A year and a half ago I moved to the Hudson Valley, a rural area 90 miles north of New York City. Instead of hipster bars or trendy bistros, I’m surrounded by apple orchards, vineyards, swimming holes, and hiking spots. And my priorities have changed … a lot. Here are 6 things I stopped giving a sh*t about when I moved to the country.
1. Dressing up/looking good.
Living in a major city, I felt subtle pressure from my friends to get dressed up, even if I was just going to someone’s house party or the gay night at the club. My style was fairly low maintenance, consisting mostly of button-downs, jeans, and an assortment of statement socks and bright sneakers, but it still took time and effort to find nice clothes that fit my budget and my gender identity.
Now that I live in the country, I’ve adopted a new look. Most of the time you’ll find me in a blend of athleisure and comfy chic (think cashmere socks and silk robes with yoga pants and 10-year-old tees). I work from home so I don’t need to look good in the day, and I DGAF if the neighbors see me running out to the supermarket in Thai fisherman pants and a tank.
The best part? Since I don’t dress up for work or socializing, I’ve downsized on my dressy gear and donated the surplus to local charities. And when I’m going out and want to look nice, dressing up feels fun and not like a chore.
2. Hitting the bars and clubs.
Sure, the Hudson Valley has its share of bars, clubs, live music, and summer festivals, but the parties tend to start and end early and fall mid-week rather than on the weekend. Friday night I’m not likely to hit up the local nightclub or gather with friends at a bar. After a few too many nights staring down a pint glass while some rowdy locals yell over one another, I gave up on going out just for the sake of being out.
I go out when there’s something I’m truly excited about doing (like our monthly book club in a bar meetups) but the need to go out just cause it’s the weekend is gone. Now that I’m spending less money on things like fancy dinners, craft cocktails, and club covers, I’m saving more money to travel. I also have renewed appreciation for urban amenities when I’m in a city and have access to more diverse nightlife options… and I take full advantage.
3. Getting competitive with other people.
Living in a city, it’s super easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, whether it’s a friend who’s finding more success at work or dating or the super obnoxious driver who’s trying to cut you off in the left lane.
After over 5 years of being a stereotypical Boston driver I got sick of the need to compete over parking, merging, and everything else. And I was tired of envying a friend’s success — it just didn’t feel good to compete. I made the conscious decision when I moved to the country to let go of the little things and only get competitive about what’s really worth it to me.
I still get caught up in envy and competition but I’ve dialed it back 80 percent, and I can’t remember the last time I beeped at another driver for doing something dumb.
My life is so much better without all the aggression and drama that I wish I’d wised up tot his one years ago.
4. Fear of missing out.
Ever secretly worried all your friends are hanging out without you? I found myself feeling like that a bunch when I lived in the city. I’d see pics on Facebook or Instagram for events I hadn’t been invited to and I’d feel bad. Or I’d force myself to make the 45-minute trek across town to go to some event I didn’t want to go to, just because “everyone else” was going to be there and I didn’t want to miss out.
It all got to be super unrewarding, but there didn’t seem to be a way to let it go — and keep my friends.
I’m still settling into my country life and I’ve found some friends, groups, and communities I like. For the most part, the social pressure is gone since folks in general are more relaxed and welcoming. Now, when I show up somewhere it’s because I want to be there, not because I feel I’m supposed to be there. As a result, I’m more present, I’m able to have a better time, and I don’t worry about what’s going on elsewhere.
5. Buying things I don’t really need.
Since I’m self-employed, it doesn’t matter where I live, so why spend so much money living in a city I’d outgrown? I intentionally moved somewhere with lower rent costs, so I could stop paying so much for the privilege of city living and put more money toward the things I value in life (of which travel is a major part).
As part of that, I made the decision to be more mindful about the things I do buy, whether it’s at the farmers’ market or the mall. I’ve cut way back on treating myself to things like froyo or coffee drinks simply because I’d have to get in the car and go get those things. I’m spending less on yard sale splurges and thrift store finds for the same reason … there’s not as much around me to buy, so I’m not facing the temptation to buy something just because it’s there.
6. Making excuses.
Some people thrive on the energy of a city and use that to hustle and make things happen for them. For me, I wasn’t getting done what I *really* wanted to do living in a city — write and publish my novel. There were always too many temptations that got in my way of showing up for the work of writing consistently.
What tempts me to get out here is the beauty of the natural world around me. I’m more likely to pack up early and go on a mid-day hike, and when I’m hiking in the woods alone I’m able to work through roadblocks in my writing. With fewer social obligations I’m not feeling pulled away from my writing. In fact, most days there’s little I’d rather do than sit on my porch swing with some fresh iced tea and work on a chapter. It took moving to a quieter place to get the focus I needed to really be productive in ways that were meaningful to me.