Coping: City Risks Versus Country Life

The sudden, unexpected, and potentially dangerous deterioration of my eyes has put the question of “Where to live out the rest of our lives” squarely back on the table.  In a very real way, this is the ultimate problem of Urban Survival:  Where to live to ameliorate as many risks as possible.

If terrible times ever come to America, would it be better to live out ones final years in a rural setting where there is still some game, but also a lot of neighbors?  Within as gallon or two of diesel are lots of places where a cow could be purchased, table ready or for milking, so that’s something that wouldn’t be available in the city.

Ditto the rural Texan attitude toward strangers poking around.  You don’t often hear about trouble in the outback unless it’s a family feud or some of the in-city druggies have taken a wrong turn.  Warning shots out here tend not to be repeated and the key phrase “I feared for my life” seems to work if there’s stranger on your land and especially if armed or in your home.

Not that Texas isn’t full of hospitable folks; but don’t come uninvited. People here still pretty much keep to themselves.  Given what passes as “news” in the Big City, it’s no wonder.  Does anyone care that Lindsay Lohan is “looking at Islam?”  No on our block – which takes about 12 miles to circumnavigate.

On the other hand, as multiple trips to Tyler, Texas, 45-miles up the road have pointed out, there are some damn-fine things about cities of the 100,000 and up size; namely great healthcare and skilled doctors.

The kind of issue I have might be a once-a-year, or two, locally.  But in Tyler it’s a once a week or more often event.  Score one for the city.

We try to make decisions based on our Seven Major Systems of Life:  Food, Shelter, Transportation, Energy, Environment, Communications, and Finance.

Food is a mixed bag, in that there is nothing as good as fresh veggies from the garden – if you remembered to put one in – which we haven’t so far this year. A hydroponic tomato plant or three will about do it, though it will be hard to break-even on those.

Jumping off the tractor (setting off the eye woes) momentarily has soured me on working the land hard.

Shelter?  That’s a lot tougher problem.  I’ve been saving up a picture of our “limbed up” trees along the driveway for a morning like this one.  Thanks to my buddy from the Northwest, it looks absolutely state park-like around here:


I don’t think there has been an afternoon go by in the last month that Elaine and I haven’t sat in the sun porch and looked out at the view of the front yard (similar to this) and asked “How could living in a city improve on this?

Transportation in the Outback sucks.  My plans to run for County Commissioner have hit the rocks, though.  The way Texas law is set up, it’s almost impossible for someone not in bed with the corporate duopoly to get elected.  Because there is a run-off election in May, I would have less than 30 days to collection signatures for an independent run.  With a minimum of 143 signatures needed, in a spread out area like this, and with a requirement that people can’t have voted in the primary or run-off, it’s like trying to get the dead to sign and this ain’t Cook County.

As a result, we still have the washboard, pot-hole roads and no one in county government seems to give a rip.  The gravel pit operator whose heavy trucks tore things up has moved on and the county is stiffing the permanent residents with the tab, which will likely run $160,000 in materials to begin to set things right.

In the meantime, the old Lexus will keep getting older.  Elaine would like something newer, but the fact is the Made in Japan 2005 is just getting broken in at 112,000 miles.  It’s the principle, though, damn it.

Thursday there was an answer of sorts on the transportation front:  It’s almost an hour into town and back.  So if we had a home on a single level and shopping was closer, then yes there would be some convenience.

Energy  is no problem out here.  We have a backup from the grid-interactive solar system which keeps the bills modest.  And our local utility (Trinity Valley Electric Co-op) has been easy to work with on most things.  I am still disappointed with their installation of a “smart” meter, but that’s just part of the whole “creeping currents of Death” thing that has been spreading since the arrival of 60 Cycle Alternating Current.  OK, now it’s Hertz, which is oxymoronic because RF exposure hurts…if you follow.

My visiting friend remarked on several occasions during his visit how darn peaceful it is out here in the country.  We can only get a bar, or two, on cell phones, if we walk the property like a couple of old prospectors looking for bars instead of gold.  So that’s a plus, too.

