Thursday, March 21

What We Really Want

Mandy and I are at a crossroads. We’re trying to figure out where we want to settle. It’s a tough decision.

We’ve learned a lot in the past five years and we’re far more informed than we were when we left Kentucky. And even then we knew we wanted to avoid long commutes and living distant from needed destinations. From a Transition standpoint it makes sense for us to condense our lifestyles and to reduce all trips. We understand and accept this.

But herein lies the conundrum: horses.
Lexington is the “horse capital of the known universe.” Except that there are few horse farms in the city proper. Lexington created an urban growth boundary ages ago at the behest of the horse “farmers” to prevent the encroachment of sprawl into the periphery of the city. This would have been a great idea if it had been done to preserve the city’s local food delivery system. That wasn’t the case. It was to preserve the wealth of the wealthy.
In our modern society we do not use horses for draft, for eating, for transportation, or for any needs based purpose. They are right up there with our grossly overpaid sports athlebrities.
In a ring around Lexington, perhaps 20 miles out, rural land is excessively expensive because of these multi-million dollar horse farms. You have to get into the suburbs before homes become affordable to the (lower) middle class and those homes do not come with much land or character.
What this means for me is that I have two options: commute 30+ miles to work or live in the soul-crushing suburbs.
What this means for my family is this: we need to decide what we want as a family. I know what I want personally. I want to live on the fringe of the woods, to be able to walk on my own land, and to have some space between me and my nearest neighbor. I don’t want to listen to the noise of incessant traffic. I also don’t want to have to drive 30 minutes to the grocery store, and I sure don’t want to drive 45 minutes one way to and from work each day.
Where do we find our balance of resilience? In the long, long run I think owning land and being able to provide food for ourselves would be the most bang for our buck. I may not always work in Lexington. Heck, someday I might write that bestseller! But if we confine ourselves to the suburbs we lose a lot of the opportunity to be resilient. Of course in the short term choosing to live in the country means we’ll be putting a greater share of our resources into fuel and time for me to commute. We can mitigate that somewhat by planning to buy a hybrid in the future, but for now that just means hundreds of miles of commuting by car each week. That’s time and money lost.
My heart says country, but my wallet says city. For me, alone, the decision is easy. It’s not so easy as I look at the needs and wants of my family. I have to remain cognizant of the fact that economic conditions could worsen before they improve. If food costs go up and we can provide food for ourselves then having land makes good sense. But if food costs go up it is most likely because fuel prices have gone up.
Again, I may not always work in Lexington, so fuel costs may not be the major factor in the future either.
However, if economic conditions improve (if I make more money over time) then fuel costs don’t matter and we can presumably rely on the existing food delivery system indefinitely. That doesn’t really help make the decision either.
From a lifestyle point of view, I think owning land and growing our own food is going to make us healthier. We’ll be more active and will be in control of our own food supply to some extent. I think we’ll be happier in general and when we want to venture to the city it’s still there within reach. But I'm not 100% certain of this.
It’s a conundrum. And there are other factors I just haven’t listed here because they’re not relevant to the greater populace. I want what’s best for my family. Deciding what’s best separate from what we desire is difficult.


  1. Have you considered perhaps renting for a year (or so) to give yourselves time to figure things out? In the past, we have rushed into purchases and then regretted some (or many) parts of that decision.

    It sounds as though there are pros and cons to either choice and ultimately, a decision has to be made. I can understand wanting to settle for the wee ones benefit, but at the same time, having the ability to move again without having to sell a home might be beneficial?

  2. I definitely love living in the country. But I am lucky living only 5 miles from town. Even this close there are tradeoffs. Our friends in town usually have only a single car in their families. Their kids also have the ability to go to friends houses easier so we are a little more isolated out where we live. Of course, the flip side is we have a stream, deer, turkey, etc. outside of our doors. I have a huge garden. In the end I couldn't as a country boy live in town when there was so much country.