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When life isn't what you imagined...


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I am really struggling with lots of emotions lately and need help sorting through things.  I rarely post anything, but when I have you all have given me great advice and things to think on, so thank you!  

We moved to this house almost 2 years ago with a plan to stay 5 years then buy land and build a house on a few acres in the country.  We are currently in the suburbs. 

I really LOVE the location.  We can ride bikes to the park and hop on the major greenway system for miles.  We have a neighborhood pool, and we are close to any restaurant, and store you could ever need.  We can ride bikes to get ice cream, Walmart, the grocery store, and library if we really wanted to.  We are also in a very nice part of town.  

BUT I never imagined raising our kids in the suburbs.  I grew up in the country with acres of land, and my husband has always dreamed of the country life (he grew up in the suburbs).  I literally have always pictured (before it became a thing) a modest farmhouse with a huge front porch, a porch swing, a garden, woods for the kids to roam, going for bike rides through the country roads, and maybe some chickens!  LOL!

We bought this house because when we moved back here after living out of state for several years, we just simply couldn't afford a decent house on land, and definitely didn't have the finances to build.

When we finally get to a point of being able to move, the kids will be around 13, 12, and 8 (if we wait it out in our current house for the full rest of the time we had planned).  OR we could sell this fall, move into a camper (we've done this before), live on my moms land for about 2 years maybe less (still need to crunch those numbers), then build, which would put the kids around 11, 10, and 7 at most. 

There are a few places we could move.  Some being 45 minutes to an hour from my husbands work and our church, but right by my mom (which I am on the fence about).  Some being more like 30 minutes from those things, but not in the most desirable area, and some being within 20 minutes or less, but suuuppper expensive and definitely could not do more than 2 acres, and neighborhoods popping up everywhere, but a very desirable area where lots of people we know live (probably the place I would like best of all of them, but wouldn't be able to really have what we want as far as land goes).  

1. I'm just struggling to come to terms with the life I dreamed of not being the life I'm living.  I'm not sitting on that front porch watching my kids play, gathering eggs, and tending to a garden (however I am sure it wouldn't look like that in real life, HAHA).  Instead, I'm sitting on my front step, trying to keep my daughter and neighbor from arguing (that's for a whole other post), and figuring out ways to stay busy away from home so I'm not dealing with the drama all the time. I'm listening to the traffic from the major highway that cuts through our neighborhood, and I'm trying to figure out where I can plant a garden with 11 trees in my tiny backyard.  AND I'm constantly having to watch the kids cross the street to the neighbors because the house beside them is a group home and creates a TON of traffic...so I'm always yelling "watch for cars".  BUT like I said above, there are definitely perks to the area!  So how do you deal with not living the life you imagined?  

2. I'm also struggling to imagine what life will look like for my kids as they grow up if we stay here.  We just have the kid across the street, the rest are elderly, and the kids are super scattered throughout the neighborhood.  You pretty much only get to know other families if you're in the neighborhood school.  For those who grew up, or raised kids in the suburbs, and were homeschooled, what did you like about it, or hate about it?  I imagine them as teens being able to walk to the pool, and walk or bike ride to the park and trails (but worry about traffic getting to those places even though side walks are available), but beyond that, I don't know.  What are the perks or downsides?

3. I'm also struggling to imagine what life would look like as a teen in the country (I can imagine as a younger kid, but not a teen).  Obviously as stated before, I grew up this way, but I was raised by a single mom, didn't go to church, and partied every weekend...the opposite of how I live my life now and how I'm raising my kids!  So if you grew up in the country, or are raising teens in the country, what does that look like...especially for teens that are making good choices in life and being raised with strong morals and values?  What are the perks or downsides?

Thanks for reading this far and for any help with sorting out all these things I'm trying to sort out in my mind! 

 

 

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We have raised our kids on the farm/homestead. None of our teens are interested in living this lifestyle as adults. They are all patiently waiting for their time to launch into their adult lives which, according to them, will be in the city. They do spend a lot of time outdoors, but I think that is because we have a nice lounging setup outside and they can read/screens out there as well as in the house. They have all at times expressed wistfulness about living in a neighborhood, riding bikes to places, pretty much all of the things you listed as perks. They have never had friends that came over or hung out with, just extended family. Our area is so small that meeting new people is impossible and they feel like they are missing out on that, especially since they don't go to school.

I am not sure I would change anything if I had to do it all over, especially in light of the pandemic, but my teens have all had the grass is greener feelings. Even our local community college, where they all took de classes, is so small that they new everybody in the first semester. The upside has been that all of my children are very close to each other and we are a tight knit family.

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With any life disappointment or change in trajectory, and it doesn’t matter how big or small, the key is how you frame it to yourself. A change in course is an opportunity, an experience to grow, a new and somewhat unexpected leg of the journey. Even with painful things this works.

The logistics take care of themselves to some extent... does it really matter what life looks like with a teen in _____ location if that’s where you have to be? Do you really think people cannot thrive in both environments, albeit with different specifics? That sort of thing will drive you crazy if you let it, and I’m a planner so I do understand the impulse 😉

But yeah, don’t engage in the negative framing and self talk. Different or unexpected or detoured or even traumatic doesn’t have to equal bad if you don’t let it. Humans are amazingly flexible in this, use that mental flexibility to your advantage and pick whichever choice is best on the merits, not the one that necessarily fits the ideals you once held 🙂

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It's hard for me to gauge from this post whether this is something that seriously effects you from day to day or if these are just musings. When I read your title, I was expecting something a little heavier, I guess? Like when I gave birth to a seriously ill child, with lifelong disabilities, I had to grieve the life I wanted and embrace my new life. I don't want to be dismissive, but I'm going to say bloom where you're planted. Start from a place of gratitude for what you have and ask God to reveal what he has for you there. Don't force changes because you're chasing a vision of a different life.

Practically, any of your plans could be fine, honestly. You have multiple good choices. I would try to make the decision not out of striving for a "dream" that you're picturing but from the reality that there will be things that will be undesirable in any scenario.

I can't help with your questions about raising kids in the suburbs vs country. I grew up in the burbs and we've raised our kids in the burbs. As the mom of many teens, I will say that it becomes increasingly important to them that they can access their friends easily and do "stuff." Between 13 and 16 are taxing ages for a mom because the taxi driving is real. They get involved in all sorts of activities and time with friends becomes super important but they can't drive yet. My teens work, too. So for my 15 yo that has meant two summers of me driving her to work every day. Once they start driving, I like that everything is nearby so my new drivers are only driving a few miles at a time. But when my kids were little we had a short stint on some property with chickens and that was a magical time for them, so I get the appeal. 

 

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@sassenach I was trying to be gracious, but yeah, had the same thoughts about this being an actual thing that was actually big in terms of life plans going awry. It’s hard to remember how difficult life can be until you’ve lived some of it, though. I remember when I thought a newborn who wouldn’t stop crying or a broken down car was hard. Scale is everything, eh?

Edited by Bagels McGruffikin
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1. I am sitting sitting in the kitchen overlooking our land thinking that I really should go gather eggs and tend to the garden. Lol. I had to spend many years in town saving up to get the rural place I wanted. Just like you, I grew up in the country and badly wanted that for my kids. I also came to the realization that town comes with many perks. Once we finally got our dream home, my dh took a new job and he isn't here to enjoy it with me like I had imagined. Bottom line, life always throws curveballs at me. I don't have a great solution for dealing with it. I just try my best to stay optimistic no matter what.

3. Ooh, raising teens in the country. Great question. It has definitely had its ups and downs, though it's been mostly positive. My dd is almost 17 and she spent 13-15 being extremely bored. She outgrew playing outside and I wasn't prepared to offer her other options. It was not great for her mental health although there many other factors at play too. I really questioned where we live and our decision to homeschool during that time. Now that we are on the other side, I will say that living in the country was a huge bonus. Gardening, caring for animals, even hauling and chopping wood (basically anything being physical and outdoors) ended up being hugely beneficial. She didn't always love doing these things but she couldn't deny that they made her feel better. She still turns to those things when she has rough patches.

My next 2 are boys - almost 15 and 13. My 15 yo lives for the outdoors. He loves the outdoors and the woods. I can't imagine any other life for him. My 13 is not as enthusiastic but he already says he wants a place in the country when he grows up. Another plus, we all know the benefits of physical labor for teen boys. It is much easier to find that out here than it would be in town. So I'd say it is all positives so far for my teen boys.

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2 minutes ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

@sassenach I was trying to be gracious, but yeah, had the same thoughts about this being an actual thing that was actually big in terms of life plans going awry. It’s hard to remember how difficult life can be until you’ve lived some of it, though. I remember when I thought a newborn who wouldn’t stop crying or a broken down car was hard. Scale is everything, eh?

Did you change your user name or am I losing my mind?

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Just now, sassenach said:

Did you change your user name or am I losing my mind?

I totally did, used to be Arctic Mama 😉 kept the same avatar hoping that would help people as I’m more visual but apparently some people use primarily screen names 😂

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Can you afford a camper without selling current house?

If so, I suggest: Go live on your mom’s  Land ASAP as an experiment.

