Steph and I used to live in a big city and, quite frankly, I didn’t think we would ever live in a city smaller than Madison ever again. Nevertheless, we are here in rural America after having made a pretty rare decision in this day and age.

I have noticed a lot of rural-versus-urban discussion lately, and as someone who recently moved back to a rural area, I wanted to get my two cents in.

First of all, let me qualify that this decision was a really hard one because we did enjoy living in a city. It was kind of nice that you could drive 5 minutes and find a Walmart.

Obviously the number one reason we moved back was family. We wanted Carter to have what we had when we were growing up…access to grandparents. We wanted him to be able to go over to his grandparents’ house on a day off of school and hang out with them. Both Steph and I got this growing up and so we wanted this for Carter.

Along these lines, it is a lot easier to use these said grandparents for babysitting options when you are less than 20 minutes away.

Besides being closer to family, one of the main reasons we moved back was being able to send Carter to a smaller school. As someone who graduated with a class of 38 people, I always chuckled when someone said their class of 200 was a small class.

One of the greatest advantages to learning in a rural school to me is the fact that Carter will not just be a number in a rural school district. He would actually have a name and be known by everyone in the school. This wouldn’t be the same in a larger school where teachers often are meeting students for the first time when they have them in class.

On top of this, I am excited that he will get the opportunity to be in many sports and school activities. He isn’t going to have to choose between football and FFA because in a rural area, students are able to be involved in many organizations because that is how it works.

Steph and I were always concerned about the breadth of experiences Carter would experience in an urban school, and that he would get pigeon-holed into one specific area.

Both Steph and I benefited greatly from the many opportunities we got while in a rural school.

On top of that, these experiences taught us how to handle stressful situations and work through chaotic times. There were many times in high school when I had a paper due the next day that I had to write after I got home late from a school activity.

Quite honestly, I think rural schools are better at teaching students about work ethic.

Another great advantage to living in a rural community are the people. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some tremendous people in large cities, but when you live in a rural area, you feel like you are part of the community. You can go to a local event (or Walmart) and see everyone you know.

Besides the people and school system, I missed just driving down windy country roads. My favorite road in the whole world is Hwy. P between Taylor and Black River Falls.

It is kind of nice not to have to fight traffic on your way to work. When we lived in the city, it would take us 30 minutes to get to work with most of that time in slowed traffic. Now it takes us less time and we are more likely to slow for a deer than congestion on the road.

Other things I missed while we lived in the city included being able to see the stars at night, being surrounded by agriculture and seeing a deer every once in a while. Squirrels get pretty boring when they are the only animal you see.

Even though living rural has its hard things (yes, I’m talking about that 45 minute trek for a movie theater), I now don’t think we will ever live in a town larger than Black River Falls. Anything bigger just doesn’t feel right anymore.