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Voluntary Simplicity in Suburbia By Cheyenne Coleman

As I read Choosing Simplicity by Linda Breen Pierce (foreword by Vicki Robin), I started to realize that our dream of minimalism, voluntary simplicity, intentional living (they are all interchangeable) is totally possible in the suburbs of the Quad Cities. Often times, those who choose simple lives find contentment in the untouched land just outside of town. And for my husband and I, this is definitely true. However, there is one key element missing.

Life is happening now and even though we want to move out under the stars and trees, we have found happiness here. If we don’t appreciate life as it is now, I don’t think we will ever be content.

We live in Scott County and any piece of land is expensive (one of the most expensive in the USA for farmland, currently going for over $12,000 per acre). So, we have decided to postpone our move. But, that doesn’t make us unhappy. It just means we have to find ways to do ‘country things’ in the city. I won’t even mention the commute it would be for my husband if we moved now.

If we can’t live the way we want to in the city, we won’t make it happen in the country. And city living is far easier than any back holler. We have amenities and conveniences we wouldn’t otherwise have. I feel it is our job to seek out beautiful and precious aspects of the black paved roads. I’ll have you know, gravel doesn’t plow so well. Thank you midwest for your 17+ inches of snowfall per year. I will also say, my classmates and I joke about me walking a full sized cow down the road for it’s daily walk as a pet. I not-so-secretly love animals!

Right now, I can walk to grocery stores, the bank, convenience stores, RedBox, the gym, and 100+ other places. In the country, there is no spur of the moment pizza runs or shopping sprees. We would go into town once a month and stock up, or maybe less. Once we move out there, the traffic and people of the city might be too much and too overwhelming for us.

We find happiness and satisfaction in homesteading and self-sustainability. This year we plan on starting our first garden. I can barely keep any house plant alive, but I remain optimistic about it all. We just started our little seedlings on our windows inside. This Sunday, we purchased organic produce seeds along with those suction cup toothbrush/cup holders. This is how I potted the seeds and stuck them to the windows. I can’t wait until they all start sprouting; that is if they ever sprout. My goal is to grow all of our own produce year round. That also means I need to learn how to can and freeze it too! I’m not sure I am ready for all of this, but I think it will be extremely rewarding even if I only get two potatoes.

Eventually when the time is right, we will find a place way out there. We might even build our own house from reclaimed materials (yeah for eco-friendliness) and it might not even have working plumbing. Say what?! Yes, that is right. My husband is even okay with it. If we shower at the gym and use a composting toilet, all we need is a large fresh water tank for cleaning dishes, cooking, and drinking. I know many may not see this as ideal, but to me it seems like a perfect uncomplicated world. It may be harder on the body, but easier on the soul.

Right now, we currently have heating, plumbing, convenient walking places, bus lines, grocery stores, electricity, and a home that is relatively close to work/school. Is it the perfect ending we are looking for? Not exactly but it is a start. A great start.

I have come to realize that I need to love this moment because when the moment comes that I always dreamed of, it will fly right by, unnoticeable because I am always looking ahead. So for now, our ‘tiny’ 725 square foot house is serving our needs just fine. We even plan to have at least 2 children in this house before we move out; that is with a kitten and a 125 lb English Mastiff. To us, a tiny house equates to a close-knit family. For these reasons, we welcome suburbia with our arms and hearts wide open. To Suburbia!

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