly, between San Diego and Escondido there used to be clear separations between towns, but now it seems like one continuous developed area.

  42. It can be hard to tell where the burbs begin and the city ends in some of these older cities. I find this is true in parts of NY, Philly, DC, Boston etc. For example, I need signs to tell me when I drive across certain avenues in Maryland to DC from Maryland, and it is true when I drive from Long Island into Queens. The parts of the cities near the true suburb often look like a suburb because the borders start to morph with houses and apartment buildings. The green lawns don’t just appear, but sometimes the roads are better on one side. For example, NYC paved a lot of roads and the potholes disappear as soon as you cross into the city. Even the Bronx has many private homes. I was raised in an apartment, but the apartment buildings are near private houses. It is not clear where this part of the Bronx ends and Yonkers begins.

  43. @ Lauren’s comments. Kinda the opposite is true, too. i.e. I absolutely KNOW when I’ve driven from/to:
    Newark to South Orange, NJ on South Orange Ave
    Philly to Merion/Lower Merion across City Ave
    Atlantic City to Ventnor on Atlantic Ave and Ventnor Ave
    Dayton, OH to Oakwood on Brown St

  44. On my old commute, back when kids were in daycare, there was a part where I crossed from my town to Scarsdale, drove for two blocks on the road in Scarsdale, and then turned left onto a road in New Rochelle. There is absolutely nothing to distinguish any of this, except… when it snowed, that 2 block stretch in Scarsdale was really badly plowed, if at all. So I knew I would have to slip and slide for 2 blocks, and then (assuming I didn’t slide through the stop sign), I would hit decently plowed pavement again. Weird!

  45. An acre of land in the inner ring suburbs?!?!?! Hahaha – not happening here.

    Same here. You’re going to the boonies if you want that much land. But the 16 minute commute is definitely possible.

  46. When I was growing up in NJ, our town had the worst snow removal for some reason. We would slip and slide through our streets and as soon as we reached any of the bordering towns the roads would be clear.

  47. Mooshi- Scarsdale doesn’t seem to have the money (ha ha) to take care of their roads. I have to drive through that town often to get to other places because Scarsdale is centrally located, and borders at leas 6 or 7 other villages and cities. Many of their roads are not as well maintained as the surrounding communities.

  48. I feel like I have to defend suburbs. For us, we couldn’t afford the space I wanted close in. We have no family in town, so needed space for guests to be comfortable. I like that my kids grew up playing outside all day on the cul de sac with their friends. I love our current neighborhood despite having to drive 5 minutes for groceries. And my grocery store is awesome- great prices on a huge selection of produce, and they make fresh tortillas all day. (I contrast this with the Hyde Park grocery I walked to while visiting my sister, with prices more than double what I pay for lousy selection.)

    I can walk or ride a bike to a few restaurants, coffee shop, ice cream place, drug store, etc, but I can also walk on miles and miles of trails around our faux lakes or on a wooded nature trail. This weekend I had pelicans in the pond behind my house while I had my tea and read the paper. There is little light pollution so I can see the stars, and the night is so quiet and peaceful, other than occasional coyotes. My DH has a 45 minute commute, which sucks in Houston traffic, but we have a comfortable home and an amount of space that works for us. I don’t hear my neighbors ever unless they’ve got friends out by the pool late at night.

    Some of us don’t love the city, despite the convenience of walkability. I don’t like crowds or feeling like I’m always around other people, I don’t like the constant din, and I really, really don’t like the smells on a hot summer day. It’s sensory overload for me. I’ll drive for groceries and walk around my quiet neighborhood enjoying my egrets and the sounds of little league baseball games. I like my bubble.

  49. Finn, I saw this classified ad and thought of you. The seller is actually selling two pairs of snow boots, not individual boots.

    Each snow boot is $10. The keen is a size 11 but looks one size smaller than the athletech which is a size 10. Both for $15

  50. +1, Becky. Moreover, there are suburbs and then again there suburbs. Some are cute self-contained communities that are walkable in themselves. Some are gross and sprawly. Before it became the center of Silicon Valley, was Palo Alto a suburb? There are neighborhoods within Denver that are charming, e.g., Park Hill. You can’t just trash the suburbs and move on. It’s more complicated than that.

