We’ve had our year to adjust to country life, and it’s been pretty extreme – Sean’s never lived anywhere rural, and I moved at 17 to Philadelphia & then on to San Francisco – so my entire adult life has been in cities. This past weekend I had an intense city-missing freakout: What do you mean I can’t just wander down to Bell’occhio to find the ribbon I need? What do you mean if we want to join a nice gym it’s 45 mins out of our way? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS. WHERE AM I? WHAT HAVE I DONE?

When you live in very rural places you start judging things based on the fact that there’s nothing else around – restaurants that would be average in San Francisco are TOTALLY AMAZING here, just because nothing else even halfway decent exists. There are a few gems that would stand out anywhere, like Morano Gelato or Clementine. You start making pilgrimages to get to the quality spots, and it seems normal to jump in a car for an hour and a half to run a simple errand. And then you get really, really tired of jumping in cars.

I’m not bored in the country, but I often don’t want to do the things that need doing here. Yard work, prepping for winter, house projects, darning socks. I want to wander the Met, sit in a park, people watch while drinking coffee. I get upset over country-life failures; leaving weeds in the wheelbarrow so it rusts, not understanding how to deal with car maintenance, general garden neglect. I’m frustrated at myself for becoming such a city-slicker while I was away.

Not many people in this state have city/office jobs, like we do. We get invited to BBQs at 3pm on a weekday. People don’t understand that we commute, that we’re exhausted when we come home. My mother chides me for not cleaning the house more, when all I want to do after an 8 hour day + 2 hours of commuting is fall on my face and sleep.  A year in and I still haven’t found a rhythm where I feel there are enough hours in a day here.

But then I go read a book in my amazing backyard or play tennis at the 1920’s court at Goddard and it’s ok. I let my eyes soak up all the green things around me and remind myself that I’m here for that, for green hills and my family and safety and goodness. It’s an adjustment, but one we’re super open to and grateful for. And hey, NYC is only a 5 hour drive away.



  1. As much as I get totally bummed out about not having access to all sorts of awesome culture things, I personally would take living in the country and visiting the city over the reverse. Although both ways of living totally have their perks. Now, I will say that your Vermont ruralness is a giant step beyond N. Idaho; not only do you have some awesome local food culture going on, but NYC is your big city 5 hours away (and Boston closer than that) while Seattle’s as big as I can get in 5 hours.

  2. Well, the suburbs aren’t the country but after two years in suburban purgatory I definitely relate to some of what you’re facing. We haven’t gone out on a Saturday night in forever because the hour drive into the city is a pain and none of our friends wanted to come to the burbs. Going out near our apartment meant dealing with 80 million families and badly behaved kids running everywhere.

    We moved back into the city 3 weeks ago and I LOVE it. 15 minute commute, we can actually walk to a few things again, I can easily swing by a happy hour after work…

    I sometimes have dreams about moving to a sleepy beach or mountain town but I don’t know if I would love it or go crazy.

  3. It’s interesting, I’m struggling with the country/city debate now. I currently live in DC, but often pine for the peace and quiet of the country or a small town. I love the idea of being able to raise chickens, garden on a real plot of land and just sort of take in the fresh air.

    Ironically, the parts I like best about city life are those that I imagine feel most like a small town. I like the locally owned coffee places, bars, farmers markets and bumping into people I know while out walking my dog.

    1. I do love that part of it. We can walk to a tiny co-op and the cafe in our town, everything is local, no big box stores nearby. We’re excited to garden next year (we’ve been yhere a year but have only owned the house 6 months) & there definitely is more fresh air!

      My husband travels to DC a lot for work, so I think he gets a city fix more than I do!

      1. I guess it’s finding the right balance. We’re able to get down to the almost-country (Fredericksburg, VA) to visit my in-laws every month or so and it makes a HUGE difference in perspective -usually in a “I am where I should be” way, though not always (like now…!)

        I hope you’ll blog about your gardening efforts! We managed to raise 6 heads of lettuce plus kale in our small yard and I feel like a superhero!

  4. I grew up not far from Goddard (East Barre) and I absolutely get what you’re saying! When I’m away, I totally romanticize things there, but then I visit and I’m reminded how every jaunt requires a minimum 1/2 hour car ride, usually more. Yet when I lived there, I thought nothing of weekly trips to Burlington or further afield…

    After living in NYC, Portland, Austin, and for the last nine years, Minneapolis, I may be too adjusted to city life now to enjoy living in the country again. I love to visit, though. If you decide to make your AirBnB rental pet-friendly, let me know because we’re always looking for good places to stay near family.