But have your house to return to.

also consider a suburb house with more space for garden, less busy street 

 

younger is better in many ways for country.  Teen years can look more like chauffeur time. Unless teen is very into country things. Horses. Chickens. 4H etc.   social can be hard unless lucky with others nearby   Jobs for teens can be hard to find in rural areas

 

ETA all that said, if you love the country life, go for it when you are able to do so.  But it may for a few years look more like driving teens to friends / activities than you are now imagining

Edited by Pen
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1 minute ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

I totally did, used to be Arctic Mama 😉 kept the same avatar hoping that would help people as I’m more visual but apparently some people use primarily screen names 😂

No, it totally helps! If you changed your avatar, I would be totally lost. In a few weeks I'd be sending out a search party!

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8 minutes ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

I totally did, used to be Arctic Mama 😉 kept the same avatar hoping that would help people as I’m more visual but apparently some people use primarily screen names 😂

 

I’m a visual avatar person too.     I noticed the screen name change but it wasn’t confusing. 

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18 minutes ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

I totally did, used to be Arctic Mama 😉 kept the same avatar hoping that would help people as I’m more visual but apparently some people use primarily screen names 😂

I am so not a visual person that forever I had scrolled past your avatar thinking it was someone blowing a kiss before having a closer look 👀 

however even when people change names etc I seem to place them after a couple of days based on posting style etc if I’ve read enough of there posts.  And formatting etc...

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So, we were in the suburbs for 9 years, then decided that we wanted to travel more. We sold our house, and then our business conveniently tanked so there was no money for travel, lol.

We're now semi-rural, not much land but enough that I'm enjoying a garden with fruit trees and plants and scorpions. It is literally the definition of the opposite of what I was expecting and wanting, but I love love love the land here. It has sentimental value to me, as well as eventually I do want to have a land with garden, so that's helpful for my mindset.But there are days where I'm driving and I wish I were *really* driving, if you know what I mean. I have serious wanderlust and have for 4 years now. 

All this to say: I get you.

For you, what can you do on a daily/weekly basis that makes you feel like you are working towards your goal? Not in a make-you-even-more-dissatisfied type of way, but in a this-will-all-come-to-pass-eventually type of way? It sounds like you've already looked at different areas, you know what's in budget depending on which route you take. Can you start some plants in large pots that eventually can go with you? Can you start a small little savings account on the side from the main "move" account, so that once you're there you have starting money immediately for your garden or chickens? 

If you really truly want to be out, sure go for the camper. It's great because it can scratch the immediate itch of being out in the country more, but doesn't obligate you to a specific area or way of living for a 5-10 year stretch. (Beware of family dynamics, though...) And if you find that there is something completely incompatible with your kids or your husband's job or something else that life throws at you, you always have the option to try an in between of a few acres in a house that is an easy jump to town. 

Your kids will be fine either way, the suburbs aren't a death sentence, nor is the country. Just make sure that you are taking them into account with all of the changes, or at least acknowledge their own ideas,  their buy in will go a long way if you do.

Good luck as you figure this out with your family!

 

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45 minutes ago, sassenach said:

No, it totally helps! If you changed your avatar, I would be totally lost. In a few weeks I'd be sending out a search party!

Me too. I kept wondering who this Bagel Mc.... is  LOL.  Thanks for keeping us on our toes.

As to your OP... I wish there was an easy answer.

We raised our kids in the burbs.  You're right that it's great to be close to everything, especially when things like youth-group and team sports become a thing in your family.  My dh has always had the policy to be less than 30min from work (ideally - less than 20) so we never moved out much further because of that.  It was great when the kids were little because he'd come home for lunch several days a week.  Yes, I wanted to move - but far, far away.  I have never lived outside of this county.  So there is regret for me.  Now that my kids are mostly grown it isn't the same to think about moving away because it isn't part of the "family" adventure - if that makes sense.  

Living in a neighborhood is hit-or-miss.  Some of my kids got along great with neighborhood kids, others did not - especially the girls (girls can be so mean).  For a long time my kids were the only homeschooled kids and they were lonely.  The other kids knew this and could manipulate the relationship (again, especially the girls).    I think 10-15 is a very hard age to move kids from what I've seen of other friends.  Their friendships are super important to them and no amount of promises to stay in touch will help (and rarely did it happen).  

If you live in the country and you want to keep your kids involved in outside stuff you'll have to be willing to spend a lot of time in the car.  Only you can decide if that is an okay compromise.  

 Is it possible to re-create the country in small ways?  Could you move to a place in town that allows chickens?  In my metro-DC area there are a lot of incorporated cities/towns that allow chickens.  I'm not in an HOA and several of my neighbors have chickens.   You'd probably give up the community pool for that, but maybe it would be a possible compromise.    We have church friends who have done this.  They live in a tiny post-WWII house here in the suburbs - but without an HOA.  They grow many fruit trees and bushes, have a garden, and chickens.   I think their lot is very small (probably close to a quarter acre).   But they are both close to work (not that it matters now), church, and other activities.  

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We can have a whole thread commiserating about the horrors of the ‘Karen’ meme/persona but we can’t give the OP room to be disappointed that life is not exactly what she pictured without saying it’s small potatoes? As a military spouse, I’ve had to reinvent, re-commit, and re-imagine my life 100 times over in the last 22 years. It’s never easy. It’s never a walk in the park. It’s just plain hard. We can all appreciate that and take a moment to commiserate. Sometimes things are flat out disappointing. I’ve always found the best way to deal is to give myself permission to be sad, angry, frustrated, whatever and then push through. In the OPs shoes, I would not be planning to move. Perhaps because I’ve had so many moves in my life, stability is prized in this family, plus, your kids are only going to get older and crave more connection with the outside world, not less.

Edited by Sneezyone
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1 hour ago, saraha said:

We have raised our kids on the farm/homestead. None of our teens are interested in living this lifestyle as adults. They are all patiently waiting for their time to launch into their adult lives which, according to them, will be in the city. They do spend a lot of time outdoors, but I think that is because we have a nice lounging setup outside and they can read/screens out there as well as in the house. They have all at times expressed wistfulness about living in a neighborhood, riding bikes to places, pretty much all of the things you listed as perks. They have never had friends that came over or hung out with, just extended family. Our area is so small that meeting new people is impossible and they feel like they are missing out on that, especially since they don't go to school.

I am not sure I would change anything if I had to do it all over, especially in light of the pandemic, but my teens have all had the grass is greener feelings. Even our local community college, where they all took de classes, is so small that they new everybody in the first semester. The upside has been that all of my children are very close to each other and we are a tight knit family.

Same here.

I have a young adult dd who really craves the wide open spaces of farmland, though she doesn't want a farm. She comes here to decompress and enjoy the space. My dd18 feels the same way. Dd 18 says that she wants 2-5 acres with a house in the country, but has ZERO desire to farm. She knows the work is hard and nonstop. Overall none of them necessarily resent the work involved, but they don't want it for themselves once they're adults. 

My oldest did go through a phase as a teen where she wished for the suburban life, though lots of her thoughts and feelings were informed by grass is greener syndrome and the faulty idea that every teen in the neighborhood would be a kindred spirit who would like her and she would like them. My son does wish for a neighbor kid, he's my most social kid at home. But he likes being able to get outside. They have kayaks for the pond and fishing and stuff. 

My middle dd15 is the one who is most likely to do some small scale farming. She loves rasiing chickens and is hoping for beehives next spring. She just really has taken ownership of this place.

I wouldnt want to live more than 30 minutes from our activities. Farm life is busy and adding an hour and a half of driving time onto every outing really eats into things that MUST be done every single day. 

Nice things about having teens in the country: There's always some kind of work to keep them busy. My kids can always earn extra money doing real work for dad. They also have lots of experience with things like mowers, weed eaters and other practical equipment. None of my kids are strangers to hard work. My kids have gotten to where they prefer GOING TO WORK over working at home. My 18 yo finds that working in a restaurant is actually easier and more interesting than working on the farm. She does have bad allergies, so that makes a difference.

My dh and I have had to come to terms with the fact that we need to farm because WE WANT TO. Not because we expect our kids to love and appreciate it the way that we *think* we would have as kids. We can't take it personally if they don't love it like we do.

Edited by fairfarmhand
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Where ever you end up, just make the most of it. I'm a big fan of the saying "blossum where you are planted". 

 

Some kids will love the country, some won't. The frustrating part is often those kids live in the same family. 😉 Have you thought of asking the kids? Don't frame it as decision, just general discussion of what they would think of living differently.

I missed the opportunity to live in the bush through the winter because my step mom thought I would hate spending my senior year away from my high school and prom, etc. But I was a nerd and hated school and would have loved the opportunity. I did live in the bush in the summer. The bush is kind of like the country but much futher away and with no roads to attach it to town. 

 

For many teens, activities, job opportunities, and the freedom to get around will be more important than playing in the woods. You may end up driving long distances to these things disrupting time with younger kids before teens are able to drive themselves. My kids love and very much take advantage of living where they can hop on a bike and go to work or meet with a friend or head to youth group by themselves.

 

If you have project people though, they may enjoy having space to build, garden, have a workshop, or make their own business. So even that varies but I think the socializing and mentorship outside the home become increasingly important as kids age.

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It sounds like you're actually happy where you are and it surprised you. 

I think our house is maybe in a similar situation to yours and my kids are a little older.

What I like is that they can bike or ride the bus to lots of places.  They can go the store, coffee shops, the indie bookstore, the pool, gym, library and roller rink.  None of our neighbors are my kids age but they go together or meet friends there.

