Have you been feeling the lure of owning your own chickens without worrying about the neighbors complaining?
Do you want bigger livestock or a larger garden yet have access to Whole Foods if you can’t grow it on your own?
Is one spouse dreaming of running off to live in the woods and the other is more of a city slicker?
What you are looking for is all contained in the little gem called the Suburban Rural Fringe!
I love the uncrowded rural feeling. Neighbors spread out, pastures filled with grazing animals, and more freedom on your own property. These reasons and more are what make the Suburban Rural Fringe highly attractive when looking for a homestead location.
I’ve listed the Top 10 Reasons to Live in the Suburban Rural Fringe to help convince you of its greatness and to provide some food for thought if you are considering a move outside of the City or Suburbia.
Top 10 Reasons to Make “The Fringe” Your New Home
You can live in the “country” but have access to urban amenities.
Most of the reasons fall under this sub-heading
For me this is an extremely important aspect. As a child, I remember the two years we spent living in a rural setting fondly but I was immune to the extra struggles this placed on my parents.
Every morning was at least a half hour car ride to school, even longer if the culvert washed out due to rain and you had to take the long way. The grocery store was the same distance. If you needed something out of the ordinary you had to wait until you could go to the town that was an hour away to go to larger stores. Without giving away my age let’s just call this the pre-internet, pre-Amazon Prime days.
Now with kids of my own, work and a homestead I would prefer to give up a little of the quiet country life for the convenience of easy access.
What are some things you might want access to you ask?
#1 Doctors and Medical Facilities
Does anyone in your family need access to special healthcare? If that’s the case it is definitely easier to drive 30 minutes to an hour versus 3 hours or more especially if you have regular appointments.
This is definitely a consideration if you have older family members on the homestead with you. We don’t like to think about it but in general the older we get the more medical care we need. The unfortunate fact is if you are isolated off on a rural farm medical care is much more challenging.
I think it is also easy to fall into the “that won’t happen to me” trap where medical needs are concerned. We tell ourselves “I eat healthy! I work out! I’m not going to get sick!” While these certainly cannot be underestimated they won’t always protect you from accidents or just pure bad luck. The medical person in me just can’t quite get past not having nearby access to healthcare.
Healthcare applies to animals, too! As a veterinarian I’m well aware of the different levels of care that people provide for animals but if you want access to veterinary specialists especially of the small animal variety they tend to be near larger cities. If you are the type of person who wouldn’t bat an eye at taking your dog to the cardiologist check to see how far you are located from such facilities. In both people and animals quick access to healthcare is sometimes quite literally life and death.
#2. Extracurricular Activities
Having multiple kids in activities can be overwhelming even in the best scenario. I’m not a fan of scheduling every minute of a kid’s time by any means but even the usual things like Cub Scouts, sports, piano lessons are easier to integrate if you don’t have to drive as far to get there.
Homeschooling in the car with books, audiobooks, and videos can help fill some of the void (Check out my post on the Top Ways to School in the Car) since you will likely drive farther even being in The Fringe than you would if you were farther away.
If you are planning to homeschool this area becomes much more flexible especially with the internet, however, as kids get older you may want access to other opportunities and teachers.
Museums are also much closer for field trips and you can access libraries with greater ease. Libraries, a total homeschool money saving tool, even in the internet age. I think this is even more important if you are trying to limit screen time and provide learning opportunities outside of the computer. The only downside are the overdue fines. Yikes, I can’t be the only one who loses books or completely forgets to return them on time! I felt sooooo much better after an author friend of mine admitted they always have a fine at the library from kid books.
Do you or your spouse still work outside of the homestead? If so you are probably going to want to be near where the jobs are located or you may be like us and not leave your current job even when you move. I have a much longer commute which is filled with audiobooks and podcasts but the option to keep this job would not have been possible if we moved to a completely rural location. Even if only one spouse is working outside the homestead the commute time will complicate your life if it is too far.
Not as high on everyone’s list but I want access to the stylist who makes my hair pretty. I don’t get to see him every 6 weeks but I want the access when I need it! When I was making a mental list of these reasons I actually had this listed above the work section but decided that was probably work was more important haha!
#6. Close to a Market
Not a grocery market, although that could make the list, too! Here I’m talking about a market for your products if you plan to produce them on your homestead. You need someone to buy the eggs, or artisan cheese, or organic veggies you grow. Your neighbors might be interested in goods they don’t supply themselves but those living in suburbia who romanticize about the “farm life” but don’t want to be shoveling poop or digging in the dirt are really your prime market.
Advantages to Living Outside the Fray
#7. Less Chance of the Dreaded HOA
Homesteading is so much fun but it’s totally not fun to be fighting with an HOA over your fabulous ideas for your homestead.
When we lived in the suburbs my husband was on our HOA board. He left for the first meeting after we moved there with my parting words being “don’t volunteer for anything!” So much for that! He couldn’t resist so I began my ceaseless teasing and beratement. I made up a theme song for them “Neighborhood Defenders” and would tease about power rings they all wore as they battled against tall grass and non-nature inspired paint colors.
Fortunately, when we moved he wanted to be as far from an HOA as we could get. I do think there is some advantage to being on the board if you have to deal with one since you can try to make it less uptight but that certainly depends on your neighborhood and situation.
The reality is the less you have to ask other people for permission to do things on your property the happier you will be, which brings me to #8.
#8. Less Regulation
Consider finding a property that is unincorporated just outside a city.
This gives you one less layer to deal with as the city may not want to approve a second home on the property or may not allow agricultural ventures on certain properties. Again less layers of red tape equals a happier more relaxed you!
#9. Cheaper Land
It’s not guaranteed, especially with urban sprawl, but in general the price per acre and price per square foot tend to be cheaper outside of the urban jungle. This allows you to get more for your money. Location is everything as long as the location is what you want. People pay a premium for “good schools” and “community activities with food trucks” but if you are homeschooling and want land to grow your own food this concept can seriously work to your advantage. (side note: food trucks are fun but I don’t have to have them daily)
This also means that while you can be friends with your neighbors you don’t have to have houses so close you could pass a dish of food between open windows!
#10 Less Drama
One of the little pleasures of living on the fringe is reading the local police report. It largely consists of livestock getting out and walking on the road or the train tracks. Sometimes, rogue goats get out multiple times in a week. Occasionally, you may even find the rogue goats in your yard! In general, I much prefer escaping livestock to more serious crimes.
I’ve also noticed the closer you live to other people the more chance for drama related to “keeping up with the Jones’s” or cattiness. One acquaintance of ours complains about the neighborhood gossip of who’s cheating on who? Seriously, who has time to worry about all that drama. I think some of it is less daily interaction with people but also you are too busy trying to keep the goats in the pasture and worrying about if you need to water the garden to really get too caught up in it. This frees up both your time and your mind to accomplish more important tasks.
Accomplishing more important tasks is what I think most of this is really about. Finding a location that allows you to accomplish as many of the dreams and activities as you have for yourself. For many people, the suburban rural fringe is just the right combination. Hope to see you on the fringe!