As we pull away from the suburbs for a variety of reasons, we can choose urban or rural settings. I recently wrote about the eco-friendly qualities of cities on the BuildDirect Green Blog, and now I want to give the rural lifestyle its due here.
I have been fortunate to live in both situations at once. We used to spend summers in rural New Mexico and winters in Tucson, Arizona. It was the best of both worlds. I can’t say I prefer urban or rural, because they both have a lot to offer.
Rural can mean a 1,000-acre ranch in an isolated area or less than an acre in a small town. Even the population of that small town will determine what rural life has to offer. I live on an acre outside a town of 10,000, but I have lived on .10 acre in a town of 1,500. I’ve enjoyed the benefits of rural living in each situation.
Peace and quiet, and peace of mind
Rural living offers peace and quiet. There is nothing like waking up to birds chirping or looking out your window in winter to see snow gracing the naked tree branches. You experience less stress and be more relaxed when the sights and sounds of nature surround you. When I go out on my back porch to have coffee in summer before the sun comes up, I feel like I’m camping. It’s quiet, birds are singing in the distance, and the air is damp with early morning dew. I’ve even had houseguests comment on the camping feel of early morning. People go camping to get away, but you can enjoy it at home!
Open space equals self-reliance
Surrounded by acreage, trees and views, you can stretch, literally and figuratively. There is a sense of expansion and freedom in a rural setting. Open space also allows for pets, livestock, gardening and room for children to roam and play. If you can do any farming, you can become self-reliant and reduce your carbon footprint.
This is one main reason people move to rural areas – to raise food and livestock. This is healthy, because you know what you are eating. These days, with so many foods being genetically engineered, it’s a good idea to grown your own, and barter with farming neighbors for what you do not have. Farming and gardening also connect you with nature. You are at the mercy of the elements, which in turn makes you more aware of them and all of earth’s cycles.
Open space offers privacy, but close living in a small town may not. The beauty of rural life, though, is that neighbors are respectful of your personal space. They tend to keep to themselves and treat others as they wish to be treated. If you need them, though, my personal experience says they are there to support you.
Cleaner air and water
Without the pollution of cars and industry, rural air and water are better for your health. Fewer cars also means less traffic.
Outdoor activities enables interaction with nature
Rural areas may be close to National Forest, National Parks or BLM land for hiking, canoeing, fishing, skiing and biking. You might live where you can just take a good long walk in the neighborhood. Dark skies at night offer an education in astronomy.
Cheaper cost of living
Generally, housing, food and gas are less expensive in rural areas. Property taxes are also cheaper. This could be good or bad. When schools depend on property taxes, their quality is diminished. I live in such a place. Our taxes are very low, but our services, roads and schools show it. Almost every town I’ve researched that has good schools has a healthy tax base.
A sense of community
People choose rural areas for a more personal experience. The postmaster and supermarket cashier call you by name. The restaurants know what you like to order. Social events feel more like intimate parties. I love this about small town life! It’s wonderful to be connected to people.
Saving money, living in nature and, connecting with people add up to an eco-friendly lifestyle in my eyes. Whether you choose urban or rural is a personal decision. Do you need the stimulation and job security of a city, or do you wish a slower paced, more self-sufficient life in the country? The point being, the city and the country both have excellent qualities for eco-friendly, low carbon lifestyles.