Village vs. City: Pros and cons of living in the countryside

In one of the questionnaires I filled up recently there was a question if I prefer to live in a city or in the countryside and why. By now I lived in both and actually I did like both. Having been born and raised in a city, more than two years ago I switched its comfort for the beauty of the countryside. Before that I had never even stayed in the countryside for more than a week. Moreover, I could not have even imagined myself ever moving out of the city. And here I am now…

Some of you remember how I have already described my first acquaintance with the countryside in one of my previous posts – Going green: How did a city girl took on gardening. In a nutshell: it was not good. So, at first, there was a lot of hesitation inside of me. Truth must be said that the experience I remember and the village I live in now differ dramatically. Sint-Gillis-Waas is a typical Belgian small town with a lot of farmland and gardens. Nonetheless, it is not that here is no asphalt and everybody walks in rubber boots all year long! I did buy my rubber boots though shortly after we moved here but that is more to get around in our own garden.

Cutting a long story short, in this post I have reflected a bit on living in the countryside and came up with my list of pros and cons. Like with a lot of things, some pros are also cons and the other way round. Thus, I will just provide my bullet points with some personal comments and you can decide for yourself which connotation that has for you.

So here we go:

  • garden. Yes, you can have a city-garden or even have a decent garden in a city, yet in the latter case that most probably comes with an impressive price tag. In the countryside usually you can have a garden at a fraction of that price. Having a garden, especially if you have kids, is great. However, that also means that you have to maintain it…
  • neighbors. Here it depends. If you live in a row house or a dense area of the countryside you still have neighbors way too close. However, here you have a higher chance to have them at the “right” proximity (read: distance; giggle). That might sound sad for some people, but on the other hand it is wonderful – there is less chance that you will get on somebody’s nerves and vice versa. During my city-life I was usually unlucky with neighbors, so the word itself already evokes negative associations. Also now when we visit my mother who lives in an apartment block, we frequently have the “full experience”. Noisy neighbors upstairs are usually having their parties exactly when we are desperately trying to persuade our toddler to sleep. This is one of such moments when we very much appreciate our relatively remote house with lovely neighbors at a lovely distance (Jessica, you are always welcome for a coffee though!).
  • animals. There are a lot of farm animals in the neighborhood. When you have kids that is so cool to be able to just get out for a short walk and see cows, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs, deer, and I am not even mentioning chicken and geese. In a city you can go to a zoo or to mini-zoo but that is different. Here it is just natural! Last week they brought cows again to the field next door, which means that we literally see them graze right outside our window at a distance of a couple of steps. Trust me, it is fun! Especially when they just let them out and cows are jumping from joy. No kidding – they are truly jumping! I never thought these animals can actually do that, but apparently I was wrong: they “gracefully” run and jump despite their complexion (giving hope to some of us – LOL)
  • nature in general. Almost every evening there is a pheasant who comes to our garden to say “hi!” to our kids; when we look outside there are frequently hares chasing each other. At the horizon we see apple and pear gardens which, by the way, are blossoming at the moment. All that is simply beautiful! However, nature has its “dark side”… On my Instagram I have already posted a picture of a spider nest on the outside of our window… Here there are a lot of spiders, a lot of bugs, a lot of other crawling creatures that still make me shiver every time I see them. Also cows – they are very nice, but where are cows there are flies – and not just lazy city flies, but those annoying and persistent countryside ones. And fruit gardens in the neighborhood are gorgeous, but that means that from May until September (to protect fruits from hail) you have air canon firing from time to time (pretty much like a sound of a real canon) and special windmills for mixing air flows (these things are damn loud! it is like there is a helicopter landing in your garden sometimes…)
  • mud. If in a city you have at least a little chance that your kids would avoid getting themselves in mud with a capital “M”, in the countryside your chances are close to none. Get some extra cleaning products, extra clothes and extra sedatives for your damaged nerves.
  • transport. In most cases you need a car, as transport options for getting outside your village tend to be limited in the countryside. However, inside a village a lot can be done by bike. I must admit I don’t really use a bike as a means of transportation opting in favor of my “old-timer” (that’s how I call my almost 20 year old Toyota Yaris which still has an audio cassette player! It’s a pity I no longer have any audio cassette though…). I do bike gladly, but only for pleasure, when on a nice spring day we ride around in between the pear tree gardens of our area or next to the tulip fields close-by. Have a peak once again in my Instagram – herehere and here.
  • people. Villagers tend to be much friendlier than people in cities. It is common to greet people, to have a small chit-chat, even to help each other out. Of course, I am generalizing, but city dwellers most of the times are (or seem?) busier and more preoccupied than people living in a village. That is linked to my final point, which is:
  • rhythm of life. You normally don’t rush in the countryside. The pace of life is slower, more thoughtful. You connect with your environment better, you learn to contemplate instead of just “peak and run further”. You slow down, but if you are up for it, that also allows you to better reconnect with your true self.

On the contrary, living in a city has a whole bunch of its own pros and cons. At this particular moment in time I prefer to live in the countryside. I do believe however that in the end it is not only about the match with your personality, but also about which period in life you are currently in. What I think is important is that wherever you are now, you need to pause from time to time to see the beauty of your surroundings – be it a vibrant city or a peaceful countryside – and just get the best out of this moment of your life.


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