  We are able to have a few chickens and a garden but it's not overwhelming and it doesn't make it difficult to travel. 

 

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I truly appreciate your responses.

We actually lived in the camper at my moms for 4 months when we first moved back here.  So yes, we did get a glimpse into the country life with kids during that short time.  However, we were not yet established in a church, our old friends had moved, we were just starting to figure out homeschooling here and creating those relationships, so it was a very lonely time.  We knew it was a short term situation, so we didn't invest in trying to really create that life we were after since we knew we would just be moving soon anyway.  

Your responses have REALLY helped me think through this and consider all the pros and cons.  

We are VERY fortunate that we do have options.  We aren't stuck here.  I'm just overthinking what would be best for the kids long term.  We have moved A LOT the last 9 years due to my husbands job.  I feel like we FINALLY have stability as far as community goes, but still don't feel like we are home...if that makes any since at all, and feel eager to figure out home...either decide to stay, or decide to move.  I know home is where you make it, or as a couple of people stated, blossom where you're planted, which is so true!  It's just hard when you have options and can't decide which option to take...a good problem to have of course.  

I grew up pretty far into the country.  I couldn't wait to leave and never desired to return UNTIL I had kids.  Since I've had them, I've pictured nothing else but raising them that way, but I felt like maybe thats because it's all I know, which is why I wanted to seek out other people opinions of how they grew up or how they raised their children.  Maybe staying in the suburbs would be a more fun and exciting place to be as they grow up.

The idea of shuffling the kids around in their early teens has me definitely rethinking living out too far.  I am thinking the closer location where many of our friends live may be the best happy medium for us.  A little more breathing room, but still fairly close to daily life. 

All of my kids LOVE the idea of moving to the country.  My daughter loves animals and is very creative, and my middle son loves to work.  My youngest is only 4, so he doesn't care much right now where we live.  

After crunching the numbers, if we moved back into a camper, we could start the process of building or buying an existing home in whichever location we decide on in 18 months.  If we stay, we will be here for 4 more years before we can make any moves.  Part of me feels like, lets move so we can get the ball rolling, but then another part of me thinks lets stay and see where we are in 4 years...maybe it will feel like home after that long...maybe the appeal of moving will die down.  Oh, and we can have chickens where we are.  The former owners had them, but I know from the neighbors, they didn't like it...so I haven't gotten any out of respect for them.  I guess we will continue to discuss it, pray on it, and just see where the Lord leads us on this.

And I apologize to those couple of posters who thought my title was going to send them to a post describing major life altering circumstances.  Obviously this isn't a major deal in the grand scheme of life, but it's where I am right now.  I never post on social media, and rarely post here for this very reason...people make you feel dumb, irrelevant, unimportant, like your problems are silly in comparison to theirs...so those are the feelings you validated for me today, but for the rest of you...thanks for not making me feel stupid for feeling this way and for giving me some things to really consider!  

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21 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

 we can’t give the OP room to be disappointed that life is not exactly what she pictured without saying it’s small potatoes? As a military spouse, I’ve had to reinvent, re-commit, and re-imagine my life 100 times over in the last 22 years. It’s never easy. It’s never a walk in the park. It’s just plain hard. We can all appreciate that and take a moment to commiserate. Sometimes things are flat out disappointing. 

Yeah, it's not a contest. The OP said she was struggling, not that it was a tragedy. If you can't identify or empathize, scroll on. When you have always pictured your life a certain way, it can indeed be a struggle to figure out if that long-term vision should change. I know I struggled with my sense of self when I realized that the types of work I always envisioned for myself were, in fact, not the ones I was best suited for nor the ones I enjoyed the most. Life is a journey and friends and boardies should be glad to help each other along in that journey. So, great question, OP. It's smart of you to really think about it and ponder the differences. 

2 hours ago, LVG said:

  #1 I really LOVE the location.  We can ride bikes to the park and hop on the major greenway system for miles.  We have a neighborhood pool, and we are close to any restaurant, and store you could ever need.  We can ride bikes to get ice cream, Walmart, the grocery store, and library if we really wanted to.  We are also in a very nice part of town.  

#2 BUT I never imagined raising our kids in the suburbs.  I grew up in the country with acres of land, and my husband has always dreamed of the country life (he grew up in the suburbs).  I literally have always pictured (before it became a thing) a modest farmhouse with a huge front porch, a porch swing, a garden, woods for the kids to roam, going for bike rides through the country roads, and maybe some chickens!  LOL!

#3 When we finally get to a point of being able to move, the kids will be around 13, 12, and 8 (if we wait it out in our current house for the full rest of the time we had planned).  OR we could sell this fall, move into a camper (we've done this before), live on my moms land for about 2 years maybe less (still need to crunch those numbers), then build, which would put the kids around 11, 10, and 7 at most. 

#4 1. I'm just struggling to come to terms with the life I dreamed of not being the life I'm living.  I'm not sitting on that front porch watching my kids play, gathering eggs, and tending to a garden (however I am sure it wouldn't look like that in real life, HAHA).  Instead, I'm sitting on my front step, trying to keep my daughter and neighbor from arguing (that's for a whole other post), and figuring out ways to stay busy away from home so I'm not dealing with the drama all the time. I'm listening to the traffic from the major highway that cuts through our neighborhood, and I'm trying to figure out where I can plant a garden with 11 trees in my tiny backyard.  AND I'm constantly having to watch the kids cross the street to the neighbors because the house beside them is a group home and creates a TON of traffic...so I'm always yelling "watch for cars".  BUT like I said above, there are definitely perks to the area!  So how do you deal with not living the life you imagined?  

#5 2. I'm also struggling to imagine what life will look like for my kids as they grow up if we stay here.  We just have the kid across the street, the rest are elderly, and the kids are super scattered throughout the neighborhood.  You pretty much only get to know other families if you're in the neighborhood school.  For those who grew up, or raised kids in the suburbs, and were homeschooled, what did you like about it, or hate about it?  I imagine them as teens being able to walk to the pool, and walk or bike ride to the park and trails (but worry about traffic getting to those places even though side walks are available), but beyond that, I don't know.  What are the perks or downsides?

#6 3. I'm also struggling to imagine what life would look like as a teen in the country (I can imagine as a younger kid, but not a teen).  Obviously as stated before, I grew up this way, but I was raised by a single mom, didn't go to church, and partied every weekend...the opposite of how I live my life now and how I'm raising my kids!  So if you grew up in the country, or are raising teens in the country, what does that look like...especially for teens that are making good choices in life and being raised with strong morals and values?  What are the perks or downsides?

I've done some snipping and added numbers in red so you can better see what I'm responding to. 

#1, really loving your location is extraordinarily valuable, imo. I'd be very reluctant to move and I only like my neighborhood, lol. I know some people would say you can simply move again if you don't like the new adventure, but the very idea exhausts me, I'm not a person who thinks packing up and moving is no big thing (I envy those who do think that!). 

#2, it really can be a challenge to see yourself and your life in new ways. It's jarring to kind of think, hmm, I'm not actually the person I thought I was. Accepting that is an internal process you have to work through. It helps me to think of it as a growth process, and to remember that changing my mind about work or lifestyle doesn't change who I am in essentials. 

#3, my personal opinion is that you will have missed much of the 'golden time' for growing up in the country even for your early timeline and will be entering the most difficult time, especially for kids who are used to living in the city or burbs Others will have a different opinion for sure, but that's mine. Also, there is no amount of money that would induce me to live in a camper with 5 people for 2 years. I know you've done it before, but keep in mind that your kids were two years younger and smaller. 

#4, this is a lot like #2. Mostly you need to realize that it's fine to leave old daydreams and goals behind when they no longer suit you. Or it's fine to keep the daydream and realize that's all it is, a daydream that you don't truly want to make reality. So you realize that you've changed and learned a lot about yourself and your family, and enjoy the perks of the lifestyle you do have. 

#5, I don't think it tends to be any easier for rural kids to find friends. It's just luck of the draw. Some kids find it easier, some find it harder, some have lots of potential friends, others few, no matter where they live. My kids homeschooled in the burbs and we actually did have a decent number of kids around, but they really never had true friends in the neighborhood. They had some playmates, which was great, but having kids around doesn't automatically translate into friendship. We did a lot in the homeschool groups, and they had some friends from that, along with the tween/teen version of playmates - people they got along with and who it was fun to do group activities with. The short story of how I handled homeschooling in the suburbs with no neighborhood friends: I drove, a lot. I hosted clubs and social events at my house, a lot. Oh, and keep in mind that neighbors come and go, and that kids not being on your street will not be a big deal as they get older. 

Oh, and the way to meet public school kids is to be in the front yard in the afternoon/evening! Be a consistent presence and eventually the kids will start talking to you. 

#6, I think being a teen in the country can be a very rough gig, especially if you didn't grow up there, and especially if you have more unusual interests (harder to find people to share them). Some rural and semi-rural areas have vibrant homeschool communities, and a lot of people connect via their church. If you find a location with those things, that's a good start, but make sure you really investigate. Some of the homeschool communities are not only religious but a certain 'flavor' of religious, and it's really hard to fit in if you don't match that. We ran into that a lot even in the burbs of a big metro area. And, I didn't live in the country but I had cousins who did, and some of them are still there with kids of their own. One mistake people make in moving to the country is thinking that they will be keeping their kids safe from things like drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity. This is no more true for the country than it is for private schools. 

