How many times have you thought to yourself, “I’ve had it with urban life. I want the quiet and charm of the country.” Perhaps you have spent weekends exploring those distant and picturesque little towns that lie off the beaten path just a few hours drive from almost every city in the US.
You may be one of the fortunate few who has found a town that seems to offer what you desire, or you may still be looking after years of searching. Either way, I’d like to suggest that you ask yourself a few questions which relate directly to your comfort level on things you will find in the country.
Country living offers a gradient scale of comfort with a corresponding gradient scale of price. At the lower end of the price spectrum, there is the fixer-upper dwelling with minimum amenities on the outskirts of a town that has a store and a filling station. The upper end of the country living spectrum includes gated mountain-top communities with shopping, spas, and all of the accouterments of high-end suburban life.
At the bottom end of the spectrum, you are literally up to your ankles in the countryside much of the year. At the upper end, you are safely insulated from the countryside and its inhabitants and your big-city guests will feel right at home.
Since there is a vast middle range of lifestyles available in the country, each with its particular level of comfort and intellectual stimulation, I propose that we out here in the country might organize a set of questions which we can pass out to visitors carrying real estate brochures.
The first set of questions were proposed by Doug Thompson and tested on a young couple thinking of finding a home in Floyd. Read his account of the conversation and the comments too as both illuminate the difference between suburban and country life.
I think there are other questions that might help guide a visitor in choosing whether to live in Floyd, VA:
1. Are you planning to commute?
We have mountain roads that are icy in winter and clogged with traffic in the summer.
2. Do you have your own business?
Floyd has very few employers. Unless you are self-supporting, you have few alternatives to minimum wage jobs. If you are self-sufficient or an artisan/crafter, you will find Floyd to be a stimulating place to live.
3. Do you have at least one vehicle that has four wheel drive?
If not, plan on spending much of the winter unable to get in or out of your driveway.
4. Are you comfortable driving 40 miles to do most of your major shopping?
We have a supermarket and hardware stores in town, but it is a 40 mile round trip to the nearest city.
5. Are you a private person who enjoys living a quietly anonymous life?
In Floyd everyone will know more about you in the first week than your neighbors back home ever knew. It is far easier to remain anonymous in a city or a typical suburb than in a community like Floyd.
6. Are you handy with a chainsaw?
If not, better consider propane for heating.
7. What are the amenities that you count on every week to provided a satisfactory quality of life?
This can be a make/break discovery because few country town have an espresso bar, wi-fi, or a New York style deli. Your Jaguar or your Hummer will be many miles from the nearest mechanic and there is no source of freshly baked croissants for a hundred miles.
Happiness is all about having your expectations met. If you come to the country with expectations that match the amenities provided, you will be happy. If your expectations are not met, you will be wasting your time and money moving. Life is too short to waste time in the wrong places.
Make a list of the amenities that define your lifestyle and use them as a checklist when you find a country town that you like. It may save you a lot of time and money!