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Help... My Wife Is A City Girl  RSS feed

 
                    
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I am 26 years old, I have been married for 6 years almost 7. Up until recently, we have been your average run of the mill suburban family, struggling every month to pay our way. I have always had a fascination with the natural order of the world and the simpler times of days past. I am extremely interested in getting a piece of land and putting it to work. She is a little hesitant. We have two children and she is concerned with socialization and such. I try to explain that we are not falling off the planet, but just opting for a simpler more sustainable way. I would like some feedback from parents who live in rural areas. How far is too far to be out. What are some good ways to make sure your children don't "miss out". I personally think country kids are happier kids, I mean have you seen where the red fern grows. That kid had a great childhood. We recently moved about 25 miles outside of a major city Pittsburgh Pa, to a semi rural area( you can still be anywhere in 20 min). We have a few acres(rented). What are some small steps I can take to introduce her to the homesteading lifestyle. By the way, she really doesn't like to bake or eat fresh bread, or has any interest in canning. But she is down with a garden, chickens, rabbits and maybe some goats. I don;t want to cause problems by pushing to hard, but the current state of the economy and city life in general not to mention 9-5s has me a very unhappy person. I am a simple spirit that requires a simple stress-free life, I can't handle the financial stresses of the status quot suburbanite any longer. 
 
paul wheaton
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I think that an accurate answer to that question could fill 20 or 30 books.  And 3/4 of those would probably be on psychology. 

So are your acres where your house is, or are they down the road a bit?

Kids in the country:  it depends a lot on you, your neighbors and your school.  There can be excellent urban experiences and screwed-up-for-life urban experiences.  The same can be said for rural experiences. 

How old are your kids?
 
paul wheaton
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My children are 3 1/2 and 1. The acres are where we live. We have a creek, some woods and some grass area. And Green acres is the place to be.
 
                    
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I am not really looking for an all encompassing piece of advice. I really just want some opinions from people about good points and bad points with the children thing. For instance sports practices or school functions, things like that. I would like to hear about other people who have had partners who might not have been as devoted to this lifestyle, how things turned out. I understand life is full of compromise, I guess maybe I just want to hear some of the compromises that people go through for this lifestyle.
 
Ken Peavey
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I dont have any kids so I can't offer that perspective.  However, as an overgrown kid, I can tell you what I think.

I grew up in Bangor, Maine.  It was a regular town as far as I knew.  We had schools and parades and firetrucks.  There was a playground nearby and just about every house had kids.  I had a bike and a paper route, shoveled snow in the winters, mowed lawns in the summers, and stayed away from Chris Grindle, the local bully.  Pretty much a typical kid in middle class, medium town 1970s America.

My great grandmother had a vast field of blueberries.  Every August we'd go downeast for a few weeks, rake berries to earn money to buy schoolclothes.  It was hard work.  Long days in the hot sun and mosquitoes.  We'd head for Montegail Pond at the end of the day with soap that floats to clean up.  We took care of the equipment, move heavy things for my grandmother, throw mudballs at turkeys, help feed the neighbors pigs.  We did not lack anything, had some matchbox cars to play with.  A treat was a soda and candy stick.

More than anything else, we all gained a sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic.  My brother was a manager at a couple of big box stores before becoming self employed in carpentry.  My older sister managed a hardware store, then a pizza shop, then a dentist office before striking out on her own with quilting, she does very well.  My younger sister manages the office of a law firm and is doing well making jewelry on the side.  I'm either self employed or some sort of leader at any given time. 

The exposure to both city and country gave me a wider view of the world.  I'm at home in a field of berries as well as in a screaming concert banging heads.  I have no fear of running through the woods at night, and I know enough to stay out of the alleys in the wrong parts of town. 

Urban and rural lifestyles each produce values which are necessary for survival and social acceptance.  While your kids will learn from scratch, your wife is being forced to relearn a value system.  This can be a challenge.  There is no running down the street for a newspaper or stopping at the mall on the way home for a package of science diet.  There is noone to see her new outfit and no reason to wear it.  You'll need to give her some extra pampering.  Take her out to eat back in town while she gets weaned off city life.  Being out in the woods she will not have the same amount of contact with her friends and it takes time to make new ones.  Invite people over for dinner, old friends and new.  You are not so far out in the sticks as you might feel sometimes.  You'll be just fine.