 

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Sorry if I missed this, but how far away is your mom from where you live now? We have a shared cabin in the woods 2 hours away, and that fulfills most of our need for space, nature, and lighting fires, lol. It's great but after a few days I have had my fill, and I'm ready for high speed internet, decent phone coverage, no mice, and no howling coyotes. It very much confirmed my thought that I did not want to ever live in the country. 

Maybe you could have a camper on mom's property while still living where you are, and visit frequently. If it's an hour or less, you could maybe even try your hand at gardening and such. You might find that everyone loves it and is clamoring for more. You might find that everyone likes it but considers it a sufficient amount of country, lol, or you may find that the only part they really enjoy is visiting grandma. 

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7 minutes ago, katilac said:

Sorry if I missed this, but how far away is your mom from where you live now? We have a shared cabin in the woods 2 hours away, and that fulfills most of our need for space, nature, and lighting fires, lol. It's great but after a few days I have had my fill, and I'm ready for high speed internet, decent phone coverage, no mice, and no howling coyotes. It very much confirmed my thought that I did not want to ever live in the country. 

Maybe you could have a camper on mom's property while still living where you are, and visit frequently. If it's an hour or less, you could maybe even try your hand at gardening and such. You might find that everyone loves it and is clamoring for more. You might find that everyone likes it but considers it a sufficient amount of country, lol, or you may find that the only part they really enjoy is visiting grandma. 

She lives 40 minutes from my house.  

That is a great idea:)

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2 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

My kids have gotten to where they prefer GOING TO WORK over working at home. My 18 yo finds that working in a restaurant is actually easier and more interesting than working on the farm. She does have bad allergies, so that makes a difference.

My dh and I have had to come to terms with the fact that we need to farm because WE WANT TO. Not because we expect our kids to love and appreciate it the way that we *think* we would have as kids. We can't take it personally if they don't love it like we do.

My dd had to work at the grocery store on her 17th birthday and one of her co-workers was sympathetic to her. Her response was that she would rather work at the store on her birthday than work on the farm on her birthday, its air conditioned in the store and the work is easier! Haha

We know there probably won't be one who wants to take over, and that is ok. We are planning to stay here until we die, provide a place of respite, a place they can all come home to in an emergency, a place they can build or camp or live if they need to temporarily, a home base essentially while they are building their home bases for their families. Then, if no one wants it, it will be sold and divided up. We aren't sentimental about it, we will be gone and we don't want to burden them like we have seen happen in other farm families.

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We live out in the country and have since our oldest two were 3 and 1 ... so 17 years now. Smack dab in rhe middle of corn and soybean fields on a gravel road with 1 neighbor a half mile away. Climbing trees and walking down to the creek and riding go carts down the road as kids, working for farmers as tweens and teens, we've all loved every minute of it.

My kids all say they can't imagine living somewhere with lots of people around, even the very outgoing ones. Now, we never had a farm and all the backbreaking work that goes with it, so that may have helped its appeal some 😊

My teens had/have plenty to do with church youth groups and extracurriculars, but I was usually able to schedule a weekly shopping trip around those so it wasn't a huge amount of driving for me. It was a relief when the oldest got his license though!

Mostly, they had each other ... and time ... and space ...

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4 hours ago, LVG said:

I'm also struggling to imagine what life would look like as a teen in the country (I can imagine as a younger kid, but not a teen).  Obviously as stated before, I grew up this way, but I was raised by a single mom, didn't go to church, and partied every weekend...the opposite of how I live my life now and how I'm raising my kids!  So if you grew up in the country...

(Haven't read any responses--just answering your initial question)  I'm sorry you're down about it taking longer than you hoped to achieve your dream home.  The feeling of loss is part of grieving for what you thought you'd have, and it's important to let yourself go through it.  I also spent my teen years raised  in the country and by a single mom, but we were very, VERY involved in church, and I definitely did not party.  😆  We ended up living out on land because my parents wanted to homestead in the 90s.  I have actually reflected about the pros and cons of raising our kids in the country in terms of my own kids.  First, though, remember that what you have in your head is a dream that YOU and your husband have.  Your children do not have that dream.  They know nothing of it.  They do not feel that they are missing anything and, if you do your best to build a magical childhood for them, they will love growing up in the suburbs.  If you move to the country when they are older they will have many years to enjoy it as well as a family home to come back to.  My father actually died about four years after we moved out onto the land which made things difficult. We eventually got a huge garden going and, after I moved out, my mom got chickens (which I am happy that I missed out on--chickens are gross 😅). Pros and cons:

CONS:  A) You are a "country person" which means you live "far away."  Often my friends from church and school were not allowed to drive to our house because their parents thought it was too far/dangerous (again, as a non partier I had friends from fairly protective homes which was a factor).  We always had to go to them which was tough as a teen.  You also have to drive farther to any activity or meet up which is lame AND no one lives near enough to you to carpool.  Some people don't mind driving but I loathe spending hours a week in my car just going to basic activities.  We live within 10 minutes of everything we do now.  B) The land takes over.  Our only extracurricular activities (besides church) as teens involved helping my mom maintain our property and helping to watch our younger siblings.  Sure, it "builds character," but it's a pretty one note way to do it.  Public school was actually important for me--i was able to take quite a few cool classes, have an internship in early childhood, and be involved in clubs that took place during the day.  Other than what we did at school it was all about the land.  C)  Loneliness is a factor for many kids.  Living with an introverted single mom in the country where no one wants to come to your house and you also have to drive really far to go anywhere was lonely for me.  That can be painful for your children if they are not introverts.  I feel that introverted parents have a tendency to downplay the need for social time in their extroverted children--maybe it's too uncomfortable for them to do the social stuff so they try to make their children believe that it isn't important.  But there is nothing wrong with an extroverted child, and they shouldn't be made to feel that way. In my family now my husband is an introvert and I am an extrovert, so we can balance that need for our kids.  My mom couldn't do that which was a con.

PROS:  A)  We had a lot of space and could do whatever we wanted around the land.  B)  We got to garden (well, we have a garden now, too, in our suburban backyards so...)  and be outside a lot either on the land or walking down country roads.  C)  Honestly besides just the pastoral feel and being out in the country there really isn't anything that we had just by living in the country that we would not have living in the suburbs (except raising animals--chickens are legal to have for the city but not our HOA).  Our neighborhood even has a ton of front porch people, so we can still be that.  

OPPORTUNITIES IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD:  Old people LOVE kids.  Make some stuff for the elderly people in your neighborhood.  My elderly neighbors love it when we bring around treat bags and things we've made to share.  Elderly neighbors are the best!  Arrange your schedule to accommodate play dates with kids from your street who go to public school.  You won't click with everyone, but if you make time you might find a family in your neighborhood that can become good friends.  All of the amenities that are nearby sound really great, too!  

Ultimately the benefits of living in the country vs. the benefits of living in the suburbs come down to personality and preference.  When you do move, there will be things about living in the suburbs that your children will miss.  It's actually cool that they will get two different living experiences while growing up instead of just one.  I know it will take time to get through a grieving process, but once you do embrace your current lifestyle for all the pros it has and make a ton of memories!  This can be a good and wonderful phase.  For me,  as I long as I have kids in my home I do not want to live in the country.  My husband and I discussed it for several years, but ultimately he liked growing up in the suburbs, and I found too many drawbacks to living in the country to want to raise my kids that way.  We want fast internet and stores nearby. We want neighbors you can walk to and to have people drive to us.  😆 We want to be able to fully engage in activities instead of limiting ourselves due to the commitment of a drive.  I guess for me, I've "had that" when it comes to country living and, due to personality and preference, am ready to do other things.

 

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I'm just going to send a hug bc I randomly have similar feelings, but I'm the one out in the farm an hour from a Walmart, the library,  co-op, ect.  There are pros and cons no matter where you live.  I often feel like our kids could be in more activities if we lived in the town an hour away- and we could still live on a farm, just not this farm.  But this is a family farm, DH is 3rd generation,  and our kids are the 4th generation.  I think I married the farm when I married him!  Lol!  I get the whole bloom where you are planted, but sometimes I just need to vent.  Life is pretty much never exactly as we expected.  

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I am very much a suburban girl at heart.  I kind of giggled when you mentioned listening to the traffic from the major highway near by.  I grew up close to highways....even as my family moved a LOT when I was a kid.....always we were very close to highways.  I have had some location upheval in my life the past several years and when we moved to this place, I am literally within walking distance of the freeway.  And I remember the night after we moved, the AC was broken and DH and I slept with the window open and I could hear all the freeway traffic.....it sounded like a lulliby to me lol.  I even posted about it here.  I felt like I had come back home after a few years in a semi rural location (people here who live in cities would call it rural, people who live in truly rural locations would call it "town."   Like "going into town."  

 

Anyway OP, I do understand where you are coming from.  When DH and I bought our house 17 yrs ago, it was supposed to be our forever home.  And.....for DD24, it was enough.  She managed to go from 1st grade to graduation in that same school district, in that same house.  

And then, DH lost his job, a move which was entirely dictated by DD24's scholarship, to a place I hated, and now, we are still renting and DH is only like 15ish yrs from retirement and we still don't have a home and my younger kids have spent more time in rentals and moving....much as I did when I was a kid and...................................no, this is not what I wanted for them.  

