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Old 02-16-2010, 12:42 AM
791 posts, read 2,720,294 times
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So you live in a rural area, I assume that you are at least 40 miles away from the shopping stores in your area.

What do you buy or rent or a service that you hire on a regular basis that requires that you travel to that store? OR do you make most of you purchases online? (minus food)

I'm trying to figure out what you still need when you want to live off the land in a rural area. What services/products do you wish were more convenient in your area, assuming it would not comprise the small population you desire?

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Old 02-16-2010, 09:11 AM
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We go to town about twice a week. 35 miles one way.

Nope, nothing I would change. There have been times our meds ran out and we had to make an extra trip.
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Old 02-16-2010, 12:46 PM
Location: Eastern Washington
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40 miles to the closest real shopping, but it's in the town where I work, so no big deal to do most of our food, etc. shopping on the way home from work. There is a decent-sized small town only 5 miles from the house, not everything is available there but most all food staples etc. are. Not necessarily at the best price like in the main town, but available and not at C-store prices either.

Maybe I am not far enough out in the boonies to appreciate your original question.

Another factor is when I picked this place out several years ago, I looked only at acreages on paved roads. Depending on the climate where you end up, this may or may not be important.
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Old 02-16-2010, 12:59 PM
Location: The Woods
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I've never been 40 miles from any shopping, but I'm in Vermont...there's almost always a small store or something closer than that...though it may not be a big selection...

Things that are needed would include fuel, any perishable items you don't raise yourself, things like salt that you can't get yourself, and occasionally, lumber, hardware, a replacement tool or part for a tool, etc. You may want things like seeds, fertilizers, etc., if you're not 100 percent organic/self-sufficient on that (even if you are, I'd make an exception now and then if it means otherwise losing an important crop). Medicine too, obviously.
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Old 02-16-2010, 04:00 PM
Location: From Elmendorf to Eglin
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I think everyone has a different definitions of rural. Rural to one may not be rural at all to another. Take Alaska for instance. Rural here is great compared to living in the bush, where you can't even drive to anything. No that is rural. But where I live now there are small stores to get basic items. So I guess if you are from a city than driving 10 minutes to get to anything may be rural but to those that live in the Alaskan bush rural is as good as a city.
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Old 02-16-2010, 04:23 PM
Location: Way up north :-)
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We live part-time in a rural area, so I'm always weighing up what I'd like now, and what can wait until we get back to the big smoke.

What do I wish was more convenient? Bookstores. At least, a decent one. There are two in our closest big town (30 miles away). One sells second hand books, the other is part of a newsagent, so has mainly Tom Clancy et. al.

You'd think the second-hand bookstore would offer a ray of hope but it has stock that is more like results of a cleanout of the reject pile. You know, things like "One Hundred Ways With Cheese Fondue". "Garden Gnomes of the World". Steinbeck?? Who??? Try the Jewish History section love. There's a Jewish History section?? Anyway...

Ordering online? About that. All mail out here is delivered to the general store. I think it's 'general' because it's generally open a few hours a day. So if you're away for the day, you'll probably miss your delivery. Last time I ordered a book, I went to Sydney and back (440 miles round trip) before it was delivered.

All hail and bow down to the mighty bookstore!
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:11 PM
Location: Lead/Deadwood, SD
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Originally Posted by doug1980 View Post
I think everyone has a different definitions of rural. Rural to one may not be rural at all to another. Take Alaska for instance. Rural here is great compared to living in the bush, where you can't even drive to anything. No that is rural. But where I live now there are small stores to get basic items. So I guess if you are from a city than driving 10 minutes to get to anything may be rural but to those that live in the Alaskan bush rural is as good as a city.
I was thinking the same thing - I live in South Dakota and it's tough to get 40 miles from a store/town. I would think OP's definition of rural relates to about .0001% of population in regards to the US, leaving only those that live in the high mountains and desert south (or Alaska and Wyoming). To most outsiders (and the state housing authority) all but 2 small cities are considered rural.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:52 PM
Location: Diaspora
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The problem of living rural is that sooner for than later suburbia shows up. Nearly 20 years ago my town was rural. The only thing close to a chain name was IGA (food market). We had a spataring of small stores and a gas station. Nearest real market was 48 (an hours drive) miles away. Between here and there was nothing. Come to today, we have three lights, Food Lion, Tractor supply, McDonalds,Wendys and a better selection of stores where we really dont need to leave the area for anything. We still have a rural feel. But now the real markets have moved closer. Within 20-25 minutes I can be at a real mall and add 5 more minutes at a Nordstroms (go figure). But drive past the cluster of stores (about a miles worth) and we are back rural. But wait......Walmart is coming.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:54 PM
Location: Penobscot Bay, the best place in Maine!
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I live on an island, an hour's drive from the nearest traffic light or McDonald's, and an hour+45 to the nearest town with a mall and larger box stores (Sears, Target, Kohl's, etc). The only thing I *have* to go to the larger town for is a health item that my son uses, and I usually get a few months supply when I go. We have local stores- grocery store, hardware store, a small medical clinic and pharmacy- that supplies most everything we need, or they can special order what they don't usually carry if someone needs it. I go to the bigger town for clothing purchases, and Christmas shopping (both in August if I can manage! Saves me an additional trip there in November/December..) I do buy some stuff online, but for the most part, it is stuff I couldn't even get in the stores of the larger town, and it is usually a want item, not a need item.

