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City People And Country People

My mother doesn’t think the city life is all that.

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ASTORIA, New York- City people think that country people think they’re something special. They think that they would gladly be living in the city too if they only had enough money or a good enough job or a little more cool. City people think they made it — they left their small towns and villages (and all the losers there) behind long ago.

Meanwhile, country people think city people are idiots.

“Do you really like living here?” my mother asked as we were walking through my neighborhood just before leaving to go back to her home in the countryside near Rochester.

I said that I did. I like New York City. I started out a country person and ended up a city person. My mother was skeptical. She couldn’t comprehend why anyone would want to pay tons of money to live in a small apartment on the fifth floor of a five story walk up. She didn’t get why anyone would not want to have a yard, a place to park their car, and privacy. She couldn’t understand why so many people would want to shove themselves into crowded subway cars, eat at places where there isn’t enough room to sit down, and slither daily through the filth of a city.

It seemed stupid to her.

“I liked visiting but I wouldn’t want to live here,” she said. “I like my space too much.”

My mother has a beautiful two story house at the end of a long cherry tree lined driveway with two acres of land that sits about a half mile from Interstate 90. She can usually drive wherever she wants without hitting traffic congestion. She can do what she likes in her yard. She’s the master of her own domain. She spends far less money than I do — what she pays for her house is less than what I do for my apartment and the price of food is virtually incomparable.

My mother thinks she lives far better for a fraction of the price.

She’s probably right.

A different twist on the urban migration story: city people are those who failed to make it in the countryside and had to flee to the urban inferno to make a living. I couldn’t make it in the countryside. Few of us can anywhere these days.


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Filed under: Family, New York, New York City, Urbanization

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

2 comments… add one

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  • Rob September 12, 2019, 11:27 am

    It wasn’t too long ago that we crossed the line to where more than 50% of the world’s population lived in a city/urban situation rather than rural. This is a new frontier!

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    • Wade Shepard September 12, 2019, 11:33 am

      That’s for sure. It’s really scrambled us up, diluting our cultures, creating a worldwide feeling of displacement. It’s pretty nuts.

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