Choices: Remote And Isolated Living

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray

Previous blog topics have been about acquiring property, clearing and building on that property and the type of community you may choose to live in. Those are all topics that are foreseen and with some common sense you can pre-plan for them. But what about those unforeseen matters that are not readily apparent? Like the isolation of living remote. How do you deal with that? Or after you have downsized and find yourself in much closer quarters how do you deal with that? These are not things that generally go into the planning stage of changing your lifestyle and living remotely. More than likely these are things that you suddenly realize that you have not prepared for but now must cope with.

Before we made this life changing move we had three bedrooms, two and a half baths, sun room, living room, kitchen, dining room, full basement, and two car garage. Plus we also had tons of closet space, trash compactor, dish washer, central vacuum system, central heat/air with humidifier and more.  We now have less than one third the space which consists of one bathroom, a pantry, very small basement with outdoor access only, a living room, sleeping loft and kitchen and very little in closet space and none of the previous conveniences. To suddenly realize that regardless of what we each wanted to do as individuals, due to close quarters, being hampered by the other persons activity was aggravating.  Once we realized why we were on edge with each other we worked out a solution where we tried to respect the other persons space and needs. Since as children we both grew up with siblings and one bathroom, that part was easy to remedy, we just reinstituted old practices.  Other areas of our home had to be worked on separately, but with grit and perseverance we managed to work everything out satisfactorily. Like how many times in one day you go to use the microwave, refrigerator, sink and your other half is heading there or beat you to it. You can compete with each other of cooperate, the last being the more lasting solution. It does require both parties to talk to each other from necessity and to be open minded about the other persons needs. This was clearly something we had not anticipated nor planned for but with determination and patience we worked through it.

Then there is the isolation from living remotely.  We did anticipate that aspect and planned ahead for it but our plans were abandoned fast. Those movies we brought with us for entertainment; all those books to read, and games we intended to play are still for the most part unwatched, unread, and not played. You can’t be fully prepared for every contingency and we were not prepared for that aspect and actually over prepared. We do read a lot but not quite like we had planned ahead of time. By choosing to downsize, heating with a wood stove made sure that much of our pre-planned reading, movie watching, and game time never happened.  It takes a considerable amount of time to cut, split by hand, haul, and stack 11 cords of firewood, plus stash a reserve amount in case we have an unusually cold winter. Then of course there is the regular clearing of snow, moving it away from where we need to maneuver, clear walkways, wood shed path and other areas of need. Factor in routine home/property maintenance, meals, cleaning, working on our property and dog care you really don’t have much time for movie watching, reading, and playing games. We do manage some of these activities and we have fun sledding, snow shoeing, hiking, prospecting, fishing and camping but not to the extent we had anticipated. After all once retired we were suppose to have lots of extra time – another misconception and something else to consider. 

There are ongoing choices to make that were not and could not be foreseen. We chose not to be party people, (we never have been) so we do little in the way of socializing or participating in our small community gossip fests. That isolates us even further but in retrospect we believe that was a good decision. We ended up enjoying each others company more and we have acquired many friends that are not part of the small community we live in. Instead they are outside the immediate community and not part of the power struggles, strife and gossip found in a small community. Therefore we do not have to endure small community gossip, politics over community leadership, and the social click atmosphere. After 15 years of living here it still amazes me that some people move to an area like ours and then want all the things available that they moved away from. The card clubs, the little exclusive groups and artificial social amenities. In my opinion they would have been better off staying right where they were and not bringing all their past with them and just recreating it anew. There are others in our community that are not social gad flies much like we are not. I guess it comes down to what you consider happiness, and we are happier minding our own business, and hoping others will do the same. We did not move to this remote area to play dominoes’ with the same group of people every week. We have other things to do that demand a higher priority, which will be topics in upcoming blogs.

One key component is when you mutually and totally change your lifestyle as we have done that both partners not only like each other but love each other enough to have the desire to work out issues. Those little issues can become large issues if you don’t get them resolved quickly. If you lack that commitment then you are going to have troubled times. If you have that commitment then working out troubling unforeseen issues is made much easier. Our unforeseen difficulties were unique to our choice of lifestyle and had we anticipated them in advance I don’t think we could have worked them out before hand anyway. We work hard, we have relaxation time, we play and have fun also. It is just our preconception of how much of each that was pretty flawed. 

So there are sure to be unforeseen circumstances you will encounter and the key is to be open to communicate with each other, willing to compromise, which means neither will get exactly what they want, and most of all be flexible and patient. The problems then will in time just dissolve away. That is the best advice I can provide and we know firsthand because it worked for us. So if you are contemplating a lifestyle change be adaptable, and willing to compromise.

 For more on our lifestyle and how we live go to: