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A Reality Check: 10 things that are not so great about living in the country

Helping Mr Tree Changer secure a shed that wanted to fly off to Kansas in freezing, sideways rain last week was a solid reminder that living in the country is not all blue-sky Instagram pics and blogs about funny encounters with cute animals.

So I decided it was time to fess up and talk about some of the things that make Tree Changing and living on a rural block not so much fun. Unless you mean fun in the ‘grit your teeth, smile, and we’ll probably laugh about this in 20 years’ kind of way.

In no particular order, here are ten things that are not so good about living in the country:

  1. Mice love living in the country too
  2. You need to add garbage person to your job description
  3. You can’t just ‘pop to the shops’
  4. There are always jobs to do
  5. It can be impossible to get tradespeople
  6. The mobile phone coverage can really suck
  7. There really is no Uber Eats or Home Delivery
  8. The -6 degree mornings make everything tricky
  9. Cute animals get hit and killed by cars. Lots. ☹
  10. There can be noisy neighbours!

For a laugh & the detail, read on…

Mice love living in the country too

We’re currently living in a shouse (reminder: that’s a shed house, not the other S house you are probably thinking!). It’s basically a 20-year-old lean-to with afterthought extensions and lots of gaps and holes, leading to a mouse superhighway running behind our walls.

I can now confirm mouse really will eat anything, including candles, power cords, and your highly prized toilet paper (they missed the memo about humans & hoarding in pandemics apparently).

Being big softies, we can’t bring ourselves to kill them, so we embarked on a futile program of humane traps & release expeditions before realising the only way to really beat them is build a new, mouse-proof house. And not leave anything you like, or want to eat, out in the meantime.  

You need to add garbage person to your job description

Wheeling your bins out the kerb once a week is definitely a thing of the past when you live four kays down a dirt road, not to mention missing out on the COVID-19 Bin Night Challenge.  Now we have to take our rubbish and recycling to the tip in town every few weeks, and believe me when I say you don’t want a funny picture or video of that!

As a bonus, your garbo responsibilities can also include taking other people’s rubbish to the tip when they decide it’s much cheaper to dump it on your property under cover of darkness (shakes fist!).

You can’t just ‘pop to the shops’

It gets really annoying when you run out of milk or that one little ingredient you need for dinner or an item for a ‘fixing stuff’ project when the main shops are a 40-minute drive away. And it’s especially annoying when this happens on a weekend as many shops in town are not open on Sundays!

There are always jobs to do

…and a ride-on lawnmower doesn’t cut it on a 100-acre, sloping block!

Sometimes I think we could give up our day jobs and spend every single day of the year doing jobs around our place and we’d still never get through our to-do list. The beautiful pics shared on Instagram seem to miss capturing some of those jobs. Like the weeds that need to be pulled up, and the acres full of dead trees (also known as bushfire fuel) that need to be cleared, not to mention the rubbish and odd items thoughtfully left behind over the years (does anyone need a portaloo by the way?).

It can be impossible to get tradespeople

Our record so far has been taking nine months to build a shed that probably should have been done in one! When times are good, tradies seem less interested in spending an extra hour or so on the road each day to come and work with us for some reason.

The mobile phone coverage can really suck

We spent our first three months here driving 20 minutes up the road to take and make phone calls and collect text messages. While a pricey phone booster and a new mobile phone tower just over the mountains have improved things, our service can still get pretty sketchy when the weather’s terrible or the phone gods just decide not to favour us. Luckily we’ve discovered VoIP and WhatsApp!

There really is no Uber Eats or Home Delivery

As someone who enjoyed eating out and once had at least ten different cuisines a phone call & 30-minute wait with a glass of wine away, this was almost a deal-breaker!

The -6 degree mornings make everything tricky

It’s hard enough to wake up at 6 am on a minus six morning with a frozen nose and frozen brain. It’s even worse when you discover the water pipes and water pump have also frozen. And you now have the added challenge of trying to work out how you’re going to get ready to travel to a really important meeting in Sydney later that morning. Shower-in-a-can & dry shampoo can save the day, but it’s Just. Not. Fun.

Cute animals get hit and killed by cars. Lots.

I don’t think this one needs much explanation, other than to say it just sucks that so much wildlife dies on rural roads and it’s especially hard to see when you’re an animal lover. Take it easy out there please!

There can be noisy neighbours!

To be clear – our new neighbours are no match for the old Bowlo across the road from us in Sydney, with their patrons’ midnight drunken “No, I love youse” calls as they left the club, not to mention that night with the ram raid. However, you do need to learn to live with a different kind of noise in the country.  Our serenity is occasionally interrupted by cows that don’t understand daylight savings,  early morning tractoring, annoying dirt bikes and occasional gunshots (a sound I don’t think I will ever get used to, or like).

As we enter our third year of Tree Change life, we’ve come to learn that the grass is not always greener (we’ve had a drought after all!). But even with the ‘not so good’ stuff, we still wouldn’t head back to the big smoke.

Until next time!

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