Moving to France:
Rural Country Life vs City Life?
It seems like a lifetime ago that we decided to move to France. So we’re really excited to finally be here! Whilst we’re 100% happy with our choice of country, the main question concerning where to live that we’ve been asking ourselves is whether to go for rural country life or city life.
Depending who you talk to, people are either country folk, or city lovers. For some, the idea of living isolated in the country brings up images of a beautiful, self sufficient haven. Others can’t think of anything worse as they love everything about living in town. Others can’t stand the noise, the crowds and the lack of space.
We’ve found ourselves contemplating this question a lot since we arrived in France and started househunting. Our friends and family each have their opinion on country vs city life. From a mix of personal opinions, beliefs and fears, it’s interesting seeing how varied the opinions can be on the question.
For my part, I am not 100% sure where I stand. Growing up, we were always in the country but I was always able to take the bus into town for school as well as meeting up where friends. At times, I wanted nothing else but to live in the town centre where I would be able to meet up with my friends at a moment’s notice and be around everything. However on the flip side, I loved coming home to the country after a busy day in town. We always had nice gardens, and were even lucky enough to have a pool when I was about 15 or so. So we had a beautiful setting to come home to. Having always had a garden growing up, I truly need space and greenery around me even now.
Why the Question?
When we started looking at houses, it soon became obvious that for our budget (we’re aiming to be mortage free and buy from the sale of our UK home) and to have if not everything but most things on our wish list, we needed to look at houses in the country side. We saw a variety… from houses in villages to houses right out in the sticks.
The house we’ve fallen in love with (and have placed an offer on!) is in a little hamlet of about four houses. When we first saw it, we drove through the countryside for a while, having just viewed another house beforehand. As such, it truly felt isolated! However when we left, we realised it was only 3 minutes from the closest village (by car), a few minutes from a gorgeous touristic village (with a huge Chateau no less!) and altogether less than 15 minutes from the main town with all the supermarkets etc.
So it’s really not completely isolated as everything is just a short drive away.
Country vs City: what is best for the kids?
Personally, I think Barry and I are very excited about the prospect of living in the country. Mostly because of all the advantages it brings with it: a huge garden, a fairly large country house to be worked on, a three bedroomed gite, two barns. And fields of sunflowers surrounding the house all round… Quite simply amazing!
The main thing on my mind is what is best for the kids… bearing in mind my own thoughts of living in the country as a kid. Growing up, I always had access to public transport, so I was never “stuck” to go anywhere. The house we like doesn’t have this option, so when the kids are teenagers and go off to College and then Lycee, they will be completely dependent on either myself or Barry driving them around everywhere.
Without a doubt, they would have their own, good sized double bedroom. They will have a huge garden to play in where we can keep chickens as well as have a dog and a cat, without it feeling crowded. There is no doubt that they will have an incredible house to spend their childhood in and grow up in.
But will they resent country life when they’re older and can’t simply go anywhere? The alternative is moving closer to town where they would have this freedom of access, but at the cost of a much smaller house and garden…
Thinking it over
As soon as we put the offer in, I then started questioning everything… Is there too much work to do on the house? We’ve never really done any renovation can we really take on a big project now? Is it too remote? Do we need all that space?
Enough questions to make your head spin I’m telling you!
What was interesting though, was that, after just a few weeks in the country, we became used to it really quickly. To the point that when we drove into town one day for some sightseeing, I found myself looking forward to heading back into the countryside.
Since then, we’ve driven over to Metz to see my brother and his girlfriend. And whilst Metz is not a huge, huge city, it is still very much city life rather than country life. After just a week here, it has reinforced just how much I am looking forward to living in the country. Although it is lovely being in town again and being able to leave the car behind and walk everywhere, I find myself amazed by how many people smoke, how rude and impatient many of them are. There are soooo many cars on the road… It’s helped me realise that if I can pop into a big town now and again, or whilst on holiday, it would be nice. But I don’t feel I’m missing out when I don’t have access to it everyday.
Overthinking it all…
Overall, I think it’s easy to overthink it all. There is no doubt that living in the country, or living in the city, each has it advantages… as well as its disadvantages. Ultimately, there may not be one that is 100% perfect.
Barry and I have discussed this a fair amount since being in France. We’ve spoken about how the kids will need to rely on us for transport once they hit their teens and head off to secondary school. How will they feel about it? How will we?
But for now, when we see the kids running in the country and the fields, spending hours playing outside in all sorts of weather, searching for wildlife or simply sitting on the grass enjoying the extra space around them… it helps convince us that country life won’t be all bad for them. In fact, it will be pretty amazing and reminds us of the childhoods we both had living outdoors, constantly on our bikes and swimming in lakes and rivers. In Bristol, the kids would never have had the same freedom.
For the time being, for the lifestyle we want, it seems country life will give us everything we’re after. When the kids become teenagers, well… we’ll cross that bridge then. We’re lucky to be part of a family of voyagers (yep, just like Moana!) so at least they’ll have some pretty amazing places to visit when they’re older, such as the Alps or even Australia. In the first instance, if we’re able to provide them lots of space and freedom to explore it, we hope it will create amazing childhood memories for them, as it did for us.