THE BOONIES IN UTAH SURVIVAL GUIDE
What I Found Out When Making The Transition To A Country Lifestyle
Do you just move to the country life and into a home away from a city or urban environment without facing repercussions? Do you initiate any type of planning procedures before making the plunge? A drastic change like that should include minimum personal requirements before you forge ahead. You will be giving up certain amenities that you had become used to: a quick access to shopping, a city water supply, waste removal, and your favorite restaurants. And what about services like cable TV or internet and telephone? Can you handle all that?
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 lifestyle. 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 septic waste tank will have to be maintained on a regular basis. Trash removal may require trips to the dump. With all that in mind, 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 Experiences Can You Glean From Others?
Back in the mid 1990’s, I was doing reconstruction work in Miami that resulted in repairs to homes devastated by Hurricane Andrew. I was fed up with living in a motor home at a house owned by one of my clients, so I decided to leave the area altogether and live somewhere else.
While there, however, we did spend some time in a country life type of environment while parked at a KOA campground not far away from our original location. Having said that, though, we found that the only redeeming factor of living like that was that we had close proximity to grocery stores, gas stations, and RV repair facilities. Still, 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 subject to those kinds of parameters.
Yet, most country folk do just that and wind up having to plan their lives accordingly. Of course, if you do a shopping spree in 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 of articles: “A Hybrid Country Life”.
My daughter and her husband lived that way (at the time I wrote this article) 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 those facilities 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 that describe the ordeals others go through after embracing the country lifestyle share a similar thread. The scenarios the majority of people endure are noteworthy. The transition comes with the recognition that there is a large price to pay for this new way of living. As I alluded to earlier, they face the prospect of doing water pump repairs, septic tank cleanings, driving on muddy roads, having no trash pickup, and the lack of an opportunity to make that quick trip to the corner convenience store.
So Why Do City Slickers Leave Their Trustworthy Environments?
The biggest reasons for going, it seems, is to escape things like city traffic jams, unfriendly neighbors next door, crime, air pollution, deteriorating public schools, the high cost of living, and accelerating property taxes that all add to the mix. And for someone like me, 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 have take the position of siding with individuals who want to fit somewhere in between City Life and the full blown remote Country Lifestyle. Like many of the hybrid vehicles on the market today, ones that have 2 or more methods of propulsion, I have incorporated this concept into the creation of a pioneer type I call the “Country Hybrid“.
He, or she, is the person who wants the best virtues that country living offers, but does not want to be forced into the total immersion experience that goes with it. They want the peace and quiet that goes with this new way of life along with the possibility of living on a homestead that provides reasonable separation away from nearby neighbors and a place where they can feel “safe”! However, they don’t plan on growing all their own food, raising chickens or beef for meat, plowing fields, or chopping trees for firewood. They want a store somewhere within reason for groceries, a hardware store for home supplies, and at least one restaurant for that occasional meal after they go out shopping or just feel like taking a break from fixing meals in the kitchen.
My First Real Taste of Country Life!
My first real taste of that lifestyle was thrust upon me and my wife when we “escaped” the Miami area and headed for, of all places, Utah. My father-in-law was a pastor of a Baptist church located in the heart of a potato farming valley situated in Southern Utah. The name of the town nearby was Beryl, and it was out in the boonies surrounded by dirt roads, scrub vegetation, windswept plains, and isolation. What forged our decision was the fact that we were fed up with the insufferable and dishonest clients we were imprisoned with in Miami. Clients that were trying to get us to cheat insurance companies that covered homes damaged by with the aforementioned disaster there. As a result, I just wanted out. Since my wife’s parents provided a viable option for us, I offered her that choice and she accepted it, but still held some reservations about moving there.
I must add here that we were reluctant to make this type of move. Even though this new environment was our best short-term bet for achieving an effective escape plan, we also realized that it was very different from everything we were used to. This was going to be a big step for us, and we didn’t treat the decision lightly.
When we arrived by cars with 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 couple that brought it onto the grounds so that we could have a temporary home for awhile.
After a few months of this confinement, we looked for and found a home of our own. The owner-financed house was located out in the sticks in the same general area, but was sort of isolated out where it sat. In spite that, we were still only 15 miles from the small town of Enterprise. It was situated in the overall area of that valley and accessible by driving through farm fields 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 normally charge accordingly.
The real shopping was 37 to 50 miles further south of us, depending on which route you took, and required a trip through a group of either low lying foothills or tall mountains in order to complete your journey. One of the destinations was Cedar City, and it was easily accessible travel wise. The other one was the largest city in Southern Utah, and had all the big name stores you can think of.
One time, while I was doing a job in this city that went by the name of St. George, a big snowstorm hit the area and caused all sorts of problems. As I left our home early one morning to drive through the mountains, I noticed a number of eighteen wheelers sidelined on the shoulder of the highway that were covered by snowdrifts. Undaunted by this discovery, I decided to take my chances and make the trip.
I made it through and worked in that city for the day, but when it came time to head back, I got the surprise of my life. The storm had forced the hand of local officials and they shut down this pass through the mountains which, in turn, blocked me from returning home. As a result of this action, I had to stay in a hotel that night. My wife wasn’t too happy about it, but preferred that my safety take precedence over any other choice that could be made. That event signaled the beginning of the end of our Country Life sojourn there.
Why Our Fantastic Deal On A Country House Proved Too Good To Be True!
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, as we found out later, 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 all this was just not good enough to keep our waning interests in this lifestyle to remain intact.
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 by considerate farmers passing by her.
Oh No, Must We Head 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 that insured our house against losses incurred from legal oversights was notified and settled with us over the water pump issue by returning our down payment on the house. They also helped us negate the purchase agreement with the sellers as well. So we cleaned out of there and moved out of Utah into Nevada.
Since we were back in a city environment, 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 through. Finishing up with our obligations in Vegas, we headed back to Utah and the uncomfortable country living scenario we hoped to escape when we first left there!
A Foreboding Decision Ahead
However, a game changer for our future arose when we were told that our daughter, Stephanie, was ready to graduate. She was informed that she could actually attend the upcoming graduation ceremonies at the correspondence sponsoring high school she had completed her studies with. That institution was located in Pensacola, Florida.
After much discussion between ourselves, we decided that, while planning our trip to attend the event with her, we would not be coming back to Utah. We told my wife’s parents that, once the event was over, we would head to the southern part of Florida. 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. When ready, we left the “Boonies In Utah“!
Did I Decide Then That I Was Finished With The Country Lifestyle Experience?
At the time, I did not rule out the possibility of acquiring a country life homestead some time in the future as I went forward. I just wanted the next opportunity 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 still living there.
Enter the “A Hybrid Country Life” section of this website.
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 lifestyle had to offer. Until then!
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!