Which is Better Living: In The Countryside in the Country or In The City?

Country Lifestyle

Thunder, Our Belgian Draft Horse
Thunder, Our Belgian Draft Horse | Source

City Lifestyle

Enjoying the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth"
Enjoying the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth" | Source

More information on countryside living:

The Great Debate - Country Life

The big question has been whether living in the country is better for our children or living in the city. We’ve been debating this dilemma for several years and have swung back and forth from one decision to the other.

Finally, we are near at agreeing to and executing a firm, and final, decision. It is not an easy decision, but we are basing it strictly on facts and hedging slightly with the best interest for our children. We have lived in both the country and the city, off and on for several years.

We began our decision making by reviewing the pros and cons of living in the countryside. We originally moved to the country for several reasons. The first being life style. We wanted a home that had plenty of land where the children could experience the outdoors. For us, it was a place that was safe for them to play outside with minimal supervision. They had the opportunity to interact with nature. We had a large pond that was home to frogs, toads, fish, birds, turtles and plenty of insects. They learned how an ecosystem worked. They learned about symbiotic relationships between animals and plants. We had animals and pets that ranged from cats and dogs to horses and goats and everything in between. They learned responsibility with their chores and through caring for plants and animals. They understood how important it was for them to look after another living organism, especially pets as they depend upon us for their food and water.

The forest was vast and had hundreds of different types of fauna. They watched as new buds developed on the tree branches into leaves. They helped harvest maple sap and turn it into maple syrup the old fashioned way. They watched beavers build dams, deer raise their young, moose find their food by submerging their head under the water, birds build nests and raise their young, wood peckers bang their beaks and heads without any repercussions. They learned how the water system flowed through forest feeding the animals and the fauna. They climbed trees that were hundreds of years old and watched young saplings grow tall and strong. They collected acorns and buried them before the fall and waited until the spring thaw to watch the new seeds grow into little trees. They learned the beauty of the changing of the seasons when the leaves turned flaming red and orange before the first snowfall blanketed the landscape with a smooth white blanket. They released turtles, petted wild herons as they came to feed on the fish in the pond, and played with free and wild abandon, as all children should. There was no worry about strangers or abductions. They experienced their childhood with carefree abandon. That is what we wanted for them.

All the nature and freedom was terrific for the children but there was a downside to this. Their school was far and the bus ride to and from school took time out of their afterschool play time. They were exhausted by the time they arrived home and were not in the mood to go out and enjoy the beauty of nature. Their schedule of waking up early to prepare for school to arriving home and completing homework incorporated many hours. I had once calculated that they spent nine hours from getting out of bed to arriving home after school. That excludes the time for homework, which ranged from one to two additional hours. Dinner and snack time would take another one and a half hours away from them in the evening. Chores would take another 30 minutes to an hour. By the time all was said and done, it would already be their bedtime or even past. There was no left over time to investigate the pond or ride the horses or play with the dogs. There were times I didn’t reinforce their chore duties because of their exhaustion. I would watch with a pained heart as they dragged their little bodies to bed, and fall asleep before their head hit the pillow. It was difficult to arrange for social activities. It seemed like the majority of the students were bussed in from other districts as we all lived out in the country. Our children, like their classmates, had very little left over time to socialize by going over to each others’ homes to play or to join sports teams. Weekends became extremely precious for us. This was the time we spent together as a family with at least one outing planned for a day. We spent our time outdoors, learning about nature and our environment.

Our children became frustrated and angry as their “friends” were always busy or booked up or too far away to be picked up or driven to our place. Soon, the negative began to overshadow the positive.

 

The Great Debate: City Life

So, we moved to a small town. We thought that it would hold the feeling of being in the country without all the violence and crime and yet grant us the amenities of living in a city. It would be the best of both worlds with the least sacrifices to our philosophies and goals for raising our children. I realize now, that in a perfect world, this would have been a great solution. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Alas, this brought us back to the great debate of country versus city.

I grew up in a large city, but spent most of my time in the mountains and the great outdoors. For me, living in the country made sense. It’s a place that I love, but I have come to realize that what I want is not necessarily the best for my children.

