Both my friends that live in urban and rural areas are constantly asking me why I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to a small village (not even considered a town) with a population of 876 in rural Wisconsin. For a while I never had a good answer for either group of friends, but today while I was walking our dogs around the park next door to us, I couldn't help but smile in thinking about how lovely life has been over the past 18 months.
I signed my contract to live and work in this small area because:
- I can take my dogs for a walk by myself without worrying about my safety and let them swim in the pond with encouragement by our police officer (yes, we just have one police officer) to let them loose off-leash.
- I get to work in a school environment with the most genuine collaboration between staff that I have ever experienced and to have two bosses who are fantastic leaders. I am also grateful to have the support of my district as I pursue my EdD and to learn about the issues small districts face in special education.
- I have been able to try so many new things and expand my worldview by living in this community. Over the past year and a half, I have spent over 60 nights in the woods, learned how to cross-county ski, received my Carry Concealed Weapons permit, played terribly on a volleyball team with friends, learned to create handmade cards and wreaths. I've swam in countless lakes, downhill skied, cheered for the Badgers and Packers in their home state, and drank a healthy amount of cheap beer in a variety of dive bars that I never would have thought to go into.
- With the low cost of living in our community, my husband and I have been able to pay off close to $30,000 worth of debt. It's amazing what you can save when half of your income doesn't go to paying for a tiny one bedroom apartment (and how much better you feel when you have a nice place to come home to that doesn't break the bank!).
- I've learned to be a better cook and have saved a lot of money without tempting restaurants around (this one is bittersweet!).
- I've still been able to visit our cabin more than 20 times, Seattle, Philadelphia, D.C., New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Minneapolis (over 5 times), Duluth, Iowa, Indianapolis, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan, and our family throughout Wisconsin at least once a month.