The Myth of “Living the Dream” in the Country: The Northern Ontario Experience.
MOVE TO THE COUNTRY:
Your unknowing weekend guests will envy the VISTAS that you wake up to each day. On the surface, life in the country appears to offer: low cost living, time to enjoy the simple easy life, peace and quiet, unlimited fresh air and the beauty of being surrounded by nature.
I moved to the country near the southern-most tip of Algonquin Park to write a book. After TWO YEARS getting settled, I began writing a book. I met a woman. I stopped writing the book for another TWO YEARS. She finally left and I continued writing the book until I finally completed it after another TWO YEARS; which begs the question:
Why does everything take so long in a lifestyle that was advertised as slow-paced?
The simplest answer is: ENDLESS HARDSHIPS!
For most of us here, with the exception of the very wealthy, there is an endless list of daily chores that must be dealt with just to avoid catastrophe.
Once you have taken the plunge, just as with marriage, you will post these incredible photos of your amazing life on Facebook in an attempt to LURE OTHERS into the same NIGHTMARE. (See my Facebook page: EA Barker Author as proof of this.)
There is a reason that alcoholics and pot-heads flourish here; and that is because alcohol and drugs help you to forget how much IT SUCKS TO LIVE THIS WAY.
PICTURE POSTCARD SETTINGS:
VISTAS come with a price.
Snow on evergreens means two things: you can make your own Christmas cards and when the wind blows in the middle of the night and that snow falls out of those trees onto your roof; it will sound like London during “the blitz”.
In summer those same trees will secrete a super glue-like substance all over your car, skylights, garden furniture etc.
For ONE WEEK each fall, hardwood trees will have their leaves brightly coloured creating a magnificent splendiferous display and for the next 24 WEEKS they will look like a POST ATOMIC HORROR.
Pine trees are the bane of my existence. Their needles seem to fall endlessly as does their sap. If nature has a smart-weapon, it is the pine needle. They build dams in your eves-trough as well as any beaver could and they can worm their way into every nook, crack or crevice in a 150 foot radius from the base of a single tree. The pine needle is like a leach that loves to travel- hitching a free ride on vehicles by attaching themselves semi-permanently to rubber seals, wiper blades, carpets and air-vent holes in order to travel the countryside with you.
Murphy’s Law of the North Country:
The wind will not blow the snow out of the trees until you go outside. There really is nothing as “refreshing” as having pounds of fine powder snow land on your head completely filling your coat collar as it makes its way down your back.
LOW COST LIVING:
Property in general is cheap to purchase but less so for lake-front property.
Property taxes are cheap for acreage zoned agricultural but is absolutely ridiculous for water-front property zoned recreational. $5000.00 to $8000.00 annually is not unheard of. MPAC (our tax assessment organization) is like a black helicopter black-ops group that covertly looks over your property and figures out how to charge the MOST they can. If you have a large puddle in view then they will mark you down as water-front property. If you have a wood-shed, they will call it a garage. If you have a dog house, they will call it a guest house.
They never talk to the property owner because they might get shot for their obvious attempts at over-taxation. They get away with their tactics because people with recreational properties are either oblivious or too busy to spend an entire day in a cottage country MPAC office trying to sort out the monkeys that work there.
Just as with Hydro ”ESTIMATING” your usage, the government will get INTEREST FREE MONEY by over-assessing a property until the owner gets around to making a fuss. I know of one case where two, nearly identical lake-front properties that were side by side had a $3000.00 per year taxation difference. One owner fought and one did not. Oh yeah, if MPAC have had it wrong for years, THEY WILL NOT REBATE YOU.
The governments like to keep their ill-gotten gains.
On the subject of Hydro, your Hydro bill will be MORE THAN DOUBLE that of the city due to the low population density, the number of tree and weather related emergency outages as well as aging infrastructure. $3000.00 per year is not uncommon.
If there is a planned Armageddon as conspiracy theorists claim, then Hydro is leading the charge to herd people from the country back to the city with their ridiculous rural rates. At least once they release the pathogens in the cities; you will not have to pay your cottage Hydro bill again.
Your maintenance costs will be higher than most high-end condos in a major city unless you do most of the work yourself.
If you choose this road, you will become a full-time maintenance person and contractor with an endless list of things to do seven days a week. You might get some time off when it is blowing, cold and raining but because your production schedule will be set back by the bad weather, you will work ALL the nice sunny days that follow. This is how you can become a slave to your property and the reason you will not have any time to enjoy the simple easy life.
SIMPLE and EASY:
There is nothing SIMPLE or EASY about life in the country other than many of the people you will meet.
Using an outhouse at -40 is not simple or easy.
Not having running water in the winter is not simple or easy.
Having drains back-up because the septic tank froze is not simple or easy.
Cleaning up after multiple daily snowfalls is not simple or easy.
Plugging your car in for at least 60 nights is not simple or easy.
Dealing with a deer-hit car insurance claim is not simple or easy.
Cleaning splattered insects off the front of your car is not simple or easy.
Getting pounds of sand out of your car interior is not simple or easy.
Keeping your propane flowing below -30C is not simple or easy.
Getting suitable work is not simple or easy.
Keeping from being eaten alive by bugs is not simple and easy.
Going weeks without seeing the sun is not simple or easy.
Having cold feet for a third of a year is not simple and easy.
Priming the water-pump and keeping it going is not simple or easy.
Becoming “countrified” means: You will let most of the above list slide in favour of getting drunk, going fishing or both.
On the subject of running water; if by RUNNING you mean:
It RUNS down the drain and freezes there- then yes.
That a pipe burst in the middle of the night causing water to RUN all over your new finished basement- then yes.
When the snow melted quickly in the spring, it created a moat with RUNNING water around your home- then yes.
It RUNS everywhere except into the cottage where you need it- then yes.
Blogus Interruptus … continued next week.
Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!
Life with Women: the long awaited instruction manual.
talks of relationships, health, life, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, genetics- even physics as well as how CHOOSING EASY PATHS NEVER TAKE YOU ANYWHERE INTERESTING.
Have a good week!