Having grown up in the city, I had many amenities that I took for granted. There were different schools to choose from. I lived in a neighbourhood where the majority of the children walked to school. As a result, all my friends were within walking distance of my home. I was able to visit them afterschool as well as on the weekends. Not only that, I never spent an hour on a school bus; I only had to walk 10 minutes and I would arrive at school. I had time to play afterschool with my friends, have a snack, finish my homework, have dinner and go to practice for my different teams. I even had time to watch a short television show. I accomplished all this before bedtime. Living in the city meant that I could join the sports center and sports leagues. Shopping was simple as the malls were all within driving distance or I could take the city transit system. As I grew older, I had the choice of universities in my city and several colleges. There were private colleges as well that I could apply to. Overall, my opportunities were greater in the city. Most importantly, I learned street smarts which I apply in everyday living.

Those were the pros, but there were cons too. In the city, there was violence, danger, drugs, alcohol, gangs and, in general, the feeling of not being safe all the time. News headlines focussed on negative things that happened in the city – robberies, car jackings, home invasions, murders, drugs, rapes, gangs and escaped convicts. Temptation was always there to join in with peers when it came to smoking, drugs, sex and alcohol as these were always readily available.

I missed being in the open, clean air of the mountains. The city was covered in a dome of pollution – exhaust from vehicles, noise, billboards used for media and advertising. There was a constant onslaught of information, which, eventually melded into constant background noise.

In school, there was competition to be the most popular, the richest, the most fashionable, the prettiest, the smartest, the most athletic, the funniest and so on. The list never ended. The competition was thick and the competitors were never nice to each other. This type of competition taught us to be afraid of being ourselves, of expecting others to judge us and that their judgement was more important than our own feelings of ourselves. Being a unique individual was not promoted nor was creativity and individualism. The class sizes were large, and it was easy for some students to slip and fall through the cracks as one on one teaching was near to non-existent.

Oh, the decisions we have to make as parents. I have realized since I first found out I was pregnant with my first child, how important our decisions are. The importance was not just for the moment, but for the long term and how these decisions would impact the choices our children would make in their future. There is one lesson that I have learned over the years, and this is what keeps me from feeling great guilt over mistakes that I see when I look back in time. I have learned that the decisions that we make are based on the knowledge that we have at the time. And that these decisions were the best at that time, even though when we look back, we would now make a different decision because we would now have different information than what we had in the past.

So, based on this belief, which ever decision we make over the next few weeks, is the best that I could make for my children at the time. Ten years from now, I hope that when I look back in time, it will still have been the best decision that I could have made.

 

Beth100

Copyright 2009

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54 comments

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 3 years ago from Canada Author

LongTimeMother -- Yes, I have noticed the same with my older three children. They spent the most time in the country, and all three love the country! It is only because of friends and university that draws them to the city. On the other hand, my youngest two are not that country at heart - they have spent less time in the country. There is a difference between them -- the country ones are much more creative, adventurous and open. The city ones prefer to stay in, venture less on their own, and occasionally find things to do that involve out of the ordinary items. I'm finding that a home halfway in-between seems to suite everyone's needs.

Thank you for your comments and insight! It is refreshing to know that I am not the only one who has experienced this dilemma.


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

What a brilliant hub! I rode the same roller-coaster ride with my older children and discovered that giving them early years in the country makes them country kids at heart with a healthy respect for nature, seasons etc even after they move to the city. They always love the country life - and one has already returned to it. :)

I am living in the country again, this time off the grid, and our youngest child is loving it. From time to time I wonder if we should be spending some time living in the city ... hmmm. Maybe when she's a bit older. We do love this lifestyle.


Ron 4 years ago

I like and appreciate your hub.Great post!

Ron from Fitness http://www.intervalstraining.net


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 4 years ago from Canada Author

theking2020 -- Thank you very much!! Yes, country life is the BEST! It provides an endless amount of time for children to explore and be creative. There is nothing like fresh air and open space for growing minds and bodies. Thank you for visiting!


theking2020 4 years ago

Excellent hub, country side is the best life there is no stress, no violence and your kids grow up in a healthy environment.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

Husky -- Oh yes, it's a hard decision to make. We've moved into the city, and now want the country again. So, we've purchased another home in the country but when we're there, we want to be back in the city!!! I think that this debate will never end!!

Thank you!!


