Quick Query: Country or City Living?

Lately, many different Christian bloggers have been writing about the virtue of simplicity. 

Specifically, these people are trying to slow down the pace of life, simplify the way they live, and each for his/her own specific reasons. Some of those reasons include: pace of life, time together as a family, ecological impact, and intentionally not buying into the materialism and "bigger is better" attitude that so permeates America. Essentially, opting out of the so-called "American dream", and choosing instead to design their own family life.

One reason this is so interesting to me is because when we lived in China, we lived within about an 8-10 mile radius. Occasionally we took trips up into the mountains and went farther than that, but our friends, school, shopping, entertainment, restaurants, and everything else we needed was easily with an 8-mile radius of our home. So you can imagine our reverse culture shock when we came back to the States... it took SO LONG to get
anywhere! 30- and 45-minute rides in the car are just a fact of life, in most places in America.So, my question for you is this: If you were going to simplify your life, which one of these "plans" would you most like to pursue and why?
  • A: AMY'S HUMBLE LIFE: "Oh give me a home with acreage to roam, where the cows and the four-year-olds play..." Amy's plan includes buying land, having land to give to children, possibly having a vineyard and an orchard and room for some livestock, virtually living off the land.
  • B: SARA'S CITYSCAPE: "Oh give me a home with no styrofoam, where the hippies and vegans eat whey..." Silly song aside, Sara lives an ecologically-consciencious life, buying locally, eating fresh and healthy, living in a very small space (382 sq. ft. for a family of three!), and even growing dreads to the glory of God!
Now I know, it's not about where you live- it's HOW you live. An article that made this very point is what actually inspired this post. She points out that it's more about living frugally, living within your means, and making deliberate choices to simplify and slow down your family's life.Nonetheless, today, if you're going to participate in this Quick Query, your choices are what you find above; there's no "other" in this query. Both plans provide a method for simple living, with an eye for being a better steward of the earth, but they go about it in very different ways. You may choose a plan and disagree with certain aspects, or choose to go about it a different way; that's fine. But tell which you'd choose and what you see as the advantages of that particular choice.

So, let's hear it! Which one would you choose?


EmmyJMommy said...

Oh, I'll jump in with both feet first on this one! My choice by far would be Amy's Humble Life...I would love to live out on acreage and be able to have my children and their families live nearby. I would love to live in a Christian community with like minded believers who can teach our children and families together the Word of God and its importance in all aspects of life. If it was our choice to live this simple of a life, I would have a garden and assist with chickens and eggs and maybe even cows and horses. It sounds like heaven...

??? Would we live without a cell phone or the internet ???

Elizabeth said...

RIGHT NOW, I'd probably choose Sara's city-scape. I covet her sweet little abode AND the fact that she can walk so many places. I'd even put up with their winters to live like that. :)

But, I love my farm. I'm just weary from all the driving we have to do to get ANYWHERE. I'm consious that a trip to town costs me $6 at today's gas prices and there are days that I make 2 trips. We make one trip MINIMUM every day.

I found it easier to live simply when we lived in the (yuk) suburbs, because I could be home more.

Elizabeth said...

After more thought, I imagine the longer we live here and get used to rural living we will spend less time in town. Plus, my teens have been raised in cities and suburbs... they have a different expectation of life than my nine year old who has lived in the country for most of her life that she can remember.

Rachel Anne said...

Jess, thanks for the visit and for offering up this great post idea!! Great topic. There truly are advantages to both...but I'd have to say country living outweighs city life--at least for this season of my life. When all my kids were younger, the conveniences of suburbia were a necessary "evil." Who wants to drive all day? Now, we don't live off the land but we do love it out here. You just feel differently about life when you can see nature in all its glory--right outside your door.

Great to meet you...I will be back. I feel like I've just met a new friend!

(((((HUGS))))) sandi said...

GREAT blog! We are city dwellers in a VERY urban area. My darling is from the country and doesn't wanna go back! and we've seen lots of things here~homeless people, our vehicles have been stolen seven times, we've even had a tire thrown through our window twice! and in the times we were afraid and ready to leave (like after coming face-to-face with a thief in our house), we prayed to leave but strongly got back a "Not yet". So we press on in peace, knowing we are where God wants us! This is our missin field, so we try to thrive in Christ right here.

(((((HUGS))))) sandi

(((((HUGS))))) sandi said...

Came back to add that I appreciate this Q, because we've suffered much ridicule for living where we do by the Christian community and others. How is what we go through any different than a missionary overseas? They see worse things than we have! EVERYBODY needs Christ~regardless of the neighborhood they live in! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

Diane said...

This is something I've been asking myself since I was a young suburban teenager visiting my cousins who lived in the country. I weighed the pros and cons of both even back then, and I haven't stopped yet! Ten years ago, after returning from living in Europe for a couple of years, I would definitely have said the city. And there are days when I still think that would be great, especially if it meant we wouldn't need to own a car. I'm seeing a trend here where new communities are being built with that kind of lifestyle in mind. But now with 5 active kids ... I would LOVE to leave the suburbs to be self-sufficient in the country! I can't imagine "containing" them and keeping them safe in the city!
Blessings ~ Diane

Janel said...

