It’s a really strange thing to look back at population surveys from just a hundred or so years ago and to contrast some of the patterns that existed back then, with the ones that exist today. By far one of the most striking trends across many first-world nations has been the dramatic migration of people from the countryside, and rural environments in general, to highly built-up cities and towns. At that time the benefits of living in the countryside were different.
Around the turn of the 20th century, the vast majority of people in Western nations lived in the countryside. Today, the majority live in urban environments, and the trend seems likely to continue.
Not only that, but with the direction of various social trends that exist today, even small towns and villages are now liable to end up looking more “city-like,” with each passing year.
For many people, there is a clear attraction to the idea of moving to the countryside. And, with technological solutions such as those offered by companies like Sterling Satellite, it’s now far easier than it’s ever been to engage with the modern workplace, from a rural setting.
Here are just a few of the benefits of living in the countryside.
Being close to an environment that hasn’t been totally created by human beings
For the overwhelming majority of human history, we lived primarily in environments which were not the result of human artifice – but which were, first and foremost, part of the natural world.
While rural agricultural environments have certainly been shaped by mankind – such as via the arrangement of plots of land into fields, the establishing of roads, paths, and hedgerows, and so on – these landscapes are nonetheless dominated by things that aren’t machines, gadgets, or concrete and glass constructions.
In the countryside, you are surrounded by animals, plants, rolling hills and open sky, and are much closer to the features of the world which exist outside of total human control.
This is important for a number of different reasons – but first and foremost because, when we are completely enclosed by our own creations, there is evidence that this leads to serious and detrimental psychological consequences.
In his book, “The Master and His Emissary,” the psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist argues that living entirely within an artificial man made environment causes changes in thinking – and maybe even the structures of the brain – that mimic the effects of certain forms of brain damage, and even conditions like schizophrenia.
In a more everyday sense, living within an entirely man-made environment can end up disconnecting us from a sense of our place in the grand scheme of things, and can cause us to get lost in mechanical thinking – where we view everything around us not as a living and organic whole, but as part of an intricate machine.
Living in the countryside rather than in the city can, simply put, grant us a much greater and more balanced “big picture” perspective.
More space to think and to enjoy some much-needed “silence”
The Guinness world record setting Norwegian explorer, Erling Kagge, has, by all accounts, lived a pretty exciting and dramatic life.
Among other things, he has walked solo to the South Pole, with no contact with anyone else for approximately a month, due to a radio failure.
One of the great insights that Kagge takes away from his adventures is the value of “Silence.” In fact, he wrote an entire book on it, titled “Silence In the Age of Noise.”
According to Kagge, We all need periods of time away from the perpetual distractions and information loops of modern life – such as the news, TV programmes, social media, and more – if we really want to get in touch with our true inner selves, and to thrive as human beings.
Living in the countryside grants you many more opportunities for “silence,” both literal and figurative.
Going for a walk through the fields and along the footpaths of a rural area can be a remarkably relaxing and grounding experience. And going to sleep to the sounds of the wind, and the distant mooing of cattle, is a lot more peaceful than listening to the traffic racing by outside your window at all hours.
Larger homes and properties, and more space, at a more affordable price
As a general rule, cities tend to be much more expensive to live in than rural areas, and – at the same time – there is significantly less space available in cities than there is in the countryside.
One basic consequence of this is that you will typically be able to afford larger and more independent homes and properties in the countryside for the same amount of money – or even less – than you would have spent to rent a small apartment in the heart of a popular city.
This is especially the case when it comes to major metropolises like London.
Community on a human scale
Have you ever heard of the idea of “Dunbar’s Number?”
Essentially, this refers to the notion that has arisen from anthropology and psychology, which suggests that human beings are essentially meant to exist and operate within social groups of approximately 100 – 150 people, and no larger.
For one thing, this seems to be based on the number of faces that the average individual can effectively memorise.
Whatever your thoughts on the perfect size of a human social network or community, though, it is nonetheless the case that many people around the world find that cities are alienating, and that they end up feeling alone, even in the midst of vast numbers of people.
Rural communities, on the other hand, are communities on a more human scale. While, of course, your experience of a rural community will depend a lot on who lives there and how you relate to them, it is nonetheless the case that you may well feel more of a sense of community as a whole, in a rural environment with fewer people. There you have some of the benefits of living in the countryside.
*This is a collaborative post