 
                    
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Thank you. That was very well put. I agree about the city life and country life both provide different views on life. Neither one being any better than the other. Sometimes I just feel like every kid should have every opportunity afforded them, I don't want to feel like my life choices are costing my children vital life skills, but there are certain aspects of city life that my children don't need to see. I am not saying this without experience, I have been in some of the most undesirable areas a city can offer and even though I don't want my children to see those things, I still took something from the experience.
 
Leah Sattler
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i think it is very realistic and wise for you to consider your children. I have a 5yr old and one on the way. and i have though alot about how my choices will and do affect my children. it was important to me that we live somewhere close enough to a "city" that I can find activities and opportunities for my kids to interact with "the modern world" especially because I plan on homeschooling at least for the younger years. which i have become more and more convinced of as we progress in our "school" and see the amazing ease and gleefulness that learning can be approached with. we live 20-30 minutes from the library, extracurricular activities, movie theatres etc..... and for us that is a good distance for us. we also get the benefit of the country life. the benefits for children are much too long to list. but I can tell you I have a solemn appreciation for our life. I can see the amazing positive affect this lifestyle has on my child.


I have to stick a little point in here about the "socialize" word and how it applies here because it often comes up.

interacting with others is a chance to practice social skills. don't fret too much if your kids aren't swallowed by extracurricular activities and opportunities to interact with other kids because it isnt' practical once you move to the country. the most important human interaction they will have as children is with their parents.

there are two definitions for socialize. (my words here)  one is the activity and interaction when with other people. "we are going out with our freinds for a bit to socialize" and then there is the developmental term. teaching one to behave and interact properly in society. as in  "the child spent little time around stable adults and was therefore not well socialized" 

my wink is to point out that young kids aren't taught social skills by other young children who don't have them either. true social skills are taught and demonstrated by older well socialized children and adults. the skills they pick up from other kids are more coping and survival skills. as in ...learning to cope and survive in adverse social situations. those skills are important too because we all find ourselves dealing with less then socialized people from time to time, but it is an important distinction. 

this doesn't mean that some restriction in interaction with same age kids won't possibly result in some "social awkwardness" on the part of your children when trying to fit in to typical situations with other kids. after all, a large portion of the population seems to think that getting their kids interacting with other same age kids will socialize them. as if a fairy will sprinkle "proper behavior dust" over the clique of girls gossiping or the group of boys planning to stick another kids head in the toilet or the two year olds fighting over a toy in daycare; and your kids will have to deal with those kids which can be a bit awkward.   



 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I've mentioned this before, but most of the bad things about my childhood are down to the rural setting it happened in. A significant part of that was a justifiable lack of hope, in civic life generally but especially among my fellow students. If your family had land, education didn't matter much, and otherwise the surest way to make money was street drugs.

My neices and nephews all have seemingly much better childhoods than I had: two of them are in Brooklyn, and three in a somewhat exclusive neighborhood of the SF bay area.

My biggest concern for any of them is that one nephew spends time with some wealthy teenagers who seem to be a bad influence.

I think some of my own best character traits come from spending so much time with a large number of older people (60 to 90 years old) in my childhood. I got about as much out of that, as out of socializing with people my own age.

I really don't think fiction should guide decision making as much as it seems to. It has an amazing capacity to explore what is plausible, but there are more-reliable sources if you are interested in what is. I trust the personal anecdotes people have shared much, much more than the made-up stories they have named.
 
Jami McBride
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I kept my kids out of the typical modern childhood upbringing I had, and home-schooled them in our small town.  There is a degree of isolation for us due to the fact that all our friends live out in the country 

I believe, as Leah touched on, that proper socializing comes from mixed age groups, and not the typical classroom of 30- peers.   One principal of a large public school system said it this way - the blind leading the blind, or the council of fools.  I prefer the one school-room, Little House on the Prairie socialization, where older ones can learn patience helping younger ones.  And proper conduct is modeled by older more mature individuals.

That being said, my children have grown up in 4-H, and homeschooling group field trips of the most wonderful kinds.  Taking after school art classes, and small group classes held my us homeschooling moms.  I just got done teaching pottery for a homeschool group I put together at our local art building.  Everyone attending had a long drive in except me and my daughter.  the class was a huge success.

