Posted in Sustainable Homes and Living

Tiny Living: City Vs. Country

When it comes to living the tiny life which is better? The city life or the country life? With the ability to move your home the possibilities are endless. Having recently made the switch from urban to rural tiny lifestyle, we’re assessing the transition. Here are some advantages and disadvantages we’ve experienced in La Casita.

The majority of folks I’ve talked to who live in a tiny house do so for economic reasons as well as ecological ones. Those were the big motivating factors for Cedric and I. Living lighter on the earth is of great interest to us as is meeting our needs with less money so our recent move got me thinking: is living the tiny life in the country greener and more economically sound than living in the city? In the city we rode our bikes to work, the americanogrocery store, the bowling alley, restaurants and most of our friends’ houses. Now that we’ve moved to a more rural area I find I’m driving a lot more. I definitely feel dependent on our vehicle rather than my bike. For me, living the tiny life isn’t just about houses, it’s my intention in everyday experiences. Being dependent on a car does not satisfy my need for a more intentional, regenerative existence.

There’s also the added expense of car dependency. Gas is more costly here than down south. Plus, with winter still in full swing we had had to buy a set of studded tires so we could get out of our driveway!  We’re both feeling as though it takes a lot more stuff to live the country life in the north than it did the city life in the south.

P1000287When it comes to aesthetics living rural has living urban beat-even in the winter! Life out in the country is proving exceptionally beautiful and much more quiet than our life in Charleston. There’s also a lot more privacy. Walking out the door in the city often met with someone staring at the house and wanting to know more about it. I loved talking with passer-bys but when you’re getting stared at on the regular, it starts to feel invasive. Plus, being packed in next to other houses does not provide the most scenic view. Here in Vermont we look out to the woods and up to a mountain and at night the stars are stunning. I’m definitely sleeping better at night without my next door neighbors yelling and drinking in to the wee hours of the evening!

Air and water quality are other big factors. In Charleston, we lived by the highway and after one year there is noticeable exhaust and street crust on our house. It’s disgusting to think that that’s not only sticking to our lovely Cyprus siding but also our lungs. It’s going to take a good bit of work to sand off the black dust and re-oil the house. Even if we had lived in the greenest area of Charleston, it’s a port city and air and water quality are not great. There’s fluoride and chlorine but out on the mountain we have crisp, clean spring water and excellent air quality with little industrial or transport pollutants in the air. Building a tiny house was definitely about living a healthier lifestyle and it feels much more so here in the country than it ever did in the city.

P1000256Living in a tiny house requires the ability to move out beyond its walls on a regular basis in order to maintain emotional balance. In the city this often meant hopping on a bike and going to the park. In the country it means stepping out the front door and taking a walk through the woods. Both satisfy the need for spaciousness that Cedric, me and our pup Asher often crave living in a tiny house. We seem to be able to take care of this need equally well whether in the city or the country, it’s just a matter of preference. Asher, however, definitely prefers the woods to the city and we are more relaxed now that we don’t have to worry about cars. I have to admit I am worried some animal might mistake him for a tasty rabbit, especially when coyotes are howling nearby!

Besides quality of life, the other advantages and disadvantages pertain to anyone trying to make the decision to live rural or urban. The city is more convenient in terms of job density and meeting daily needs although for tiny houses it can prove more difficult when it comes to zoning. After one year in Charleston, a city zoning official came through our neighborhood looking for us. We moved just in time but I can’t say I was surprised when my neighbor called to tell me the city had come searching. We’d been waiting for it.  Rural areas tend to have less stringent codes when it comes to building so for a tiny house dweller it can prove less stressful.

DSCN3040The most exciting thing for me living rural is a big garden. In the city we had limited space to grow.  Although, you could argue that in cities vertical gardening and creative use of space can greatly increase your growing power. I’ve certainly seen some very clever ways that people use small spaces to grow quite a bit of plants!  In the country,  we have acres to work with and providing ourselves with the bulk of our summer food is looking like a reality. That’s something we were not able to accomplish in the city and we’re looking forward to the challenge of growing on a larger scale.

No matter where you end up, every locale will have it challenges and rewards. When it comes to the city vs. country debate it’s a highly personal choice. It’s important to assess your needs and the best way those needs can be met by your home and its location. I’m enjoying living life more remotely but I can appreciate the aspects of city living as well. Ultimately, our home has proven itself a wonderful space whether in an urban setting or a rural setting and to me that flexibility is the key to a positive tiny house experience.

Your Turn!

  • Are you a country mouse or a city mouse?
  • What advantages or disadvantages do you experience in rural or urban living?
  • What challenges have you faced living the tiny life in the city and/or country?