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It happened to me: COVID-19 lockdown changed my perspective on rural living

It happened to me: COVID-19 lockdown changed my perspective on rural living
It happened to me: COVID-19 lockdown changed my perspective on rural living
It happened to me: COVID-19 lockdown changed my perspective on rural living
It happened to me: COVID-19 lockdown changed my perspective on rural living


I grew up in the countryside, and we grew up pretty poor. I always felt isolated there, on the outskirts of town with our nearest neighbor barely within shouting distance, and one bus per hour connecting me to the rest of the world. When I got older and my world got bigger, I fell in love with the city. 

I went to university in Antwerp, got my PhD and my first jobs there. Being in Antwerp made me feel like everything was within reach, like endless opportunity, like I had shaken off my humble beginnings and emerged anew. A sophisticated young urbanite that had left the stench of her mouldy childhood bedroom behind, carefully disguised with an expensive dye job and the “right” pair of shoes. 

I never lived in the city, though. I was stuck somewhere in limbo between the suburbs and the wide open fields, but two buses an hour was an improvement. I always dreamed about moving to Antwerp, though. I hated wasting at least two hours a day on a commute, the routine of waking up, work, make dinner, space out and go to bed to repeat the process in the morning. There was simply too little life left at the end of the work day, after slugging our way through yet another traffic jam. 

The corona crisis, the lockdown and all of the work we’ve done around the house has changed my perspective on all of that. My dye job has grown out. I walk around barefoot most of the time. I thank our lucky stars for our little garden. We’ve made our home into a sanctuary. Where I once saw boredom, I now see peace and a safe refuge. I don’t want to move to the city anymore. I don’t want to waste my life stuck in cars, trains and buses. 

I’ve come to the realization that the biggest reason I wanted to live in the city, was to get more out of my life. Lose less time in traffic. Be closer to the things that give me joy. I have that now, today, right here. I want to keep working from home and have this vastly improved work-life balance. I don’t know if I could go back to the way things were. Let’s hope this crisis changes our perspective for more than just a few months.

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