My kids haven't been into a lot of 'programs' such as sports, but even without all the typical school age programs their lives are full, with friends and activities they love.  And my daughter is confident when shopping on her own, or being in new groups of people, she just amazes me sometimes.  My son is autistic but still helps with crowded grocery shopping and such, he is very socially adjusted for his limitations.

So I would recommend you look into homeschooling yahoo groups, 4-H clubs of interest and maybe even starting your own.

My daughters 4-H club since she was 6 is Buttons 'n Batter a quilting and cooking club.  The girls are all 15 now and still going strong - all best friends.  This last fall we all toured a culinary school up in Portland, lunch and the VIP tour it was sooooo much fun.  For dinner we ate at a sit on the floor Moroccan restaurant, and received the recipes of our dinner for the girls to try at home.  Kicking it around the big city for a weekend was a blast - just mothers and daughters - no boys allowed.

And I'll tell you one side affect we (homeschool-moms) just love is that our kids still have that air of innocents, no rush to grow up to fast.  Their loves are their horses, dogs or sheep ♥
Sleep overs, filed trips, school co-op classes, 4-H workshops and competitions, FFA- baby!

Lots of life to be had outside of the city for growing children. . . . .



 
                    
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Great information. I love to hear other peoples perspectives. Thank you all so much.
 
                              
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You can also have a rural/out in the country Homesteading life and still be close enough for public schools too, especially if the schools in your area are good.  I spent most of my school age years in Northern Lower Michigan.  My parents were not homesteading by the time we moved there but we lived kinda out in the country on about 5 acres.  There were neighbors around so there were other kids around for my brother and I to play with.  The public schools there were quite good there and I think they did very well by me.

I loved growing up out in the country where I could go bike riding and exploring in the woods, hiking and building forts.  Climbing trees, playing in the dirt, swimming in the lake having lake weed fights.  I would not have it any other way.

Granted, most of those years were when I was old enough to go off by myself quite a bit.  It was also a different time, I fear children now days are not allowed to be bored and get sent outside to amuse themselves among nature.

I don't have children yet and I fear that the schools where I live now are not very good.  I expect that we will have to look into alternative schooling.  But that is rather beside the point of city or country.

As for your wife.  You say she is into the gardening, what other interests does she have? 
 
Brenda Groth
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two sides to the story...bad first..

my husbands family moved to the country when he was little..they pulled him out of all sports at school and handed him a chore list every day, summer winter spring and fall and he had to do it all..in town he had cousins to play with, in the country the neighbor kids were older and child abusers..it was horrible for him and he still bears the effects, he is 60.

our son was born and raised 6 miles from town..back then (he is 34)  you could let a boy ride a bike into town at about 7 years old all by himself..as all the neighbors were good people and would help out if he had a problem..he drove into town and took tennis and swimming lessons in the summertime or went to the lake..we didn't deman him to do chores or things like that..there was only one neighbor to play with, an older girl..and she was more sexually active than our son, early..so that was a problem..but otherwise..he turned out well rounded and ended up putting in a home next door to us.


our suggestions would be to really make sure the friends are appropriate and make sure activities are available besides farm work..if there are siblings they are probably going to be ok..but always look out for the middle child..they tend to get it from both sides and get blamed for things they don't do.
 
                              
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I expect that taking a school age kid and yanking them out of school/sports/whatever else and taking them to a farm and suddenly demanding a huge chore list when non were demanded before is going to have a profound and possibly very negative effect.  Add to that some very negative social encounters in the new situation and they will have a strong opinion of the country life.

Starting with pre-school age children, it will be different.  They can be brought up with appropriate chores as a matter of course without it being "sudden enslavement."  And they are still young enough now that you can look into yours and your wife's desires about schooling (home or otherwise) and perhaps find a place with the appropriate situation.