Environment in general is…well, go back and look at the picture.   We have more trees and fun stuff to do than you can imagine.  I may call the Texas Game Department and ask them to stock from of the bigger pot holes on the neglected County Road.  A couple of hundred bass and some croppy ought to do the trick.

Communications is great.  The local ham radio club is a heads-up group of genuinely nice folks.  If someone would just come along and buy the airplane (which is listed in Trade-a-Plane) then we could get back to spending more time on the air and working on equipment.

FinanceWell, here’s where things get to be an interesting question.

I was dead-to-nuts right about the outlook for the economy and the markets when I said back in January that the market would bottom in February and we should be at new all-time highs in May.

The track from here is much less clear, however.

We will get into it more this weekend on the Peoplenomics side, but I’m currently modeling three scenarios and at some point, one of them will pop and we will know which track life will follow.

The hell of making “moving while old” decisions is there’s not a lot of time or money for do-overs and I sure like one smart move instead of three dumb ones and then the right one I should have made in the first place.

But that’s how Life works, I suppose.

/Have a great weekend and remember weekends are when we have a chance to work for ourselves without “Paying a cut to The Man…”  So make the most of it and we’ll re-group Monday…

Write when you get rich,

35 thoughts on “Coping: City Risks Versus Country Life”

  1. I had just about quit reading your blog (which I have followed and read for several years) for lots of reasons, and then I happened on today’s….there might be hope for you yet! Didn’t know you had a survivalist bent in you! You’re still not “right” enough, but leaning that way! I might keep checking your site! By the way, smart meters: I owned an auto electric shop for 20+ years, so I do know how to test and check electrical systems on cars and trucks. My 84 Chevy will go dead on a regular basis IF I PARK NEAR THE METER on my house! This was also the case at another house we lived in and was where I first noticed the problem! Park away, battery would stay up forever, park near the pole/meter and 2-3 days led to jumper cables. Just saying……………

    • Generator battery is too dang near the un-smart meter; Fails all too often.
      Old car? my 1981 Benz diesel is running just fine; Racor final filter installed 100,00 miles ago has done a great job. New car? our 1992 Accord is perking along on super syn oils bu the blasted corn gas is a major problem; yes Sea Foam.
      George, the Good Lord willing, I turn 80 this fall; body needs more upkeep like your Trade A Plane bird. Drive to the pill pushers is a factor for you and in your scenario, I would be content with what you have and where you are now, if comfortable with the problems you know.
      Blessings and good luck with the eye surgery.

    • When things are going well, we don’t worry about the bad things around us. We worry about losing the good things we are enjoying. If we have enough good things, then paring down shouldn’t be a dramatic experience…

  2. One more thing to ponder, emergency services. I should disclose that I am a firefighter and therefor probably biased, but if you have a housefire or, heaven forbid, a heart attack, how quickly can 2 engines and 3-4 tankers or an ALS ambulance be on scene. I would very much like to retire(from the fire service, I am very unlikely to ever really retire) to a rural location, but as I get older this becomes more of a consideration.

  3. Major problem is that if you make the move and decide the trees and peace were worth giving up some convenience, it would be difficult to replicate what you have achieved already…… probably psychologically almost impossible to “start over”. I have the same problem on mini scale. Wife wants to get closer to kids, but giving up a country home with peace and quiet will be a drastic mistake that gets bigger in the rear view mirror. Its the old, Be careful what you wish for! Good Luck!

  4. Re: City vs Country – iow Dystopia vs Utopia

    Seriously? George, I don’t mean to sound like a “dutch uncle” but “get real” (literally).

    By this, I mean that if you were to write down all the quirks, interests, and activities of the “real” George, and then match all those to what you will likely find in the “real” suburban environment as it is today, the result will likely be a hopeless mismatch.

    For examples, (1) Home Owner Ass’s – HOA’s often control everything from what kind/how old a vehicle can be in your driveway, outside antennas, color your door/mail box, loud workshop noises, and/or how often you cut the grass or whether your lawn service will be permitted to come through the Gate, and more. (2) Forty-five minutes to Tyler (50+ miles)-hell, it takes me over thirty minutes to travel 5+ miles due to stoplights every couple of blocks. (3) Peace and quiet? How likely is that with sirens and road noise? (4) Neighbors? Yep, and often their windows are just steps away from your windows (5) Crime? omg.

