Do you live in the city or do you live in the country? Are you happy where you live? Is one better than the other? Maybe it’s a matter of opinion to the eye of the beholder, the ear of the listener, or the contentedness of the feeler. In other words, where one chooses or prefers to live is simply a matter of taste. Or is it? Of course, it should be considered that not everyone is living where they are by choice or where they prefer. Is the grass really greener on the other side? Or do we want what we do not or cannot have, fitting the stereotype of our society today? Perhaps comparing the two different lifestyles and considering the good, the bad, the ordinary and the extraordinary of each, for there are a variety of advantages and disadvantages to living in either place, may provide some insight (and possibly some hindsight) so that we may answer these questions independently as individuals.
In the city there is lots of traffic, and depending on the time of day, that can make getting where you need to go in a timely manner rather difficult. Traffic can also cause a lot of noise, but is only a fraction of the noises heard in the city. The sirens of emergency vehicles, car alarms, cats fighting, children playing, and people arguing are just a few of the many constant and repetitive sounds you cannot escape in the city. Cities generally have larger populations than in the country so running into crowds and a range of moods and attitudes is not uncommon. It is also in the city where you will find large factories for manufacturing, producing, and recycling which, in addition to a vast amount of operating motorized vehicles, contribute to the poisoning of our air. Traffic, noise, over-population and pollution are just some of the disadvantages of living in the city.
However, living in the city has its good points too. Shopping, restaurants, and many services are just minutes away in the city. There are gas stations on every corner. If you decide you want a burger, fries, and a milkshake at two o’clock in the morning, just hop in your car or walk down to the corner and within minutes you can be indulging in your cravings. You can go shopping at the mall, pick up your dry-cleaning, go to the gym, the post office, the bank, and then grab some lunch and a cup of coffee all in one trip within a few miles of your home in the city.
There is also no shortage of fun and entertainment available in the city: libraries, art galleries, professional sports games, concerts, comedy clubs, dance clubs, operas, ballets, movie theaters, zoos, parks, and family fun centers are everywhere. The variety of specialty shows going on throughout the year is another perk. The circus, rodeos, antique exhibitions, classic car shows, boat shows, home and garden shows, gun shows and dog shows are all things that can be experienced.
Another benefit of living in the city is the many modes of public transportation such as buses, trams, trains, and taxis that can get you where you need to go. The plus side of that is you don’t have to deal with traffic; let someone else do it for you. In addition to convenience, entertainment, and public transportation, another important feature found mostly in the city is jobs. Even if one lives in the country, it is likely that their place of employment is located in the city.
Living in the country takes a lot of sacrifice. Again, there are few jobs clear out in the country, so in most cases, one must commute to get to work. There is also the lack of convenience in shopping and receiving the services of many businesses as they too require a lengthy trip into town. The few stores that may be located in closer proximity of one’s home often charge much higher prices for their merchandise. They may be more convenient when you just need a loaf of bread or a bottle of aspirin but that convenience comes at a price.
Country homes usually have septic tanks, so if and when they get clogged or backed up, it is at the home owner’s expense and that can also be costly. Country homes also get their water supply from wells on their land and Mother Nature controls how much or how little water is available. During certain times of the year, when rain fall is scarce it may very well be necessary to keep daily tasks such as laundry, dishes, and the bathing of pets to a minimum. There is no public transportation available out in the country and if one’s car breaks down or runs out of gas, it is a long way to the auto repair shop or gas station and the options are limited; either wait and hope someone comes along and will give you a ride, or start walking, both of which can make for a long day. And overall, living in the country can be a lot of work which is time-consuming. Whether plowing, planting, fertilizing, watering, and caring for large crops or small gardens, feeding and caring for livestock, chopping wood for the fire, or canning fresh vegetables and fruits for the winter, there is always plenty that needs to be done in the country.