Husky1970 5 years ago

A super hub about a very difficult decision. Being a parent is certainly an awesome responsibility and one that you seem to accept with open arms. Country or city living? A very complex and highly debateable topic. Both have there advantages and disadvantages.

The bottom line here is that you cannot make the wrong decision. And the reason is crystal clear. Whatever the advantages to country living are and whatever the advantages to city living are, those advantages pale in comparison to having a mother like you. Your children have truly been blessed. I loved this hub because I love reading about great parenting. Thanks so much for sharing, Beth.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and beautiful.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

CyclingFitness -- you are one lucky person!! You lead the ideal life -- best of both worlds! :) That's awesome! Thanks (for making me jealous!) (just kidding) :D


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

jponiato -- If it was just me, it would be the country hands down. But with the children, I had to consider what they wanted. :) Thank you letting me know your decision!


CyclingFitness profile image

CyclingFitness 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

Great hub Beth. I love the freedom of the edge of a city. I can be out in the hills and mountains from where I live within half an hour. And in a trendy city centre wine bar in twenty minutes. Best of Both


jponiato profile image

jponiato 5 years ago from Mid-Michigan

For me it was an easy decision. Horses, wildlife (not the inner city kind, although that's fun once in a while), remote trails - that's the life I wanted for my family and me. I can definitely see the dilemma for others, though.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

celeBritys4africA -- Thank you!!! My heart belongs in the wild but my mind loves the concrete jungle. :)


celeBritys4africA profile image

celeBritys4africA 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

One vote for countryside and one awesome vote for your hub.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Chris -- Oh, you have me laughing in stitches again. Here I was going to sign off and head to bed, but I just had to see what you had to say. You didn't disappoint me again. I don't think you ever will (is that pressure, or what?!?) We're not tiny circus people, but that horse was a crazy horse named Thunder (his counterpart was a pea compared to him and named Lightening). He's a Belgium and the largest I have ever had -- 18.6 hands high at the withers. He charged me once and I stood my ground. He came nose to nose with me and I blew in his face. After that, he followed me around like a puppy. :)


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

Well...it's not as "country as it used to be." The world has encroached on my little plot of land. I meant to comment, that horse looks huge! Or are you a family of tiny circus people?


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Chris -- You have the best of both worlds!! I envy you. I miss the country when I'm in the city, yet I miss the city when I'm in the country. Ah, I'm easy to please....just give me a good horse and a place to ride, and I'm happy. It's wonderful to see you. :)


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

It's a really tough decision to make. I consider myself a product of both the country and big city, having lived in small towns and in New York and Chicago, and I think I need both. I like the seclusion of the country but the excitement of the city. The house I own here is in a small town, very country like (more so when I moved here) but it is literally 5 minutes from downtown St. Louis. For many years I had the best of both worlds. I hope you got many benefits from the decision you made, even if you feel you would make a different decision today.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Quill -- Thank you for fanning me, and it is always a pleasure to meet a fellow Canadian. :) I understand where you are coming from -- those are the reasons why we lived in the country. It was a difficult choice, but it was a choice based on what was best for the children. They are extremely happy to be in the city and because of this, I know that it was the right decision.


"Quill" 6 years ago

Hi Beth... you have collected a new fan and a fellow Canadian... I would have to vote on the country side as I love the freedom, the peace and especially the quiet it offers.

Blessings


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

FirstStepsFitness -- Yes, I miss the country desparately, but the children love being in the city. My solution: a cottage on a clean lake with no motor boats. That's the goal for next summer. Thank you and thank you for your condolences.


FirstStepsFitness profile image

FirstStepsFitness 6 years ago

Great Hub Beth it makes us all miss the country living ! I would agree the country is great for young children but as they mature and build social circles being close to everything seems to rate high on their lists .

So sorry for your loss WannaB Writer


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Katee -- Thank you. :)


Katee 6 years ago

Tough decision. I like how you expressed your views.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Tony -- ha ha ha you're funny! Most people would die to live in the country to get all that fresh air! But I agree, I know that my lungs are gasping for the fresh country air that we've left behind. I can imagine how it would be the other way around! Big hugs Tony!


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 6 years ago from san diego calif

Beth I can't be objective here. I have been a big city guy my whole life. San Diego is the smallest city I have ever lived in and we have over One Million. I think all that fresh air and healthy living might kill me ! :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Michael -- The selfish side of wants the country!! But the logical side says city. To be torn betwixt the two!! Thanks for stating your choice!