I can't think of any service or product that we don't already have here that would be needed enough to warrant someone opening a new business to provide it (and have seen a number of new business go under because there wasn't a need for the service or product offered). I think when you are out in the sticks, you know how to make do with what you have, or what your neighbor has (borrowing tools and such), so most people (at least in my community) are content with what options they have, and content with taking a ride to the "city" to shop for what they don't have (because the traffic lights are so pretty-lol!).

The only thing I would like to have more of (and this may sound weird) is fresh fruit and vegetables. I miss the very large produce departments full of fresh and (for me) exotic fruit at the large supermarkets. However, I know it ain't gonna happen here! So I do go a little overboard on that stuff when I get the chance.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:21 PM
Location: Interior AK
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I live "at the end of the road" in Alaska, 4 hours from the nearest big city with any considerable services. There is a small village about 30 miles away where I can get gas, my mail, and few small things of convenience store variety. We can get groceries delivered by mail, but we normally stock up in the city about once every 2-3 months.

We order a lot of stuff online, but it has to be delivered through USPS because UPS/FedEx does NOT deliver out here. If anything gets shipped by those methods, we have to drive 4 hours into the city and pick it up at the depot. Also, anything really large or heavy that comes freight needs to be picked up in the city, or we pay an arm & leg to have one of the (very) few "bush delivery" companies bring it out to us. With online purchases the big thing we have to watch out for is shipping costs, for some reason people think Alaska is another planet and the costs for shipping are ridiculous even if it's just standard mail (which, in theory, should be the same price no matter where you live in the US).

Sometimes it's more cost effective to just make a big stocking run into the city (eating a full tank of gas!) and hit several stores all at once than it is to order online and pay the shipping. Of course, even the city doesn't always have everything we need, speciality items and such, and we have to order those... that's when it pays to have a friend who lives in the city who can accept your deliveries and hang on to them so you don't have to make a mad scramble for the depot before they send your stuff back!

Now, in the village, there are a few services but sometimes it's difficult to determine which of the residents is the one taking care of that this year. Seriously, everyone wears 20 hats, and sometimes they trade. It can be a bit difficult to figure out who you're supposed to get your hunting & fishing licenses from, who's issuing the wood lot permits, who's selling extra firewood, who's filling propane bottles, who's fixing cars etc.

I don't mind driving into the village to stock up on gas for the vehicles and generator, or to have the propane bottles (the little ones) refilled. It's a heck of a lot cheaper to buy it all in bulk from the fuel depot in the city though, you know, the big 55 gallon drums?! But that's really only cost-effective if you're already in town on a stocking run and have space in the truck for the drums (and a way to get them out of the truck when you get home!). You can also purchase and fill the larger propane bottles in the city, but you are limited to the portable sizes... no one delivers propane out here to the large permanent buried or aboveground tanks and there's really no way to fill a big tank from littler tanks without a bunch of hassle and loss. Kerosene and/or fuel oil can also be problematic, since you can only get those in the city reliably (sometimes someone in the village may have extra they'll sell you for a pretty penny).

Fresh produce and perishables are only really possible a couple of days after a stocking run to the city to the farmer's market, or if you have your own garden... almost nothing in the grocery store is fresh since most of it gets shipped in from the Lower 48 or the rest of the world. If you have a large freezer, you'll get a better selection of "fresh" goods that can take being frozen... cheese, milk, butter, meat, some veg & fruit. Otherwise, you're looking at canned or dried/powdered foods for most of the year. You haven't lived until you've had shelf-stable boxed milk (RealFresh - yum - NOT).

So, the biggest challenge to extreme rural (not quite bush yet) is that you have to plan everything, well and well in advance, and you have to have enough space to store everything between stocking runs so that you don't run out of anything when the roads are too bad to go into the city and it's not something that the village trading post carries (or they can't get into town to stock up either!). Even mail order isn't always reliable since the weather can ground the mail plane, and heavy/big packages can get stuck at the processing center in preference for more smaller items getting delivered... which means you always have to pay for Priority Mail if you want something within, say, the current month, or Express/Overnight Mail ($$$$$$) if you need it by the end of the week! (there is no real overnight here, ask and they will laugh at you!) Mail order is generally resserved for things that aren't time critical, or can be routinely scheduled in advance.
Basically, if you need groceries, building materials, equipment, tools, a mechanic, medical care (other than bumps and bruises)... just about anything really, you have to drive 4 hours into the city or hope you can get a seat on the mail plane (for medical emergencies, you better have LifeFlight/MedEvac insurance!).
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