The perks of living in the country are numerous. The scenery is incredibly beautiful at any time of the year and without all the traffic, city lights, large buildings and asphalt, sun sets and sun rises are nothing short of breathtaking! Whether in the mountains or the flat, open plains, the many varieties of trees on the back drop of a sky with billowing white clouds and the brilliance of the sun, the ominous mystery of darkness illuminated by blinding streaks of lightning, a midnight blue splattered with sparkling stars and the comforting glow of the moon, whatever the view from any window in the house, it is never short of spectacular.
In the country you can find peace and privacy and very little noise compared to the city. There you can hear things like the whisper of the breeze, birds singing their melodious tunes, brooks babbling and rushing along, and the soft rustling of leaves. These sounds are so comforting and soothing that they have been taken from nature and placed on relaxation soundtracks. You won’t find the same with the harsh sounds of the city.
The air is certainly much fresher in the country and without the levels of pollution found in the city, the many smells of nature, including but not limited to flowers, pines, berries and fruit native to the area, are much sharper. The water from natural wells and springs is generally fresher and more pure than water supplied in the city. The environment in the country is also ideal for planting and growing fresh fruits and vegetables. One is more likely to have cows and pigs and chickens for fresh milk, fresh eggs, and even, with the right knowledge, skills, and equipment, fresh meat.
In living in the country, the large, open spaces of land are essential to having livestock. Try keeping a cow on the balcony of your fifth floor apartment in the city. Even pets are happier and healthier in the country as they have more room to run around in, whereas in an apartment in the city, or the tiny yards often found attached to city houses, pets can feel cooped up and restless. If you are renting in the city, most property management companies require hundreds of dollars per pet for deposit. Another great thing about living in the country is that you can have a picnic or go camping right in your own front yard. You can go hiking and fishing without a lot of planning and exploring nature is right at your fingertips.
I recently lived in the city of Portland, Oregon, because a small apartment was all I could afford and I had to depend on public transportation to get to school, do my shopping, and make frequent trips to the doctor and dentist. However, for a very short time in the midst of the 22 years I lived in the city, I lived in the country up on the outskirts of the mountains, in the little town of Carson, Washington. I had bought a triple-wide, manufactured house that was 2000 square feet, placed on three acres. Getting up at dawn was easy to do when I lived there because I was eager to sit out on my deck with a cup of coffee and see what colors the sun rise had to offer to start my day. Unfortunately the ugliness of divorce devastated my dream life and forced me back into the city as a struggling, single mother, confined by a lack of finances to a tiny apartment in the center of the hell that is the city.
Currently, I live in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, in a beautiful, cozy home with my nearest and dearest friends. I have been here now longer than I spent in Washington, and the things I have seen out in the yard have, for me, been mind-blowing. Did you know that without the light pollution of the city, the brightness of the stars and the moon is much more intense? In the fall, when the leaves change, the colors are so vivid it looks as if the trees are on fire. When it snows here, the moonlight hits the fresh blankets and if you didn’t know better, you would swear the yard was covered in diamonds.
I have seen many a doe with her fawns walking curiously through the trees not 20 feet from my deck. I have also watched as two bucks came within two feet of my friend as she tossed bread out to them to eat. I have watched as dozens of squirrels ran to and fro, across the yard and up and down trees, playing with each other. Most of the squirrels I have seen are solid black in color, which I have never seen until I moved here. I have watched many varieties of birds land on the deck and feed on the seed that was put out just for them. I have seen robins hopping around on the ground, very early in the morning; so many, I could not get an accurate count. And just recently, I witnessed the most magnificent thing I have seen in a long time; a huge flock of birds, thousands of them, gathering, communicating, and moving methodically as a group from one stand of trees to another. The sound was almost deafening, and after watching for about 15 minutes, suddenly they all at once became silent and flew off out of sight.
For those of you who like living in the fast lane, enjoy the super expediency of every service being right around the corner, and thrive on the flashy lights, big stages, and extravagant performers—more power to you. I greatly prefer living in the country, gladly giving up all the conveniences of living in the city for the fresh air and quiet of living far out, away from mobs of people and the chaos and congestion of the fast paced city life. For myself, living in the country awards me with a feeling of nostalgia and I feel more in my element; more at home. This is the life for me!