Michael Shane profile image

Michael Shane 6 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

Gotta go with the countryside.........Good hub!


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Lorlie -- It's a tough one to decide with all the pros and cons, but we did and now we're living in the city. It's not too big, but not too small. Kinda the balance between county and city. So far, so good, but really miss the openess, fresh air and freedom of being outside without all the city-dangers. Thanks Lorlie!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Beth-This was a fantastic pro and con read. I was born and raised in L.A. and through the years I've moved to smaller and smaller communities. Our population here in Bishop, Ca., is 4,000. That's fine for our family-our son was able to enjoy the great outdoors without city-danger...

Thanks for a great hub,

and happy hunting!

Laurel


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Eileen -- Yes, that is a wonderful and practical solution. Our country home was exactly 15 minutes outside of a large town (it was a mini-city) but the school bus ride was still an hour long. Friends were spaced too far apart. The problem that I found in our region is that the school boundaries encompass a wide, and I mean WIDE, area. Some friends were an hour and a half drive time away. I am happy that you have found a happy medium between the two. I haven't given up...we're still searching for that perfect in-between home! Thank you for your wonderful solution and support! :)


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

beth100, Why dont you split the difference, settle for a hobby type farm between two smaller cities. That way you would have the benefits of both worlds.

The kids could still travel on a bus but say for 15- 30 minutes. or even just outside a town far enough to have a view and an acre of property where you could still have chooks, the odd sheep etc.

I suppose this would depend on which country you live in too.Just had a look canada. isn't there smaller properties just out of the cities. We are on a very small property and still have 2 ponds and bird avaries and a swimming pool and a dog.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

WildIris -- What you have spoken is very true. Our children loved the country when they were young, but now that they are older, the pull of friends and things to do in the city are their focus. Home is where the heart is, and I truly believe this. Hopefully, our life in the city will be just as rewarding and fulfilling as it has been in the country. Lucky for us, we still have a small property in the country that allows us both worlds.


WildIris 6 years ago

Beth 100

The truth about country living is that it is beyond great for little kids. The unsupervised time to explore in a safe environment cannot be beat. But, when the kids get older and home is too far away, living in the country stops being great for the kids. Town with friends and stuff to do, well that is where it is at. It isn't ten miles down a dirt road an hour and a half from town. In the end when they grow up and are out on their own where do you want to be? Kids want a place to come home to, preferably the home they grew up in, the place that holds their memories of childhood.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Karmicfilly -- I agree with you on what you have said. However, the problem for our children began when they became older. Making friends and keeping them close is difficult when you are driving 6 kids in 6 different directions every weekend and most evenings. I miss the country; and yes, they loved playing with mud, bugs, leaves and sticks. Mother Nature is the best teacher....wish there were a way to balance country and city.


karmicfilly profile image

karmicfilly 6 years ago from Franklin, TN

For children I have to vote for the country. It gave my child hours of entertainment playing with the simplest of things. Mud for example. The stimulation of all the gadgets, tv, internet, cell phones is all too much for them when they are small. Take away all things and they play with rocks, lol. It is just a serene way of experiencing life that lets them evolve and grow. Plus mother nature really is the best teacher.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Theherbivorehippi -- I miss the country desperately, but when I look at my children and they have great big smiles and tons of new friends, I realize that the decision was for them, not me. One day, when they've all flown the coop, I'll be back on a farm tending my garden..... Thank you for your support!


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

You made the right decision! I too have lived in both and although I am 'perceived' as being a city girl for whatever reason....I would rather be back out miles away from everyone with plenty of nature. I'm lucky now that I have a really huge backyard so I have the illusion to make me happy temporarily but I hope to move to the mountains in the next five years. That must have been a hard decision to make but it is hard on children when their friends aren't right around the corner to see, etc. Thanks for sharing.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Sean -- Never be ashamed of oneself...we make decisions at the time because we believe that it is the right one. Hindsight is 20/20, but who wants to live in the past?? I bet that you have fantastic children! Thanks for stopping by!


seanorjohn profile image

seanorjohn 6 years ago

Beth an absolutely fascinating read. I am ashamed to say I didn't put half as much thought into where we should live for my children's sake. As a child I was lucky enough to stay every summer on my uncles farm in Ireland.Although I have a great love of the countryside, sadly I have failed to pass on this love to my children. We can get only so much right, I guess.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hikikomori - Thank you for coming by and reading!


