A heartfelt look into the best place to live by attorney Frederick Penney.
SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Frederick Penney discusses what type of life is better for a person's mental and physical health, the urban or rural lifestyle. Frederick is the managing partner of Penney and Associates Injury Lawyers and the host of the popular nationally syndicated radio show, Radio Law Talk. https://www.penneylawyers.com/locations/sacramento/ ; https://radiolawtalk.com/ .
As an attorney and radio host I always talk about, write, and discuss issues revolving around the law. I figured that it was time to write about something that is not law related but something that I have always contemplated yet failed to do an in-depth study. I have always wondered whether it is better for ones mental and physical health to live in the rural or more urban areas? A rural area is what people generally call the country. It is usually a small town with a population that generally makes a living off the land or an individual that lives close to rural farm or ranch community. The rural areas are generally towns and not cities. The rural areas are usually sparsely populated and have fewer amenities than the bigger suburbs or cities. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/urban-area/#:~:text=%22Urban%20area%22%20can%20refer%20to,well%20as%20the%20surrounding%20areas.&text=Rural%20areas%20are%20the%20opposite,large%20amounts%20of%20undeveloped%20land. Having lived in the city, suburbs, and country, I have found that all have their positives and negatives. Let us look at how urban and rural life compare, talk to people who live in the city and individuals that live in the more rural areas of the country and look at some surveys that reveal how where one lives affects their mental health.
The first thing to do is make a list and try to analyze what the positive and negatives are with each place to live. For this article I will lump the city and suburbs together as urban and the small-town country life as rural. When discussing the rural areas to live, I will be discussing areas generally with less than 10,000 population that concern people that mostly live on acreage. Living in a rural area is not talking about someone living out in the middle of Nevada on a massive ranch. Instead, the rural community is generally people who live on acreage and are surrounded by small, medium, and large ranches and farms. I call this "country living".
BENEFITS OF LIVING IN THE CITY
This exhaustive but not fully inclusive list takes into consideration many if not all the positive benefits of living in the city. The Frederick Penney list is as follows.
Better career opportunities.
Better public transportation.
Close to and a much more diverse and larger selection of the arts.
More amenities including stores and access to goods and services.
A larger selection of restaurants and culinary options.
A more diverse population.
The beautiful city lights.
Close to colleges and higher education.
Less upkeep of the home, generally either very little or no amount of land to take care of.
Better technology availability. Internet speed alone is better in the city.
More advanced medical facilities.
Large police force.
Some would argue better trained first responders.
At the cutting edge of what is happening in the world.
Closer proximity to major retailers and other businesses.
Better night life and more to do for all generations.
More work opportunity.
BENEFITS OF LIVING IN THE COUNTRY
Living a more rural life is for many the only way to live even though the amount of physical work may dramatically exceed that of one living in the city. The following are the positive benefits of living in the country. The Frederick Penney list is as follows.
Less air pollution.
Lower housing prices.
Peace and quiet.
Slower pace of life.
Lower crime rates.
Smaller close-knit community with a feeling of belonging.
Better mental health.
Closer to nature for more peace and quiet.
More accessible to farm fresh foods.
Cost of goods generally lower than in the city.
No HOA fees.
No parking issues.
Easier to navigate streets while driving.
More prepared if disaster occurs. Easier access to the basics of survival.
Lower insurance premiums.
Most important of all the above, you do not have to pick up your dog's poop, or for that matter any animal.
PEW RESEARCH AND NIJ RESEARCH ON URBAN AND RURAL LIVING
In 2018, the Pew research center performed several studies on the differences between the urban and rural lifestyles. The research found that most people who live in rural areas have stayed there for at least 11 years. In fact, 63 percent of people that live in rural areas have lived there more than 11 years. In the more urban areas only 45 percent of the people have lived there for more than 11 years. If given the chance 37 Percent of the people living in an urban area would move. Only 25 percent of rural people would move if given the chance. Research shows that there is less poverty in rural areas but that a substantial difference in financial optimism. Only 34 percent of rural adults feel they have income to lead the life they want where the adults in the urban areas are closer to 46 percent. When it comes to values, rural residents feel that 58 percent of urban areas have different values while 73 percent of rural residents share their same values. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/05/22/what-unites-and-divides-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/ .
According to the National Institute of Justice, their survey of rural and urban crime performed several years ago showed that robbery occurred 54 more times per 100,000 citizens in urban areas as compared to rural areas. https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles/rcrp.pdf .