BUT....I can live where I am at.  I am not going to go absolutely bat poop crazy being as rural as I was 2 yrs ago.  (and that's not a knock on rural living....when you enjoy it you enjoy it....to each his own.   It's just not for me.)  As long as I am not going bat poop crazy, and I have access to the amenities that I want to access...I can handle the fact that my kids will likely have to move at least one more time, in spite of the fact that I never wanted them to move as much as I did as a kid.  

There are very much things about my life that I would like to be different.  But there are also a great many things that I know are the result of choices I have made, in part at least because the alternative would have resulted in a worse position.

Nothing in life is perfect.  I can't make it perfect.  But if I can get to a place where it's good enough.....then that's good enough for me.  If we can own our home in the next 12 to 18 months......................................that's good enough for me.  

 

 

ETA: OP, sorry, I hit send before I meant lol.  

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Life in the country with teens is difficult esp during those age where they have social commitments but can't yet drive. When we lived in the country, I was driving my teen (12-14) into town for choir, sports, visits to friends. Some days I would drive 100+ miles just getting her to 'her life'. It wasn't fun; we bickered. We paid a lot for gas. It was difficult to get friends to come to our house unless I was willing to do the driving.

We moved into town (we don't really have suburbs where we are) when our son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and life became different. DD was happier than she had been in years. She flourished with being able to get a job, drop over to a friend's house, have spontaneous activities. DS didn't care either way. We had to board our horse instead of have it on our property; we eventually ended up selling her because of the expense. We lost the privacy of the country, the long walks, the deer, the fox, the owls...those things we loved and which made our life a bit more 'us'. Our plan was to move back to the country as soon as possible. Well, life has been interesting and we're still in the little house in town. Now that our children are launched we have thought about moving to some property. The problem we have encountered is that property values in town have fallen but values in the country have risen. The house we sold to move in town recently sold for $40,000 more than what we sold it for (with no updates) while our house in town has lost value (with multiple updates). When we look at houses in the country here, we need thousands more than what we expected.

That's a round about way of getting to my point. If being in the country is your dream, do it sooner rather than later.  You never know what will happen in 4-5 years with property values, medical issues, or other life happenings. If you can embrace the experience along the way, that's frosting on the cake.

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We are still living in the 'temporary so let's not plant trees' house that we moved to in 1990.  I feel you!  

I always wanted a really big rambling house with a big lot or a little land.  I've realized that I'm not going to find that in a place I want to live that is close to what I need for a good late life--good medical and a great church particularly.  It's been hard to accept, but there are compensations.  I never ever dreamed high enough to let myself want a mountain cabin, and yet I have one.  It's not big and it's not on water, but wow, it's a dream I never dared to dream, and it's awesome.  I have it largely because I don't have the other--so we have been in the same little city house for 30 years, and so the property taxes are low and we never took on the 'step up' mortgage that the big ideal place would have required.  Plus our little house is close to our great church and excellent medical, and it's only one story.  That's good for the future in many ways.  

So I wonder, what can you do that would jump you forward into a life that is more like you want?  Could you build a gazebo instead of that big porch?  Could you put in a low picket fence to keep the kids out of the street better?  Could you help your kids build a cool clubhouse in the backyard that might be a she shed someday?  Do you have fruit or nut trees in or coming?  How about at least a few veggies?  And how about a couple of ducks?  They are quieter, and their eggs are richer than hens' eggs, and it's usually OK to have a few of them even in a city.  They do need a little pond, but you can set that up in a wading pool and dump the water onto the veggies from time to time.  You can do a lot of homesteadish things in a suburb.

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OP, parts of your original post was identifiable in many ways.

I left home and my native country in my early 20s and have not ever been back to live except visit. The life I am living now is something I have dreamt as a child and spent years preparing for, but the price I had to pay for living that life is not one I had anticipated to pay because it left leaving everything and everyone I loved behind.  I have wistfully looked back over the years with the what ifs especially when I see what my children miss which is growing up with family and such a huge part of my life. The life my children live looks nothing like the life I grew up with so I sometimes wonder. But that does not mean the life they live is not good. Nostalgia honestly blinds me sometimes to that and I see a bit of it in your post. 

Your children's idea of an ideal life may not look like yours even at a young age. My DH and I can easily go back and forth between our native country and here, our children cannot. Home for us is two places, for our kids it is right there. Look back to how your children liked living in the country and in the camper you describe ? Did they like it or did they have difficulty adjusting to it ? Will they resent you if you do that to them for a period of years even if meant building a house and giving them the best lifestyle you think you can ? In our case, we had to face that our kids cannot live a month there, they can do a max of 21 days. But if we had let that drive us DH and I would never had gone as frequently we need or as long as we were needed for other responsibilities, so we built a lifestyle where one of us stays here with the kids and the other goes. Sometimes it is just for recharging others it is because our parents needed us. Our kids do not like it at all, but we always tell them mamma and pappa need that. So see if you need to go to the country to recharge yourself. Leave your kids and DH for a weekend, they will survive and go. Have a camper there if you can. 

We all have versions of the ideal life we would love to live or strong pull towards nostalgia. But you are living the life you live in front of you, so never let that cloud that. Instead do things, surround yourself with what reminds you of that. I left my country of birth almost 20 years ago. I carry it with me in my language, music, decor , the way I dress and most importantly food. My children know it too because they are surrounded by it. But I take care not to drown them in it or impose it on them for it's their childhood and their house too. So I always try to do things that they love and are important to them. My children have distinct likes of their own and many of my preferences. So build your life around it, but find joy where you are right now while surrounding yourself with things that are important to you while not drowning your family in it. I hope something of my rambling makes sense.

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We always thought we would end up on an acreage. We thought we would be transferred again, so we didn't plan on this house being our last house. Once we decided to stay here, we looked for something. Everything was insanely expensive, or too far out, or sold before we could put an offer on. We put an offer on one place for more than the asking price within hours of it coming on the market and still didn't get it. I mourned. My husband and I both grew up on farms in the country. That was the life we thought we'd have. It isn't that life is bad now, but it was really hard for me to let that dream go. I just try not to think about it now.

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7 hours ago, sassenach said:

It's hard for me to gauge from this post whether this is something that seriously effects you from day to day or if these are just musings. When I read your title, I was expecting something a little heavier, I guess? Like when I gave birth to a seriously ill child, with lifelong disabilities, I had to grieve the life I wanted and embrace my new life. I don't want to be dismissive, but I'm going to say bloom where you're planted. Start from a place of gratitude for what you have and ask God to reveal what he has for you there. Don't force changes because you're chasing a vision of a different life.

Practically, any of your plans could be fine, honestly. You have multiple good choices. I would try to make the decision not out of striving for a "dream" that you're picturing but from the reality that there will be things that will be undesirable in any scenario.

I can't help with your questions about raising kids in the suburbs vs country. I grew up in the burbs and we've raised our kids in the burbs. As the mom of many teens, I will say that it becomes increasingly important to them that they can access their friends easily and do "stuff." Between 13 and 16 are taxing ages for a mom because the taxi driving is real. They get involved in all sorts of activities and time with friends becomes super important but they can't drive yet. My teens work, too. So for my 15 yo that has meant two summers of me driving her to work every day. Once they start driving, I like that everything is nearby so my new drivers are only driving a few miles at a time. But when my kids were little we had a short stint on some property with chickens and that was a magical time for them, so I get the appeal. 

 

I so so needed to hear this today! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

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We live in the country with a pre-teen and plan to leave because unless you are a farm kid and really into 4-H, hunting, or fishing, there is nothing for teens to do here, (other than drink and party).  My husband grew up in a rural area and was an avid fisherman in his youth, so he loves country life. But, he also went to public school and had a social network to tap into via school.  He was also a hard-core party guy and got into a LOT of trouble in his youth because they had nothing else to do except drink and get into trouble (and fish).      

There are a lot of wonderful things about living in the country, and I don't necessarily regret living here...but...it hasn't worked out the way I'd wanted.  I have to work really, really hard to find opportunities for my son to socialize. My kiddo is bookish and into "geek" culture.  He does not like outdoorsy stuff one little bit.  The other kids here are into ranching, camping, and 4-H.  Things were fine when the kids were little and content to play at the park, but once they all started hitting the middle school years, the friendships faltered because the kids didn't have enough in common.  I didn't realize how much of an issue that would be, and if I had it to do over again, I would have picked a different area to raise him and made "country living" a retirement goal.

Even though this is rural, I still don't feel comfortable letting my son mill around the streets on his scooter unless I'm watching.  People tend to speed out here because it's outside the city limits and the county sheriff doesn't patrol. People also let their dogs run loose and there have been issues with teens on bikes getting chased and bitten.  With houses so spread out, if there was a problem with an animal or a person hassling my son, no one would be able to see and intervene. If we lived in town, I would feel more comfortable letting him go off on his own because at the very least, he could pop into a store and ask for help if he had a problem.  I don't even really like leaving him home alone because *if* there was a problem, we don't have a close neighbor where he could run next door and knock on the door to get help.  That's very different than what I grew up with in the suburbs.  I had neighbors that I knew I could go to if a problem developed. 

