Saturday, 16 February 2019

City dweller

I've always been a city dweller. I lived at various London addresses until 2000 when Jenny and I moved to Belfast. I've never lived outside a city and never anywhere seriously remote. I'm an urbanite through and through.

No doubt a rural dweller could list numerous drawbacks about city dwelling, like nosy passers-by, traffic noise, litter, dog shit, raucous young men, hideous apartment blocks, annoying neighbours and air pollution, but they are all things I'm totally used to and seem quite trivial compared to the benefits - such as good public transport, masses of cultural events, all the shops I need, and plenty of bank branches.

I can't imagine what it's like living somewhere totally secluded and isolated. I'm both bemused and admiring. Bemused because I wonder how people handle everyday emergencies when they're so far from shops, tradespeople, doctors or hospitals. But admiring because I'm impressed by their ingenuity, resilience, determination and adaptability. I'm sure if I found myself living in some such isolated spot, I would be in a constant panic about whether I could cope and what on earth I would do if the roof suddenly collapsed or I was snowed in overnight.

I watch programmes about life on tiny islands like the Isle of Eigg in western Scotland (population around 83) and I'm amazed how cheerful and happy the residents seem to be despite their difficult lives. In fact they appear to thrive on the difficulties and their ability to overcome them.

I suppose one important factor is the close-knit community that develops, which means there's always someone ready to help if you have a problem. Very different from cities where households often keep to themselves and don't care what's happening two doors down the road.

I have to admit that as a city dweller I'm entirely dependent on the almost instant availability of anything I need, and the thought of suddenly being without them is an alarming prospect.

26 comments:

helen devries said...

I have always lived in the country...though never anywhere totally isolated, even if life in rural France came close to it given the lack of public transport.

I don't think I could stand having people living close to me...as is now proved by people having built a house opposite my front gates....their mere presence irritates me.

I love the buzz and life of the city in short doses....but I know I would be miserable without space around me.

nick said...

Helen: The mere presence of a house opposite is irritating? You really do like plenty of space around you! I also like plenty of space around me, but in the house rather than outside.

Bijoux said...

I would love to live somewhere in which a car was not a necessity. Alas, that's unlikely in the US unless I moved to NYC.

John Going Gently said...

Some of me wants to move into a town or city again, especially as now I am on my own.
Perhaps that will change

Linda Sand said...

When we lived in a motorhome touring the USA we loved not having neighbors all the time but being able to meet up with friends when we felt like socializing. We used Urgent Care Centers when that felt right and traveled to doctors on our approved list when that felt right. We were always home yet the views out our windows changed frequently--especially if we were next to noisy neighbors. When traveling from one campsite to another we'd stop at museums, grocery stores, and restaurants along the way. Plus, RVers in general are friendly, helpful folk who were there when problems needed assistance to solve. It was a great life while we lived it. The only thing missing was Dave's local community which is what eventually brought us back home.

nick said...

Bijoux: Cars are pretty much a necessity in Northern Ireland too. There's a very rudimentary railway system, and not many buses outside Belfast.

John: Well, you have a pretty good social network through your blog, so maybe there's no need to move to a town?

nick said...

Linda: Sounds like you had a great time touring around and not being tied to any one place. And you seem to have had your medical needs sorted out. But Dave must have really missed his local community if you finally decided to end the road trip.

CheerfulMonk said...

One reason I married Andy was I knew he would never want to live in a city. :D I love living in a small town with our cabin in the mountains where he can go every day and keep tuned up facing the multiple challenges there.

tammy j said...

I live in a university town. we still call it a town but the population estimate is 127,000. so not it's not so small but it still feels small. maybe because we've been here as it has changed. it's big enough for convenience and small enough that you can walk into a diner or a pub and they call you by name! nice. but like most all American cities it's not 'walking' friendly. you need a car. I don't like that.

Ms Scarlet said...

I'm with Helen, I like the space!
I haven't been into a bank for a couple of years; my doctor's surgery was closed down, along with the post office. You just get round it all, and always keep some milk and bread in the freezer!
Sx

nick said...

Goodness, I didn't realise how many of you are country folk - or at the very most townsfolk!

Jean: Andy obviously enjoys being up in the mountains and keeping himself fit by doing all the little jobs (and big jobs) that entails.

Tammy: Sounds like the ideal place for you. It's nice when the locals can greet you by name. But as you say, there's too much reliance on cars in so many towns.

nick said...

Ms Scarlet: I used the bank branches a lot while I was dealing with my mum's finances, but normally I don't use them very much. Yes, I guess if you're out in the styx you just somehow work around the difficulties.

Mike Goad said...

While we've lived in towns and cities ranging from tiny to the 4th largest in the US, our home for nearly 40 years has been in a rural area 3 miles from Dover, a town of less than 2000, and 10 miles from a small city. My primary care doctor's office is in Dover and, when I needed an ambulance, the one stationed in Dover came and took me to the hospital in the small city. The only way the roof of our old house is going to collapse would be a tornado -- we've got a tornado shelter for protection and insurance for rebuilding. We don't often get snow, but, when we do get measurable amounts, we're likely "snowed in" for a while because we don't have reason to be out in it. If we need to, though, my truck is 4 wheel drive.

