Culture Shock: When Moving From an Urban to a Rural Area

Rural Real Estate is popular. But, Think ahead and don’t open yourself up for; Culture Shock; An Unnecessary Evil, when moving to a rural area. Anyone CAN prevent some of the Culture Shock that may occur when they move to a rural neighborhood!

Before you move to a rural property — get to know the folks there and seek to learn the culture of the area — the existing culture — NOT the one you are accustomed to and not the one you want to make it into.

Our company just recently sold one of the most perfect Homestead Properties I’ve ever seen, at a very low price! Why? Because the new owner made himself so unwelcome in his new environment and so terribly alienated the neighbors that they eventually made him unbearably uncomfortable. Thus, he no longer wanted to live there.

He is an impolite environmentalist and decided to move from the city to a rural community where many of the families go back 400 years on the same land. He was a city boy with a degree in forestry, biology and ecology and had not a wit of people sense. His applied religion was based on watching Walt Disney movies; where the trees talk and man is evil and animals and plants are perfect.

He didn’t want his new neighbors to hunt deer, to farm the fields early in the morning, to use agricultural chemicals or artificial fertilizers on the crops. He didn’t like the airplanes that sprayed the killer bugs early in the morning. He didn’t like the smell of chicken and pig manure spread on the fields either. He spoke out constantly, loudly and aggressively. He made enemies of nearly all his neighbors. He’s gone now and I hope the new purchaser, also from the city, will not repeat his social errors.

Most of the folks that live here are great and realize they are in a new place and seek to become a part and work within our cultural, social and economic structures. Most of our new arrivals are wonderful and we have many as the population here in southern Delaware is doubling about every 6 years!

There is a tiny noisy scat of people, only a tiny few, who come and hate it here. Yet they left where they were to come have a better life in this area. We see it all the time. The locals call them environmental whackos, tree huggers, bug kissers and much worse. These are the people who have learned all about nature from Walt Disney, Nature Channel, Discovery Channel and Sierra magazine. And yes they often have college degrees. They are not aware that reality is different from their movies, readings, classes and dreams. Thus too many of them flee the city and then seek to enforce their ignorance and miseducation on those in the community they have joined. They try to bully others and try to get them to agree with the rules, regulations, concepts and philosophy they left behind in the city. NOT a good plan if they want to have a pleasant place to live. Many of these folks think they know more about nature, trees, plants, animals, the earth and everything else; than those whose families have lived in harmony with earth’s life forms for decades or even centuries here. Hopefully my strong language above has impressed you to read and learn here, rather than at the eventually harsh hands of a rural community if you don’t pay attention to what is here.

It is wise to visit the area you plan to live several times before you move there. Join the church, support the Volunteer Fire Department, buy gas at the closest gas station, purchase your beer or wine at the local liquor store, become familiar with every public area and visit the community centers and philanthropic groups in the area. Most of all chat with folks and tell them you are considering a move into the area and ask them for advice. Visit the Lions Club, Sertoma, Elks, Rotary, Red Men, etc., and seek to learn instead of teaching. Listen instead of talking. Ask, don’t tell.

There is little, if anything, the newcomer can teach the locals about local things. If you must try to teach the locals something; if you try to teach them about your expertise where you came from, what you were paid to do in the past, about the job and area you fled (if you can find anyone who cares) – you are on a wrong course and will shorely wreck.

Obviously, if you are one of those people who left all that urban stuff, you are one who doesn’t really find it all that valuable either. Otherwise you should have stayed there. And you can bet that is exactly what your neighbors will be thinking if you move into a rural area and take a know-it-all and I’m-so-much-smarter-because-I-come-from-the-city attitude. They may be quiet, or even polite in your presence for a while, but that sort of an attitude will cause only animosity in those around you. And, they will talk about you, briefly to each other and your bad attitude will precede you and be nearly impossible to correct later.

Find out what the community needs and wants from new or prospective members, such as yourself; really find out, don’t guess or assume and leave pre-judgement out of the picture. We’ve had numerous folks who have moved here to be marketing experts or PR experts or Graphic Design experts. Not one of the several dozen I’ve met over the last 30 years is still in

business and none of them are even still here as far as I know. The service they were hoping to charge big money for was not wanted at any price, not even free.

