According to the latest US Census data, nearly one-fourth of Americans live in rural areas. I have read studies, as well as seen with my own eyes, about 40% of the entire world lives in remote or rural areas.
Living remote has incredible rewards, in my not so humble opinion. While I think it’s the best type of living possible, if I am honest about it, there are some inconveniences as well. Living a significant distance from a major city brings challenges that most city dwellers rarely face nor are they willing to.
There are practical issues like access to health care, finding a job and the always important making friends. All of these things can present a challenge at times.
A common difficulty felt by many people living here in rural America is the lack of access to health care. There just aren’t enough health care professionals working in rural areas. Finding a doctor when you live an hour and half from the nearest city of any significant size can be a real problem. Taking time off work to travel to routine doctor appointments is problematic for a lot of people. Not to mention the need to drive all that way on days when you wake up sick and the doctor is “working you in” to her busy calendar for the day. Who wants to spend three hours in the truck when you feel like your head is in a vice and your nose is running? Not me. With the internet, some things can be made easier such as doctors willing to do an online video consult, etc. There aren’t many of those available either, but they do exist. Google is your friend to find these doctors. Be careful though.
Another difficulty I hear mentioned a lot is seeking a job. Ranae and I use general laborers a great deal (by my standards anyway) because of my health issues. I constantly hear the men we employ talking about how hard it is to get a day’s work out here in the sticks. While I am not disagreeing, I do believe the opposite is true as well…. it is hard to find good help out here. Those that are good workers, get snatched up and put to work full time. Those that are mediocre get the left over smaller jobs.
Making friends seems to be a hard thing too. When Ranae and I first returned from our life as missionaries in Guatemala, we bought some rural land near the tiny town of Houston, Missouri. Houston, Missouri was a fantastic little town in so many ways. It had a first rate hospital. It had a super Walmart. It had five or six mechanics that I would trust with my life. And it had some of the absolute nicest people I have ever met outside of Texas.
What it didn’t have was a very social community however. In fact, many people joked that the town’s motto should be “My four and no more”. A phrase that refers to the fact that a family of four rarely goes out to eat with another family in a social setting. We found this to be very true. We lived there about a year and only once did we ever receive an invitation to join someone for a meal. To us, this was a significant missing in our lives. Don’t get me wrong… the people in Houston Missouri are still some of the best people I have ever met. They just socialize differently than we were used to.
When we moved back to Texas, we made a conscience effort to do more about our social life. We wanted to make more friends. We wanted to have a social calendar. We found it easier here in Texas, but it still takes effort.
My grandpa Jim used to have a saying, “If you want to have friends, you have to first be a friend”. That’s how I have tried to live my life. When we first moved here, we made the decision to become more active in clubs and activities. We became more active in our church. We spent more time around people who like doing the things we enjoy and we made friends.
Our church only recently built a parish hall. I cannot say enough good about the need for fellowship with likeminded people. If it weren’t for this new building, and the coffee and donuts after each Sunday Mass, I doubt we would have met half the people in our church. But we did! And we love them all. I recently met a man who served in the Army. He has chickens, cows, ducks and a beautiful country home on 10 acres. Us two old soldiers immediately hit it off and Ranae and his wife did as well. To our surprise and delight, they recently invited us to a cookout at their home. It was the best time ever! And this weekend, we are all getting together at another church member’s home to watch the football game.
Not all friends come from church though. We met our first friends here while volunteering for the 4th of July Committee. We eat with them regularly and we have even traveled with them. We are blessed to have them in our lives! They are Christians but attend a different church than ours.
My point? Living remote has some benefits that we all love, but sometimes it requires effort. But I’m here to tell you, it’s effort with high rewards. Get out there… get involved in the activities you like and you will meet more people just like you who like the same things as you.
As for the job hunt… my grandpa Jim had another saying, “The only job security is the number of people you know on a first name basis”. He was saying, essentially, network…. make friends. Your friends will look out for you as you look out for them. When they hear about a job opening, I’m sure they will share it with you.
We love rural Texas life! Because this article is published in other papers, I can’t say where we live exactly, but those in this area know. And I’m blessed to have made so many friends here in such a short time! We love you all.
Vern Six is a freelance computer programmer and entrepreneur. He is a United States Army certified survival expert and former Christian missionary. Vern has been a hobby blogger for nearly five years and now has his “According to Vern” blog published in numerous newspapers around the world. You can learn more about Vern by visiting his website at http://AccordingToVern.com