Although I really appreciate what Sara is doing, I hate living in the city. I grew up on 10 acres on the outskirts of a small town. Hubby married me and then plopped me in the middle of New England.

We both want some space with woods, creeks and wild raspberry bushes... again.

*~Tamara~* said...

Ah, I love many of Amy's posts. :-)

I'll bet this won't be a surprise to you, but you can pretend to act shocked. *gigantic grin* I'll take what's behind door number one! I am a country girl and try as I might to adapt to a more suburban environment, it just isn't me.

I think there are huge benefits to living a country/farm life, especially when you have children. I don't think it's particularly more "Christian" as some people will argue but I think the principles that it can potentially teach us are so worthwhile.

Two big ones to me are:

#1. A dependence on all family members working together for the common good. While our children in our more sub/urban homes might have "chores," it has been my experience that literal "hard work" (and not just time-consuming work or drudgery) is very good for kids. Being depended upon for something, even something small, from a young age is also character-building. As a child it was my job to gather the eggs. If I didn't, there were none for breakfast.

#2. A respect and appreciation for nature that is not easily obtained in a city. I have known many children who think you "get food from the grocery store." If you run out, you get more. Country kids know better than that, as they watch calves grow and head to slaughter and know they are consuming it at the dinner table. Milk and vegetables that comes to the table because you just brought it in yourself reduces waste out of respect and understanding.

Where we live now is about as suburban as I can get without feeling too squished and boxed in. I love wide open spaces and the idea of being able to look out my back window and see nothing but nature. My husband, however, is not inclined in that direction. (Philosophically he is but when it comes right down to it, he is not interested in the lifestyle that would afford us all those benefits.) I have spent many times near tears because I am a fish out of water in an urban area with traffic, congestion, and smog. Where we built now is a huge compromise but it was a happy one.

I don't know if I will ever get to be a true country girl again...I really doubt it. I'm still trying to figure out why God made me a country girl and then sent me to Dallas. :-P

Steph VG said...

This is a great query, and at first glance, I honestly didn't know what I'd say. We're in a rural ministry, but the fact is, a lot of places are "rurban," where you kinda can get the best of both worlds. But you said either/or, so I guess my choice would be Amy's Humble Life (but can I please please please have a Walmart within 30 miles? It doesn't even have to be a Super-!). Although, I'd have to learn how not to kill things, since I can't even have any houseplants because they all die.

sharyn said...

I would pick the city, but mainly because I live in what I consider the best of both worlds -- a small-ish city with plenty of access to parks/nature/farms -- there's an organic farm 15 minutes from our house that sells produce, meat, eggs and cheese, as well as plenty of similarly minded folks who want to do their part to preserve our resources (and hand down their toys/outgrown clothes/baby slings etc.).

Stephanie said...

Although I appreciate things about both lifestyles, I think I would choose the city. First of all, I have a black thumb and my family would probably starve. I would have no idea how to raise animals or milk cows, etc. even though I am grateful for people who do! The thing that gets me is what would our ministry look like? Who would we influence for Christ (outside of obviously raising our children to be strong men and women of God)? This is something I've thought about and struggled with. I would like to see a picture of what ministry looks like for people that are self-sufficient and live "out in the country" away from others. Maybe someone can provide some insight for me. :)

Danielle said...

Anywhere but the suburbs! Both the country vision and the city vision have their appeal for me, but with 6 kids and one on the way, I think I would find urban living very constricting, so I'll vote country.

But I'm curious as to what the differences between urban and rural ministry might be. My vision for ministry is just visiting the elderly and the sick, practicing hospitality, helping mothers with young children and that sort of thing, all of which seem just as doable in a rural setting as anywhere else. What else might one do in an urban environment?

Mandi, Sean, Peyton and Dylan said...

I would choose Amy's humble life any day! What a life that would be!

We're halfway there, moving out to the country, but we will only be growing fruits and veggies – no livestock allowed in our neighborhood even though we'll have several acres. I'm not sure I could actually eat an animal I raised anyway. I like hamburgers and all other kinds of meet, but I really like cows too, and I prefer not to meet them before I eat them!

For me, simplicity right now means purging everything in my house and taking that one step further to stop buying things just because the marketers have convinced me I need it! I'm really trying hard to make some permanent spending habit changes so that we don't reaccumulate the stuff I am donating now. Just because something is cool or nifty or handy AND we have the money for it doesn't mean we NEED or SHOULD buy it!

Sara said...

Hi Jess!
I linked here from the blog "Clothes Line Ally" and started reading with great interest. As I was reading...I thought, "Hmmm...I should click on that girl Sara, we sound really alike!". Ok. Yes, it's been a long day. It took me a few minutes to realize it was ME. Tee hee. I'm honored to be one of the choices :)

It's funny because although I've never lived in the "real" country with animals, gardens, etc. I've always wanted that. It's just not worked out that way. There are so many pros and cons for me with both scenarios. I REALLY want some chickens. And a goat! Oh the goat. So fun. It would be GREAT to let Bella out the front door and not have to remind her to stay out of the street.