One of my customers from some twenty five years ago — moved from San Francisco into a “small (pop. 800) unspoiled, rural, quaint, picturesque town — populated with salt-of-the-earth and down-to-earth folks” as she spoke of them at first. The couple I speak of had gelded their son, actually they had a surgeon do it, so that his voice would not change with age – all so he could sing in a world famous choir.

They wanted to start training the locals to build a “Boy’s Choir”. They were infuriated that the local school district would not support a boy’s choir that they were certain could be the envy of the world, if they could just show everyone how to do everything. A year later they spoke of “the nasty little town full of stupid irritable ignorant slobs, shanties, shacks, old trucks, fat toothless men, red necks, gossipy women, uneducated Rubes and inbred hicks whose idea of culture was a beer and burger in a pickup truck.”. The San Franciscans are gone now too. Their name seldom comes up, and when it does, it is not in a good humor or a good vein.

I am in the business of selling rural land, forests and homes. I love the people who already live in the several areas where I work. I love the customers I do business with. MOST of the time, the newcomers fit in well with the preexisting community. Some, very few, of my customers move in and spoil the area for themselves and for a little while, for those already here. The only reason is that they have not learned of the REALITY of rural, country life in the particular community before they purchase there.

It is often, in fact usually, not possible to rent before buying in a particular area; so it is very, very wise to look well before you leap into a rural community if you did not grow up there. Even if you did grow up in a rural area and then did not stay in touch with family and friends there since, you may find you no longer fit in. But you can relearn those customs you left behind, if you really want to “return to your roots”. And if you’ve never lived in the area, you can learn the ethnicity, the customs, and learn to be a good neighbor.

IF you seek to fit in and contribute to the community, according to what IS really needed and wanted in that particular community — you may well enjoy a type of heaven-on-earth in your new home.

One fellow comes to mind who came, loved and was well loved. He was a military radio expert who had traveled the world, made tons of money, lived in DC and Northern Virginia for decades. Attended the finest, fastest, and most expensive functions in the area and after retirement decided to move to our rural resort area. He moved here at the height of the CB craze, when almost everyone of the rural folks had a CB and wanted it to work better or needed one properly installed in their home or car. He did it all free of charge for anyone who asked. He was after all retired. Every time I visited him he’d load up my Wagoneer with eggs, fruits and vegetables from the farms, orchards and gardens of those he’d helped. I helped him with making the contacts he wanted to make and with getting permissions to private “fishing holes” away from everything. He was a catch and release fisherman and would always clean up any and all trash around the fishing hole, before he even started fishing there.

One neighbor kept this gentleman’s grass cut and told him he get a good cussing if he wastefully bought a lawnmower. Another neighbor wouldn’t take a nickel for changing the brakes on his car. Another neighbor fixed his roof for free. Several of the ladies in the neighborhood would cook some extra dinner for him, two or three times a week, and bring it over. He was invited to dine somewhere in the surrounding community almost every night. And, he was asked for stories of his world travels and the fancy parties he went to. He was fit, and actually fairly wealthy as he lived simply, had been paid well and invested well during his working years.

He could have afforded an expensive home but he chose instead to live simply and well within his means. His car broke down, it was about 8 years old, one time and he pulled over, got out and planned to walk a couple of miles to get some help. He told me three cars stopped to give him a ride in the space of a few minutes and one of them, in a pickup truck hooked up his car and towed it to another friends house where it was fixed for free.

He later sold the car at a very reasonable price to a lady in the neighborhood who really needed some help. He sold it to her for $1,000 — about what the dealership would have given him and a couple of thousand less than one would have cost her. He paid cash for another car three years old. He could have afforded a new Mercedes, if he wanted one. He was constantly telling me how great his neighbors where. Why? Because he was a good neighbor to everyone else!

He passed away, we don’t know why, and there were hundreds at his funeral, more than most natives would have and none were family… He left a nice inheritance to the local volunteer fire department, for new equipment and asked that instead of flowers, folks plant a tree. We use him as an example of a GREAT newcomer and he set a high standard for us all as neighbors!

Copyright ©2004 Jody Hudson www.JodyHudson.com www.RuralSpecialist.com [http://www.RuralSpecialist.com] and www.Kate-Jody.com
MrJodyHudson@earthlink.net

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