    My parents were age 82 when they decided to move into a retirement community. They gave up a thriving garden, home kitchen and sewing room, and frequently used 2-car garage workshop for nice 2-bedroom apartment. My father is now age 98, good health, mobile, and is studying the Constitution to keep his mind active. He regrets moving so soon.

    All this to say – know yourself (and your DW (Dear Wife) and be very, very careful about what you will find when you move.


    • “All this to say – know yourself (and your DW (Dear Wife) and be very, very careful about what you will find when you move.”

      That’s the issue, me seems ;-(. Wherever you move you’ll meet yourself. Where I live (Manhattan)I find everything within 2 to 4 hours–but one has to know where to go! All I ever worry about is a long-tern power outage.

  5. Look at someplace like Whitehouse. Far enough out to still be “rural” yet close enough so that a trip to the store or doc isn’t an all day event.

    Got some family land out that way. Trees, game, fish ponds, fruit trees, water well. Neighbors far enough away but still nearby. And you can get an ambulance if needed.

    Best of both worlds.

  6. One take away from living through 9/11 and now the Ecuador quake. You can’t plan for everything. It’s good to remain humble and stay close to God.

  7. “Does anyone care that Lindsay Lohan is “looking at Islam?”

    I wonder if she realizes under islam if she lives in a traditionalist muslim community..the way I read it she would be stoned or worse.. and not in the fun way.. and women are pretty much hidden while the men take “The Mufa’khathat Lovers” or young Pearls. anyway depends on what interpretation of the quran they use..Just like the bible..

    Have you considered “Fly Over country” to settle in..they have great medical services ( when I visited the southwest I visited medical facilities there and told everyone.. if something happens to me fly me home..).. people here still wave as they pass and the public servants we hire to protect us take the “To serve and protect” motto very seriously aren’t afraid to wave and give a happy how are you today greeting..
    People just aren’t that paranoid in the middle sections of the country. They still have neighborhood and church picnics and enjoy stopping by the local restaurant for a cup of coffee to shoot the bs about what Bizarre things that are happenings in the insane states.Its not unusual if you are sick that everyone gets together to lend a hand with your chores.

    • Have to comment because this hit so close to home. You mention fly-over state medical care. In december my father left new mexico for my home in indiana for double knee replacement. And that was after consulting multiple docs there and in Phoenix area.

      • Oh absolutely.. my daughter was in the SW and got really sick..a real emergency.. went to one of the best hospitals down in that region.. after being in there for less than a day she checked herself out against doctors wishes and caught the next plane home and checked in.. we have some of the best medical care in the world.. that attracts people from all over the world.. not to mention the time it takes for a first res-ponder is a lot less..
        I believe a persons outlook on life changes when a major health incident happens.. I know it did for me.. what I thought was important had no importance what so ever. A person that is frugal saves his money to give it to health facilities and lawyers when they are gone..I have personally seen many many millionaires leave penniless.. Speaking about Health and being in the country.. How many people actually have an AED hanging on their walls..or a wheel chair accessible bathroom.. we logically know that seventy percent of all heart attacks happen on the toilet.. so what if it was a loved one.. with in our area fifteen minute response time.. your odds of surviving is ten percent in a major city the response time is over an hour..Now what if it was you on the toilet.. the best tool you hope you never have to use..

      • we have the cardiac science powerheart.. the difference between the g-3 and the other is that the g-3 you can get rechargeable batteries.. oh boy and at three hundred a pop every three years.. that is a chunk.. also the batteries stay charged longer if they aren’t in the machine because the machine checks itself every month automatically and slowly trickles the charge down..
        speaking about severe health issues and the imporatance of living in an area that has good service that reminds me that I have to order my replacement batteries for our AED on the wall.. it is that time..

  8. BTW, those tasty fish you mentioned are “crappie” not “croppy”. I can’t fish, but love to eat those tasty little guys. I keep hoping someone down here in Okie land will start farming them like they do with tilapia and catfish.