HOWEVER...God has really been speaking to me lately about allowing HIM to have the controls in my life. I have realized that no matter where I am, city or country, if I am in the very center of His will...then I am in the perfect place for me. All of my "preferences" and "likes" can be put aside if Christ calls me to a new circumstance. Even if that isn't my first choice. We get so caught up in our own stuff. I often forget that the story is not about me...it's about God receiving glory.

Now, don't get me wrong...God knows my likes and dislikes and I am His child. He gives me good gifts that I enjoy and He loves to see me smile and enjoy life. But He can also see the entire parade...not just the float throwing candy. He can also CHANGE my heart and my preferences. He could move me to the country in a heartbeat... and I wouldn't question it because I am secure in is overall plan for my life.

I enjoyed reading everyone's comments...this was a great topic. Blessings!

dcrmom said...

Country, country, country!!!!! I love space. I moved from a very urban setting to a rural one just over a year ago. I wouldn't say we're living more simply, by any means. We live in an ordinary development on 1/2 an acre. But I love the farms and open fields around us.

I'd live on a farm long before I'd live in a cramped apartment in a stuffy, polluted city. UGH.

Mom said...

I would pick the city life at this stage of my life. I also know nothing about raising animals or milk cows, etc. I would also love being in walking distance of everything. I could easily give up driving, fighting traffic, etc. I love buying locally and eating healthier. I love to walk anyway, so that would just add more walking to my day. And, we've had the experience lately of a small, cramped space, and it's been just fine.

Trina said...

Green acres and countryside for me! Growing up in a small town I dreamed of country living but currently I'm planted in a metroplex of about 6 million people! The traffic, attitudes, consumerism, polution, and expense here are enough to make us want to move but something deeper in my soul desires to move to wider spaces where I know life will be just as hard, but deeply satisfying. There are too many other reasons to mention here but like Sara I'm trying bloom where I'm plated. We are giving God our best while we're here and hoping one day He'll call us elsewhere, if not, than we havn't wasted time just wishing, but serving.
PS Thanks for adding me to your blog roll.

Anita said...

I came here from A Gracious Home...

Frankly, I'd take either extreme - city or country. Just please not the suburbs! Which is where we live now.

I'd either want the farm with no place to drive to and have everyone we know live within an 8 mile radius as you mentioned about your experience in China.

Or I'd want complete urban living with no need to drive anywhere because we could walk everywhere and still have everyone within an 8 mile radius.

I hate, hate, hate, the big suburban house, car, and yard mentality. And yet, because of my husband's job that is exactly where we live. I refuse to buy a big car and our house is one of the smaller ones in the neighborhood. But I really dislike having to drive everywhere.

Ok, so, I'm being very long winded. To answer your question... Because I grew up on a farm, I'd take the city becuase it would be new scenery that I haven't experienced yet. The farm isn't necessarily simpler unless you make it a priority to be that.

Jess said...

Stephanie asked about ministry opportunities in each place... I kind of hung back to see if someone else would jump in, but here are my thoughts, as I can see advantages to both:

(A) COUNTRY: After seeing family farms here and the way certain ones operate, I can say this: your ministry would be whatever you make it. For example, one family I've seen has an organic chicken & lamb farm and they come into downtown (think Sara's locale) big-city to sell their products. So this homeschooling, no-TV, quiverfull family is coming in contact with tattoo artists, vegan environmentalists, and let's just say an entirely different crowd than the average Christian living in the suburbs is coming into contact with. Not only as a customer base, but also through professional contacts-- through the organic community. So their children are getting practice at being a light in a dark world, even though they are countrified & have lived a farm lifestyle. Sounds pretty incredible to me, like you could have your cake and eat it too. :)

AND THEN (B): Living next door to the possible fringe-of-society crowds. I mean, there are definite benefits here too-- crisis pregnancy centers, homeless shelters, after-school programs for at-risk kids, etc... all possibly within walking distance from your doorstep. The ministry possibilities are endless.

Regardless of place though, depending on your family size, family is going to be the biggest ministry opportunity in most every mother's life, at least for a time. And rightly so... those little arrows, if well crafted to shoot straight, go far distances, and zero-in on the target can do vastly more than we can as individuals.

:) So that's my two cents... basically, I could see myself and our family living both ways, even though they're vastly different. I know that's a cop-out ;), but that's why I asked all of you lovely ladies! If forced to choose, I think I'd start out in the city while they're young, studying about farms and pricing land and all the rest, and once our sons were about 8-10, we'd jump out to the farm and have some young farmhands, all set to work and help run the place! But both sound divine, when compared to this in-the-car-for-2-or-more-hours-a-day suburban lifestyle so common in the States.

Can ya tell I'm weary of it? ;)

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

We live in the suburbs but have our house up for sale so we can move out on some land and have some PRIVACY!

I'm all for the simpler life.