Why I’ll probably never live in a little country cottage

I used to dream about living in a little cottage in the country, miles from the nearest neighbour, with a dog resting on the front wall and chickens scratching around in the back yard. Or perhaps an old coastguard cottage on a cliff top somewhere, nothing in sight but the sea and the sky. But the older I get, the more I realise that this isn’t going to happen.

For one thing, I’m no longer sure that I want to live in the middle of nowhere. Having lived for the last four years on the edge of a small market town in Somerset, I’ve kind of gotten used to having neighbours and to being able to walk to the shops. And while it’s not exactly what you’d call a particularly urban area (there are open fields just a five minute walk away), it’s nice to have things like the farmers market, doctor’s surgery and vet within easy reach.

For another thing, I need to earn money and I’m not sure how I’d go about that if I lived cut off from the rest of civilisation. Even though I can do much of my writing and research at the kitchen table (as long as I have a phone and internet access), I do need to get out occasionally. And for my consultancy work, I really need to be near to my clients. If I were to live somewhere in the wilds, I’d definitely need to (a) write a lot more and a lot more quickly or (b) come up with a very different approach to paying the mortgage.

I also like having access to the things that you can only really get in a large town or city. We’re just a twenty minute drive or a short bus ride away from the city of Bristol, with its university, bookshops, clothes stores, coffee shops, theatres, evening lectures and other cultural events. And I’m not sure that I’m ready to give up on them quite yet. Having a mainline railway station, two motorways and an airport all within about fifteen minutes is also a definite plus, and not something that many country villages can boast.

I’ve always loved the countryside and the coast and they have a very strong influence on my life. And I’m really not much of a city dweller. But we’re fairly sociable creatures and living on the edge of our little town seems to suit us quite well. In fact, it strikes me that a city ‘hub’ surrounded by a series small towns could be a fairly sustainable way of living for most people. So while an isolated cottage in a picturesque valley or on some rugged coastline somewhere may have its appeal, it’s perhaps not for me. Or, at least, not yet.

2 thoughts on “Why I’ll probably never live in a little country cottage

  1. As someone who recently swapped the central London life style for a rural setting I feel qualified to contribute.

    Whilst I agree that good communication links are imperative, quiet roads are one of the joys of a rural setting. Following a move to an ex farm cottage on the Wiltshire dorset border last year, life has changed for the better, weather is the first thing you notice. London really has none, or non that impacts normal life. After weather, fitness and well being are next in terms of life changing, much of city life centres around food, drink and certainly alcohol. Being rural doesn’t preclude, but reenforces other aspects, like out door activity such as walking.

    As a fellow scientist I have managed to capture this neatly in a law, I have called it the ‘first law of life style’, it is very simple. It states that the quality of life (q) is inversely proportional to the distance from the largest group of cities (l). So the further away you are the happier and more forfilled your life will be. As with all laws I feel it is important to point out a limiting case where if l becomes very large then the relation can break down and you might end up alone on some rock, unhappy and looking for friends. Use the law with caution in most Newtonian cases this law will hold.

    Enjoy, off to feed my sheep.



    • Hi Alex,

      Good to hear from you – and congratulations on your recent move out of the ‘big smoke’. I sometimes think that London is a special case of human existence because, as you so accurately describe, its inhabitants can easily become divorced from the realities that non-Londoners have to deal with on a daily basis.

      I must confess, though, that I have never lived in city, or even a particularly large town. But I do like your ‘first law of life style’. It may be that one needs the comparison of having lived in a city, in order to appreciate truly the benefits that rural life has to offer. It certainly seems that practically everyone who has made such a move is most unwilling to go back.

      Perhaps this could be a potential ‘second law of life style’, something along the lines that no process is possible in which the sole result is the movement of a person from a rural area to an urban one…



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