The Boonies In Utah
What Is It Like Making The Transition To Country Life?
Do you just move to the country life and into a home away from a city or urban environment? Do you do any planning before going? A drastic change like that should include minimum requirements before you forge ahead. You will be giving up certain amenities that you had become used to: quick access to shopping, city water supply, waste removal, and your favorite restaurants. And what about services like cable TV or internet and telephone? Can you handle it all?
I think there is a halfway point between all that you get (or don’t get) with a city or suburbanite life and total immersion into a country life. You are looking for things like fresh air, trees that surround you, and peace of mind. You know that your new water supply will come from a well. That the waste tank will have to be maintained on a regular basis. Trash removal may require trips to the dump. You just might be having second thoughts.
In the city you could get to a grocery store within minutes. Restaurants were all over the place. Electronic gadgets had readily available networks to feed them. Home improvement and auto repair centers were close enough to meet your needs. Your garbage is picked up and endless water to your house only requires payments to the local utility.
What Scenarios Can You Glean From Others?
Back in the mid 1990’s, I was doing reconstruction work in Miami that resulted from devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew. I was fed up with living in a motor home at a house owned by one of my clients, and decided to live elsewhere.
We did spend some time in a country life type of environment in a KOA campground not far away. However, the only redeeming factor of living like that was that we had close proximity to grocery stores, gas stations, and RV repair facilities. Living near Miami did me in. I wanted out.
A Note About This Topic:
Let me preface the rest of this article by saying I don’t like the idea of making the transition from city life to country living such that you are an hour’s drive from the nearest store or supply house. I don’t think your new home location has to be like that.
Yet most country folk do just that and wind up having to plan their lives accordingly. Of course, if you make a trip into town and forget something, you have to wait for the next trip to get it. I favor meeting this new change half way. Hence the inspiration for the title for this series or articles: “A Hybrid Country Life”.
My daughter and her husband live that way in an area called Smith,Nevada. It is almost a half hour’s drive to the nearest town for minimum necessities. She does like going to discount places like Wal-Mart and Home Depot or Lowes for food or supplies. But they are located in Carson City, over an hours drive away. A quick purchase at the grocery outlet down the block is out of the question. Add to that situation lots of travel in snow, freezing rain, or high winds. It is what I call the “Boonies in Nevada”.
Most of the stories I read about others moving to the country lifestyle share a similar thread. The events the majority of people go through to make the country homestead change are noteworthy. The transition comes with the recognition that there is a large price to pay for their new life. Water pump repairs, septic tank cleanings, muddy roads, no trash pickup, and lack of quick trips to the corner convenience store.
So Why Do City Slickers Leave?
The biggest reasons for going, it seems, is to escape from things like city traffic jams, and unfriendly neighbors next door. Crime, air pollution, deteriorating public schools, the high cost of living, and accompanying taxes add to the mix. And that’s enough!
To many people leaving their seemingly comfortable lifestyle, the city has done them in. And I agree 100 percent! After living in Southern California, New Orleans, and Miami, I am first in line to side with them.
But at What Price?
I am on the side of the Country Life individual who wants to fit somewhere in between. Like many of the crossover vehicles on the market today, ones that have 2 or more modes of power, I liken this concept to the person whom I call the “Country Hybrid“.
He, or she, is the person who wants the best virtues that country living has to offer, but does not want to be totally immersed in all that goes with it. They want the peace and quiet, the distance from the neighbors, a place to feel “safe”! But they are not going to grow all their own food, raise chickens or beef for meat, plow fields or chop trees for firewood. They want to go to the store for groceries within a reasonable distance drive. The hardware store and at least one restaurant is fairly close as well.
My First Real Taste of Country Life!
My first real taste of that lifestyle was thrust upon me and my wife when we left the Miami area and headed for, of all places, Utah.
My father-in-law was a pastor of a Baptist church in southern Utah in a potato farmers valley. The town was Beryl and was out in the boonies with dirt roads, scrub vegetation, windswept plains, and isolation. We were so fed up with dealing with clients in Miami. They were trying to cheat insurance companies that were involved with the aforementioned disaster there. I we just wanted out.