Hikikomori 6 years ago

Very unique hub. Thanks for creating it.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 7 years ago from Canada Author

Mistywild -- Same here, but I really do love the country life. It's simple, clean and tons of fun. Thanks for dropping by.


mistywild profile image

mistywild 7 years ago from Houston, TX (Proud Texan)

I love the city life, being born in a big city, but that doesn't mean when I get rich I won't have a house in the country :D


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 7 years ago from Canada Author

WannaBWriter -- I am sorry for the tragic loss of your son. The country is our first pick, but like you pointed out, it is not the same as when we first arrived. It has changed and it isn't safe for the children anymore. It's a difficult choice, but we have finally made the final decision of moving to the city. We're lucky -- the community we have chosen is well established, lots of green spaces (parks, linear parks, bike pathways), and is extremely family oriented. Our children will have excellent schools, a great opportunity for friends, and a future that they can look forward to. In addition, we have kept the forest on our previous farm, just so that they can still have the outdoors.

Thank you for sharing your experience between city and country living.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 7 years ago from Templeton, CA

I was raised in a suburb south of Los Angeles -- Belllfower, California. It was small enough so I could walk everywhere in town in the 1950s. That was before malls and before all neighbors had fences. It was also before computers, cell phones, and, for part of my life, even TV. So I and my neighborhood friends played outside most of the time. I think I was happy that way, but today growing up in that same house would not be the same. Now the drug dealers have come to that town, and a mall built in a town to the East destroyed our downtown.

In 1976 we moved to Ventura County, which is where we lived with our adopted children. It was close (walking distance) to a state park where we could hike or bike seven miles to the beach. We knew our neighbors, and crime was low. Now when I go back to visit, the old fields surrounding our old neighborhood are gone and we have shopping centers much closer. It still might be a good place to raise children, but, as in many other places, the gangs are moving in.

We were in the process of moving to our present home so my son could experience life in the country when he was suddenly killed in an accident just after we had committed ourselves to moving to this house where he could have the animals he so wanted. He loved the outdoors. Since we had already been home schooling for three years, there was no problem with a school bus, and since we are only five miles from the city of Paso Robles, we have the advantages of community activities when we want them, as well as concerts in the park, seasonal parades, and a small town atmosphere. In another decade, I probably won't know this town either, and construction is taking place all over the county. But in another decade, I might not be around to see it anyway. I really love this place, and I'm so sorry I could not have raised my children here for the entire time.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thanks BP! The country is really tucking at my heartstrings too!


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

The country gets my vote Beth. I loved when I lived in the country except everyone there knew I was a city girl. Puzzled I asked why. It seemed I was the only one in town who wore stockings.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 7 years ago from Canada Author

Deepthought, thank you for your wishes! I greatly appreciate them.


deepthought profile image

deepthought 7 years ago from In the middle of nowhere and worldwide but still that T.O.kid from da north of America

Dear Beth100, first and foremost I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read my hub and your comment. Anyway I see you have little bit of dilemma about what's best for you and your kids (country life). I hope you find peace and happiness wherever life takes you


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 7 years ago from Canada Author

I can't imagine our captain on shore for too long...the sea tends to beckon to those navigating the high seas. It just wouldn't be the same without you in command! ;)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 7 years ago from Canada Author

I'm happy for you and your kids. I'm hoping that the decision we make will keep a smile on their faces without any regrets on our part. Thanks Misha for sharing your decision and outcome with me!


Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

With kids? country of course! At least this was our decision, and six years later we don't regret a tiny bit :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 7 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you K@ri. It is of great comfort to know that I am not alone in this type of decision. I've been considering a small suburb that has all the amenities of the city, but just far out enough that it still has the country feel. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can make this happen before the end of the month! :)


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

What a hard choice to make! I do not envy you, nor will I advise you. We lived in a small town, the city, and now the country. I cannot say where we may live next...but it is nice here! I live in a suburban DC area. One of the best things is it is in the country, but we still have bus service if we want it.

As a mom, I know how hard this decision is...Good Luck! :D

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