Three and a half years ago, my husband and I headed out north for a job interview. We left our home in a suburb of Boston, starting out on a four-lane highway, which grew more and more narrow as we approached our destination. The signs became more interesting too: “Deer Crossing,” the first warned; “Moose Crossing”; and ultimately, “Bear Crossing.”
“Where are you taking me?” I joked. I had grown up vacationing in New Hampshire’s touristy Lakes Region, but while that felt charmingly removed from city life, this felt downright remote.
Still, when my husband was offered the job, I agreed to move without hesitation. He had immigrated to the U.S. to be with me, and since he wasn’t yet a citizen, this job was a rare opportunity for him to work in his chosen field. I wasn’t thrilled about living in the middle of nowhere, but I figured given his sacrifices, I could tough it out for a while.
What I wasn’t expecting was to fall in love with rural life. It turns out, the change has had huge benefits for our quality of life — and our finances. Here’s how.
We Spend Significantly Less
The town that we settled in has a population of about 13,000 people, less than a quarter of the town we left. With this smaller size comes fewer options for spending: There are about four restaurants, the smallest T.J Maxx I’ve ever seen — and that’s about it.
Initially, this felt oppressive. In Massachusetts, we dined out two to three times a week, and aimlessly shopping was one of my favorite weekend pastimes. Without those options, however, we started spending significantly less on entertainment and dining — even as our grocery bill increased. Instead, we redirected this money toward our debt and within a year had paid off a substantial amount and improved our credit scores.
We Cut Our Housing Costs
When we first looked for a place to stay in our new town, I was disappointed to see that rents were only slightly cheaper. But when it came time to buy, the difference in home prices was huge — about 50% less.
We put in an offer in November, just as the seller reduced the asking price by 15% to try to incentivize buyers before winter set in and he would have to pay to winterize and heat the home. All told, this cut our monthly housing costs in half.
We Can Spend on Experiences
While I’ve grown to love our new location, there are some things it’s lacking. On a smaller scale, this includes things like coffee shops and great sushi. As my daughter gets older, I’m also more aware of the lack of diversity she’s experiencing, so I have to consciously think of ways to expose her to different cultures.
Luckily, since we’re on more stable financial footing, we make family travel a priority. Since moving, we’ve gone to Montreal and Quebec, spent a week out west, explored more of New England and will soon be setting out for Hawaii and Australia. And when we’re at home, she can experience things a lot of other kids can’t, like trekking through a working farm, playing with the neighbors’ chickens and swimming in a mountain stream.
Recently, my husband and I took our daughter to Boston during a school vacation. By the end of the day we were exhausted from the sheer number of people, the traffic and the bustle. I may have been apprehensive to make the move to rural living, but now I can’t wait to get back to our tiny town.