  5. I was lucky enough to spend my childhood in the city during the week and on a nearby rural island on the weekends from April through October each year. So, I get that pull a bit and I always appreciate this theme in your writing. The scruffy moments wearing weird ancient hats from the cabin, poking around mossy hills with scratches on my legs, then an hour later, going out to a nice family dinner in the city after the ferry ride. Worrying about traffic to get there, then wondering who the heck is driving down the road upon arrival. Getting excited about any band playing in the pub, then coming home and being spoiled for choice. That kind of thing…

    Hoping that sometimes, the green filtered light, bonfires and clean air make the commute worth it.

  6. I really enjoyed this post, I think you really captured a lot of the city/country grass is greener feelings that many of us have.

    I’ve always lived in big cities, SF was the smallest place I’d ever lived, and then I moved to a small country in Europe and my “city” is 100K people. It has been a huge adjustment.

    I miss the city and the country. The cities are interesting, but small and fairly homogenous. The country is beautiful but never “untouched.” People have been living and farming here for centuries. I miss NYC, I miss the high desert.

    I do love my neighbourhood, which is a residential community within city limits that is strikingly agricultural – there are those small garden plots you see out the train window in Europe, vineyards, goats, donkeys, etc. Who knew I loved goats so much, they’re hilarious. The best thing about moving to a nice place, regardless of where it is, is the things that you come to appreciate in your daily life. In SF it was good coffee, and now it’s feeding leaves to goats.

    We don’t need a car, which is the brilliant thing about living here. You can take a bus to the most remote place. But then there’s that downside – it may be remote, but it won’t be undeveloped.

    I enjoy being adaptable and appreciating city and country, but sometimes I just want the place that’s the perfect mix of everything that I love and nothing that I dislike!

  7. I romanticize country life in my little head, but I don’t know if I could do it. I’ve grown so reliant on being able to walk wherever I need to go… I wonder if I could ever transition out of that.

  8. Oof, yeah, I’ve spent a LOT of time in rural areas. I used to live somewhere that the nearest town was an hour and a half bus ride away (when the bus actually turned up), and it was tough. The ease of being close to everything is so handy. However, the ability to go outside into the countryside is completely unrivalled. Utter peace. Wonderful photographs. Quiet nights. I’m now next to a main road again, and I find myself longing for my rural days!

    Morgue x

  9. I know what you mean–after growing up in the DC area, living in DC, Paris, France, and Baltimore, my hubby and I decided we needed warmer weather and a slower pace—we ended up on the Gulf Coast, and most days I love the serene mornings over the gulf and our huge backyard (the dogs love it too), pear trees, grape vines, and garden…there are times when I am DYING for the city. Just to dress up and walk about–instead of getting in my car in yoga pants…or walking to breakfast on a Saturday, etc etc etc. Still, when I boil it all down–I lived that life already–it’s time for slowing down, for starting a family, for enjoying life…

  10. This was so good to read right now, as I’m going through a similar experience. Your whole post resonates with me. I’m sick of going to what is supposed to be an “amazing” restaurant and being disappointed – still haven’t lowered my standards. And the 2 hour commute is killing me – I want to go home and work on interesting and fun projects, cook something delicious, learn a new skill – and end up watching endless hours of Netflix with my husband. Hopefully our expectations and desires will shift but right now it’s very difficult.

  11. Well, I’m pretty darn honored to get the country hat tip for Clementine (and next to a gelato shop I didn’t even know about!). I do love the rock-turning-over and day-trip-exploration that country living invokes, but it is hard to live in a place where things close down before 9 (or before 5:30 in Middlebury!). The more fabulous young people move to the country though…the more fantastic the country becomes!

    1. You got the “fabulous anywhere!” hat tip! But seriously, try that gelato place if you’re going through Hanover.

      The open hours of shops, SIGH. I didn’t even get into that.

  12. I’m late to this party but I wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post. Your living situation is exactly what I would love to be doing, but my partner does not want a bar of the country – so I dream and live my country life vicariously through people like you!

  13. Yes….I understand exactly what you are saying but still immensely grateful that I made this decision. It takes hours to get anything done, and sometimes the shops aren’t open when they should be. At my house sit this summer, I had to walk 2 miles to use my cell phone because there was no signal at the house. This all being said, the beauty that is around, the sense of safety and community that imbues everything, and the fact that I know everyone in my tiny town and they know me makes me feel incredibly at peace and like I am in the right place. If you guys want to make a really long drive up to Maine, you are always welcome! We can go to one of four restaurants that stay open in the winter (!!!) or just visit. Last year, I lived in a city of 1.5 million and now live in a town of 200. I feel your pain of adjustment, but I think that everything happens for a reason, and that if you can swing the country life, you are probably meant to be doing it.

  14. I often DREAM of leaving NYC for good (I grew up here, so I’m pretty much ready to go)…and then I remember that I have never driven a car, nor do I even know how to, and wonder where the heck am I going to go?! Vermont is high on my list though….could I get around on bicycle? 😉

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