The hardest part sounds like it might be your wife's comfort zone to being "out in the sticks."  So what are her biggest resistance points?  Is it being too far from friends/family?  Or is it that she really doesn't want to be a "house wife" (which I understand, I mean she married you not a homestead?)  Anyway, some of the resistance could be easily handled if gender roles are not strictly enforced (in our household, he does most of the cooking while I do much of the gardening and we share the food preservation tasks with me more studied on the safety and canning while he does a lot of dehydration.)
Figuring out what parts of city life your wife would miss or what parts of country life she fears might help you sort out how best to make the move.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I grew up on a homestead (160 acres) in the middle of Alaska; our closest neighbors were at least a quarter of a mile away.  When we first moved there, it was sixteen miles to town (new roads have cut the distance considerably), and town was what would be called a tiny village in your neck of the woods.  We were a hundred miles from Fairbanks, which is a small city as cities go.  My brothers and I played together, and my mother did things with us.  We sometimes visited friends or family, and eventually we rode the bus to school.  We had plenty of things to do -- playing in the woods and fields, or on the lake right in front of the house, 'helping' Dad build a new house, and so on.  We also went camping, hunting, and so on.  We never felt the least bit deprived.  The whole situation was hard on my mother, however, and while I doubt that your wife is going to have to take care of five small children with no electricity, running water, or phone, there might be some lessons you can take away from all this. 

As has already been advised, make sure you make human contacts in your area so your wife can make friends.  When I move, I always find a church and start attending regularly -- that's my place to meet people and start fitting into the new community.  (That's not why I go, but it is one of the results of attending.)  You and your wife should look for something that you can attend regularly and meet people that you'll enjoy knowing.  Then start inviting a few of them over, especially ones who are young marrieds like you and who have children around the ages of your children. 

Try to make sure that your wife has the help she needs.  Someone up there mentioned abandoning gender roles, and I think that's a good idea, since most young women nowadays haven't been raised with the idea that the housework is their exclusive province.  She'll probably enjoy the work more if you are working alongside her (and if you don't get grumpy at her -- going off on a tangent here, but I think marriages would last longer if the partners treated one another with kindness and respect at all times, even if they are tired, aggravated, or not feeling well).  If there's something she needs in order to make her work easier, make sure she gets it.  Make sure she gets some time to do things she likes to do, and time with her own friends, too.  You have dreams and aspirations; most likely she does, too.  Find out what hers are, and help her achieve them.  I guess it comes down to, if you are thoughtful and helpful to her, she will most likely reciprocate.

Also, don't push her too hard to try new things.  One or two new things a year is probably enough.  It takes mental as well as physical energy to learn new skills and new ways of life, and it's a lot less stressful to have time to assimilate one thing before you have to tackle the next thing.  In your case, if she's willing to help with a garden, some chickens, and a couple of dairy goats (I'm assuming that's what you meant up there), that's PLENTY for one year!  Canning can come next year -- or root cellaring, or drying food, making pickles, and so on.  And when it comes time to do those, you may need to learn how yourself first (try to find a mentor who can teach you, if possible), and do it yourself for a year or two, maybe with her helping, before she's going to feel ready to tackle it herself.  It's a lot of work, and to some extent skilled labor.  I suspect that in a year or two, the NECESSITY of putting up some of your own food is going to be obvious, in any case.  She may find it easier to get the mindset necessary when it's a case of feeding those children or watching them starve. 

As far as 'socializing the children', as others have already said, that's best accomplished by loving parents, with judicious and supervised play time with other children once in a while.  The most mature, well-balanced children are those who have spent most of their time with adults.  If you are meeting two children for the first time, one of them homeschooled, the other one classroom educated, you will almost always be able to tell which is which simply because the homeschooled child will be comfortable having a conversation with adults, and the classroom educated child won't.  I have strong opinions on what we have done to several generations in this country with classroom education, but that's another story for another day.  Anyway, the point is, children, especially small ones, NEED time with their parents.  They don't NEED time with other children until they are older.  4-H has been mentioned, and that's an excellent thing for children, and at about the right age -- they usually need to be nine to start that (although I think they do have programs for younger children).  Same with Brownies and Cub Scouts, or church programs for children.  But they DON'T need 'play-dates' or anything like that.  Give your little ones a sled in the winter, their own little shovel, and in the summer a sand box and a few toy cars; a doll or some toy tools in the house, and SPEND TIME WITH THEM!  Let them tag around with you learning all the time.  Mentor them!  Teach them!  Don't toss them in and let them flounder on their own; consider them apprentices and help them grow!  (Ditto for your wife.)

