The other week, I found myself driving back to London after a glorious weekend in the countryside listening to Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe on the Balanced Bites podcast. On this episode they were discussing the pros and cons of homestead life vs. urban life, and it got me thinking about my own experience of country escape and big city life.
Another city I adore. New York from a helicopter trip we took in April.
When I was a little kid, all I dreamed of was living in London. I was lucky enough to grow up in the most gorgeous home slap bang in the middle of the countryside. My bedroom window looked down onto a quasi grass courtyard below, which was bordered by the holiday let we rented out. I used to pretend that this little garden was, in fact, a private garden like the ones often found in squares in West London. That it was surrounded by apartment buildings, and that I was in my own city apartment, in the midst of the hustle and bustle.
In our pretty little village however, that hustle bustle was more bleeting sheep, tractors crawling by and the clip clop of horses’ hooves as they went out for a weekend hack. The most construction noise you could expect to hear was a woodpecker building its home, and the nearest shops were a 15 minute drive away.
There were times when growing up that I resented it all. A typical teenager, I wanted to be able to walk and see my friends without having to ask my parents for a lift. I wanted noise, action and busyness around me. Not rolling hills and peaceful silence.
It’s funny how these things change.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE living in London. And, right now, I wouldn’t switch city life for anything. But wow am I grateful that I had that upbringing.
One view you’ll never get in London, a magical starry sky.
Each time I head back to Herefordshire I am refreshed by the natural beauty and the peacefulness of it all. Driving through my childhood village, I find myself astounded at how pretty it is and baffled that I never really noticed it before. But I grew up surrounded by space and opportunity for adventure. We had plenty of room to play and I could walk alone through the orchard and fields to visit my oldest friend Alice, who lived just a village away. Even when I became older and learnt to drive, I still fondly recall late nights driving down country lanes with Chase and Status on the radio as I returned home from visiting friends.
Plus, I always knew I’d move to London someday. Now I have the best of both worlds.
I now live in a diverse, vibrant, multi-cultural city where the world (quite literally) is my oyster. Each day I am surrounded by opportunity and the knowledge that here I can be anyone I want to be. But when I feel the need for peace and quiet I can head off down the M4 to my dad’s country house and feel that escapism once again. I know I’m lucky to have that balance. (Seriously, sometimes I feel that every damn thing in life comes back to balance)
Which is Better? Country Escape or Big City Life?
Do we really have to choose?
I think it all depends on what’s best for you at this current time in your life. Like anything, what’s best for your lifestyle is going to change as you grow and evolve as a person. I wholeheartedly believe that growing up in the countryside was the best thing for me but that may be different for you and your family.
The same can be said for now. I adore living in a big city but I have plenty of friends who opted for smaller cities or more rural living instead. For them, a weekend visit to London is more than enough. And for me, it’s always great fun visiting them! It’s pretty awesome how we’re all so different.
So whether you’re more drawn to big open spaces, peaceful nights, seeing the stars each evening (damn I miss those, pesky light pollution!) and rolling fields, or hustle and bustle, constant noise and a million things happening at once just remember one thing. Go with your gut and choose the one which appeals the most to you. Even if it means moving somewhere where you know nobody, I know you’ll be able to make it work. Listen to Diane and Liz for more tips on that one!
Are you a countryside fan or more drawn to city life?