I grew up in the city and moved to the countryside when I was 23 for a teaching job. I moved back to the city (a different city) when I was 25 (four years ago). The country town I moved to was very small (population 200). At the time, I remember thinking it's a great place for families, but not for a young single girl (which I was back then). Personally, I would LOVE to move to the country! My dream is moving from Adelaide (where we live now; population 1.2 million) to the Barossa Valley (a small group of towns an hour away). I'd love to live on a few acres and have lots of animals. When you move to the country, you definitely need to get a dog! Roo will love it ;) I enjoyed my time in the country, but was ready to leave after two years. By far the best bit was looking out my kitchen window every morning to see kangaroos hopping across paddocks. You don't get that in the city!
There are definitely downsides to living in the country. For example, I wouldn't want to live more than an hour from restaurants, shops, etc. But, in England, I guess you're never too far away! I think the countryside is a great place to bring up children. Good luck with planning your move!
This thread is making me wistful. I grew up in the country, but I've become quite a city-slicker. It's hard to imagine being far from friends, museums, shows, exotic cuisines minutes from home, people of all races speaking different languages and crazy people blowing my mind on a daily basis.
But living in the city (NYC anyway) the main elements are stone and metal. You take these right angles and chemical smells into your body... it's brutal, it's not human. Intellectually stimulating, yes. A great place to learn, yes. But in the country, your kids will learn to be animals in a different way. I see so many children with computer-bodies now, slouching, completely disconnected from the ground, staring at little digital devices on the subway. It's sad. When you're connected to the earth in a sensuous way, there's a different feeling of belonging in the world. Time unfolds differently. There's a kind of physical fearlessness that country kids have that's beautiful. I have a hard time imagining raising kids in the city. I can't imagine them not being able to go hide in the woods and carve out their own secret spaces, not experiencing the poetry of the natural world. The people are what make the city wonderful. Well that, and the fact that we have a lot of work here. I understand your ambivalence.
I agree with Taz about guiding your children into meaningful activities. I'm sure you'll have no problem, but it is something to be wary of. Here in the US, there are often a lot more drugs in the country. I always had dance and other interests as a kid, but my brother was more social, less focused, and susceptible to peer pressure. Because there were multiple dealers within walking distance, and because the scene was pretty insular, he got off to a bad start.
I have this incredible urge to move to the UK after reading all these responses. Now that I'm getting married, the future hubs and I have started talking about moving out of the city/citified suburb we live in now (I use the term city loosely because I live in the tiniest state in the land. Our whole state has less than 1 million people). But the schools are better, the life is slower, and I think it is a much better life for raising children.
That said, my cousins grew up in NYC and have this cultured cool vibe going for them that I've always been a bit envious of. They seemingly have suffered no ill effects from growing up in the city. They certainly are much more street smart than I'll ever be. I still think I'd choose the country life.
I grew up in a fairly big city (suburb of dc) and spent most of my time around city life. Then again, dc has a different feel than large metropolitan areas in this country... It's hard to explain. But I definitely consider my childhood to be city centric.
Luckily though, I also grew up riding horses which leant itself to many hours in the countryside, easy outside of commuterville. We also spent weekends on the water and I learned to clean a fish around the same time I started riding the metro on my own, quite a contrast!
If it can be done, I think the most ideal is a weekend warrior setup, with a second house (or boat, or relatives) within an hour or so of home in the city. I'm equally comfortable navigating metropolitan centers, throwing elbows through a crowd of tourists as I am wandering around old trails in the woods and walking face first into spider webs. I can duel it out on the beltway in rush hour, and i can identify bird species. It's a pretty sweet balance!
Right now i live in a rural area in a small town. We have neighbors nearby but are on 10 acres. The employment opportunities and the economic state (very poor) of the area are a serious drag. Many of my coworkers are wonderful people but intellectual banter is... Lacking. Everyone (but us!) is from here or has been here for 20 years and either has no desire to see other parts of the world, or they're dying to escape but have no means to do so.
The hipster yuppie crowd is blessedly small, however, and I rarely get people who are so self obsessed that they are unbearable to be around, which I can't say for even the small city I've always wanted to move to. The rat race is so far removed from our environment that it's almost laughable (and really refreshing, at the same time that career advancement is null.... Sigh). Seems like everything is a tradeoff. I'd love to live somewhere i could walk all around (it's hard here- either very dangerous roads or private property which you seriously don't want to trespass upon...) and pick up random needs from the store on my walk home, and stop neighbors in the street and sit at a café around the corner with my dog, and hear all the sounds and activity of my street.... But I also do love sleeping with the windows open and rarely hearing a peep outside of the crickets and cicadas, I adore my hammock in the trees of the front yard, and playing fetch right outside my door.
Now I'm rambling too!! It's really hard to choose fully.... If I were wealthy I'd pick weekdays in the city, weekends away :)
Oooh, thanks again! I have to say, all of this makes me very excited about the move. Apart from the spiders and the roads... but I knew about those already!
Taz; wholesome activites! I love how you said that. Horseback riding, sailing, football, ballet, painting, cricket, fishing are all things I'd love her to do... wholesome enough?
Alora, I love your list of your favourite things! Those are pretty much mine too. And yes, there is something about the city lights...
Pinkie; I was hoping you'd chime in! Great to hear what it's like with a little girl in the countryside! I actually have a friend/acquaintance with two daughters (5 and 4) who lives in a village in Bucks and she lets her girls go to the playground on their own. She can see the playpark from her window, but still... sounds great!