MENTAL HEALTH OF INDIVIDUALS LIVING IN URBAN AND RURAL AREAS
According to The Center for Urban Design and Mental Health, mental health affects one in four people globally, but there tends to be more mental health issues in the urban areas. Though different surveys or polls may show slightly different results the UD/MH found that almost 40 percent of people living in urban areas have a higher risk of depression and a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety than those living in the rural communities. ED/MH notes three factors for the increased mental health problems in the urban areas. First, pre-existing risk factors where individuals looking for a better life and a better socio-economic life move to the urban areas in attempt to better their lives. This can cause increased poverty, unemployment, homelessness among other things. In essence social drifting into the urban area may bring people that have pre-existing mental issues. Second, social factors such as segregation and social changes in the urban areas may affect one's mental health. Finally, urban area environmental factors such as increased stimuli from the noise and faster paced life that may cause an overload with the increased stimuli. There is also a reduced leisure time and access to nature and the natural environment that may calm one's nerves. The UD/MH has found that green space and access to nature generally helps one's mental health. Individuals need walkable green spaces for mental health. https://www.urbandesignmentalhealth.com/how-the-city-affects-mental-health.html .
There are many factors that one must take into consideration when determining an individual's preference of where to live. Many may need the fast pace more exciting life found in the urban areas rather than the slow pace, what some would say, boring life in the more rural settings. Some just enjoy the big city life while others enjoy the slower pace peace and quiet of the rural community. I know several people who live both in the big cities and those that live in the rural areas. This includes colleagues, friends, and family. I had the opportunity to interview two individuals who live in two drastically different communities.
INTERVIEW OF RURAL RESIDENT
The first individual that I interviewed was Michael Cagle a retired Chiropractor and Registered Nurse that has lived in rural areas most of his life. He is what one would call a former country doctor and nurse with a perspective of what it is like to live the rural lifestyle.
Frederick Penney: Were you raised in a rural community most of your life?
Mr. Cagle: yes, I was born in a small town, other than going to a Chiropractic school in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have lived in the country. Also, my grandparents lived on a farm in a small rural California community, and I spent quite a bit of time there as a child.
Frederick Penney: Have you ever lived in the city or suburbs?
Mr. Cagle: Other than the time I was in Chiropractic College, I lived very briefly in the suburbs and could not wait to get out. I am not saying there anything wrong with the people, I just missed the country life and open space.
Frederick Penney: What has been your profession over the years?
Mr. Cagle: I was a practicing Chiropractor for 30 years in California until I became a registered nurse. I retired from Chiropractic to take a job as a nurse in a rural community in Montana. I felt that this was a way to step out of retirement as a Chiropractor because I wanted to continue to help others.
Frederick Penney: As a "rural doctor of Chiropractic" were you able to observe and see what life was like for other people living in a more rural setting?
Mr. Cagle: I believe there was a difference between people that moved to the country from a big city than those that grew up in the same small community. It seemed like the city people were nice but tended to become more uptight at things. It was like they forgot to leave their big city mannerisms and tensions back in the city.
Frederick Penney: Give me a quick list of the positive things about living in the country.
Mr. Cagle: I can look at the bright stars at night, there is very little light pollution. I can walk outside my house and see the livestock and wildlife within a few feet of my door. There is something about being able to walk outside and be uninhibited as there are no neighbors looking directly at you. It is more peaceful and quiet in the rural communities and most of the time on a windy day all I hear is the wind whistling through the trees. I do not hear people talking or yelling or cars driving by. There is also the sense of community where everyone was looking after their neighbor to make sure they were OK. When someone needs help everyone in the community steps up and help. We do not have to lock our cars when we park them in our dirt driveway. It is very rare when we must lock our house doors during the day. The schools are smaller and more personal than I would think a big city school. I can grow my own food and raise my own livestock and chickens which allowed us to become more self-sufficient, especially in times of disaster.
Frederick Penney: Out of that long list, can you tell me the top three positive things about living in the country and why?
Mr. Cagle: The self-sufficiency and having more freedom of movement or inhibitions on your property. Sorry I have a fourth, the wildlife and beauty of living among nature.
Frederick Penney: I am trying to only focus on the positive, but if you were to name one thing that has been a negative about living in a more rural area what would it be and why?
Mr. Cagle: nothing, maybe a few more minutes' drive to the grocery store.
Frederick Penney: Have you ever been to a big city for any amount of time?
Mr. Cagle: Yes
Frederick Penney: How did you feel mentally while you were in the big city?
Mr. Cagle: I felt stressed and a little claustrophobic and confined. It seemed like everything was bottlenecked, especially the traffic. I was not used to that and it made me feel like I needed to get out of there.
Frederick Penney: Do you feel having lived in a rural area most of your life has caused you to be more anxious in the big city?
Mr. Cagle: Yes
Frederick Penney: Do you believe you will live the rest of your life in a rural community?
Mr. Cagle: Yes, God willing I will live out the rest of my life with my family in a rural community just like my parents and grandparents did. In fact, as I stated earlier, I recently moved to an even more rural community in Montana which our whole family has thoroughly enjoyed. As the rural communities in California become more populated, I thought it was time for us to move to an even more remote town in Montana. I appreciate those who love the big city and believe some are meant to be there but for me, the rural more laid-back lifestyle is what I chose.