  9. Make sure you compare property taxes. My aunt used to say that the deposit on soda bottles is what she paid property taxes with. Once she moved into the larger county (which contained an airport and public housing) she was shocked. And no longer lives there.

  10. Your decisions are revolving around two things, comfort and stuff.

    Take a look at the macro situation of the country you are located in. Your road is simply a symptom of a country with an infrastructure it can no longer maintain, much less improve. Wherever you move in the USA, you will still be enfolded in the arms of that crumbling infrastructure, not only physically but politically and economically as well. Basically, you and your neighbors do not pay enough taxes to cover the costs of maintaining your road, and people are tired of subsidizing your lifestyle so you can have quiet and isolation. Let me tell you, this subsidization of the American lifestyle is ending on a much larger scale than you can even imagine. And much faster than you can imagine as well.

    I live in a country where the infrastructure has improved every year for the last seven years. The world is cyclical in nature. Good information and an open mind allows the informed person to move off the downward curve of any cycle.

    George, you are American to the core. Move to the country and then make it look like a park. Parks are for cities and people who do not have property and space to walk around. If you want a park, live in the city. Face it, you no longer have the physical and financial resources to maintain your own private park. Nor to maintain acces to your park.

  11. For those truly rural, check with your local farm bureau for the Air Ambulance service recommended in your area.

    It is all a trade off, even the Business Model

    rick in North Georgia (USA)

  12. G, living in Houston, which is quite the medical hub, means little in terms of access. Yes – I do have a hospital within .25 miles of home, BUT ambulance response time is 20 minutes. Cannot tell you exactly why, but there it is.

    Want cutting edge procedures and large doctor selection? We got it! But it now takes me 60 minutes to get to the Medical Center if there is no traffic.

    I have a hot tub, and I relax in it often but when I turn the pump off, all I hear are trucks, sirens, traffic hum. On weekends, at night I can hear concert music from down the road, but woe unto me if it is ‘death metal’ or other egregious noise, because that chases me back indoors.

    Each day a different neighbor is having their lawn cut, weed whacked and blown clean – no escaping the yard maintenance bunch. And I have recited numerous tales of my city ordinance nightmares. Now we are getting fit with Smart Meters, and yes – if we don’t crank the vehicles they are dead in 48-72 hours. The gas guys are about to smart meter their services too, so my battery life may be even shorter. I am frankly scared to loook at the amount of EM flying here between smart meters, city wifi, cable wifi, cellular and the wifi they just installed on all the traffic cams.

    You have a lot where you are, and you will never replace or duplicate it at the same cost – not when you consider the sweat you and E have put in. Maybe it’s time to get an SUV and let the Lexus go due to the roads? And driving slower is more relaxing anyway. I owned Corvettes so you, Mr Porsche, can change to a slower driving style if I can.

    Just some facts and thoughts my friend…

  13. Good morning George.
    Saw this article (not particularly related to country/vs/city life) and thought you would appreciate it. Another technological advance with lots of room for abuse!

    I’m turning 70 this summer and along with a very good wife, hard work and good intentions we have managed to have our dept free, country dream property in the Rockies with all the advantages you are considering giving up. Ten years retired and in good health we are not as isolated as you and Elaine,(only 15 minutes to town population 5000 and hospital facilities). With gravity fed stream and spring water (non chlorinated or fluoridated), a zone 7 climate we can grow most of our fruit and veg, buy whatever else locally knowing and trusting our neighbor producers of true organics. Yes, it’s a lot of work to maintain this lifestyle but we can’t conceive moving anywhere else just for a little faster emergency response time. I’m content to be “planted” here.
    You’ve been my first read every day for almost 10 years now (even had a peoplenomics sub for a year). I’m nowhere as smart, driven or interested in finances and definitely not an “A” type personality so we differ sufficiently that as often as I’ve been tempted to suggest you drop by for a visit I’ve hesitated. To be honest, I doubt you and I could be in the same room for more than 15 minutes as you would likely find me boring and unmotivated, which I am, comparatively speaking.

