Let’s face it: 2020 has been a tumultuous year — to put it mildly. From the rampant spread of the coronavirus to sweeping shutdowns that upended a thriving economy to growing unrest in America’s major cities, life feels far different today than it did this time last year.
And if you’re one of the millions of Americans living in one of the United States’ metropolitan areas, you might be using this time to take stock of your priorities. You might be evaluating whether the life you’re living is the life you really want for yourself and your family.
As you reevaluate your family’s wants and needs in today’s new normal, you may well be one of the many Americans considering making the leap from our great cities to our rural heartland. But before you trade in skyscrapers and miles of pavement for rolling hills and miles of blue sky, there are some important things to keep in mind.
It should go without saying that life in the countryside is far different than life in the metropolis. But before you and your family commit to such a drastic lifestyle change, it’s important to be sure that you’re prepared for the inevitable culture shock.
If you have your eye on a particular town, try to spend a fair amount of time there with the family to get a feel of the culture and the community. That’s important if you’re relocating to a new city, but it’s even more important, perhaps, if you’re moving from the city to a rural area.
And there are particular things to notice as you test out your prospective country home. If you’re telecommuting, make sure the area has the broadband access you need to do your work. If you’re going to be changing jobs, be sure to check out the employment situation, cost of living, and transportation system. You might find that your transition from city mouse to country mouse will require you to invest in a new car, since hopping on the subway or calling for an Uber might not be an option.
Above all, though, when you’re trying out the rural life, spend enough time to ensure that the slower pace and country lifestyle are right for you and your family.
Hearth, Home, and Health
If you’re considering a move to the country, you should also scope out the healthcare front. The good news is, though, that you may well find your healthcare choices are better in your new hometown than what they are in the city.
But you still need to do your homework. For example, if someone in your household is on Medicare and has a supplemental plan, such as Medicare Part L, then it’s important to understand if coverage policies differ in the state you may be moving to.
Likewise, it’s important to remember that public health systems will vary widely from place to place. If you are moving to a rural area that is highly traditional or deeply religious, then this could well impact the type of health services you will have access to, such as reproductive care and family planning services.
Making a Home
Moving from the city to the country could well open up a range of options and opportunities you could never have found in the city. For example, the cost of living in rural communities might enable you to move from renting to owning your own home.
As exciting as that possibility may be, however, it’s important to be deliberate when you’re searching for your first home. Be careful not to fall in love with the first charming house you see. Consider what your family wants and needs not just for today but tomorrow as well.
Focus foremost on the things you can’t change: consider the neighborhood and, if you have children, the school district. Then look at the state of the home, paying close attention to those potentially major issues that will cost an arm and a leg to address, such as water damage, mold, or problems with the roof or foundation.
Remember, too, the toll that the pandemic may have taken on your family. Chances are, quarantine fatigue has set in a while ago, and you and yours are probably grappling with some pretty significant family burnout by now. That has nothing to do with how much you love one another. It’s just the simple reality of being cooped up together in one place for a long period of time.
So if you’re looking for your first home in your new town, look for digs that can give you and your family space to decompress, room to stretch out and enjoy a bit of peace and privacy. We all need that from time to time, especially when we’re faced with the greatest pandemic the world has seen in more than a century.
No question about it. Life changed in 2020. And those changes may well have you and your family trading in sirens for birdsong. But before you leap, it’s imperative to get the facts, learn about your prospective home, and make sure that your adopted town is going to allow you to build the life you and your family deserve.