We were reluctant to make this type of move. This new area was our best short-term bet for an escape. It was very different from what we were used to, but was someplace to settle to. We arrived by cars and a loaded utility trailer. We first stayed with my wife’s parents in the church parsonage for several months. After that we were allowed the use of an RV trailer owned by a church member for a temporary home.
Finally, we looked for and found a home of our own. We were able to buy an owner-financed house out in the sticks in the same general area. In spite our new location, we were only 15 miles from the small town of Enterprise. It was located in the valley and only took about 20 minutes to get there. It sufficed as a place to buy small or minor items, but all goods were priced higher than city retailers accordingly.
The real shopping was 37 to 50 miles distant, depending on whether you headed east or south, and willing to drive through the mountains to get where you wanted to go.
One time I was working in one of those distant cities, by the name of St. George. A snowstorm blocked me from returning home because of high snow drifts covering the mountain pass that took me back. I had to stay in a hotel that night. My wife wasn’t too happy about it, but wanted me to be safe. That event signaled the beginning of the end of our Country Life there.
Why We Got A Good Deal On The House!
The house itself was a joke! The central heater and AC did not work, so we warmed up the place with our outdoor-rated cook stove which burned propane gas. Very dangerous, but necessary, because the fireplace didn’t work either.
The real kicker was that we had to share the water well pump with the next door neighbors. They had fashioned a legal agreement with the previous owners for this surprising deal. The title company that insured us during the purchase process knew nothing about this secret. Shocking, since the legal paperwork was previously recorded with the county clerk. To top things off, we were stuck with the electric bill for the unit and the repair costs as well. Unbelievable!
On the bright side of that “Country Life” existence, we were able to get real milk from one of the local farmers and lots of field-picked potatoes. Fresh (hot-house-grown) tomatoes, and other things like corn on the cob were additional delights. The church sponsored potluck meals introduced us to lots of good eats. But that was just not good enough to cause our wanting to stay.
When it snowed, as alluded to earlier, we were cut off from trips through the mountains, and could not even find the road in front of our house. Winding up in a side ditch was a real possibility in the winter. Our daughter had to be extricated from dirt road misadventures more than once on her way to work.
Oh No, Back To The City?
Since I was working as an independent cabinet installer in one of the outlying metro areas of either St. George or Cedar City, I finally hooked up with a kitchen installation company that hired me to bid on a 25 unit townhouse project in Las Vegas. So I got the job, and my wife and I rented temporary quarters there.
The title company settled with us over the water pump issue by returning our down payment on the house. They also helped us negate the purchase as well. So we moved out of Utah and into Nevada.
Since we were back in the “city” we did enjoy cheap buffets in the casinos and got to play the slot machines for fun. But traffic was terrible and the crowds were everywhere. You could not go anyplace without breathing cigarette smoke, and taxi cabs would run you over if you didn’t get out of the way.
We had contracts to fill and finally made the decision to pass up new projects there once we completed the ones we agreed to. We had no desire to be in that desert city when the hot, dry winds began to blow. Finishing up, we headed back to Utah, and the uncomfortable country living there!
Back In The Country!
However, a game changer for us arose when we were told that our daughter, Stephanie, was ready to graduate. She was informed that she could physically attend the ceremonies at her correspondence sponsoring high school she was to graduate from. It is located in Pensacola, Florida.
Planning to attend the event with her, we told my wife’s parents that, once it was over, we would not be coming back to Utah. We made the plans to head to the southern part of the State after the ceremonies. My former business partner had just finished a rental house for his client. It was located just south of Ft. Lauderdale and was available. So that was our next move. We left the “Boonies In Utah“!
Am I Finished With The Country Life?
I did not rule out the possibility of returning to a country life homestead someday. I just wanted it to be under much better conditions. I would embrace living away from a city location, but hold onto some of the creature comforts I was used to while living there.
Enter the “Country Hybrid”.
In the next blog I will start talking about some of the events that fueled my desire to seek out where I live now, and what makes it so much better than most places I have lived. My goal was to live in a house in the country without sacrificing everything that my urban homes had to offer. Until then!