Important things to consider when relocating to the countryside
Many city and towns-folk dream of relocating to the countryside; drawn by the beauty of the landscape and the thought of owning twice as much house as they would in urban areas. However, escaping to the country is not always as rosy as it seems. In this blog, I'll cover some of the things that should be considered if you're thinking about trading town/city life for the countryside.
Having grown up in a tiny village in Kent, I was well aware of the challenges that come with rural life, but living in London for five years started to erase the memory of how difficult some of these challenges actually were. Luckily, I am now an adult and owner of a car, so my recent move to rural Wales hasn't been quite as tough as it could have been. Chris may be finding it more of a struggle though, as he never learnt to drive and is somewhat reliant on my taxi services when he wants to travel anywhere. Nevertheless, we were mostly prepared for the difficulties and are loving rural life.
This brings us on to the first challenge, a lack of amenities within walking distance. Cities spoil their residents with the array of shops, restaurants, takeaways and services all within walking distance. Everything is much more spread out in the countryside though, with each town only offering a limited selection. Villages may have a shop or two and a pub, but these may not be within an easy walking distance from your house. Our closest shops are 1 mile away, which may not sound particularly far, but the novelty of walking to the shops has already worn off. There's no 'popping' to the shop for us now, it's either a quick drive or a two-hour round trip on foot.
That leads us to the poor public transport. Depending on how rural you are, you may not have a train station within walking distance. The only public transport may be a bus, and this is likely to be once or twice an hour, unless you are on a busy tourist route. Our closest train station is 2 miles away and is so small, I doubt many trains pass through. There's a bus stop within 5 minutes of our house, but these only seem to come once an hour and take nearly an hour to get into our local shopping area.
If you choose to take a taxi, you better be prepared for much higher fares than you'd find in a large city, and much longer waiting times. Don't even think about flagging one down in the evenings; you need to book in advance if you want to avoid waiting an hour for a ride. I've had many nights as a teenager, sat in a taxi agency waiting for an hour to get a ride home at 2am. It's not a fun way to end a night. Book in advance and make sure you're at the pick-up point on time; they won't wait around!
Now that you've sorted your transport into town, where are you going to shop? Again, this depends on where in the countryside you are. Most towns only have limited shops and don't have many boutiques or high-end retailers. If you're fairly close to a large city, you'll have a lot more choice. Being in rural Wales, we are very limited in the shops we can get to. There are plenty of adventure shops and outfitters though!
Chris and I aren't hugely into shopping, so the above point hasn't affected us. We do love food though and we're already struggling with the lack of decent takeaways. There are no takeaway sites available to us; no Just Eat, Uber Eats or Deliveroo. And most of our local takeaways don't have websites. We have to do things the old-fashioned way; choose from a paper menu and phone up to order. On a positive note, the takeaways in Wales seem to be half the price of those in London, which was a fantastic surprise when we came to pay for our Chinese. There are less choices of restaurant when eating out too, and most of these are chains. No more Peruvian, Vietnamese, Hawaiian or Jamaican. I'm going to assume that there will be fewer vegan and dairy-free options on the menu too; we were rather spoilt for choice in London.
The entertainment available is very different in the countryside. There are less cinemas, galleries, museums and events. Summer holidays and the lead up to Christmas tend to offer fetes, country fayres and markets, and depending where you live, you may have castles, stately homes or gardens nearby. Because there are less things going on, when events are organised, they are usually well attended and pretty good fun!
As for home entertainment... you will probably need a satellite dish in order to get television signal, and you will likely have much slower internet speeds than you're used to in urban areas. Our television is still not working as we don't have the right connector to plug the rooftop aerial into it, so we've had to make do with online streaming. The internet in our area has maximum speeds of 11Mbps, which is alright for streaming TV shows, but is much slower than we were used to in London. All our video rendering and uploading now gets done overnight, as it's just too timely in the daytime. The other issue is that our wifi doesn't reach all of our house. No more looking at social media in bed; this is probably a good thing though.
Having a landline phone has actually been useful since we relocated, as we don't always get good phone signal; especially when the weather is bad. And the weather is often bad in Wales!
Lots of rain means less watering of the garden though, and rural living mostly comes with a decent sized garden, so more opportunities for growing your own vegetables, fruit, herbs and pretty flowers! Having a garden and lots of surrounding countryside is much better for cats too, as they have more space to explore. We're hoping to get a cat and a dog soon, so we'll be going on daily walks and getting outdoors more often.
There are some amazing places to go for walks in the countryside and the scenery is beautiful. You'll also find that strangers all say "hello" to each other when out walking. In fact, people seem to smile and great each other a lot more in general outside of towns and cities. People are far more social out in the sticks and you'll get to know your neighbours quickly, which is nice when you need to borrow something. We're hoping to borrow our neighbours lawnmower soon; we never needed one in the city and it's not exactly high on our priority list of things to buy at the moment. First we need a fridge!
Another thing I need to mention, which I find much more challenging than Chris, is the spiders. They are HUGE. The first thing we had to do in our new house was to vacuum hundreds of spiders and cobwebs; they had taken over every room! Luckily they were the thin spindly-legged ones and weren't too scary. The worst ones are the ginormous dark furry things which come out every now and then whilst you're relaxed and unprepared; they're really fast and difficult to catch. Lets just hope we don't have a power cut when there's a spider on the loose. There's nothing worse than losing sight of it, but knowing it's lurking and waiting.
Speaking of power cuts, they aren't common, but when they do happen, they can last for hours. Only last Winter, we had a power cut at my parent's house and spent 10 hours huddled in the living room around the fire to keep warm. We ended up sending my mum out to get a takeaway for everyone. Luckily we missed the power cut on Christmas day; further into the village hundreds of people ended up wasting their turkeys because they'd only half cooked in the oven before the power went off for the rest of the day. It's best to make sure you always have ready-to-eat food in the house and a load of torches and candles. I actually enjoy power cuts; they're vaguely exciting.
If, after reading all of this, you think you could still enjoy country life, then go for it! We are extremely happy that we made the move and could never see ourselves living in a town or city again. There are so many opportunities for incredible hikes, kayak trips, mountain biking and climbing; we even have surf center with artificial waves nearby! Let us know how you get on and share your experiences in the comments below!