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Living in the city isn't ALL bad

Wow its good to be home on the farm!  After two and a half years of part time city-living, I was nearly getting used to it, but I was missing the country.  Each weekend I would head home early Friday afternoon and it was a massive relief to turn off the motorway and get out into farmland.

eight acres: some things that I enjoyed about my time in the city
Smell ya later Brisbane!

Access to alternative health services
When I first came to Brisbane I made a commitment that I would find a yoga class.  I have done pilates classes in the past, but never yoga, and I really wanted to try it.  Unfortunately in a rural area there are not usually many options, and even though a lovely yoga studio has recently opened in Kingaroy, I'd rather not drive 30 minutes to get there!  I wanted to take this opportunity to learn more about yoga.  I attended classes in West End for a while, and then over winter I didn't like getting home from there in the dark, so I tried a few different classes in the suburbs and on youtube.  Finally I was moved to a work building in the city that had yoga once a week on a vacant floor.  It did seem weird to interrupt the work day with a yoga class, but I always came back to my desk refreshed and energised.

Then I moved building again and stopped going to yoga for a few months.  I went to a Chiropractor to get some advice on my neck and back pain.  Luckily the first one I went to is really really good (Wholesome Health Chiro).  She ordered x-rays, identified the problem, gave me exercises to do and told me not to sit down so much at work.  I started doing my own yoga practice each morning, I figured if I was going to spend time and money on Chiro, I should put in some effort with a 10-15 minute yoga session each morning as soon as I get up.  If I miss it in the morning, I do it at night.  Just stretching through my hips makes a huge difference to my wellbeing.  I'm going to have to find another Chiropractor locally that takes a similar approach, otherwise I'll be popping back to Brisbane!  And I'll be able to continue the yoga myself.

Just recently I also went to a Naturopath.  I had been to a Naturopath before for help with skin and digestion issues.  I had a series of minor symptoms (mostly feeling tired) that I felt would be better addressed by a Naturopath than a doctor.  She has recommended a three-week detox, which I am going to start next week.  Although I do mainly eat real food, I have strayed a little towards convenience food and eating out in Brisbane, and I think this is a good time to reset my digestion.  I really like how Naturopaths ask so many questions and take the time to link all your symptoms (including those that you hadn't noticed).  I also had a extensive blood tests to double-check what was going on.

I am going to miss having access to the range of alternative health services, but there are a few options in the South Burnett that I will try.

Public transport and active transport
I also decided that I would use public transport and active transport as much as possible to reduce costs.  At first I was living in Windsor, which was just a bit too far from my work for walking and too much traffic for safe cycling, so I took the bus.  The bus services in Brisbane have improved 100% since I lived there 8 years ago.  There are buses every 15 min at peak time around the inner city, I'm sure its more difficult in the outer zones, but I have had virtually no need to drive anywhere during the week.

I moved to Spring Hill just over a year ago, and then I was close enough to walk to work in the city, as it was only 20 minutes and quite an enjoyable way to start the day (and freak out the locals by saying "good morning" as I passed!).  When my office building moved to Milton it was just a little too far at 45 minutes, and my Chiropractor suggested that I should only walk one way as it the heavy back pack (with my work clothes!) was hurting my back.  I started taking the train some of the way.  The trains have also improved in frequency.  I think it I lived in the city full time I would hardly use a car.

Experimenting with small-scale self-sufficiency
Its been really interesting to live in the city again, having been used to living in the country now, I was not aware of the limitations of city life until I tried it again myself.  I still tried to live to my principles.  In the first unit I had access to a worm farm, and in the second unit I set up my own mini-worm farm so I had somewhere to put scraps.  It was nice to have access to recycling (seeing as the South Burnett no longer provides recycling bins).

I missed having rainwater, and I brought bottles of water with me each week!  It would be difficult to make soap, fermented foods and grow aquaponics if you just had town water, I think a rainwater tank would be essential if I lived in the city.  I also avoided washing my hair in the hardwater as last time it dried out my hair terribly.

In the city its much easier to build community and work together.  I didn't have a chance to attend the Northey Street City Farm in Windsor, but this is the type of organisation I would join if I was living in the city full time.

Overall, I think I have a better understanding of the challenges of living sustainably in the city and I hope I can reflect that in my blog posts, which previously may have been a little focused on options for rural areas.

(I also wrote a few posts about frugal city living - buying work clothes and eating well.

