Why We Moved To The Country

Eight years ago  I was a pampered housewife living  in an exclusive area of Los Angeles.

My husband and I spent our weekends going to swank bars, nightclubs, and Hollywood parties. We rubbed elbows and drank martinis with celebrities, heiresses, and lots of fake people.

I wasn’t shocked to find the husband of a couple we sometimes went out with that lived on the beach in Malibu, arrested for running a huge scam were he bilked millions from folks in the midwest to fund a Christian movie company that didn’t exist.

Like many people in Los Angeles, you never knew quite what the real story with anyone was, as many people had a facade they showed to the world. That extremely wealthy looking man who pulled up to the club in his Ferrari might be living in a small rented studio, and the car might be leased.

I myself had grown up on the east side of LA, my dad a sound editor for the movies, and my mom was an ex hippie. I married right out of fashion design school to my husband, ten years older than me. His business had thrived so I had quit my budding career to raise the kids. We were riding the whole technology boom of the late 90’s. We thought it would last forever. Little did we know everything would change for us after The Great Recession of 2008….

I had long since stopped making clothes or being creative. The Hollywood lifestyle was wearing me thin, and one night, lying in bed awake, I told my husband I wanted off the merry go round of our lives. I wanted to live in the country, away from all the noise and chaos of LA, where we had both grown up going out to clubs and parties since we were both young teenagers.

Luckily, I have a husband with an open mind. He wanted to change too. He wanted to start farming, and I wanted to homeschool the kids. We had recently sold our house in France, so that was no longer an option. We decided to look locally for a new life.We searched for an old farmhouse and found the perfect one about and hour and ten minutes out of LA. But a world away.

We traded in our fancy cars, got a truck and a mini van, and I learned to ride a quarter horse at a ranch across the road. We are surrounded by avocado and orange ranches and live across from a river in an area that has looked the same for the past hundred years, almost forgotten by time. We are a few miles outside of a small farming town, with few restaurants besides taco places, so sometimes I pack the kids in the car, drive them down to LA and take them to a museum so they can have some culture.

We raise chickens, make jam from the fruit on our trees, have homeschooled, go to church, grow our own veggies, and I now make most of the clothing for myself and my girls. Even though I am only an hour and ten minutes from LA, I still find it hard to believe I had never heard of this place before I moved here.

When I became pregnant with our fifth child four years ago, I started to sew clothing regularly again, rekindling my love of making clothes. I started my blog Sew Country Chick to document my progress. I am now designing most of our own clothing, making patterns, and considering selling some of them.

Making things has become a way of life and so much more rewarding than an endless cycle of consuming that many Americans are hooked on.

I’m not trying to say that living in the city is bad, and plenty of creative people do live there, but for me, moving to the country was the best thing I could do. I had to get away and slow down to find out what it was I wanted to do.

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-McKenzie

Comments

  1. Janlynn says

    A very interesting and inspiring post!
    I always enjoy your posts and your sewing.

  2. says

    You aren’t alone. We left southern CA soon to be 20 years ago now, in fact we left the west coast entirely. It was the best decision we ever made.

  3. Sew Blessed Maw says

    Justine ,what an awesome post. I so admire your and your husband’s courage ,
    to make such a move from what was normal to you.. I know , you must be so
    happy in your farmhouse [which is so beautifully decorated.. I love it, and love
    when you post photos of the things you do].
    Your children are getting to see both sides of the world.. And they have
    wonderful parents to guide them.. I just love the country life.. When we open
    the jar of jelly , that we made– and came off our trees, It is just wonderful!!!
    thank you for sharing..

  4. Sew Blessed Maw says

    ps Best wishes on your patter making.. You know, I will
    definitely be a customer..

  5. amy mayen says

    You made the right choice. I grew up in the country here in Oklahoma. I’ve been in a city every since design school. I hate it everyday that my kid is being raised in the city. We bought a home in a less than desireable area when I got pregnant…I was only 21 and didn’t know better. I didn’t have enough money even if I did….but now that our business is doing well & the house is paid off I’m looking for land. I want my kid to enjoy the freedom that I did growing up. I’d really like another baby someday but I don’t have anywhere to put one here:( and I’m not in a good school district, so private school for 2? That’s another mortgage. I’m flirting with the idea of getting chickens, since I’m livestock zoned, I grow most of our vegetables…I’m looking for ways to be more self sufficient in this changing world.

  6. says

    I’ve dreamed of living in the country all my life. Unfortunately that isn’t meant to be for us. . .for now, so I’m determined to make our suburban picket-fence existence as self-sufficient as possible. We will soon be moving to a home in a huge subdivision, which makes me incredibly twitchy. BUT our property is big enough to have chickens (I checked zoning laws) and a garden. Bees maybe. Handmade clothes. Homeschooling. (They may run us out of the neighborhood LOL)

    Thanks for sharing, Justine. You’re inspiring to me!

  7. Tammy says

    Congratualtiosn for takeing control of your life and haveign teh guts to not only dream it but do it…Great story.

  8. says

    Life goes too fast in the city. I live North County San diego where the pace is a little slower than downtown. It’s nice to relax on life and look around. I hate feeling like I’m in a hurry wherever I go. It’s just become a part of city life, I guess. Living in a TEENY TINY country town outside of Las Vegas for 8 years might have been one of the best things for me. I can relate a little to your story, only backwards. I moved from SD to a tiny town then back to SD. But I’m not rushed in life, I take life a day at a time and enjoy every minute of it.

  9. says

    Us too. 9 years ago we left Minneapolis and headed for the country. Hubby still works close to the city but he doesn’t see but one stop light to get there. We love our homestead self-sufficient life!!!! Wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  10. Claire Cooper says

    I am sooo glad I don’t live in the city. I love to visit, but I don’t want to live in it. We live about 25 mins drive from the nearest city. It’s great to be close enough to get to major events, and cultural stuff, but far enough away that it doesn’t rule our lives. I love living by the sea and I like the little town we live in.

  11. says

    although we lived in a city far less glamorous than l.a….we made a similar decision when our youngest son would soon be entering middle school…i just couldn’t send him to the public school and we really didn’t have any other options….the county small town that we came to did wonders for him as well as us…as much as i miss “civilization” still…i do realize how blessed we are to be here and how much better it was for our son to finish growing up here! thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. says

    What an interesting story, Justine. You made right decision by moving to country side, you and your family live in healthy environment, far away from “noise and pollution” of big city. Thank you for sharing part of your life :).

  13. says

    I love your story!!! We basically live in the country but in a subdivision – I would love to someday live on and off (self-sustaining) my own land! 🙂

  14. Delia says

    You are such a fascinating person Justine! I really enjoyed reading this post and your perspective on both worlds.

  15. Lil' Bit and Nan says

    You are so awesome! I loved reading your story. You are exactly the person I want to be like. I have so much respect and admiration for you and your choice to live a happier and real lifestyle. Your choice to become self reliant is a beautiful one at that. Keep inspiring me, please. I am sure I am not the only one you inspire. – Bethany

  16. Emily says

    I didn’t know there were areas like that outside of LA. I miss living in a big city but I’ve also learned a lot of things I wouldn’t’ve if I lived somewhere else- like sewing and expanding my cooking repertoire.

  17. Leanne says

    I love this Justine! Such an inspiring story! Excited to meet you next weekend!