Living in the country means that you will spend hours driving to activities if your kid decides they really, really want to take private music lessons, art classes, join a robotics club, etc.  What if their best friend is in the robotics club that meets 40 miles away? You will be driving a LOT to support that friendship in the teen years.  Same thing when they want to get a job or start dating. You will be doing SO much driving if you live out in the country. So, so much driving.  I was driving hundreds of miles every week pre-Covid.  My son is 12, and I feel like by now I should be fairly removed from organizing social events for him, but because socializing involves so much driving, long distances, and coordinating with other parents, I'm still the point person for all this.  It's exhausting!  Covid has actually given me a break from all that driving, coordinating, and stress.   

Edited to add: When my son was 8, I thought this was the greatest place to raise a child and declined the chance to move away.  My son had a great friend group and was very content with life. I'm sure if you asked him, he would have said he never wanted to leave here, either.  I had a dream of this being our "forever" house, one that my grandkids would come back to and visit.  Now we've all got a bad case of "Let's go!" because the area doesn't meet our needs anymore. All that is to say, I'm sure your kids would say *now* that they would love country life or whatever other fun option you presented to them, because they are still little and can't imagine themselves being anything more than exactly what they are right now. But they will definitely change as they get older. 

 

Edited by MissLemon
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9 hours ago, Bagels McGruffikin said:

I totally did, used to be Arctic Mama 😉 kept the same avatar hoping that would help people as I’m more visual but apparently some people use primarily screen names 😂

I totally did not notice the name change because I only see the avatar.  Lol...so funny.  

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When my boys were 11 and 12 we moved to the country. 15 minutes from a small town.  Especially for my son who lived with us full time, there as a lot of driving until he was 16 and could drive himself.  We only had an acre....so there was a limited amount of things they could do in the country.  However I would not have liked being in town for those ages either because so don’t like having to fight off neighborhood kids who are not who we want for friends.  Teens really really hate being so far from their friends.  So it is all a mixed bag.  
 

My son is married now.,,.step son still at home.....we are in town now which we all like better, but I miss parts of my old house....the lay out of this house is closed off and dark.  We just can’t have everything.  

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We’ve lived in the country since Ds was 7. I’ve dreamed of it since I was a kid in Houston. When our son was 12 he wrote me a letter saying he would never want to learn to drive, he wanted to live in a loft apartment in a city with a subway. Broke my heart, lol. A few years later we moved to an even more rural area.

It’s great to sit outside and see nothing but hills and trees. It’s great to know we could buy an alpaca, chickens, or even a cow, if I wasn’t so lazy. 

Ds was into books and science and math, didn’t care much for trees and dirt roads. He’s now in grad school near Boston, and feels like he is finally at home. He really dislikes NYC, but has fallen hard for Massachusetts. My grandpa was sent to an orphanage at birth and we recently learned he was born about half an hour from where DS is now; we visited my great-great grandfather’s grave last week. So maybe Ds really has found his roots.

Your kids are young. You have the time, at least, to move now and move again later, if necessary. You could also have a country life after the kids are grown. Don’t ever think that you need to find a place to be your forever home, at least that’s my opinion. Since you seem to enjoy your current home, I’d just take time to find the “best” rural area, what the people are like there( in our rural area way too many are Confederate flag fliers), what the tax rates are for farms, is there good internet, is there a decent hospital nearby, are the schools rated highly( for resale, in case you choose to leave). And 2 acres is plenty of room for chickens and a garden, if that’s what you dream of! 

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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I know a reasonable number of people who moved to town when their kids were early teens but no one who did it the other way. If you kids want to do sports or social activities you will have to drive them all the time and then let them drive themselves before you are ready to.  Isn't there a nicer, less noisy suburb with a better garden you could move to?  Otherwise I would do the camper option now while they are still young.

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10 hours ago, Momto6inIN said:

We live out in the country and have since our oldest two were 3 and 1 ... so 17 years now. Smack dab in rhe middle of corn and soybean fields on a gravel road with 1 neighbor a half mile away. Climbing trees and walking down to the creek and riding go carts down the road as kids, working for farmers as tweens and teens, we've all loved every minute of it.

Mostly, they had each other ... and time ... and space ...

 

We lived in a place very much like this. Ds grew up there. When he was 18, he wanted to leave the area and branch out. He chose a"rural" state but lives near a larger town. He loved country life and wants to get back to it but evidently remembers that the (gravelly and bumpy) road to and from the house took some time to navigate and a trip to the next town was an hour roundtrip minimum + errand time. So he would like to live in an open setting but near a larger town. 

When we moved to a different area - still rural but not as removed from the beaten path as we once were - he was disappointed that he would not be returning "home" when he visits for holidays.

The teenage years meant a lot of driving but he had friends with fantastic mothers who were often willing to meet us halfway so I didn't have to do all the driving every time someone came to spend the night or ds left to go to someone's house. Overall, it was a great way to live and grow up. He rode horses, fed the neighbor's pigeons, also fed another neighbor's livestock. We lived "slower" and closer to the land.

Edited by Liz CA
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OP - I can relate. It's not country-house vs. suburbs for us, but I don't feel "at home" in this house we've lived in for 25 years. I don't feel "at home" in this state I've lived in for my entire life. When we travel to the coast (where my family is originally from - my parents moved here without extended family when I was born) - it's a whole other experience. My soul feels at peace. A tension I don't even realize I carry everyday melts away. I look at the sky, the trees, the coastline as if I've known them forever and my heart is happy.

Even though DH is on board with moving - anywhere I want to move - there have always been Reasons for Staying Put. I've found an outward peace with it, but inwardly, I'm restless and rebellious against the feeling of being caught and struggling in a spiderweb.

We are almost empty nesters. We have envisioned making that leap once the last one leaves the nest. But, then we have houses to sell (or a leasing agent to hire for multiple properties). We'd have to decide to leave my parents behind (they're in their 70s now...) or work REALLY hard to get them to agree to move close to us (they might be willing). And the kids admit to feeling a little lost not having a familiar "home base" to return to (although they're all happy to go along with the moving plans and to make new memories if that's what we decide to do... but say it's a little weird to think of NEVER coming back here to visit. And, if we moved, we would never, ever come back here).

See? Always Reasons to Stay. *sigh*

Good luck to you as you work through it. (Your queries and ponderings are valid and worthwhile, btw.)

I like the above suggestion to move a camper onto your mom's property and use it for weekends/weeklong excursions while still living in the convenience of your suburban home. Living "far away from everything" with teens can be a real struggle.

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We never really had the option of moving out of the country. It's not like we could up and move the ranch! However, we're not that far out of town, though I did spend a lot of time driving when the kids were younger. If you do move out of the suburbs, you might find that the kids LIKE the country. I just read dd's rodeo queen tryouts portfolio, and after hoping to fly helicopters, she wants to return. Middle dd did return. Oldest never will be able to, as classical music doesn't exist here, plus our airport doesn't lend itself to getting anywhere, with only a few flights a week during much of the year. I know Navy girl sees them back in CO eventually, though she's currently on a boat! Ds will not be able to move back to our little town as his fiancee could never get work as a medical researcher! Maybe he could get stationed in CO though! My kids were content with sports teams (closest meets were 3 hours of driving and most were about 6), 4-H, music (we are blessed with a small university though I did travel for years for a youth orchestra for one, and later for private lessons when she outgrew the prof here), Scouts, and the ranch. I was just chatting with a friend today, the age of my oldest, and she was waxing nostalgic about how they all grew up, sending letters down the ditch, driving the pony cart, and running through the fields. Her oldest sister is recreating that life for HER kids. My kids were well aware how amazing it was that they had a ski hill on the far side of the ranch, could walk out the back door and go backpacking, and could ride their horses for miles. Your kids just might like that too!

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21 hours ago, LVG said:

I am really struggling with lots of emotions lately and need help sorting through things.  I rarely post anything, but when I have you all have given me great advice and things to think on, so thank you!  

We moved to this house almost 2 years ago with a plan to stay 5 years then buy land and build a house on a few acres in the country.  We are currently in the suburbs. 

I really LOVE the location.  We can ride bikes to the park and hop on the major greenway system for miles.  We have a neighborhood pool, and we are close to any restaurant, and store you could ever need.  We can ride bikes to get ice cream, Walmart, the grocery store, and library if we really wanted to.  We are also in a very nice part of town.  

BUT I never imagined raising our kids in the suburbs.  I grew up in the country with acres of land, and my husband has always dreamed of the country life (he grew up in the suburbs).  I literally have always pictured (before it became a thing) a modest farmhouse with a huge front porch, a porch swing, a garden, woods for the kids to roam, going for bike rides through the country roads, and maybe some chickens!  LOL!

We bought this house because when we moved back here after living out of state for several years, we just simply couldn't afford a decent house on land, and definitely didn't have the finances to build.

When we finally get to a point of being able to move, the kids will be around 13, 12, and 8 (if we wait it out in our current house for the full rest of the time we had planned).  OR we could sell this fall, move into a camper (we've done this before), live on my moms land for about 2 years maybe less (still need to crunch those numbers), then build, which would put the kids around 11, 10, and 7 at most. 

There are a few places we could move.  Some being 45 minutes to an hour from my husbands work and our church, but right by my mom (which I am on the fence about).  Some being more like 30 minutes from those things, but not in the most desirable area, and some being within 20 minutes or less, but suuuppper expensive and definitely could not do more than 2 acres, and neighborhoods popping up everywhere, but a very desirable area where lots of people we know live (probably the place I would like best of all of them, but wouldn't be able to really have what we want as far as land goes).  

