Ru­ral life – peace and quiet or iso­la­tion and claus­tro­pho­bia?

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Sally Coulthard

IT’S rain­ing out­side as I write this. Apart from drop­ping the kids off at nurs­ery, I’ve not spo­ken to a sin­gle per­son all day. And, to cap it all, the elec­tric­ity sup­ply and broad­band keep cut­ting out, re­turn­ing for a few tan­ta­lis­ing min­utes, and then stop­ping again. Work­ing from home when you live in the coun­try­side isn’t al­ways as idyl­lic as it sounds.

Lots of us fan­ta­sise about mak­ing a move to the coun­try­side in search of a bet­ter life. Lower crime rates, lo­cal food, a bet­ter qual­ity of life and want­ing to feel con­nected to na­ture are top of peo­ple’s wish-list, but not ev­ery­one is pre­pared for the re­al­i­ties of ru­ral liv­ing. Some peo­ple jump off the city tread­mill only to find them­selves iso­lated in a damp cot­tage miles from any­where.

It’s not sur­pris­ing al­most half the peo­ple who move from city to coun­try up sticks and re­turn to town. But for ev­ery per­son gives up on ru­ral liv­ing, there’s an­other per­son who moves, stays and loves their new life. For them, the coun­try­side rep­re­sents a more peace­ful, ful­fill­ing life­style with bet­ter sur­round­ings, more free time and a greater sense of well­be­ing. It’s no sur­prise that life ex­pectancy and lev­els of gen­eral health are higher in ru­ral ar­eas.

So what sets apart the stay­ers from the scarpers? Ask al­most any­one who’s made a suc­cess­ful move to the coun­try­side and they’ll tell you that hav­ing re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions about ru­ral life is vi­tal. Un­der­stand­ing what’s dif­fer­ent about coun­try life – at­ti­tudes, pace of life, so­cial life, ac­cess to ameni­ties – all these change when you move from the city. Some im­prove. Some worsen. How you adapt to these changes is cen­tral to how quickly you’ll set­tle.

Prepa­ra­tion is key. You need to es­tab­lish what kind of coun­try dweller you want to be. It might sound bla­tantly ob­vi­ous but know­ing your­self and your family, and what you re­ally want from coun­try life is the first, and most important, step to liv­ing the good life. If you love the coun­try­side but can’t let go of the city, you might be a week­ender at heart. Week­enders get the best of both worlds – the buzz of met­ro­pol­i­tan life dur­ing the week with re­lax­ing, fresh air Fri­day to Sunday night. Un­for­tu­nately week­enders can also be un­pop­u­lar with lo­cals who of­ten feel priced out of the ru­ral hous­ing mar­ket by sec­ond home own­ers. Top tip: try and re­dress the bal­ance by fre­quent­ing the vil­lage pub, sup­port­ing lo­cal shops and mak­ing friends in the com­mu­nity. If city liv­ing has lost its sheen but you can’t give up the day job, you may want to con­sider com­mut­ing. You of­ten get more house for your money when you sell up in the city and buy a ru­ral prop­erty, so it’s no sur­prise that com­mut­ing is a real favourite among grow­ing fam­i­lies. Un­for­tu­nately, it can mean lots of trav­el­ling, high trans­port costs and time away from your loved ones. Top tip: re­search has shown that most peo­ple who make a suc­cess of com­mut­ing use the ru­ral train sta­tion rather than rely on the car. This takes some of the stress of the daily jour­ney and hope­fully means you can work on the train.

If, how­ever, your idea of heaven is close-knit com­mu­ni­ties and even closer neigh­bours, vil­lage life can be a great source of sup­port, so­cial life and friend­ships. With the sea­sons marked out by vil­lage events and get-to­geth­ers it’s dif­fi­cult to feel lonely in the heart of a com­mu­nity. For some, liv­ing on top of each other is just too claus­tro­pho­bic. Top tip: re­sist the urge to di­vulge ev­ery piece of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to your new neigh­bours – you may find your pri­vate life counts as lo­cal news. Want to­tal peace and seclu­sion? Head for the hills. You don’t have to be in the mid­dle of nowhere, just far enough to feel that it’s you, na­ture and no-one else. Just re­mem­ber there might not even be a pub in walk­ing dis­tance – life without a ve­hi­cle will be dif­fi­cult. Family life off the beaten track can also be hard work, es­pe­cially as your chil­dren reach ado­les­cence. Top tip: con­sider the ef­fect of your move on the en­tire family short and long term.

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