We're both pretty much do-it-yourself kind of folks and self-reliant, so living a little bit away from it all is no big deal for us. Last year, we were away 3 months, exploring the US with our little motorhome and Honda CRV.

nick said...

Mike: Clearly you've got everything worked out and you're prepared for all eventualities (well, most of them). Even a tornado shelter - that's impressive.

Wisewebwoman said...

I've experienced both and loved both so I don't have a preference. I'm back in a smallish city now and am happy because of medical care being close by. I miss the small town camaraderie, the help, the dinners dropped off, knowing everybody, the community buzz, the intimacy at times though I was very clear, and always am, on my personal boundaries.

Online shopping has made a huge difference in rural dwelling, the same with books by mail delivered free to the door and picked up free after 4 weeks.

I'm not a shopper so that helps, I still do online groceries, LOL.

XO
WWW

Joared said...

I’ve experienced living in various settings from city to country, apt., house, situations with and without conveniences, circumstances that required self-reliance, Six months were even spent in a small house trailer on the road and in several different settings. There are positive and negative aspects to each, some of which you described. Family, job situation, age, health and financial status, even weather, have some bearing on how desirable these various situations are at any given point in time from my point of view. Attitude and adaptability influence how amenable the experiences can be. Life can be viewed as one big learning experience which does keep it all interesting. There is so much more I’ve wanted to experience, but recognize now at my age I’m not likely to do so. Presently I value having comfort, conveniences, ready accessibility to every source of service I need, including medical, within close proximity of my home, and being located in an area of year’round weather that allows me mobility. Cultural activities are readily available but some I once enjoyed are more limited for me — mostly now are derived in a fashion other than the live experience, regrettably. Technology today allows even more ease in facilitating my desired life style. Maintaining this situation is my challenge now and retaining my independence.

nick said...

www: I guess as we get older and subject to more medical problems, having medical care close by is a big advantage. And yes, online shopping has been a great help to people living in remote areas.

nick said...

Joared: Well, you've certainly experienced just about every possible living situation! Technology has been a boon to older people - access to information, culture, online friends, online shopping etc. I'm sure my mum would have been much happier if she had worked out how to Skype her friends or start a blog. But without that technological help, her quality of life was very poor.

Rummuser said...

I have experience of both types of living and though a great fan of rural lifestyles, cannot imagine going back to that kind of living now at my age and physical condition. Like you, I have great admiration for those that live rural lives and am in regular touch with a lot of them now that modern communication methods help me to.

nick said...

Ramana: Rural living might be okay when you're fit and healthy, but if you're older and getting frail it must be more difficult.

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, I am with you on this one Nick. I really do love remote places but get a kind of faint agoraphobia at the idea of how remote they are! I think that partly comes with getting older, don't you? But then everything in life is a sort of compromise, I suppose...

nick said...

Jenny: Ah, you know what I'm talking about! I'm not sure it's a getting-older thing. I'm just so used to everything being on my doorstep that living somewhere really remote seems quite challenging.

Secret Agent Woman said...

That photo you chose looks idyllic to me. In my dream world, I'd live on a tiny island with no one around, but also have a small place in a village to stay in when I needed people around me. The only thing about remote living that would scare me a little is medical access.

nick said...

Agent: Medical access is what concerns me too. The longer you have to wait for medical help in an emergency, the more likely you are to suffer a serious deterioration or death, so I wouldn't want to be too far from a doctor or hospital.

Marie said...

I've been meaning to answer this for a few days - but better late than never.

My husband I often talk about the personality of a town vs. rural dweller and what's required of you if you live in each place. Like you, I don't think I'd do so well in rural areas. I'm way too used to my creature comforts, and I have not been taught to be resourceful as you must be to live there. I think the differences have resulted - at least in Sweden - the some of the differences we have politically. City dwellers think very differently than rural people.

A city dweller has to know some things, too -- like how to manoeuvre public transport. That, too requires resourcefulness in its own way.

But, most of all, as I age, I realise the need to be near doctors, hospitals, shops, fire department, police ... and neighbours who would be there if I'm alone and need something. I value internet connection, sewers, and even easy electricity, which isn't so "easy" out in rural Sweden. I don't want to travel 25 or 30 kilometers to the nearest supermarket or pharmacy. Those who live in rural areas have learned to compensate for these things.

When we go to our cottage for our holiday in the summer, it's rural, and I love being there for nature and the quiet. For the few weeks we're there, I relish all of that. But - I wouldn't want to actually LIVE there. I do miss those creature comforts.

nick said...

Marie: Thanks for that interesting comment. It's true that city dwellers and rural dwellers think very differently as they have quite different life circumstances to contend with. Indeed, public transport can be complicated if you're not used to it! And yes, as I get older, I value the closeness of amenities like doctors and hospitals. And also, as you say, firefighters and police.

I also like staying somewhere remote and peaceful for a week or two - but no longer than that. I start pining for my city services and culture!

I know Adelaide well, also Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart. I'd like to go to Australia more often but the 21 hour flight is quite an ordeal - not to mention the cost.