20 Truths I’ve Learnt About Living in the Woods

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Before you decide to give up your city-living ways, you’re going to want to think long and hard if you’re really cut out for a lonely life of lumber hauling and loon calls. Selling the condo and selecting a cabin could be a dream come true but you should know what you’re signing up for before embarking on such a major life change—luckily, we’re here to help.

1. Fresh Air All the Time
Trees produce a lot of oxygen and since you’ll be living amongst said trees, you’ll be breathing a lot more oxygen. Be warned: Your city lungs aren’t used to these levels and may cause clear skin, increased thought production and high-functioning muscles.

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2. Animal “Videos” Anytime
No need for an Internet connection (which is lucky since there’s no service provider in your area) to enjoy the hilarity that ensues when squirrels/raccoons/otters/foxes/weasels/possums find themselves in a sticky (and admittedly adorable) situation.

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3. No Noise Pollution
The lack of incessant honking and engine revving may in fact be one of the biggest draws of rural living. But strangely enough, you may find yourself missing that constant city background noise, so be prepared for a few sleepless nights of figuring out what’s missing and why you can’t quite put your finger on it.

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4. Animal Kingdom
Luckily, what the country is lacking in constant traffic sounds, it makes up for with constant woodland creature sounds. Scratching, hissing, calling, bashing, braying and screaming are what you have to look forward to—and all from unfamiliar (and unidentifiable) animals.

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5. No Neighbours
No more rude notes left on your apartment door, no more strange smells emanating down the building hallway, and no more rhythmic stomping on your ceiling, when you live in the country, neighbours seem like they’re a nation away.

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6. Fresh Veggies
Prepare to eat a lot more salads. When you live in the woods, even if you don’t grow a garden, someone down the road surely does and you’re going to benefit from their abundant summertime harvests.

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7. Local Meat
The same goes for meat. You don’t have to have your own flock to feast on roasts throughout the winter. Tip: Buy a big, deep freezer and tuck away the fruits of the season (both literally and figuratively) to be enjoyed throughout the whole year.

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8. Pool-Free Zone
When you get away from it all, you do loose out on some great community amenities, such as skating rinks and swimming pools. But don’t despair; the countryside has its own version—they’re called ponds, lakes, rivers and springs and they are magnificent.

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9. Watering Hole
Getting off the grid means no more citywide water or sewage systems, but what you loose in convenience, you gain in quality. Canadian well water will be some of the most delicious clear stuff you’ve ever tasted.

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10. Starry Night
Streetlights are great when you’re making your way home from the bar late at night, but they have no function in the deep forest. Without that flood of overhead light pollution, you’ll see a spread of stars you didn’t even realized existed until now.

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11. Wood Piles
A neatly stacked pile of logs looks right at home on your “Log Cabin Living” Pinterest page but out in the woods it’s so much more than a pretty picture. Those logs are there to keep you warm during the winter…and they can’t split or stack themselves. (Puts on gloves and grabs the axe.)

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12. Slow Down
Turning down the pace-of-life dial can be hard for city dwellers who’ve recently located to countryside. And we’re not just talking about the work/home ratio; we’re literally talking about the pace. You’ll need to quickly (no pun intended) adjust to slow drivers, slow talkers, slow walkers and slow shoppers.

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13. Groceries Runs
Speaking of shopping, when you move to your cabin in the woods, you’re going to do a lot less of it because the closest grocery store is a two-hour drive away. So, when you do make it out there, you have to grab everything you’re going to need for weeks at a time. Popping down to the corner store is not an option.

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14. Making Do
If you finally move to your mythical cabin in the woods, prepare to become a lot more like MacGyver and make do with what you’ve got to solve a problem rather than relying on a plumber/electrician/repair person. Do call them right away, but don’t expect a house call for at least a few days…by which time you’ve fixed it with four bricks, a candle and flower pot.

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15. Tool Belt
Once upon a time, your “tool kit” consisted of eye-shadow brushes, foundation sponges and an eyelash curler. By all means keep those tools with you (the grazing deer will appreciate your makeup application), but also invest in tools of another sort…hammers, screwdrivers and pliers. You’re going to need them.

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16. Bugs Life
If you’re moving to the woods and the sight of a long-legged spider incites a series of high-pitched screams, you might want to start seeing a psychiatrist now. Insects, bugs and beetles are going to be sharing your pretty forest cabin no matter how many ant traps you put out—it’s time to make peace with these multipede crawlers.

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17. Alarm Clocks Not Needed
No traffic noises, no screaming neighbours and no obnoxious alarm clocks, getting a good night’s sleep in the woods is going to be a cinch! Think again. As soon as the first sun’s rays begin to shine, songbirds begin to shriek. Goodbye, morning sleep-in. Hello, Nature.

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18. Snow Days
In the forest, getting “snowed in” literally means you are snowed in—there is so much snow you can’t even open the front door. If you’re looking for peace and quiet this is one surefire way to find it.

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19. Forest Forage
When shelves stacked with food aren’t at your fingertips, finding other sources of sustenance becomes vital. You’re going to learn a lot about which berries and plants you can eat and which ones you shouldn’t go near with a 10-foot pole, or at the very least without a pair of gloves on.

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20. Never Want to Leave
Sure, you give up a lot of modern conveniences leaving the city behind and heading out into the woods in search of simpler life. But we promise you, once you’ve breathed in that fresh fall air, felt the satisfaction of building your own wood fire, and taken that first summer dip at your local lake, you’ll never look back.

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Published on HGTV.ca (Feb. 1, 2016). Click on HGTV tag below to see all published stories by Emma Yardley.

Award-winning lifestyle journalist writing about travel, fashion, beauty and home life.

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