In our modern times, we have romanticised the countryside. The appeal of unpolluted air, the escape of traffic, and the reduction of constant city noise each play a significant part of this idealised living environment, especially when these images are held in comparison to those of large British cities. For those caught up in the so-called grind of urban life, the idea of moving to the countryside is one of escape, that is, a remedy to the stress of city living. The reality of such an escape is, however, slightly different.
Interestingly, the consistent popularity of rural living has recently begun to grow. The conversation of removing urban environments as a necessary component to our lives and, importantly, careers, has been brought back into mainstream conversation with the arrival and consequences of COVID-19’s resulting lockdown.
The pandemic has led to many jobs to become remote, giving more people the ability to work from home. To avoid the risk of spreading coronavirus, offices and businesses became cloud-based, utilising video conferencing technology and file-sharing services to continue productivity. Alongside this, more retailers have moved their services online to meet the demand of internet shoppers, delivering them with ease around the country. In a matter of months, we experienced the plausible reality of decentralised cities that had seen resistance for many years. Whether or not this continues is a matter of prediction.
However, the conversation of urban decentralisation was nonetheless rejuvenated. Companies such as Right Move and Zoopla saw a large increase in searches for properties outside of city areas as more people looked to see a window for their countryside escape. More people are now challenging the necessity of city-living.
Much of the immediate appeal of living more rurally is true. The air quality is often better and there are less light and noise pollution, except perhaps in extreme cases, such as living under a flight path. You’re also more likely to find a larger living space for your budget, whether that’s an extra bedroom or a larger garden for a log cabin project. Housing is, generally, cheaper outside of cities. And, while there is a larger demand for rural and suburban living, cities are still likely to maintain their popularity.
It is, however, important to couple these benefits with some negative stipulations. Primarily is the reality of internet connections. Living in an urban area can lead a person to become quickly used to constant and strong internet services. Attending video conferences and downloading files is no problem in the centre of London. When moving to a more rural area, this support is likely to be compromised and it can be extremely difficult to find a countryside home that supplies internet speeds and reliance anywhere near to those levels of city centres.
The degree of isolation experienced by most during lockdown also stops becoming temporary when moving out of populated areas. Living rurally means that you will be more cut-off from social events, people, and experiences. While our high streets still remain mostly closed, living rurally will eliminate the ability to spontaneously visit the cinema or meet your city friends at the pub almost entirely. The solitude of peace and quiet can become double-edged and, for those unprepared for this realisation, it’s often a shock.
So, while there are many benefits to escaping the city, there is a wider reality of moving to the countryside outside of our romantic images of green hills and stress-free days. Before undertaking such a move it is important to consider every aspect of your life and, if possible, spend some time practising rural living before committing to it.