What it’s Really Like to Leave the City for the Mountains

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Many of you follow this site for the gardening. Many of you also know that we live in a small mountain town (Nelson B.C) and I’ve been asked many times what it’s like living here.

I wanted to share an honest and real life view of the struggles and the happiness that comes from giving up the city life and living in a small mountain town.

First of all why did we want to leave the city for the mountains?

To some people the city is the hustle and bustle of life. It’s the place of endless entertainment, stores open whenever you need them to be, plentiful jobs and thousands of new people to meet. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s exactly what you love.

To other people, the city is intense, full of advertisements, overwhelming to the senses and full of concrete buildings. Sure it’s full of people but most aren’t very friendly and you have to worry about crime. There is little natural and green life, and for the people who need that as a part of their daily or weekly functioning the city is limited. It’s huge, over commercialized and everyone drives like crazy rushed people hurried with life instead of flowing at a slower pace. The city has a strong energy and not everyone can handle that strong energy vibe.

For those that love the city, that’s fantastic!! You are in the right place for the type of person that you are. I personally loved it after high school and lived in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

But now I crave the slower pace of life.

I love the quiet and stillness of nature. In fact, I feel empty without it. Natures energy vibe is my preference over the one in a city.

In simple terms, we wanted to leave the city because it was too busy and hectic for us.

We live in a little heritage mountain town called Nelson B.C, in the West Kootenays of British Columbia Canada.
As you can tell from the aerial view of this little mountain town above (taken by Wild Air Photography), Nelson is a beautiful place. Be sure to check out Wild Air Photography’s stunning photographs of the Kootenays, especially if you’re someone interested in this region. Also give him a ‘like’ on his facebook page!

I’d spent my teenage years living here so it seemed liked an easier moving transition. A random neat fact: the movie Roxanne with Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah was filmed here.

How did we leave the City for the mountains?

Scott and I discussed how stressed we were in the city for months. We’d loosely talked about moving but never really discussed it in full. Then we both had a bad week and one day just said $#@& it! Let’s just leave! We gave our two weeks notice, packed up our stuff, and left.

For real
We we’re that crazy.

Not one thought about what we’d do once we got here, but that’s your mid 20’s for you 😉

Now that we have a family, a move like that wouldn’t have happened without some careful planning.

However living here hasn’t been easy.
In fact the usual conversation when you go to town often goes something like this:

‘Hey how are you?!’
Reply: ‘Oh you know, living the Kootenay Life’

This tends to be code for: ‘ I’m broke, hate my job but don’t want to leave this beautiful place’.

I think that’s often the case when you’re living in a small town
Depending of course on the small town that you live in (there are many out there that I could never live in).

I suppose what we did was leave the city for a beautiful place full of wild nature, mountains, a large lake, fresh air, clean water and endless four season adventures to go on. This area is full of wildlife, gorgeous scenery and an underground of bohemian alternative crunchy people. There’s a decent amount of people with mini homesteads and people who garden.

So what are the main struggles of living in the mountains?
In a word: Jobs.

Which leads to lack of opportunities, lack of money and lack of money flow, perhaps lack of savings and perhaps a smaller mortgage.

So if you’re a career driven person, you may or not make it here.
If you don’t have a career education yet, you may not make it here.

If you have a degree or education, you may not find a job here and you’ll likely take a large pay cut.

But if you really really love living in a place like this and you see the value of nature over money, then you’ll likely love it but

you’ll need to remind yourself all the time why you’re really living here.
and sometimes those reasons honestly aren’t enough to warrant staying.

Are you living life to the fullest when part of your life is struggling?
That’s a good question, and I wish I had a great answer.
Truth is, it’s really difficult to live here if your career or finances can’t move forwards.

But I also think it’s difficult to live in many places these days for many reasons.

There are stresses everywhere you go, it all depends on what stresses in life you’d prefer to deal with.

Not having as much money has also lead us on a frugal and more traditional lifestyle.
It opened doors to thinking how our grandparents generation lived. You waste less, think before you buy, learn how to grow and preserve food, keep some chickens. You live a different life, at least that’s what happened to us (note: not everyone lives like that around here!! ).

We’ve almost had to move about 8 times in 6 years. But we always end up staying here, picking the odd job here and there until the next best thing can come along.

A big reason is that when we see the girls in nature it warms our hearts. The other is that when we hear all the bad news and things going on in the world, we feel a little safer living here nestled in the mountains. When I’m having a bad day I can step outside our front door, head for a nature walk with the mutts and breathe with the forest instead of swearing in rush hour traffic.

Living close to nature is how we want to raise our kids.

And not just any nature, nature that’s rich with life and abundance like this area is. We want to raise Kootenay Kids. Our girls observe and play outdoors and are in tune with the wild plants and seasonal changes more than name brands and advertisements. For that we’re thankful; we want them to be grounded. The girls eat organic homegrown vegetables and forage for wild food. During the summer months, we don’t have to plan to go on a vacation, we live where the vacation is and on weekends all we have to do is drive 5 mins to the lake for a beach or to explore the endless camping and hiking spots.


So if you’re dreaming of living on a mountainside, surrounded by beauty.
You really have to love it. You have to be so in love with it you can’t see yourself parting with it.

As for us, we’re still in love. Will this love affair last a lifetime? I don’t know yet.

And what about you? Do you live in the city? Do you live in a small town? How were you raised and where would you rather be?