1. I'm just struggling to come to terms with the life I dreamed of not being the life I'm living.  I'm not sitting on that front porch watching my kids play, gathering eggs, and tending to a garden (however I am sure it wouldn't look like that in real life, HAHA).  Instead, I'm sitting on my front step, trying to keep my daughter and neighbor from arguing (that's for a whole other post), and figuring out ways to stay busy away from home so I'm not dealing with the drama all the time. I'm listening to the traffic from the major highway that cuts through our neighborhood, and I'm trying to figure out where I can plant a garden with 11 trees in my tiny backyard.  AND I'm constantly having to watch the kids cross the street to the neighbors because the house beside them is a group home and creates a TON of traffic...so I'm always yelling "watch for cars".  BUT like I said above, there are definitely perks to the area!  So how do you deal with not living the life you imagined?  

2. I'm also struggling to imagine what life will look like for my kids as they grow up if we stay here.  We just have the kid across the street, the rest are elderly, and the kids are super scattered throughout the neighborhood.  You pretty much only get to know other families if you're in the neighborhood school.  For those who grew up, or raised kids in the suburbs, and were homeschooled, what did you like about it, or hate about it?  I imagine them as teens being able to walk to the pool, and walk or bike ride to the park and trails (but worry about traffic getting to those places even though side walks are available), but beyond that, I don't know.  What are the perks or downsides?

3. I'm also struggling to imagine what life would look like as a teen in the country (I can imagine as a younger kid, but not a teen).  Obviously as stated before, I grew up this way, but I was raised by a single mom, didn't go to church, and partied every weekend...the opposite of how I live my life now and how I'm raising my kids!  So if you grew up in the country, or are raising teens in the country, what does that look like...especially for teens that are making good choices in life and being raised with strong morals and values?  What are the perks or downsides?

Thanks for reading this far and for any help with sorting out all these things I'm trying to sort out in my mind! 

 

 


I think it's important to have goals and work towards those goals... But I'd strongly caution you to not live life on pause.  In another thread we talked about this and I dropped my favorite quote - “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.”

It's my favorite for a few really good reasons.  When my oldest kids were little, my husband was stationed at Ft. Irwin - smack in the middle of the Mojave Desert in CA.  We were *supposed* to go to Germany.  We were *supposed* to travel Europe.   It was *supposed* to have been an adventure.  Instead it was three babies in four years and burying our daughter and making lifelong friends that I wouldn't want to live life without........  I'm so glad I embraced that rat trap in the desert excuse for an army base.  I have some very fond memories. 😉 

Every (EVERY) single one of us is living the life we didn't imagine.  Love the babies, hate the poop.
I live the life you imagine.  I had the chickens, the goats, the garden, the trees.  We chose that and loved it! LOVED it!  With it came DH's daily commute, driving for EVERY kid activity, realizing not all friends will drive 30 minutes for a play date, driving 2-3 times EACH DAY into "town" for kid activities.  Bonus activities are: Hobbies such as "Get your tail out there and weed," and I love the, "WOW! How am I supposed to compost ALL this poop and straw on two acres and where do I pile it in the meantime?" Don't forget, "Seriously? Something ate all my EXPENSIVE COVID silkie & cochin purchases?!?!?!?!" I also am trying to embrace my new redneck neighbor with his four wheeler and the crop dusters.  

Real life is that every choice has upsides and downsides.  I love raising kids in the country.  They are truly home centered.  My teens must drive for all things - all activities, all practices, all classes, and work.  They know how to work and work hard.  

The most important thing I ever learned was to foster contentment.  I'm not there yet.  It's a constant striving - the irony of this doesn't escape me.  I have a family member that is... restless.  She works hard, loves much, but can't just rest in her mind, her efforts, or her life.  I am very like her in personality but I can choose differently.  She tends to brush over accomplishments to "move on" to the next thing, truly believing the next thing is going to bring her joy.  But, she doesn't rest in her life thus joy will always elude her.  She still hasn't realized she is chasing, always chasing, an ideal.  It will be a tragedy when she dies never having realized happiness existed where she was if she could have just looked around and taken the time to BE present and choose contentment.

Edited by BlsdMama
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I grew up in the country of a rural town. I loved playing outside when I was younger, all the freedom and space, the adventures. I hated the lack of opportunities and the limited friend group when I was a teen. My parents offered us some land to build on but we turned it down to be closer to town as by that point I was desperate to get away and find some like minded people and more to do. But there were costs associated with that choice. My brother decided to take land and build by my parents and I see how much closer his kids are to my parents. I see how much time I would have been able to spend with my parents. My mom has also never truly forgiven me for moving away (I'm only 45 min but that is forever to her). When the house burned I really went through a spell of wondering if we should just take our money and build closer but ultimately we decided to stay. Ultimately, what help me come to a peace about it was to remember and reflect on why we made the decisions we did. There were reasons why we decided to move and they are valid, there are pros and cons of everything. 

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19 hours ago, LVG said:

She lives 40 minutes from my house.  

That is a great idea:)

 

9,  8, 5 of so are great ages to be in country!

If you can get there in 40 minutes and stay in a camper or tent, you may already have a way to have in many ways the best of both suburbs and country right now. 

 

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All this talk of kids choosing the greener grass on the other side is interesting!

I grew up a farm kid (first hobby then Dad took over the bigger family farm.)  DH grew up in town.  We live in the country.  DD #1 just bought a house in the city - but with chickens, lol.  My DS lives in the city for school and prefers it.  DD3 talks about living in the city and not in the country.  

DH is the only one of 3 who live in the country - he grew up in a small town.

We talk more and more of moving into town because of my disability so there isn't the upkeep of the acreage/animals that I can't do as much now.  Interesting how it changes.........

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One thing that I'm learning is that planning for what we think our kids will be like in the future doesn't tend to turn out like we expected.  We live on 3 1/2 acres so we can do the garden/fruit trees/berry bushes thing and we love it.  But, we are only 2 miles from the interstate, which I get on almost every day to take kids to some activity.  My kids preschool years were spent in another state where we lived on 0.1 acre, which was standard for that area.  We enjoyed it, too - we couldn't walk to stores, but there were great sidewalks for walking or biking and a couple of parks in the neighborhood.  We liked the low maintenance lifestyle. 

When we moved to what we hope is our long-term area, both of us wanted space. My husband had grown up in small town on 6 acres, and I had always lived in a neighborhood but come from rural people who have usually tried to garden wherever they wind up.  Even though I grew up in a neighborhood full of kids, my friends all lived someplace that I had to be driven, usually in other neighborhoods.  

I tend to feel like we have the best of both worlds - plenty of space and no HOA, while just a mile to groceries and 2 miles to the interstate, with most activities within 30-40 minutes.  The kids have been interesting over time with the land.  When we first moved in, they were little and liked being able to run around.  As they got older, my girl loved the outside and my boy mostly came in to read and do legos.  Then boy got into baseball and it was great to have space to work on fielding - we've even had team practices in the yard on occasion.  Now as teen/tweens, the girl is mostly inside although during the shutdown she got into container gardening.  The boy seems to be in a 'need physical work' stage and he's also wanting to be helpful, so he's started doing a lot more garden work, picking berries, picking peas, and weeding.  He is content here, but sometimes my girl wishes we were in a neighborhood even though we know plenty of kids in neighborhoods with no other friends or who deal with drama.  But, both kids are actively involved in a couple of activities and they tend to find friends there.  Because they aren't involved in 'neighborhood/school-based' activities, I'd be driving no matter where we lived.  

The most noticeable trade-off for us is that the idyllic homegrown food takes a lot of work.  I love the seasonality of our life and am happy to sit at ball practice or karate class shelling peas or snapping beans, but the work doesn't just happen when it's convenient.  Baseball weekends are really hard sometimes - at the field all day, so we have to pick early or very late.  Grass-cutting takes a long time.  Many of our friends have tiny lake getaways or boats, but getting away every weekend isn't an option.  It's fine for us - my husband doesn't enjoy water so he wouldn't want to do that anyway, but I could have been happy to spend Saturdays on the water.  So, that's a trade-off.

I'm not sure I have a suggestion in this, other than that you should probably do what you think you and your husband will like long-term, because the kids could change a lot, unless you're thinking about moving again once they're gone.  After living here, one of mine talks about moving to a city loft, but then at other times both kids talk about how they'd like to eventually live here with their kids and have me and my husband live in a tiny house out by the garden, which, actually, wouldn't be all that bad.  🙂  

Edited by ClemsonDana
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Posted (edited)

DH and I have been talking about all of your input non stop.  You have really helped us a ton!!

I think we both feel that although we love the location we are in, it isn't what we ultimately want.  I don't think that image of being on some land will ever leave us, and I think we will both regret it if we don't do it.   As much as we love the pool, the parks, and the ability to ride bikes so many places, it doesn't take the place of the dreams we have always had.

Neither of us is too keen on the idea of moving far out, like where I grew up.  I think that drive, and the fact that there is NOBODY there I can relate to, will get old and lonely VERY quickly.  So that takes the 45 minute to an hour drive location out of the mix.

Both of us feel very good about compromising lots of acreage for just a couple, and to be within 20 minutes of the area we live in now, and 30 minutes from his work.  We really don't NEED a ton of land for what I want.  DH is a hunter, but we have plenty of land where my mom lives for him to drive up to and hunt, so I think keeping the property smaller, and closer to where we are will be a great compromise.