INTERVIEW OF AN URBAN RESIDENT
I had the opportunity to interview Virgilia Virjoghe, a successful New York businesswoman who has lived in big cities all over the world. She has worked for several high-profile companies in the fashion industry and has a grasp on what it is like to work and live in the big city. https://www.vvglobalpartners.com/ .
Frederick Penney: Were you raised in an urban community most of your life?
Ms. Virjoghe: No, I was born and raised in a small community in Romania until I was 7 years old and then moved to the big city.
Frederick Penney: Have you ever lived in a rural setting other than the first 7 years?
Ms. Virjoghe: Yes, after moving to the city I used to spend quite a bit of time visiting my grandparents on their farm in Romania. I can say that I have roots in both the urban city and the more rural farming areas. I am a village girl until I die, but I love the city. The reason I am the person I am today is that I have learned to love both the city and country. I am a big city girl that loves the lights the fashion but still have some of that rural life in my blood. I am what you can call a Soulful country girl with a big city vision and ambition.
Frederick Penney: What has been your profession over the years?
Ms. Virjoghe: I worked mostly in Europe in television industry and in the United States with high fashion brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Dolce and Gabbana, and others in New York City. Presently I have my own company which is a branding strategy agency working with strategic partnerships.
Frederick Penney: Having worked with several high-profile brands in New York, were you able to observe other people and how they were adapting to the urban life?
Ms. Virjoghe: When people come to New York they notice such a big culture shift. It evolves with every major event that happens in the city. There is constant stress and a fast-paced life. When tragic events occur in the city people become worried and more stressed. People in the big cities, I have seen, worry quite a bit if something tragic happens. I saw the 2008 financial collapse and New Yorkers had a great fear of losing money that caused more stress. It seems like everything is on a much faster pace than the rest of the world. Another example is the pandemic where New Yorkers worried about two things, possibly losing their lives and their livelihood. Given that, I find that New Yorkers work hard to persevere and try to come back from any disaster. I believe this does cause extra stress and sometimes affects people in a negative way. It is very expensive to live in New York City so the stress factors of having to make money is probably higher than in a rural area. If you do not grow and adapt in the city you figuratively die or fail, there is nothing in between. This can cause a lot of stress.
Frederick Penney: Give me a quick list of the positive things about living in an urban area.
Ms. Virjoghe: I love the cultural diversity of people, the ambition of people that drives you more. I can feed off others energy of entrepreneurship. The restaurants and business are unlike any other place, people come to New York for hospitality and entertainment—this is a huge draw. New York City is impactful, and it is the world in one city. You can be in Romania, China, Italy, or any other country by just traveling down the street in New York. The culture is so diverse. People in the city are highly competitive which always forces you to become better and better. You can get better in the big city because someone is always trying to take over. Competitiveness is a healthy addiction that people in New York have, and I see that as a positive. Things are coming back alive in New York and the urban lifestyle is alive and starting to thrive again. People are in the streets and the city is alive.
Frederick Penney: I am trying to only focus on the positive things about living in the more urban areas, but if you were to name one thing that has been a negative thing about living in a more urban area what would it be and why?
Ms. Virjoghe: From a prospective of cleanliness, it is the trash and there is a lot of trash people put on the street and in some residential area and it takes a while for the city to pick it up. I feel that a negative of living in a big city is the unfairness of things such as obtaining a job or working someplace that you cannot move up without knowing someone. It seems at times people move up the ladder by who they know and not what they can do.
Frederick Penney: How did you feel mentally while you were in the rural area?
Ms. Virjoghe: I think that I am close to a rural area right in New York because I live close to Central Park. Without Central Park I believe I would need to go out to the rural areas to get my breath and be able to see nature and breathe. Central Park is beautiful and having the big trees so close and the ability to look out my window and see its beauty, my soul is set at ease. I do believe that we need nature to help us relax, enjoy, and reset.
Frederick Penney: Do you feel having lived in an urban area most of your life it has caused you to be more anxious in a rural setting?
Ms. Virjoghe: No, remember I am a city girl with the farm in my blood.
Frederick Penney: Do you believe you will live the rest of your life in an urban community?
Ms. Virjoghe: If I could paint the perfect scenario, I would have a home in France, New York, Los Angeles and maybe Texas. I want to be able to move freely between the cities of Europe and the United States. New York will always be part of my life I love, adore, and sometimes hate the big city. But for some reason I will always love New York.
RURAL OR URBAN, IT DOES NOT MATTER
To me, life is what you make of it. If you complain about your circumstance, make it better. If you hate the city, then move. If you are bored in the country, then move to the city where the pace and nightlife is much faster. I truly believe that your mental state is the most important thing, and one needs to determine what makes them happy and many times that means one needs to choose a more urban or more rural lifestyle. For me, well I can have both.
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SOURCE Penney and Associates