Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Choice of Urban vs Rural

EcoYogini ponders the pros and cons of living semi-rurally...

We bought our first house. (!!!)
(Andrew and I in front of our future front door!! LOVE that it is yellow :) )

It's an important, life-step decision that I am very proud to have accomplished (albeit later than my childhood peers) and very excited to move from putting money into the black hole of rent to an investment such as a house.

The search and purchase of this house definitely wasn't without compromise. My dream home wouldn't be anything big, but it would be on the Atlantic ocean without any neighbours in sight (key word: "sight", doesn't mean I would want a ton of land).

Unfortunately, in order to work to pay the mortgage we'd need to be within commuting distance to the city. And although Halifax is a port city, and it doesn't take long to reach the ocean, all ocean front and even rural-esque land and homes are hundreds of thousands of dollars out of our price range.

We considered building, since we'd be able to control the level of "eco" home we wanted... and were informed that recent laws in Nova Scotia make it near impossible for first time mortgage-purchasers to acquire a building mortgage.

Our compromise in this entire situation: A beautiful, 8 year old home 40minutes outside of the city in a semi-suburban, semi-rural neighbourhood on 1.34 acres of land. We have a well and septic (and a reverse osmosis full house treatment system!), an oil tank that accepts bio-diesel and bird feeders and deer poop! (re: deer!).

The closing date is January 7th 2014, and we're so excited to be picking out energy efficient appliances (those currently in the home are awful, worse than our apartment appliances), low VOC paint options and acquiring Nests (all future blog posts).

The downside to this entire experience: the extra-long commute which will add to our carbon emissions, and the necessity of purchasing a second car.

Yes, living in the urban centre is better for the environment. And yes, we could have found a condo or small home within our price range on a bus route. Unfortunately, 13 years of living in a city has truly begun to seep all levels of happiness from my life. Having lived for 19 years in a village of 500 people, I explicitly know how much more grounded, happy and connected to Nature I feel when I am living out of the city. A purely selfish reason, however I am a firm believer that life is wasted if a person is unhappy... so what's the point?

Another reason for the more rural route: Andrew and I want our children to know nature. Yes, I know it's possible to know nature while in the city... but parks and trips outside the city are not the same as wild, free exploration. A great example of this: our friends from the suburbs of Toronto have NEVER seen the milky way until this summer, while visiting my parents cottage in the middle of the woods.

So, although I know there will be those who will judge and condemn us for moving out of the city and being forced into buying a second car, I know it is the best decision for our family. We'll just have to work harder at making our home and lives as energy efficient as possible. Carpooling, buying a low-fuel vehicle, investing in solar panels or geothermal heating, gardening, purchasing carbon offsets... I'm sure our list could grow.


Deanna said...

There are pros and cons to any living situation or location. We live in the country on 40 acres and it's a 15 minute drive to town and 20 to my husband's job. On the other hand, I have room for a garden, chickens, etc. I don't work outside the home so I am able to consolidate my trips to town which helps. As you say, happiness is nothing to downplay. Enjoy your new home!

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

Congrats on your new home! Perhaps someday you won't have to commute, or will be able to tele-commute. I think the ideal would be to live AND work in a small community, but obviously that's a pretty hard situation to come by. I agree that a connection to nature is very important. And I personally think semi-rural is better than suburbia, which is where I am...

KatieB said...

Congrats on the house.

I am looking forward to your post on the Nest. I have been thinking of buying two for my house. I want to know how you like it once you get one.

Happy New Year.


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