Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of negatives in moving from a city to a rural area, so much so that I often wondered why we did it after we moved here in June 2014.
(Postscript July 2018: I forgot to mention wildfires that burn up half the county!)
We first rented a 100-year-old home in Walsenburg, while building our rural home. At the time, this was the only decent rental available in the whole area! Yes, during that first year I had many doubts about whether this area was the best choice for me.
Driving through Walsenburg, you will see a sad little town that has certainly seen better days. To quote the city of Walsenburg page:
“Incorporated on June 16, 1873, Walsenburg was the first statutory city and seventh incorporated municipality in the Territory of Colorado. Walsenburg, an irregular plateau broken by numerous narrow fertile valleys in the east, rising to the Culebra Range of the Sangre de Cristo in the west and the Spanish Peaks in the south. Elevation is 6,126 feet. Average annual precipitation is 15.8 inches. 300+ days of sunshine.”
The town enjoyed its highest population numbers (around 5,000 souls) in the 1930s through the 60s when coal mining was king. It now has fallen below 3,000. We do have two grocery stores, a few motels, three fast food places, and a few good restaurants. Two highlights are the La Plaza Inn, built in 1907, and the historic Fox Movie Theater.
In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t worried so much about enjoying my new life here. Sure it is inconvenient to have to drive to larger towns for certain things and some medical care, but the real point is that living here is good for my health. It took a while, but I eventually understood the subtle and not so subtle effects of stress on my body, spirit, and mind. It was only after living without city stress for a while, that I saw what a toll it was taking on me. Only in this quiet, natural setting have I learned to be present with this moment, a goal I have held for years.
It’s true I didn’t enjoy living in Walsenburg. I found the town depressing. But now that we live in the foothills west of there, I like going into town. It no longer bums me out. I just needed to realize that we have traded the many conveniences of living in a city for incredible natural beauty and glorious silence in a world with so little of that.
When I consider the negatives of where we live now, the worst is the terrible wind storms we can have, with fine dust blowing everywhere. This is a semi-arid climate so it dries out everything including your skin.
We have to be ever mindful of the seasonal moisture here and plant only plants native to this area. The wildflowers can be beautiful down here, (please see the yellow flowers on the header of this blog), but it all depends on the rain and snow cycles.
I’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado. After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home in the foothills: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado
Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books! Cheers, Laura Lee (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)