[media-credit name=”bigstockphoto” align=”alignleft” width=”200″][/media-credit] It’s always fun to talk to people who have recently moved to the mountains or escaped to rural life somewhere. Seeking out a few of them for this article brought back memories of my own escape from the city some three decades ago. I clearly recall the uncertainty that came with giving up our jobs in the city to ‘settle down in a quiet, little town and forget about everything’, the words of the day’s current hit, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. I would have never had the nerve to make that decision; I was pushed by my husband to move. It certainly turned out to be the right choice for raising our family.
I have had the pleasure of meeting young couples in both Lassen and Plumas counties who’ve relocated from a large city to begin their careers and families. I’ve also met folks who thought they were ruined by the housing crisis but instead have found a way to own a home in a small Northern California town. One of my favorite stories was from a semi-retired couple that came to purchase their dream home. While they could not retire early, they still made their way to the new lifestyle that they love. Both have taken jobs and are enjoying the quiet mountain life near the lake they’ve long loved visiting, and they are particularly enjoying their new commute!
I was very young when I made the move and I had a young child at the time. I immediately knew that this new life would suit him well, as it did. In fact he was a major factor in our decision to escape. A small school and small town life shaped him into a strong and capable man. He moved away for a while, but returned to raise his own family.
I remember the move up well, the fear of leaving my friends and family, and the initial shock of arriving in such a small town. Suddenly my life was so quiet. I spent my days baking cookies and sending them to my family, until I began meeting the friends and neighbors who would make up my new hometown. Potlucks, local school sports and community organizations make up much of the social life for us now and some of the family I’d left behind realized the dream for themselves and joined me as neighbors. As a result our local family has grown. We are now watching our children raise their children in our quiet, little town, and I am thrilled that the decision made so many years ago is now setting the stage for our grandchildren’s’ lives.
I still go back sometimes to visit my original hometown in the Bay Area, but I sure have a hard time driving in those traffic clusters, standing in lines to shop and paying more for so many things. I wonder how life would have been different if we had stayed, and am very thankful I was pushed into the change.
I have plenty of friends who love city life. I understand that there are different strokes for different folks but I am just glad I found mine. If you wonder if city life is really your style, come take a ride through rural Northern California. Life is good.
According to USDA’s publication Understanding Rural America, things are better than ever. Compared with the past, many of the conditions in rural areas have improved. Electricity, telephone service, and the highway systems are a few of the most visible improvements.
Rural families are also better housed today and more likely to own their own homes than in the past. Only 2 percent of full-time occupied housing in rural America was substandard (lacking complete plumbing facilities) in 1990. Fifty years ago, nearly 75 percent of rural homes failed this measure of adequacy. Crowding is also less of a problem for rural households. Today, only 2 percent of households live in a home with fewer rooms than the number of household members, down from 25 percent of households in 1940. The rate of home-ownership among rural households has also improved, increasing from one-half in 1940 to three-fourths today.