Updated on 04.07.07

Five Cost-Saving Reasons To Live In The Country

Trent Hamm

THANK GOD I'M A COUNTRY BOY!This Easter weekend, my wife and I are returning to my family’s old homestead out in the country. I love going back there – the pace of life is so completely different. It really heals the soul.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that I don’t keep an eye out for things done there that can save money – and hopefully take some of them with me to use in my day to day life. Sadly, some of them are quite impossible (or at least quite difficult) for most people not living in a highly rural situation.

Wondering what I mean? Here are five great cost-saving reasons to live in the country.

Well water. My parents have their own well which provides water to the house. I drank well water the entire time I grew up and I still maintain that it tastes far cleaner and better than tap water in the city. Even better, since the water comes from the well, it’s pretty close to being free.

An informal “farmer’s market.” We used to have a large informal “farmer’s market” based on bartering. My father was an expert at growing tomato plants, so he would grow an army of them and supply twenty or thirty households with tomatoes. In exchange, we would get free fresh eggs, vegetables, fruits, and all sorts of stuff in abundance. Imagine having a giant farmer’s market the year round that was basically free – all you had to do was grow one thing that you really knew how to grow.

Less garbage. Instead of throwing out stuff, almost all of it was reused or at least used in another context. Food waste was put directly into a large compost bin, where the earthworms would devour it and turn it into wonderful black compost for the garden. Paper waste was saved for the wood stove and for campfires. We could literally go a week without producing a bag of garbage. This meant money saved on stuff we could reuse, and money saved on garbage bills.

Wood stove heating. We had a giant wood stove in the garage, which we kept fueled with wood throughout the winter. Chopping down wood in the fall and replanting in the spring gave us several weekends worth of healthy outdoor activity for free, plus our winter heating bill was tiny. We’d let the fire die down at night, but we’d go out and put a big jar full of water on top of the wood stove, then toss it under the blanket with us to get nice and warm.

Foraging. We used to forage for a lot of things in the woods near our house. Mushrooms in the spring and blackberries and mulberries in the late summer were staples – the only work involved was walking out into the woods with a bucket, enjoy a bit of nature, pick the goods, then walk away until next year. You can’t get much more “free” than that.

If you want to live simply and frugally, nothing beats living in the country.

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  1. Getzly says:

    Not to mention any of the long-term savings, like the healthcare costs you’ll save from not having to breathe this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7c/Los_Angeles_Pollution.jpg/800px-Los_Angeles_Pollution.jpg

  2. Zachary says:

    Living the country would also save my sanity a great deal of hardship. I detest city living.

  3. Bill says:

    You can do much of the same “in the city.”

    My in-laws have a small ranch house on a 1/3 acre lot just inside the city limits (with no restrictive covenants)

    They also have well water (for drinking/cooking) but have county water as well (for gardening/landscaping)

    The wood stove insert in their basement can heat the entire house (with natural gas now available I’ve offered to buy a whole-house generator for them, but they don’t see the need)

    They have blueberries along the fence (toss some netting over them so the birds don’t eat too many)

    Their backyard garden can’t be over 1/8 of an acre, but from it they (and we) get pumpkins, squash, cukes, beans, corn, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce (coldframes on the ground made from old windows), and I’ve already mentioned the blueberries. :)

    We store that abundance of free food in our chest freezer ($25 at a garage sale).

  4. Kim Siever says:

    Unfortunately, living in the country would increase my commute time and fuel costs.

  5. AndyR says:

    Seems that country living is rapidly falling to the annexation of ever greater areas bordering metros with developer-backed zoning commissions levying punitive taxes that drive farmers and other larger landowners to sell or subdivide their property (which is exactly what the developers want).

  6. Mikhela says:

    Three big drawbacks about living in the country (I’ve just reluctantly moved back the the city):
    1. $160 a month on petrol in the country, and at least an hour a day driving, instead of $40 and ten minutes; 2. instead of paths through parkland the only places to walk are along the side of winding country roads, leading to much anxiety about the dog whenever a car speeds by leading to much less exercise; 3. No interesting well paid jobs.

  7. Kevin says:

    It’s definitely a set of trade-offs depending on what you need. Personally, I prefer the city: mass transit, pedestrian-friendly, a large number of good jobs without need to relocate, little or no need to own and maintain an automobile, etc.

    Environmentally, New Yorkers have one of the lowest environmental impacts per person in the world: each occupies very little land and generates very little trash thanks to the costs of disposal. Of course, the Big Apple could learn a bit about mass transit from London’s Tube (which is amazing).

  8. Canadian says:

    Maybe you could also do a post on the cost-saving reasons to live in the city.

    My suggestions:

    1) Living in a city means access to public transportation, which can reduce or even eliminate the need for a car. Very big savings here!

    2) Access to many cheap/free sources of entertainment: free concerts in the park, festivals, half-price/free evenings at the museum, student performances at local universities, bike paths, public parks, possiblility of taking a walk in one’s own neighbourhood, etc.

    3) Probably greater earning potential, which is great if you can keep expenses down.

    4) Access to many different sources for inexpensive goods, such as ethnic grocery stores, warehouse/discount stores, many different thrift stores, etc.

    5) A city usually has greater diversity among its residents. There are people of different backgrounds who live very different lives and make vastly different lifestyle choices. This means that you don’t have to worry about “fitting in” as much. You will be able to find people who support your choices and who even live like you. This is great for socializing and for starting more formal groups if you wish, but also just for not feeling so much that you have to conform.

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