Now we are at the place of ahhhh...we need to make this happen sooner rather than later...maybe?  I feel like staying here for the next 4 years may result in the kids NOT wanting to leave since they would be at those older ages where it's harder to make a change.  Right now they have the one kid across the street that my middle son is pretty close with, but I know that could always change.  If the kids really didn't want to move, then DH and I will feel stuck here because I want them to have a home to feel like they can come back to that they have memories in.  I don't want us moving after they are grown and for them to not have that "home base" where they grew up.  I know ultimately it doesn't matter, and that I can't predict our future, but if I had to choose, it's what I would want for them.  BUT at the same time, now that we have decided on a general location, it's not like we will be going that far.  20 minutes max from where we live right now, and most likely closer.  NOTHING in our life will change other than the house/neighbors.  Church will stay the same, co-ops, homeschool friends, activities, etc...I mean whatever we are doing at that point will not have to change because of a move.  So with that said, would it be that big of a deal if we did wait it out?  They would be, as stated in an earlier post, 13, 12, and 8.  I can see where moving schools, cities, etc would be very hard at that age, but with none of those things being affected, would it really matter?

If we don't wait it out, we would probably put the house on the market sometime early next year, move to my moms, and wait about 18 months to buy land and build (we would build within the last 6 months of that 18 month stay).  That will be a hard 18 months, but doable, and would get us to the goal faster.

Now what to do...

ETA: The friends they currently have would all still be within the same distance that they are now...they are all in the country, with the exception of the kid across the street here...so we would be closer to the other friends.

 

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16 minutes ago, LVG said:

20 minutes max from where we live right now, and most likely closer.  NOTHING in our life will change other than the house/neighbors.  Church will stay the same, co-ops, homeschool friends, activities, etc...I mean whatever we are doing at that point will not have to change because of a move.  So with that said, would it be that big of a deal if we did wait it out?  They would be, as stated in an earlier post, 13, 12, and 8.  I can see where moving schools, cities, etc would be very hard at that age, but with none of those things being affected, would it really matter?

 

I think it will be harder, in the sense that change just tends to be harder at those ages, but certainly not a big deal like it would be if they left church, school, and friends. If that's the plan, I'd start talking about it (and talking it up) now, so it's a matter of anticipation instead of an unexpected change.  

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We basically did what you're describing 😄

When my oldest was about 8, God opened the way for us to buy some land. We looked for over a year before we found what we wanted. 20 acres, partially cleared, within 30 mins of a big town/city - our definition of big included having a university, so our kids didn't feel like they had to move away for opportunities later. 

Then we had to wait a couple of years for a job close to the block - dh retrained. We came out here when my kids were 10, 8, 5 & <2 ish and lived in temporary accommodation similar to your camper idea. Then we dealt with all the paperwork and started owner-building our house. It was hard work and it took a long time! Honestly if we had known it all before hand we might not have been brave - or foolish - enough to do it 😄

Now I have nearly 2 teens (15, and 13 next month) a 10 year old and 6 year old. We made an effort to get involved in a church and a homeschool group. We lucked out and some of my kids' best friends live within 10 minutes of us. We do church and homeschool group and activities in the big town, around 30mins away, we do one activity, once a week, in the big city 90 mins away and combine that with visiting family/friends. Some of the activities I manage to carpool which helps, but we just figured that driving was a part of the lifestyle. We have always been homebodies and jealously guard our home/family time so we just never got into the 'must drive every day' mindset, I'll only go out 2-3 times a week (pre covid).

My oldest is probably the most dissatisfied. It's hard to tell if that's a country thing or a 15 year old thing 😄 she remembers the most of our suburban life and gets a case of grass is greener syndrome. I think she *thinks* she'll move to the big city asap and live a fancy life. If I had to make a prediction, I think she'll prefer semi rural, she loves the open space more than she'll admit. At present, my boys (almost 13, 10, 6) all love the country and plan to stay. Well, my six year old swings between wanting to build his own house next door, and wanting to live in a skyscraper in the city 😄

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On 7/25/2020 at 8:13 AM, BlsdMama said:


I think it's important to have goals and work towards those goals... But I'd strongly caution you to not live life on pause.  In another thread we talked about this and I dropped my favorite quote - “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.”

The most important thing I ever learned was to foster contentment.  I'm not there yet.  It's a constant striving - the irony of this doesn't escape me.  I have a family member that is... restless.  She works hard, loves much, but can't just rest in her mind, her efforts, or her life.  I am very like her in personality but I can choose differently.  She tends to brush over accomplishments to "move on" to the next thing, truly believing the next thing is going to bring her joy.  But, she doesn't rest in her life thus joy will always elude her.  She still hasn't realized she is chasing, always chasing, an ideal.  It will be a tragedy when she dies never having realized happiness existed where she was if she could have just looked around and taken the time to BE present and choose contentment.

I hear you on this!  Contentment is something I have definitely struggled with...waiting until the NEXT move to get life settled, and waiting until the debt is paid before we live life.  I didn't go into this before, but our debt is weighing us down tremendously.  When we lived in the camper before, we had plans to get debt free before moving.  We abandoned that plan after 18 months and thought being in more space would make the debt journey more bearable, even though it would tag on more time (we know all about Dave Ramsey and were in hot pursuit of his plan, but clearly derailed that plan).  What we have found though, is this pressure and having to live life "on pause" because there's no money for extras doesn't make the journey more bearable just because we have more space.  We are still feeling that burden and pressure.   Another dream we have always had is traveling in a camper to lots of different places.   We have made the best of it...we take the kids hiking, mountain biking, to the parks...free stuff.  So we not only feel that getting the home on land that we wanted is on pause, but taking those fun trips is too.  If we just sold the house, we could breath again in 18 months (possibly less)...be debt free, get the house we want, and take the trips we want.  So that's sort of where we are with all of that...on pause because we have to be...because our past decisions have kept us drowning in debt, but wondering if we should stay for the sake of the kids (staying in this location), or move to get the ball rolling for the sake of the kids (so we can take those trips and create that environment we wanted to raise them in)...if that makes any since at all! 

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29 minutes ago, LVG said:

I hear you on this!  Contentment is something I have definitely struggled with...waiting until the NEXT move to get life settled, and waiting until the debt is paid before we live life.  I didn't go into this before, but our debt is weighing us down tremendously.  When we lived in the camper before, we had plans to get debt free before moving.  We abandoned that plan after 18 months and thought being in more space would make the debt journey more bearable, even though it would tag on more time (we know all about Dave Ramsey and were in hot pursuit of his plan, but clearly derailed that plan).  What we have found though, is this pressure and having to live life "on pause" because there's no money for extras doesn't make the journey more bearable just because we have more space.  We are still feeling that burden and pressure.   Another dream we have always had is traveling in a camper to lots of different places.   We have made the best of it...we take the kids hiking, mountain biking, to the parks...free stuff.  So we not only feel that getting the home on land that we wanted is on pause, but taking those fun trips is too.  If we just sold the house, we could breath again in 18 months (possibly less)...be debt free, get the house we want, and take the trips we want.  So that's sort of where we are with all of that...on pause because we have to be...because our past decisions have kept us drowning in debt, but wondering if we should stay for the sake of the kids (staying in this location), or move to get the ball rolling for the sake of the kids (so we can take those trips and create that environment we wanted to raise them in)...if that makes any since at all! 

OP, even though your situation is so different from mine, I see a lot of similarities. What comes across is a lot of angst of trying to create your idea of the perfect life and childhood for your kids, a home base they can come to, creating memories and lots of guilt and beating up of yourself for the choices you made. I absolutely get it because I lived some of it and still live parts of it. May I gently say, first of all let go of the guilt. You made the best choices you could at that moment in time with all the best intentions. What comes across very, very clear also is the love for your children. Guess what they will remember ?

I grew up in a third world country, from my teens I have aspired to come to America and talked non-stop, worked towards it with single minded focus. For me the grass was greener across oceans and continents in a land I only saw in movies and read in books. My parents were middle class , supported my dreams selflessly and sacrificially. So years later when I found out that they had beat themselves up all along during my growing up years that they did not give me a good childhood, it made me so sad. For the simple truth is, from the time I came to my dream country the "home" I have strived to set up and always carried with me was the smells of my family kitchen, the foods I grew up with, the rituals like always using a mortar and pestle to grind when I have so many gadgets because in  my head it makes the food taste like I remember, the music and books I grew up with, the language I spoke. All these I took for granted when I was there and never realized that all these were "home" for me.  Even the way I make coffee is like the way I grew up with, complicated when I can make coffee at the touch of a button for it is the first smell I grew up waking to as a child. 

I've travelled countries and been to more places than I ever imagined. But "home" to me is my urban jungle of a hometown and also the city I set roots in America. DH and I have strived to give our children opportunities we never grew up with so my son who is 13 has tried a lot of things. But during the pandemic when I made him write things that made him feel safe and what home was to him, he said the smell of my cooking. I never realized for my kid who has grown up with so many opportunities than me, in a different country and whose childhood looks nothing like mine, has eaten cuisines from around the world, travelled to so many countries and eaten their food,  the idea of home was the same as mine. I cried that day.

So do your best. Give your kids the opportunities you can, but don't beat yourself up. Your kid's idea of "home" and strongest memory may be as simple as the smell of your cooking, not the big land or the fancy opportunities you give them.

Edited by Dreamergal
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