Living Remotely in a Mountain Community

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray

In the past I have written articles on what it physically takes to live remotely on a mountain. Topics such as getting our firewood, heating and maintaining a woodstove, coping with the snow seven months or more each year, being self-sufficient, and dealing with the weather, to mention a few. All the requirements of living a happy life, yet an equally demanding one, is attitude and emotional stability. This is one area that should seriously be addressed, because if there is any aspect of living remotely in a cabin in the mountains, it is how it is handled mentally.

Planned Mountain Community

While it is true that we live in a planned mountain community, there are unseen hazards that it is best to be prepared for. Our small community is no different than most other communities across the country. We have those who want to be entertained and have social activity, those who work endlessly in the community to make it a better place, those who oppose everything they do, bullies, misfits, and those who just like to cause trouble to try to make themselves appear important or attract attention at the expense of others. Most every community has a similar assortment of people of this nature.

With that being said, the reader needs to know how to live in a small community with a variety of people of different beliefs and attitudes and still maintain your happiness. Our choice is to remain mostly by ourselves and disassociate with those who like to prey on others or constantly cause trouble. We select our friends very carefully and tend to avoid those who regardless of their social or financial stature fall short in being good neighbors. By living remotely, you are somewhat self-isolated anyway, but with the work required to maintain our 11-acre homestead, I simply do not have time to go to the community center to play dominoes. All the psychological aspects of remote living are worthy of consideration before choosing this lifestyle.

Avoiding Negativity

There is a law of physics that states for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. That law is especially applicable when you live remotely in a small community. Difficult and obstinate people seem to turn up about everywhere and regardless of how far you go into the backcountry you will find traces of human activity that will leave you scratching your head in wonderment. Often their reckless decisions set in motion opposite reactions. As stated, we find the best thing to do is avoid those who bring negativity or trouble into our life. When you move to a remote area you will move to a new and very different lifestyle however it may have people who are difficult to associate with too. Regretfully troublesome people are a fact of life and it is best to be happy within yourself and not expect others to make you happy or contented.

Living remotely is a vastly different lifestyle change. Choose whom you wish to associate with carefully. Being forced into a relationship because of fewer people can be unhealthy unless it is a carefully thought out choice you make yourself. We have witnessed many people who attempt remote mountain living only to suffer disappointment when they realize choosing friends is no different from where they left. Choosing the wrong friends can jeopardize your happiness and well being. If your mental status or attitude is such that you can not find happiness within yourself it will not be found in a specific location. Moving to a remote location where you enjoy nature and your surroundings is a major move and serious consideration needs to be given to such a lifestyle change. For some it can be the end of the rainbow but for others it can be pure frustration and unrest.

Establish Clear Priorities

I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist but I am able to observe and assimilate information and make some sense from it. If you are planning to relocate to a more remote area it is imperative that you do so for the right reasons. I have observed that some move to an area like ours and quickly join a small group to meet and play card games or dominoes one or more times a week. There is nothing wrong in doing that, but by comparison, in not doing that we see more wildlife, birds, and other natural occurrences around us each day. Letting dominoes become a major commitment in our life would be taking time away from being able to experience nature and all it can teach us. We see people driving down our road hoping to catch sight of a bear with cubs, mountain lion, deer or elk from the safety of their vehicle. I have watched the animals retreat into the woods and remain unnoticed until they pass on by. When living remote you will need to make choices and it is your choice to experience our natural world or play games. We only get to live here a short time and we personally wish to experience and learn all we can from our natural environment while we still have the opportunity.

We have had more interaction with our natural surroundings by just being outdoors or sitting and reflecting quietly than can be accomplished from playing games. The marvel of an ant colony moving single file to a new location, their continuous hard work, or a bird that will perch on a tree next to you and cheep away, watching a chipmunks behavior or the unexpected encounter of a herd of elk, a black bear, mountain lion, or deer doesn’t always happen when we expect but if we are not available we will have missed a potential learning experience. We experience these encounters all the time and they have taught us something about the world we live in and how to cohabit with other species. We have learned so much about other species in our 17 years here that benefits how we live our lives. We humans are the ones who seem to want to be something or someone we are not but that is not so in the natural world. Bears are happy being bears and deer are happy being deer. What we have learned and can apply to our lives gives us great inner happiness and peace. That is the major lesson we have learned from living in the midst of nature. We think it is a lesson worth learning and principals that favorably apply to our lives.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray go to their blog site where they post their experiences,