  51. We are urban/surburban so each area (neighborhood, town) has its own shopping plaza and cluster of stores. If you live close enough to the cluster it’s certainly walkable but if not it’s a 5 minute drive to most important amenities. Even medical facilities are set up this way and I have the choice of a number of locations not too far away. I really like this flexibility. We have tons of trees and open space in the older neighborhoods and this gives us space to enjoy the outdoors, exercise have the kids play outside. I love the combination of the city and the country.

  52. “You can’t just trash the suburbs and move on. It’s more complicated than that.”

    I agree. Everyone has their lifestyle priorities and no place is perfect. I got tired of some family members criticizing another relative’s choice of a semi rural-location, similar to how L describes her place. From the criticism you would have thought the children were suffering child abuse because none of their friends were within walking distance.

  53. “We have no family in town, so needed space for guests to be comfortable.” Ditto! Plus DH wanted space for an office. We have 2 extra bedrooms and then 2 extra bedrooms in the office, plus the kids’ rooms are big enough that they can double up if we have guests. :)

  54. I grew up in traditional suburbs (not rural, not exurb, not urban) so I don’t really have a problem with the setup. Although I never lived in a suburb with the nice amenities that Becky is describing. But our subdivision in KY had a swimming pool that you could walk to – about half a mile – and a playground next to the swimming pool. And you could walk to the Baskin Robbins and to a mall. Our suburb in Seattle was not very walkable at all because there were no sidewalks, but there was one plaza we could get to. My parents had to drive us to the library though, which they hated. In Houston, we lived in a vast, lowrise apartment complex with several swimming pools. We kids loved it because we could run all over the place. Big apartment complexes are not a housing option that has been discussed here. From a kid’s perspective, they are great but probably not so much for the parents….

    I like my walkable suburb, and I always liked living in urban places too. But living in semi-rural (semi-exurb?) MA for 4 years made me realize that fleeing to the country is not for me!

  55. I should note too – the suburb was NEAR Seattle, not IN Seattle. By definition, it wouldn’t have been part of Seattle.

  56. I lived for 30 years in the NYC boros. We still go back quite frequently to meet up with friends. The area that I grew up in is an insanely hot market right now, especially among the hipsters. But there are still basic pain points like a lack of parking, no nearby supermarkets and a minimum 30 minute commute (not including your time to walk to the subway and standing all the way once you do get on the train). We’re now in an outer ring burb. I like my town (lot sizes range from 1/8 to 2+ acre zoning), my yard and easy access to the train (with a seated commute) and stores. When we first moved here 25 years ago, life just seemed so much easier than where we were living before. I have considered moving back to the city for retirement, but I need to live in a specific location that has access to parking while being close to stores and public transportation.

  57. To me inner ring burb or residential low rise urban density with ample public transit, resident permit or off street parking, necessities within walking distance, and amenities a short distance away, was ideal as a child, a parent of a young family, a downtown worker with middle school and up kids who could get around on their own, an empty nester, and a retiree. The main change at empty nest was that moving just one click further out from urban to dense burb in the right direction reduced housing cost so that I could afford a nice place and also gave me quick access to work locations and entertainment that are not in town. The downside is a lack of diversity of income and race/ethnicity, but that was more of an objective as a parent than as a senior with a pretty set life and circle of friends.

  58. Who is trashing the suburbs? I was expressing my thoughts about decisions I’ve made for myself, not judging others. And I hardly think the suburbs need defending. It is the assumed place that you are “supposed” to want to live and raise a family. Defending the suburbs is like defending having 2 kids!

  59. “Some are cute self-contained communities that are walkable in themselves. Some are gross and sprawly. Before it became the center of Silicon Valley, was Palo Alto a suburb?”

    Palo Alto has multiple walkable areas, e.g., downtown, midtown.

    Head up or down the peninsula and you’ll see similar areas, e.g., Mountain View and Los Altos also have their own downtowns.

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