Most of all, enjoy what you are doing.  If you enjoy it, so will they.

Kathleen
 
                    
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Well said, thank you so much for the insight. Wow 160 acres in Alaska, a dream come true for me. I love the idea of children as apprentices. I guess a homesteaders dream is to one day pass the household on to their younger ones to prosper, no better way of getting a quality hand than to teach them from day one. Great advice. Church has many great advantages besides the obvious. A good church is an endless resource for friendships and advice.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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stully wrote:
Well said, thank you so much for the insight. Wow 160 acres in Alaska, a dream come true for me. I love the idea of children as apprentices. I guess a homesteaders dream is to one day pass the household on to their younger ones to prosper, no better way of getting a quality hand than to teach them from day one. Great advice. Church has many great advantages besides the obvious. A good church is an endless resource for friendships and advice.


  You're getting it, grasshopper, LOL!   

An anecdote:  my oldest daughter and her husband had three girls before their son was born.  After the baby was born, I was talking to my son-in-law on the phone (they are in New Hampshire, I'm in Oregon, so I don't get to see the children often, unfortunately).  He voiced a concern that after three girls he wasn't sure he knew how to raise a boy.  I told him that he wasn't raising a boy, he was raising a man.  If you think of it that way -- that you are training your children to be adults -- I think it makes it easier to see what you need to do in raising them.

Kathleen
 
Jami McBride
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Wonderful advise Kathleen.  How we look at things and approach them is everything. 

 
                              
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
As far as 'socializing the children', as others have already said, that's best accomplished by loving parents, with judicious and supervised play time with other children once in a while.  The most mature, well-balanced children are those who have spent most of their time with adults.  If you are meeting two children for the first time, one of them homeschooled, the other one classroom educated, you will almost always be able to tell which is which simply because the homeschooled child will be comfortable having a conversation with adults, and the classroom educated child won't.  I have strong opinions on what we have done to several generations in this country with classroom education, but that's another story for another day.  Anyway, the point is, children, especially small ones, NEED time with their parents.  They don't NEED time with other children until they are older.  4-H has been mentioned, and that's an excellent thing for children, and at about the right age -- they usually need to be nine to start that (although I think they do have programs for younger children).  Same with Brownies and Cub Scouts, or church programs for children.  But they DON'T need 'play-dates' or anything like that.  Give your little ones a sled in the winter, their own little shovel, and in the summer a sand box and a few toy cars; a doll or some toy tools in the house, and SPEND TIME WITH THEM!  Let them tag around with you learning all the time.  Mentor them!  Teach them!  Don't toss them in and let them flounder on their own; consider them apprentices and help them grow!  (Ditto for your wife.)


I don't know that it is necessarily the difference between home schooling and classroom schooling because that difference wasn't so pronounced 30 years ago.  I fear that the big difference is actually between the children who spend large amounts of time interacting with their parents and the children who are raised by TV/Video games/computers/their friends/and the classroom.  There is a portion of a few generations of parents who have been letting "the system" raise their children rather than doing it themselves.

I was educated in a classroom but I also interacted with my parents and I was definitely comfortable interacting with adults.  I fear that many parents now days are so busy setting up activities and play dates for the kids that they don't really spend much time letting the kids tag along and play at doing what mummy and daddy are doing.

Anyway, start the chores as part of play.  Like helping wash the dishes and such while they are young so once they are big enough to really have the job, it won't be something new.  I also like team efforts at cooking, I definitely need a bigger kitchen so there is enough space for the team dinners
 
Julia Winter
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TCLynx said this more than three years ago, but I've got to put in a "Hell, yeah!" about parents trying to get televisions and other screens to do the child supervision for them. I wonder how many people dream of moving off-grid because they haven't thought of any other way to banish the television?

Nothing against living off-grid (unless you are seriously impacting what was zone 5 before you got there) but you can throttle back the screens in your kids' lives without moving. Our kids are not allowed to turn on the television without permission (our younger daughter needs reminding on this point fairly often, but it is still the rule) and they have time limits on their computer use. We had to put passcodes on all of our portable screened devices, to eliminate the "hiding behind my bed playing on dad's iPhone" problem. It's not perfect, but it makes a difference. The single biggest thing is to never let a kid have their own television and please lord, never a television in their bedroom!