Renny; thanks for that list! I will look into schools before we decide, and it's pretty likely we'll send her to a boarding school from age 13 if there are no decent schools around where we live. I love what you said about the procession through the woods... sounds magical!
Charlie; I can't thank you enough for your little novel! It's glorious. Now my man is set on Cornwall, which is fine by me. I've always loved Cornwall. I'm not a big dog person either, I hate that people don't pick up after them, but if we do get one it'll be HIS responsibility, and he'd better pick up ;)
Rollo; thank for those reassuring words. The land around Sydney is gorgeous, I'm sure your home is cosy! I want an old farm house or something manor-ish with high ceilings... I love good space and lots of windows!!!
Sarah; thanks, kangaroos outside the window! So exotic and fun! I am refusing to look at something too far away from towns; and in most English towns there are a few restaurants and definitely a good pub.
Emma; the pollution is what scares me the most. London feels quite soft and sweet, it's very different to NY, hardly any tall buildings, and most of it's old. Especially where we live, but the pollution is bad... I'm not so worried now that she's so little, but when she grows older and I can't cover the pushchair with a blanket... hmm. Yes, drugs are common, but they are in the city as well. And we do have those boarding schools, and who knows what'll happen there? Hmm...
Dindle; I know what you mean about the coolness factor, but that's not that important to me. I think my child(ren) might hate us for moving at some point when/if they see the house they could've lived in, but I can deal with some hatred for that as long as their childhood is brilliant.
Kate; thank you for your rambling ;). My grandparents were in the country when I was growing up, so we had a lot of wonderful weekends there, and my parents have a house in Italy where we spent a lot of time as well, so I'm used to the divide!
What we're thinking is big house in the country (old farm/manoresque house with plenty of bedrooms as this will be my last move (I hate moving)) and three-bedroom flat/small house in central London where we can go for vacations, breaks, bank holidays, etc. Especially when Roo (and the future babies) get older. Right now future hubs is set on Cornwall; we already have three houses in Gloucestershire we're looking at in some days, and we've found a fair few in Cornwall. Even one near St. Agnes which made my man all excited!
More country life experiences and opinions are welcome!
Hehe I'd love to be your daughter! You'd make me such a lovely mum, dear Otter! Glad you liked the post. I did worry it was too much and I thought about going back and deleting a load of it. Oooh St Agnes- must be fate! It'd be so cool introducing yourself as 'Agnes from St Agnes' :D Good luck with your house hunting! :)
An American country girl here :) I loved growing up in the country! There's plenty of room to run around and explore outside. My brother and I built countless forts and play houses. When I was about 5 I really wanted to move into town though so that there would be naighbour kids to play with, but I hasve to say that was the only time in my life I disliked living in the country. I was able to have all sorts of pets, a dog, lots of barn cats, chickens, goats, occasionally a bottle calf. The animals tought me responsibility in a way I wouldn't have gotten had we lived in town and only had maybe one cat or dog. All my siblings and I learned how to drive a tractor and shoot (both gun and bow) by the time we were 10 if not earlier. As far as social life goes, our farm is only 10 minutes from a decent size town (4th largest city in the state) so we were plenty close to friends, even if we couldn't just ride our bikes over to each other's homes. The only time drugs were even a hint of an issue was when my brother was riding the school bus his freshman year of high school (thankfully he never did drugs) at which point my parents chose to take him to school and pick him up themselves, rather than have him ride the bus. Parents of country kids definantly have to be more involved in their children's social life than parents of city kids due to the lack of public transportation, but it's worth it! I loved growing up on a farm and can't imagine not raising my future children in the country. (now just to find a farm boy to have said children with. . . )
Well to me time is everything. So if you and your husband to be don't have to spend a long time everyday commuting then moving to the country is worth it, but for me I'm planning on raising my kids in the city, so I have a short commute to work and they have a short commute to school. I grew up in the country and I definitely suffered from a lack of culture, but I'm not sure it would be the same in the UK.
I grew up in the country, or as Southerners call it, The Sticks. Personally, I despise country living. I love modern conveniences and bright lights. We live in a small city right now, and we're less than 5 minutes to grocery stores, coffee shops, hospital, pretty much everything. If it weren't for personal reasons (my mom needs to be within a 1-2 hour drive from us) we would move to a bigger city like NYC or Baltimore in a heartbeat. We are both city people.
If I were in your situation, since London is my dream city (I WILL live there sometime in my life) I would not move. But, the countryside in England is gorgeous and I might consider moving, the Cotswolds especially.
I would say it depends how far you are away from family and friends, and how you settle into where ever you move to.
We live in a small seaside village in the Scottish Highlands. It's beautiful, but I can't wait to move next year. We are up here because of my husband's job. I work full time locally in a job I love, but I have really, really struggled to find people up here of my own age to make friends with - Perhaps because we don't have kids yet, but are late twenties and married, we are surrounded by lovely, lovely people of our parents/grandparents generation, or those slightly older than us who have kids.
We are pretty remote up here. It is so lovely, green, a very gentle place to live. But it drives me mad that nothing is open on a Sunday, or beyond 5pm in the evening. Or that we have to drive for 2 hours to find a big town/city. Or that it takes over 5 hours to get to family and friends. People don't seem to understand how long it takes to get anywhere, that we are stranded due to snow during winter, that the roads are not safe to travel all the time.
BUT - with kids, I would love to stay here. Its just the timing of when we live here that I think makes me long to move!
As long as you look carefully, and aren't too far from civilisation, it will probably be a great experience!