"So," the visitor asks as he and his wife pour over real estate brochures and maps of Floyd County, "what’s life like around here?"
Sometimes, you’re tempted to lie and say life around here sucks. That way, the people looking to move here might decide to move elsewhere.
But this is the South and you want to be hospitible, so you tell the truth and they find a nice piece of property and maybe a house at a price that seems cheap where they come from but is downright expensive by our standards and another set of city dwellers pack up a moving van and come in search of a little piece of heaven in the country.
Then they start complaining about how Floyd doesn’t have this or that or they have to drive to Roanoke to find good Chinese.
It should be our civic duty to prepare city folk for life here in the hills. A couple of years ago, I put together a questionnaire for folks considering a move to Southwestern Virginia. Haven’t used it for a while so I pulled it out the other day.
Have you ever lived in a home with a well or septic system?
Do you have allergies?
Do bugs bother you? Spiders? Snakes? Coyotes? Bobcats? Bears?
Do you get midnight cravings for something to eat and want to dash out to the nearest 24-hour diner for a bite?
Is accessibility to shopping a priority?
Does the smell of manure offend you?
I’ve run these questions by a number of couples looking to relocate from the city to the country. Few have ever lived in a house with a septic system and don’t have the slightest idea how to care for one. Most have allergies, many scream at the site of spiders and snakes and one couple actually asked what manure smelled like. When I get answers like these I gently suggest their concept of country living lies elsewhere, like maybe Asheville, North Carolina.
Living in rural areas catches some newcomers by surprise. They don’t realize the grocery store might be a 30-minute drive or that they can’t drive into Floyd to find a blank DVD or a specific cable for their computer.
Got a hankering for Chinese food? Roanoke, Christiansburg or Hillsville.Movie? Same, unless you want to rent a DVD at the video store and watch one at home. Pizza delivery? Sorry dude. Late night dining? The last restaurant in town closes at 10 p.m. but you can pick up something to eat at Food Lion until 11. Need a prescription filled on Sunday? Gotta find a chain store in Roanoke, Christiansburg or Hillsville.
There are trade offs to living in the country and some folks don’t take those trade offs into consideration before scrapping the urban life. But they move anyway and then start complaining about how life here isn’t as civilized as it could be. Or they start saying things like "you know, life here would be perfect if we just had a (insert name of favorite urban convenience here)."
Maybe we should post a sign at the county line: Abandon all urban silliness when you enter here. This is the country and that’s the way we like it.