Library and public events
I joined Brisbane City Library in the first week I started working in Brisbane.  The best thing about the library is being able to look for books in the catalogue and request them at your local branch.  You get a message when they are available and then four weeks to read them.  Any time I see a new book that I want to read, I check the catalogue and very rarely is it missing.  Unfortunately the South Burnett has a smaller population and more limited library, so I often buy books rather than borrowing them, hence we now have two large overflowing bookcases!

eight acres: some things that I enjoyed about my time in the city

I have also had the opportunity to attend a few interesting public lectures and films.  Most recently I went to Michael Mosely speaking at the town hall about his latest book on blood sugar and diabetes.

Catching up with friends
I was surprised to find that each week I had one or two people to see for dinner or lunch.  I didn't realise I knew so many people in Brisbane.  It was really nice to see these friends and family more regularly and I hope that Pete and I will now make the effort to visit Brisbane and see these people more regularly.

Overall, its obviously great to be back home, but I am going to miss a few of the perks of city life!  What do you think?  Would you rather live in the country or the city?  


  1. If we were not moving the first thing I would at to our now suburban yard is chickens, even before a compost system, a I really miss those eggs and nearly had a heart attack when I had to purchase some the other day for the first time in 6 years. We love having more free time to spend with people rather than doing farm jobs but we miss the space, the country sounds and the silence. Finding a balance is key I think work on the farm but not so much you loose the personal connections that feed your soul.

  2. I do not mind inner city living - just not the suburbs. Give me the challenge of an apartment or the challenge of an acreage - just not the 'burbs.

  3. Sometimes I think I'd be better off in a suburban yard just so I'd be forced to contain my projects! But you've hit the nail on the head; there are benefits to both country and city living. By the way, we're lucky in Vic. We can order books from other libraries, not just our own. So far there was only one book I couldn't get. It was a Joel Salatin book.

  4. i'm really interested to hear more about the rainwater! you mean that the city water tasted "bad" or that it had a lot of chemicals in it? is rainwater different from "well" water? i know that it can affect your soapmaking etc. interesting! when i go back to the city i'm always shocked at how many choices there are - we are kind of limited out here so it's always amazing to me. a great summary - thanks!

  5. Hey Liz!
    You can still access the bcc library.
    If you download the overdrive app to an iPad then you can use your Brisbane city library to access ebooks and audiobooks.
    Hope that helps (not sure if overdrive is available on a non iPad device)
    Love kel

  6. I read this post in the morning, and wanted to reply then. But I had an appointment to attend in Toowoomba. It's like a mini version of Brisbane - a lot of public conveniences, but obviously not as many as Brisvegas. But golly, I discovered, venturing into town, drains me like nothing else. I found I was quite irritable in the garden in the afternoon too. I knew it was the trip into town which did it.

    We visited the new library, and while I thought it was well appointed and provided amazing services (I borrowed 3 excellent gardening books) I couldn't help feel like I was still being herded between the car park, the lifts and then back on the roads when we left again. If we ever had to move to town again, I'm sure I would make do. But I can't avoid the obvious tension it creates in me.

    It's not natural to be so condensed and constantly racing among others for cars to park, space to walk, to stand and to breathe even. We were in a lift at one point with some friendly folks. But it was me, my husband, our kids, our trolley and those other folks. I found myself holding my breathe. My brain shot me a message that said, "need oxygen", and I had to force myself to breathe again. I'm not normally claustrophobic, but it was then I realised, all that organisation, corralling and even the natural spaces are heavily manipulated to feel organised too, in urbanised areas - I didn't feel able to relax, even though we were amongst others who were quite friendly.

    But as I said, if we ever had to be in town again, we'd make do. I don't think its the end of the world to live in such places. There are many benefits. I think the best thing going for cities though, are their designated footpaths and bike ways. They are a way for the people to take in the city, at their own pace. Instead of having to run at the pace, traffic is.

    I think we can learn to adapt to more urban areas, but we are biologically predisposed to have slower things to process, to succeed at maintaining sustained productivity. I think the way to adapt, is to carve out more "natural" things and objectives through the day. Because without exposure to natural things, I believe as a species, we slowly go insane. It doesn't matter how convenient something is, or the limitless choices available, if you can't make a decision without feeling you need to make another one. It's the endless loop of never being able to stop, that drains people of their living essence.

    Even out here, we have to be careful not to go crazy with decision making. But at least if the grass grows and we don't get to cutting it, its not going to stop traffic, or become a liability to how the world functions. It will cool the earth, feed the animals and become nesting material for many. If we had to do all the things which get done in an urban area though, that long grass would quickly become a liability. Whatever the benefits of the city are, let it not remove (rather incorporate) more natural things for people to be able to slow down. :)

  7. PS: thanks for sharing your adventure in the city with us. I think you did a good job, trying to find the right balance.


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