Escape To The Countryside

As mentioned in this post from a few years back, I fantasized about leaving the “big city” and moving to the country.  Well, we’re finally moving – not to the country, but to a smaller city with a population 90% less than our current home, and countryside all around to explore.

Escape to the countryside

Not only is the city smaller, our home will be much smaller – from over 3,000 square feet to almost one-third of the size at 1,060 square feet.

Related: Whatever you do, don’t retire alone

After looking at literally dozens of different types of properties in our price range and weighing the pros and cons of each one, we finally settled on an apartment we liked.

We were heading over for a second viewing.  Another unit in the building just listed that same day and we decided to take a look while we were there.  It was love at first sight!  We immediately put in an offer that was accepted and we flew home to pack.

Now, we won’t be in the country, we won’t have a yard, and we need to do some major downsizing of our belongings.  But, this shows how serendipity works if you are not too fixed in your ideas.

Escape to the countryside

This was originally published in August, 2010.

I regularly watch a program on BBC-Canada called “Escape to the Country.”  The show features couples and/or families that want to leave the grind of big city life to live in the country.  Although the show is based in England, I find myself fascinated by the idea of country living.

I have lived in the city all my life but, as I get older, I find that I hate the noise, traffic and, yes, all the people around me all the time.

I can’t even sleep with my bedroom window open at night without hearing trucks and motorcycles zooming past on my supposedly quiet street.  Teenagers yell and laugh as they walk by in the early hours of the morning (why aren’t they home in bed?) and my room is filled with smoke from the fire pits.

Related: Living In The City Vs. The Suburbs: Pros And Cons

I fantasize about the peace and quiet of the countryside so I’m now on the lookout for the perfect country living house – my dream house if you will.

People tend to think that once your children have moved away it’s time to downsize your home.  I currently reside in a 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 3,000 square foot house and I can’t imagine living in anything smaller.

One of the bedrooms is now an office/computer room and one is a sewing room.  My treadmill and other exercise equipment has a space in the basement, and I need the dining room for dinners for my ever-expanding family, not to mention that my children and grandchildren need a place to sleep when they come to visit.

My husband and I (and our three cats) would feel cramped in a 2-bedroom condo apartment.

I’ve been periodically checking out the MLS listings online to see if I can find a similar sized property in a more rural setting with a big yard so I can do more gardening.

The questions now are:  Will I find country living too quiet and boring?  Will I hate doing more gardening?  Will I ever see my kids again?  Will I be able to afford to buy a property outright (I don’t want a mortgage)?  Will I have enough income to survive?  Is this how I really want to spend my retirement years?

These are the questions I’ll be mulling over when I watch the next episode of “Escape to the Country.”

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  1. Katy on August 26, 2010 at 8:59 am

    My parents, in their 70s, have wondered about that as well. What’s stopped them from moving these past 10 years is easy access to health care & services. They are both very lucky in that their health is very good — but both recognize that something may happen, and their house is in a great location for easy access to city services.

    My mother’s garden has actually decreased over time — it’s just the flowers in the front keeping her busy. And they travel frequently to visit their kids (currently on their way back from Kelowna….will be driving out to Boston in September).

  2. Boomer on August 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Katy. I’m happy to hear your parents still have such an active life. I also would like to at least be close to a town so I’m not totally isolated. I’m also afraid I’ll be bored as I’ve always worked and been active and I’d want to visit my kids and grandkids frequently and do some traveling too. It might just be wishful thinking on my part, but it’s nice to dream about.

  3. Will on June 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Interesting post! I grew up on a farm 30-minutes from the nearest town of more than 1,000 people. I’m 24 now and I live in the city. I actually really want to go back. Living in the country means seeing people on your own terms. In the city, there are just so many people around all the time! Plus, I love the fresh air and nature you get when living in the country. And with so many jobs transitions to remote, having a good job + living in the country is more doable than ever.

    I’m really happy when I graduated college I didn’t buy a house in the city. City life isn’t bad… but I don’t know if I’ll be happy here long-term. They say everyone has a homing beacon inside them that gets stronger with age. If I kind of want to go back to the country now, imagine what I’ll feel in a few more years!

    • Boomer on June 26, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Hi Will, thanks for stopping by. I don’t know if people have a “homing beacon” since I’m city born and bred. I like a smaller city – what Calgary was like about 10 years ago. They have all the amenities you need plus a less hectic life style for us oldsters. Younger people often will find more employment opportunities in a larger city as well as a greater variety of entertainment, so it can suit them.

      It’ll be a change for us for sure, but we’re looking forward to it.

  4. Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet on June 24, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Congrats, sounds like it will be lots of fun there. I know the area is becoming very popular and with Westjet flying thru Kelowna, you can avoid having to go through a major airport to travel. I’ll be jealous of the winter weather there

    • Boomer on June 26, 2014 at 8:32 am

      Thanks Dan: I’m looking forward to the more relaxed life style, not to mention summer fruit that actually has some taste!

