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Rural Life is Hard – Why We Loved and Left the Mountains

May 25, 2021

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A sunny gal from Cali living in the south of France. I adore slow living, magic, and celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I’m a self-proclaimed Disney nerd (as is my husband!), obsessed with cats and cocoa, and you can often find me swimming with the fishies in the salty sea. Come along and enjoy the magic, the simple joys of life with me...

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Loving and leaving the mountains was a bittersweet decision to make. I love the energies of the forest, the grounding presence of the trees and the comfort of the mountains. It wasn’t easy to decide to leave. But in today’s post, I thought I’d share why rural life was especially hard for my partner and me and what we learned from our experience living among the peaceful giants.

Alex chose this specific mountain village because it was more convenient to live in than other villages and it was closest to his new job. But looking back, I wish we had saved our money and moved to where we are now. If it seems like I’m complaining about the challenges of living in the mountains in this specific blog spot…you’re right, I am. Because I wish someone would have told me the pros and cons of living in the mountains before we made the big move. So here we go – here are my honest reflections on loving and leaving the mountains.

Here is Why Rural Life Has Hard For Us and Why We Left Our Home in the Mountains….

It Was Too Isolating

As an introvert that receives energy by being alone, you’d think this would be the perfect place to live! I am an introvert and I also love people. Many people misidentify introverts and assume they are “anti-people” but that can’t be farther from the truth. And for Alex and I, living in the mountains, living rural was too hard for us for this very reason.  Imagine days spent walking along dirt paths in the mountains, with not a single soul in sight for hours on end…nothing but the sounds of wind and birds. Imagine mornings spent nibbling on crossoints and sips of warm chocolate on a balcony overlooking the mountains…it was a joy to experience. And it was also difficult not to connect with people our own age.

Too much of anything isn’t a good thing. Not being able to ever see people, streets void of lightness and energetic beings going about their day, the isolation was palpable. And let’s be honest: we are social beings. Naturally, humans need human connections to relate and make sense of this world. And that feeling of desolation, of being stranded, is not a comfortable feeling. Our first day we moved in, I felt it immensely. I sat by the water foundation and sobbed, missing the sight of the community I had in a small village outside of Strasbourg. It could also have been the timing (we’re living in the middle of a country-wide lockdown during a pandemic!) but still. Energetically, it felt off. 

It Cost More to Live Rural

Surprisingly enough, it cost more money to live rural than it did in the city. Having to rely on a car to get anywhere was hard on our bank account. We lived in a small mountain village, and there was a post office, pharmacy, boulangerie and grocery store. And that is actually abundant variety for most rural mountains villages! But to get the bulk of affordable groceries, we needed to drive 20 minutes to the largest grocery store. To see friends, it was an hour’s drive to the nearest big city. Aside from the sweet blessings of nature’s gifts, there is no convience living in the mountains. Everything felt harder. Day-to-day life felt more difficult.  And then, there’s the cost of electricity. It costs a fortune to heat up a large, old, rural house. 

It Was Impractical

For us, living in the rural mountains for as long as we did was impractical. Many of us assume that simple living implies country living….that to live a slow, simple life means uprooting your city life and moving to the rural countryside. Aesthetically, that fits the “simple life” advertisement.

I feel most at home with nature, with planting my palms in the soil, breathing with the trees, whispering aloud to the hundreds of stars that dazzle the rural land…but that doesn’t imply that living in the mountains for a full year would be fulfilling. In actuality, it’s much simpler to live in a place of convenience. There is less to think about, fewer decisions to be made, less worry over the cost of electricity and how you’re going to heat your home. You can walk to the nearest big grocery store. In a way, it’s simpler to live in a city.

WIFI

Not having decent wifi when you work online is impractical. I would frequently have to check and see how much wifi I still had left for the month. As an English tutor, I would have wifi run out in the middle of lessons every week. As a Youtuber, I would frequently have to leave the house and find somewhere open, with wifi access, to upload my Youtube videos. In short: it was was impractical.

It Was Physically Exhausting

This seems like a tiny thing and to some, it might not even be a bother….but I’m a walker. I love to walk. In fact, walking for an hour every day is part of my morning routine. I also love to run when I need to release energy or get in that feel-good state. And let me just say: walking up and down steep roads, not having flat ground to get a decent run in, is physically exhausting. Alex and I built some good muscle during our 7 months living in the mountains but it was that simple thing of flat roads that made us miss our life before the mountains even more.

The point is:

Know what you like. Know your lifestyle well enough that you can spot those tiny things that could throw a wrench in your daily routine. Know what you need in a “home” before picking the first place that flows your way. 

Life is an Experiment

Approaching life as a playful experiment keeps me curious and appreciative of that which I have in my life. I could view my dream of living in the mountains a major disappointment. I could view those 7 months as wasted time. But I don’t regret moving backward because when you go after a dream when you take a step forward instead of hesitating, you’re that much closer to finding out what you do want. Taking risks, making choices and committing to a dream is all part of the magic of being alive.

You owe to it yourself to take a leap. You must leap and pursue what you’ve always dreamed of. Because you’ll never truly know what something is like unless you try. For so long in my life, I’ve dreamed of things, only to have had it and realized it wasn’t what I actually wanted. Sometimes the dream of something is far more beautiful than reality. 

Life Always Seems to Work Out

Life really does always seem to work out in the end. Today Alex and I live in a small city by the sea in Corsica (it feels more like a seaside village in a quiet Italian coastal town) and life is far simpler for us here than it was in the mountains. We have friends that we see every day when we leave our apartment. The smell of fresh cookies waft through our bedroom window each morning….the sea just a 2-minute walk from our steps. Our rent is significantly cheaper because there were more options to choose from. Our heating is easy to manage and so much cheaper! Our wifi speed is infinitely better and I no longer run out of wifi and have to trek to the nearest city to upload my Youtube videos.

And what’s amazing about Corsica, is that one can have both the mountains and the water. The mountains are only a 15-minute drive away from the sea! Alex and I spend our weekends hiking the mountains nearby and our summer evenings swimming in the turquoise-clear waters of the Mediterranean.

My dream of living in the mountains was realized. I had always dreamed of living in the mountains. I dreamed of days spent climbing, in awe of the majestic painting stretched out before me. I had always dreamed of going out each evening before slumber to make a wish to the stars in the mountains (I did it for the first time last summer when Alex and I hiked Kanisfluh mountain in Austria in total darkness! It was truly one of the most magical moments of time I had ever experienced….and I wished that I could do it every day! Little did I know that Alex would get a job offer in the mountains of Corsica 2 weeks later…😳)

Life is listening to you. Life is making your dreams a reality. What are you thinking, what are you saying, what are you trusting in?

Love,

Helena

Leaving the Mountains – Simple Joys Video

Photographs From Our Mountain Village in Corsica France

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  1. Heather says:

    Thank you for sharing your “cons” and being so real. From the other side of the screen, it seems like a fairytale to live in the mountains and the quiet but you brought it into a more realistic light. Thank you for being you and shining such a bright light into the world.

    • helenawoods says:

      of course!! It’s so important to share the honest truth. Living in the country looks so glamorized online but there are certainly struggles! <3 Sending you such a warm hug, Heather!

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I'm Helena, your new kindred spirit.

Sunny free-spirit, writer and creator in love with documenting the simple joys of life. I am passionate about noticing light and truth around me and reflecting it back to others.

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