A quieter, simpler place in the country


Somehow, I have always had an image of a place to live where there was more nature and less of mechanistic society. Today I realized that I have been searching for this quiet place for a long time, far longer than I realized.

It can be easily described: a quiet, peaceful place to live and work, well-connected with fiber optics, a clean environment with good water and fresh air, and no noise pollution.

The source of this desire is quite understandable, now that I think of it. I grew up in a quiet place on the outskirts of a small town in Western Massachusetts. We were a family that read voraciously, did all sorts of craft work with Mother’s skillful direction, and did major building projects under Dad’s watchful eye. We were physically isolated, but connected to the world through books and radio.

It was expected that my sister and I would go to college and make our way in the world as the first generation of our family educated beyond high school. We did just that and while my sister stayed in Massachusetts, I spent my adult life following the high tech circus as it moved from Rte 128 near Boston around the US to end up in Silicon Valley.

As my worklife became increasingly hectic, my home neighborhoods became less bucolic, although in most cases I managed to find or create some natural beauty spot as a respite from longer and more onerous working conditions.

I have come almost full circle with our recent move from Silicon Valley to rural Virginia, but as my recent post about creeping urbanization showed, I still have a way to go before I find the quiet place I have in mind.

Gretchen shares this vision, as she has similar small town roots, so we continue our search for a place that offers quiet space for living while providing high speed internet access to our growing circle of friends all over the world.

We think we may have found one that suits our needs. It will undoubtedly be the subject of many posts in the months to come.

While writing this, I recognized similar cycles in the lives of others. They left childhood homes in small towns for a life in industry and they followed a career path that took them from one big city to the next. As they entered the post-corporate phase of their lives, it made more sense to live in areas that were out of the main stream and more conducive to developing a non-industrial career.

With the onset of the wired age, this traditional cycle of moving to the city for opportunity may be broken completely for those who make a living handling and creating information.

Perhaps there will be mini-cycles of linking up with a corporate network for projects of various durations, interspersed with bidding and negotiating for contracts on an "Ebay Job Market" of the future.

Whatever happens, the future will be blogged. You can count on it.

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0 Responses to A quieter, simpler place in the country

  1. David:

    Glad to hear you may have found your spot of paradise. Hopefully we will soon welcome you and Gretchen to our part of the world here in Southwestern Virginia.

    Amy and I don’t, for a moment, regret our decision to return to my roots here in Floyd County, even with a 40 mph wind and 8 degree wind chill outside. 🙂

  2. fletch says:

    I have traveled the same road as you describe here. I’ve found that when drawing a paycheck from the internet, the freedom to move wherever you wish can create a certain amount of stress also, at least until you decide. I’m evaluating several places and wish I could take each place for a test drive before making a major commitment. It’s easy to dream and say “Oh I would live in the Rockies, or the Florida Keys, etc., but you still have to deal with reality of real estate cost, taxes, and such. It’s easier in many situations just to go back home, where everybody knows your name.

  3. I never felt that going home was an option. I’m not the same person who left there so many years ago and the people I meet when I go back are no longer the same either.

    Gretchen and I would rather find a place that has people like us, experienced travelers who are more than happy to contribute to a community’s cultural and economic growth, but who are mindful of the trade-offs that come with increasing the economic base of a region.

    With increasing population pressure, there is no crossroads in America that will escape the watchful eye of an advance team for Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or Akea. These companies and hundreds like them provide excellent service to their customers and they appear where new customers congregate in sufficient numbers.

    Their appearance is sufficient reason for many to move into the region, and there goes the quiet country retreat ball game.

    The elusive quiet country retreat may be more like a mirage. They look great from far away, but they vanish as we, and the hordes we bring with us, get closer.

  4. IB Bill says:

    I’ve purchased my country home and do the long commute right now. It’s hectic but I love my job and love my home.

    I also recognize what my presence means up in the Poconos. If I’ve discovered it, others have. And they’re already starting to move in. My neighborhood won’t change, but the ones around it won’t.

    But I think I’ve got about 10-15 years of peace and quiet. After that, I’ll cash in the equity on the house and move further west. It’s a big country, and there’s a lot of empty mountains in Pennsylvania.

  5. Greg Lucot says:

    I’m in my early 50’s and I too find myself looking for a life away from my industrialized career. I started to read your manifesto on changethis.com but I wasn’t ready to dive into a 149 page survival guide. I’m sure it is packed with a lot of great stuff, but it seems a little daunting at the moment. (That fact that I just made this statement is a clear indication I need to get away sooner rather than later.) So I’m taking a short cut and hope to get some insight from your blog.

  6. David:

    Like you I felt for many, many years that going home was never an option. It would not have been had not Floyd become home to a growing community of artists, writers and fellow travelers who, as you suggest, share common interests.

    That is one of the things that makes Floyd unique. While such a mix of cultures, attitudes and ideas may not work in other hometowns, it certainly did here. Maintaining that balance will be the trick. With luck we can.

  7. Doug, I know what you mean. I had hoped we have 10 years of balance in Floyd, but the pace is picking up. Every day, hopeful new settlers come rumbling into town in their SUVs filled with kids and dogs.

    I would put the event point at 5 years and hope for the best.

    Like you and IB Bill, I hope to keep looking for peace and quiet, but I think high-speed internet has put an end to the idea of inaccessable areas. If they can put satellite connections in the schools on the floor of the Grand Canyon, we will soon have high tech hermits living and working in the most remote areas of the Rockies and on every island in the Bahamas.

    Colorful spots like Floyd will rank high on the list. Get a good spot on Main Street for your celebrity home tour map kiosk now. 🙂

  8. dan david says:

    David wrote: “With increasing population pressure, there is no crossroads in America that will escape the watchful eye of an advance team for Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or Akea. These companies and hundreds like them provide excellent service to their customers and they appear where new customers congregate in sufficient numbers.”

    The people from small places can avoid the big shops, thus driving them out… It’s up to you.

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