Three years ago, I relocated from Queens to the Berkshires. If you're considering a similar shift, here's what I wish I knew beforehand. 

By Jonah Bayer
January 19, 2021
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If you live in a major city, where you put your favorite face mask isn't the only thing you've been pondering. Between closed restaurants, the difficulty of social distancing, and the dominance of telecommuting, the pandemic has inspired many people to fantasize about buying a home in a remote area with strong Wi-Fi and finally learning how to play the banjo that's been gathering dust in their closet. (OK, maybe that last part is just me.) Three years ago, I relocated from Queens to the Berkshires — and if you're considering a similar shift, here's what I wish I knew beforehand. 

You'll need a car (or two).

There's definitely added cost, maintenance, and headaches that comes with owning a vehicle, which is mandatory in the country. That said, there is something liberating about being able to jump in the car at any moment and not worry about service interruptions or how many MetroCard swipes you have left. 

Get used to driving… a lot.

The town I live in is surrounded by beautiful scenery and quaint New England towns, however they're all about an hour away from each other. Whole Foods? Also an hour away. Need to get your SodaStream refills? Ditto. Oat milk lattes? Thankfully we can get those now — and when you're living in the country, those simple pleasures can make all the difference.  

No takeout, no problem.

If you're used to Seamless taking care of your lunch and dinner plans, you're going to have to learn to fend for yourself. That doesn't mean you have to hunt for game, but it does mean you'll have to learn how to prepare basic dishes unless you feel like eating food from corporate pizza chains every night. Trust me, you don't. 

Adams, Massachusetts with Mount Greylock in the background
Credit: Getty Images

Get some outdoor gear.

Before I made my move, I made fun of people who wore Birkenstocks. Now I get excited to put them on. Similarly you'll need to stock up on hiking boots, snow shoes, parkas, fishing rods, and basically anything that Patagonia sells if you want to take advantage of living in the great outdoors. Does this include Crocs? Absolutely. Luckily, my wife tells me that ugly shoes are currently in style. 

Being outside is transformative.

I wasn't a big outdoors person when I lived in Queens unless it involved a music festival. However, communing with nature, seeing animals in the wild, and breathing in crisp, mountain air has had a positive effect on my mental health. It's one thing to go Upstate for a weekend, it's another to make interacting with nature a part of your daily routine. 

You won't miss city living.

Ultimately, I thought I would miss the city a lot more than I did. Once I fell into the routine of living in the Berkshires, I appreciated the way I never had to make reservations, spend a small fortune on brunch, or check out a friend's DJ set. Speaking of the arts, there are also some world-class museums out here such as MASS MoCA and The Clark, both of which have plenty of socially distanced space to explore. Coronavirus will eventually pass, but the advantages to rural living seem here to stay.