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Old 01-12-2018, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Unicoi, Tennessee
30 posts, read 16,677 times
Reputation: 66

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Let me preface this by saying that I've lived in two different European countries and five different states (traveled to 49 of them), so I think I have a pretty broad/balanced perspective on this.


Of all the threads I've read lamenting U.S. suburban development and the proliferation of sprawl, there seems to be a huge misconception among some that rural life in Europe doesn't exist. Folks that are proponents of U.S. suburban development usually say something to the effect of "we don't want to be packed into dense European style cities like sardines in a can. I enjoy hearing the birds chirp and being close to nature so I'll take the suburbs any day!" The general consensus among a large portion of my fellow Americans seems to be that Europe consists of hyper-dense development stretching as far as the eye can see, without relief (a denser Bo-Wash corridor, if you will).

However, because of the denser patterns of development found in most of Europe, rural life is preserved in a way that is increasingly difficult to find in the U.S. I would argue that a greater percentage of Europe feels more rural than the United States and has the ideal small-town feel that people long for. I'm not talking about wilderness, because the U.S. (and North America), by virtue of its geographical size, has more wilderness areas and "empty" land. I'm using the Webster definition of rural as "of or relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture. Due to the abrupt transition between development and non-developed land, once you leave the village proper in most of Europe you are surrounded by forests, farmland, and nature. As opposed to the U.S. where development is dispersed over a very large area with development that tapers off over many miles in most cases. This lends a feeling of rurality that is missing here in the States.

For example, I lived in a small village (approximately 9,000 people) called Vimperk in the Czech Republic (Google Maps below for reference). The village contains a couple of grocery stores (Lidl and COOP), bakery, florist, a handful of restaurants, various retail stores, two museums, two banks, a couple of schools, a few penzion/hotels, a few pubs, a church, pharmacy, a medical clinic, etc. Keep in mind, this is not a touristy area and is similar to hundreds of other villages in the country. It's extremely walkable, yet it's only a few miles from Sumava National Park and there are several trails within walking distance of town that lead into the forests/mountains. Better yet, apart from a few apartment buildings, most people own fairly large homes (probably not by U.S. standards) that have front and back yards. Quite a few homes even have small garages and lots of people own cars. There are also homes scattered back in the hills with even more space.

What I'm getting at is that you can live in a relatively dense walkable area, own a single family home with space, have a yard, be surrounded by nature, drive a car, and still not resort to the type of insane sprawl that you deal with in the States or live in a high rise in Manhattan. There is a very functional, practical, and aesthetically pleasing pattern middle-ground that would please most urbanites and suburbanites. You have most of the amenities one could want in a walkable, somewhat dense area, while being close to nature and owning a home with space. Point being, we should look to small/midsize villages in Europe as models of development, not necessarily the larger urban areas. Of course, because of historical development many places in Europe developed this way organically, unlike the U.S.

Thoughts? I'd like to hear from proponents of modern suburban development and sprawl. Would you live in a village like the one I did? What issues do you envision?

Vimperk:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cz...661c75d3db586f

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cz...661c75d3db586f

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cz...661c75d3db586f

An apartment building in Vimperk: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cz...661c75d3db586f

A few single-family homes scattered about in Vimperk: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cz...661c75d3db586f

Approximately 3/4 mile from the village square: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cz...661c75d3db586f

Last edited by elnina; 02-01-2018 at 05:39 PM..
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Old 01-12-2018, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
1,674 posts, read 515,469 times
Reputation: 3154
Google Streetview is your friend. It is easy to select random rural locations anywhere in Europe and USA and compare them.
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Unicoi, Tennessee
30 posts, read 16,677 times
Reputation: 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by cebuan View Post
Google Streetview is your friend. It is easy to select random rural locations anywhere in Europe and USA and compare them.
Did you read what I wrote? I even posted links from Google Streetview... I was addressing the common misconception that Europe is one continuous string of development, especially when compared with the U.S. I argue that because of denser urban development rather than sprawl, a larger portion of Europe feels truly rural in comparison to the sprawling small towns in the States.
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:02 PM
 
2 posts, read 1,312 times
Reputation: 10
Nice point!
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Old 01-13-2018, 04:22 AM
 
Location: Bologna, Italy
5,725 posts, read 2,779,282 times
Reputation: 2378
Depends where in Europe. Obviously Belgium, the Ruhr area in Germany, southern England or parts or Northern Italy are going to be pretty dense, but there will always be many rural / preserved areas since regulations are strong on construction and land is more expensive than in the US.

And then if you go to central France or Poland I'm sure it will feel a lot more empty.
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
1,674 posts, read 515,469 times
Reputation: 3154
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkepticalHermit View Post
Did you read what I wrote? I even posted links from Google Streetview... I was addressing the common misconception that Europe is one continuous string of development, especially when compared with the U.S. I argue that because of denser urban development rather than sprawl, a larger portion of Europe feels truly rural in comparison to the sprawling small towns in the States.
I doubt if very many readers got anywhere near your links. I tried to be concise.

I confess -- I did not carefully read every word of your entire post.
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Old 01-19-2018, 04:08 PM
 
Location: Round Rock, Texas
7,529 posts, read 7,496,650 times
Reputation: 5869
A Brit friend of mine bought a 200 year old farmhouse & barn in the Chaillac area of Central France. He's waaay out in the sticks. We'll be visiting him for a week this summer to soak in some of the rural French countryside.
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Old 01-19-2018, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Unicoi, Tennessee
30 posts, read 16,677 times
Reputation: 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScoPro View Post
A Brit friend of mine bought a 200 year old farmhouse & barn in the Chaillac area of Central France. He's waaay out in the sticks. We'll be visiting him for a week this summer to soak in some of the rural French countryside.
That sounds incredible!
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:03 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
14,312 posts, read 15,752,969 times
Reputation: 26683
Most rural areas in Europe that are thriving are so because many of the residents work in urban occupations in a nearby city. Many of the more remote rural areas with more dispersed population are suffering similar circumstances to America's more remote rural areas. In Italy, there has been talk of "saving" villages by settling refugees and other immigrants there.

Then there is a phenomenon of extremely remote rural areas in the US. Like counties the size of Belgium with >10,000 total residents. Unless there is a viable economy there, such places are doomed to evaporate as residents move to areas with work.
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:51 PM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
14,606 posts, read 17,426,534 times
Reputation: 10140
The U.S. has lots of farms. Go to the mid-west and there are farms as far as the eye can see and then some. It's called the breadbasket.

Even in the east, states like New York and Pennsylvania are filled with farms.
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