City vs. Country Living

I'm a city girl, period.

Sure, living in the country has some benefits, I suppose. Less noise, no traffic, a slower pace of life -- but you're sacrificing much more than you gain out in those wide open spaces.

I get inspired living in the city. No matter how many times I pass the Rhodes campus, it takes my breath away. Driving past towering downtown offices as people scurry past on sidewalks each morning reminds me that I work among (and with) some of the brightest minds in the city. Looking out at the swirling river makes whatever problem I have seem insignificant. Sure, the traffic sometimes drives me nuts, and yes, we've got crime issues, but traffic is a small price to pay for all the amenities at hand, and I'm not dodging bullets in my everyday life. In fact, sitting out on my patio with a cup of coffee and the paper is a quiet, peaceful way to start the day -- with the bustling city all around me, yet miles away. I have the best of both worlds, anytime I want it.

The city is where ideas are born and come to fruition. It's where people from every background and school of thought meet, and yes, clash. (A precursor to progress.) It's where a visit to the newest restaurant or a night of theater, music, or an art opening is a moment away.

Before you roll your eyes at the esoteric examples above, I offer you the practical. Need a last-minute recipe ingredient? A quick trip to the grocery and you're cooking. Need a bit of retail therapy? Choices abound. Living in the city offers more than just convenience: When you need medical help, major medical facilities are a short trip away. When a life is at stake, a long drive just isn't an option.

By choosing a country life, you're losing the diversity that a city offers, and I'm not just talking about its people. Cities offer endless choices as to where -- and how -- you live. In the country there's a homogeny to life. It's Stepford, with better acreage.

I'm not saying that I don't like people who choose to live in the country. It's a personal choice, and one I will respect. But country life seems devoid of most of the choices I make on a daily basis, and a life without choice isn't one I want to live.

--Mary Helen Tibbs

The fact that I just moved to the country four years ago doesn't really qualify me as a "country boy" in the true John Denver definition of the term, considering I had spent the previous 49 years of my life living in the city.

But I have been there long enough to make the argument that it is the preferable lifestyle for more reasons than I have space to list here.

I have experienced so many things that I never would have living in the city.

A Halloween bonfire in the front yard. Sitting on our backporch with my daughter and a pair of binoculars on a summer evening watching the bats circle the sky. Hanging out in the barn feeding our horses while a spring rain gently taps on the metal roof. Driving down our gravel driveway watching the deer prance around. Seeing a bluebird (not bluejay) for the first time.

And I will never forget the cool fall night that I got a phone call around 11 p.m. from one of my neighbors telling me that his horses had escaped. So I got my flashlight, put on my boots, and joined the posse to help round 'em up. Actually, I was the one who eventually captured them, earning me (kiddingly) the nickname from my neighbors as "The Man from Snowy River."

Still not sold on the idea? Aesthetics aside, the economic advantages of living in the country are numerous.

In the city we never could have afforded over five acres of land with a newly constructed house, a barn, and two horses. Paying taxes alone would have been prohibitive, not to mention the cost of the land. For the same price in downtown Memphis we could have a cramped studio condo in South Main overlooking a bunch of musty old warehouses.

Property taxes are a fraction of what they are in Memphis and Shelby County, utilities are half the cost, plus you don't have a water bill when you have your own well. But what about the long commute? I honestly love the time to plan or reflect on my day or just crank up the CD player and cruise down the highway enjoying the scenery. Who knows, I might even purchase my first John Denver CD.

-- Murry Keith

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