      Apparently the Kelowna airport is one of the busiest in Canada and there will be future expansion for more international travel – no more passing through Vancouver or Calgary.

      I have experienced large snow dumps and blizzards there, but at least winter has a definite end by March instead of stretching through the summer months like in Calgary (it’s almost July and my furnace is still occasionally kicking in! – I won’t miss that).

  5. Robert on June 25, 2014 at 8:29 am

    1000 square feet is plenty for this retired person. I have a lot less than you and wish I had much less than I do! Where I live your current home would be well over a million – maybe 1.5 million. When I look at country living I realize I would likely end up with a wad of cash to manage unless I had a huge acreage. Nice problem to have!

    I think your last couple questions are the most important for any move for retirement and what holds me up from a move: I do not know yet how I will want to spend most of my time.

    • Boomer on June 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Hi Robert. I thought I had cleared out a lot of my possessions over the last couple of years until I found out I had tons more to cull. My question was “Will this fit into my new lifestyle?” if not, out it went!

      What I learned from cleaning out both my parents and in-laws houses was:
      1. It’s just stuff (you see how much it’s worth to others when you try to sell it – “Will you take 50 cents?”
      2. I don’t want to place that burden on my children in the future. They will know that each item was valued and used – and then they’ll probably toss it.

      I’m looking forward to discovering new activities and meeting new friends (although almost everyone I’ve met so far is a former Calgarian!)

  6. DollarSense on June 25, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    We were raised in Toronto, and my husband and I decided to move to a small town when we were ready to begin our lives together. It was an economic decision, and the best decision we ever made. We learned its not how much you make, but what you don’t spend that makes the difference. Way less insurance, utilities and property tax means we can divert more income to principal repayments. In a small town, there is less to spend your disposable income on, so less clutter in the smaller house. Distances travelled day-to-day are less, so less gas consumption, and more time for everything. Distance is measured in kms, instead of time, since there is little traffic congestion. No lineups at the hospital if you need health care. And if you live in town, and are still working, you can go home for lunch – an inconceivable concept in most cities. If you live “out of town” like we do (11kms from city centre), you can live your rural dreams – horses, chickens… A small town usually has tons of leisure opportunities, too. We have a ski hill, lots of ice, pools, many sports facilities, garden clubs, mountain bike and hiking trails, a college and satellite university campus, all for a town of less than 20K people. You will not be sorry you took the plunge!

    • Boomer on June 26, 2014 at 8:50 am

      @DollarSense: I definitely agree with you. Where I live now it’s such a chore to even go to a nice park or other types of leisure activities – a long drive in bad traffic, nowhere to park, crowds of people.

      At my new place everything is close by – the beach is in walking distance. Gas is more expensive but we won’t have to drive much. I’m a great walker so I’m going to enjoy the trails.

      We’re counting the hours.

  7. Robert on June 26, 2014 at 8:56 am

    It would be nice to know some of the smaller communities people have found great for retirement. Nobody has mentioned names here – maybe because they want their secret kept! I’m from Toronto so I may have a different idea of “small” than some people (Calgary is pretty small looking) but I am open minded.

    • Echo on June 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

      Calgary’s population is about 1.2M people – not exactly small. I’d consider “small town” to be under 100,000.

      I live in Lethbridge, land of newly weds and nearly deads, and the population is about 90,000.

    • Boomer on June 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I’m moving from Calgary (1.2M) to Kelowna (120,000). It’s no secret – I thought everyone knew by now.

      • Robert on June 26, 2014 at 12:23 pm

        lol! Well I knew you and Robb were both out west somewhere. For some reason I always thought Saskatchewan. I have heard Kelowna has been popular for retirement for years – even people from Ontario go there.

        The odd thing is I am at this stage but have little idea about where people go to in Ontario. Except Elliot Lake if you love incredibly cheap real estate, kayaking, skiing, and being very remote. I should do some research.

  8. Debby Johnson on January 18, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I am a little late to the party. I enjoyed reading this article and the comments. I was raised primarily in Calgary. I recall when I was around five years of age visiting my grandparents in a small town a few hours away and saying to myself “when I grow up I am living in a place just like this”. The charm of a small town had me way back then. Well I did move but to a small town with way more amenities and much more natural beauty. I moved to Creston BC in the area known as the Kootenays. The population is just over 5000 with a surrounding rural population of around 3000. The Kootenays is really off the radar so housing is still affordable in Creston. It is likely off the radar because this area is a six-hour drive from the cities of Calgary and Kelowna. I would say that the top reasons why people move here is for the temperate climate, the natural beauty (including the Kootenay Lake) and the abundance of fresh local produced foods (including orchards and vineyards).
    I was wondering, would it be worthwhile to offer people who are looking to escape to the countryside the chance to try out the lifestyle in advance of making a decision to move?

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