    Thank you for all your hard work and early hours and providing an open window into your life. You’ve broadened my views and given me a lot of insights into areas previously unconsidered, particularly Americana, governmental and corporate financial manipulations.


    ps. Despite our differences there will cold beers and an open invitation should you ever get up this way (the Creston Valley. BC)

    • I appreciate the invite…and I love that part of BC. And no, I don’t find anyone boring and I’ll tell you why: Each of us lives our own recipe in Life. I collect recipes. And by learning about yours (no matter how boring you think I might find it) I can likely find yet-another “best practice” to add to my own. never sell short what you have to offer. Odds of me making it up there, while low, are not impossible, particularly at the mention of beer which somehow tastes better in Canada than here in the colonies, eh?

  14. The trick is staying where you’re at and bringing everything out to where you are slowly make it grow in your direction

    • Build it and they will come ,grow it and feed more than one, worship it and you’ll have the whole damn world at your doorstep

  15. I know the feeling on your “old” Lexus! I bought a 95 Dodge dually with the V10 to tow my race truck with.I bought it used in 2000 with 45k on it,now a few hundred miles from 100k.It’s got faded peeling paint,the dash is cracked everywhere,and the mpg sucks…But I’m gonna drive it till the wheels fall off!

  16. Hi George,

    Best wishes for next Thursday!

    Regarding staying or moving, I agree with Ecuador guy that if you’re staying in the country, stay where you are. You have paradise. I have something similar, without the magic ingredient – a dear wife! Doing it alone sucks, but sometimes it can’t be helped. As long as you’re debt free and the county isn’t rattling your cage, just your car, then leave well enough alone. Find someone or a couple that you can really trust that’s younger and put them in Panama’s place when he moves. Let them earn their keep by keeping the place up, and perhaps doing trips to town. There’s no point in chasing kids – they all live in different places and will move in a moment, unlike you. Lastly, life is temporary. Enjoy it and don’t expect to survive heart attacks, etc. Yes, do your best, but accept that you could die tomorrow, or 30 years from then. Same with dear Elaine, sad to say. Accept that one on a visceral level and just enjoy life without overly planning the next 30 years. My eyes are not what they were 30 years ago either, and neither are a lot of other things, but I can still function.

    The only reason to live in a city is if one or both of you has an overriding need for engaging in city things, such as opera, concerts, plays, university stuff, and similar. Moving for a hospital might be a choice, but in my case, I’d refuse. Life is to be lived, not endured. If I was not able to drive or get equivalent transport, I might consider moving to a city, but not otherwise.

  17. Gerge, why not rent? Find a young person who can take care of your Texas property, or maybe one of your readers?, and then go rent for a year in Tyler, or Phoenix, or Las Vegas or where ever? See how you like it in the city. You can’t really know a place till you’ve lived there. You then always have your Texas place to bug out to if you need it.

    • Believe it, or not, depening on how the current bubble in stocks goes, this is a very high probability outlook for us…I’ll explain more in Monday’s column…

    • ..also live on rural acreage,but 8 miles from Tyler. (we are in our early 60’s) …cannot even imagine living in town!!! we have a huge garden, chickens, well water, cleaner air and NO NOISE except the birds. Everyone we know who has moved “closer to the hospital” has come back to the country after a year or less…ALL agree that moving to town was the worst decision they ever made( and are now mostly in their 80’s now so l think they are doing fine!)
      just stop trying to make your place look like “a park” and sit on the porch more! (or move a little closer to Tyler , but in a rural area…there is still lots of space around here…) area code 75704 is the ticket!

  18. The most important thing about this is make sure you breathe because it may come to a shock to you what’s happening so make sure you breathe in and out because people become to the point where they’re like I can’t pray what do that just breathe in and out and then everything will work out pretty much like you would like it too if you breathe but do not stop breathing it’s like you know once you stop playing you stop playing want to stop breathing you stop breathing

  19. are you nuts? moving to the burbs? stop thus insanity!! trade fresh air, peace and quiet, your own garden, etc etc for nasty city air, NEIGHBORS, and chlorine in your water? living where someone lives right on top of you and knows every move you make????? Everyone l know who has moved out of a rural area,(even to Tyler, 10 miles away and ALWAYS after a health scare) has REGRETTED that decision.

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