I simply love the point made above about how "socialization" happens when children interact with those older than themselves, not with other kids. Home-schooled kids tend to do very well in adult life, AFAIK. Peer skills too often fall into the category of petty politics and bullying, anyway--why put energy into developing those? I suppose if you know that your kid is going to have to attend a largish middle school, then it might be cruel to homeschool them K-6 and then throw them into the lion's den.
 
Jay Green
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I expect that taking a school age kid and yanking them out of school/sports/whatever else and taking them to a farm and suddenly demanding a huge chore list when non were demanded before is going to have a profound and possibly very negative effect. Add to that some very negative social encounters in the new situation and they will have a strong opinion of the country life.


That expectation isn't exactly accurate..it all depends on how it is approached and the nature of the family structure and the children. We moved to 110 acres when I was 10, the youngest of 9 siblings, only 4 of which were still home and in school, but where the older sibs floated back and forth from "out there" to where we lived. We developed land, built log cabins, lived a mile from anyone and 20 mi. from anything, foraged and grew most of the food, did without, made do, no utilities and all work was the hard kind from daylight to dark...and often before daylight.

The high school kids were the most affected but not by much..those same individuals have been working all their lives to get BACK to our homesteading lives, so it didn't have a "profound and very negative" effect on them at all. Nor did it on any of us. We still participated in school sports and school functions as Dad permitted and still attended public school, though now the walk to the bus was a mile.

As for the OP situation, I've been functioning as a single, working mother for the past 27 years and raised 3 boys while doing a lot of the same type of living you want to achieve with your spouse and children. When you have a partner that doesn't want to participate it's much the same as having no partner at all...you do it by yourself. You can lead a horse to water and you cannot make it drink...but you can salt its food and make it thirsty, as my granny always said.

Lead by example, work at all the things you wish to accomplish without complaining that she never helps or participates in your dream. Just put your head down and work, get to where you want to be with or without her. Could be when she sees how much you enjoy it, how much money is saved by it, how much more available cash is evident and can be used on wants instead of always on needs...could be that she might get some common sense and help you in your goals to better your family situation.

If not...just keep working and get what you want out of life, the same as she is doing by NOT participating. Each to his own if that's all the partnership than you have..it's much the same as not having a partner at all. I've done it, accomplished it and it can be done...with her or without her.
 
David Livingston
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I moved from central London to an area known as Englands last wilderness in two years never regretted it my then partner who had never lived outside London never regretted it . Socialisation etc is what you make it . My child played in fields ,made dens in hedgerows, looked after and was looked after by our dog and has grown up to be a girl to be proud of .
Now twenty years on I am doing it again in a different country , moving from a large town into the country looking forward to it and counting the days and yes its with another city girl.

David
 
Lyvia Dequincey
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I think it depends a lot on the kids. They are all different. Some flourish with independent play, making their own projects and fun, and others are more people oriented and wither without a jostle of buddies. It even depends on the neighbors, which can be great or toxic. You will have to see. But use your own insight. If the kid figures out that "I'm lonely" is the magic phrase that gets concessions from Daddy, then you are screwed, which is normal.

Try it, and see if it works for you.
 
Marianne Cicala
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Location: south central VA 7B
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Once a City girl here - raised the south, by New Yorkers, lived in Memphis all of my growing years. Appreciated the level of education and socialization. Mom always had a straight row of marigolds and that was about that. Went to college in the mountains of east TN - fell in love with camping, hiking, growing etc. horrified the fam. Back to Memphis, had kids, enjoyed the experiences urban life offered them AND took them deep in the forest for a long week-end at least 1 time a month. Thought it was the best of both worlds as the kids had easy exposure to a great cross section of living and we had a huge garden that we all took care of and enjoyed. At that time in our lives, that was the perfect solution for everyone in the family - we all had a bit of each individual want. Once the youngest was old enough & our savings were good enough, we bought some land in rural VA and he helped with the clearing, building etc. We are now in the woods full time, learning, growing etc. It doesn't always have to be 1 or the other - sometimes a melding of both worlds is best for all concerned. All or nothing usually doesn't work out for when there's more than 1 person in the mix.
patience & partnership~
Good luck
M
 
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