The dream of escaping the hustle and bustle, the stress and the pollution in city life to escape to the country is one of the most popular ambitions for many of us. It has spawned a whole new generation of TV programmes and magazines as people try to fathom out how they, too, can turn their dreams of living a quieter peaceful life into reality. But is that how rural life really is? The answer is “it depends”.
Whilst escaping to the country with your family does offer you the beauty of nature and a more tranquil environment, it can also be difficult. You may not be used to the more solitary existence with only a few locals for company and not all people would have the same creature comforts as you might have in the city or the suburbs. The truth is that rural life is not an easier way of life, just an alternative option and, when it comes to safety issues, there are many things to consider.
Unless a tornado was about to sweep across a field to make a beeline for your farmhouse or isolated country cottage, severe weather isn’t going to impact upon you much more than it would a city dweller. Where it does differ, however, is how quickly you’ll be able to get things like electricity, gas and water supplies going again should the storm have caused them to fail as there’s no question that utility providers are going to prioritise businesses and city dwellers due to sheer weight of numbers as opposed to a few small country hamlets. Therefore, it’s important to have some kind of back-up power generation system and, maybe a well too, as water will be the key to your survival in the event that your normal supply fails.
Whilst it would be fair to say that you’re less likely to get mugged walking down the lane to your cottage than you would be on the streets in certain parts of the city at night, rural living is, by no means, untouched by crime – they simply have different sorts of crime, that’s all.
Much rural crime is related to theft. There’s a lot of expensive agricultural machinery out there not to mention horses and their tack alongside many expensive 4 x 4 vehicles. And, unlike the city or suburbs where nosey neighbours twitching behind their curtains can often come across some suspicious activity which might be going on, out in the rural sticks, the chances are that you live in a detached property, perhaps a hundred or more yards from your nearest neighbours so it’s easier for a thief to go about his work with less chance of being detected.
Steps You Can Take To Reduce Crime
Remove keys from the ignitions of all vehicles. So many people who live in rural areas and also make their living there will often remove keys from their beloved 4 x 4s and Range Rovers but leave them in things like tractors, bulldozers etc and these types of vehicles are highly attractive to thieves.
Make sure any expensive items are stored inside and are not visible to the outside world if possible. It’s not always that easy as, if you keep a horse box, for example, people will obviously know you have a horse and all the tack that goes with that, but if any larger mechanical vehicles or equipment can be stored in a barn or somewhere similar, that’s better than keeping them outside ‘on show’.
In addition to Neighbourhood Watch schemes which most of us are familiar with, in many rural communities, they have a similar scheme called ‘Countryside Watch’ which helps combat crime and vandalism in rural areas and where people can gain support from each other.
It almost goes without saying that you should make the same kind of interior and exterior security checks and provisions regarding security lighting, and sturdy bolts and locks indoors, etc as you would anywhere else.
Living in a more remote area can be considered an attractive, and some might say, ‘easy’ target to a would-be intruder so you need to be extra vigilant and secure your home and land surrounding it as best you can.
Marking your all your valuables with an invisible pen is also useful too and can catch many thieves out as the items they tend to rob are often highly specialised pieces of equipment and therefore harder to get rid of outside of the ‘rural community’ who are then more likely to turn the goods (and the perpetrator’s description) into the police.
Other aspects of safety at home which rural communities sometimes have problems with include fast access to GP and medical care which could be vital if you suffer an injury or sudden illness at home. Keeping warm in winter if you’re elderly in particular can have its difficulties if you only have a wood burning stove and need to collect wood for burning. Furthermore, the general difficulty of maintaining the upkeep of a rural property can be demanding.
However, rural life can be idyllic if you’re prepared for it and willing to adapt. And, as far as safety goes, then it is probably a safer place to be than in the city, as far as overall crime goes – it just a different type of crime and a different way of life, that’s all.