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Pandemic And Urban Exodus: Why People Are Moving To The Countryside?

With the arrival of the frightening pandemic, the big city had to be compressed into the living rooms and bedrooms of homes all over the world. The malls, movie theaters, and nightclubs, always exuding human warmth and loud music, now find themselves in thunderous silence. The hospitals are overcrowded because of the terrible virus. Fear grows with each news item shared on the communication channels. With all of this, the big city is no longer seen as the same place to enjoy the life we were used to.

Social isolation has made the outdoors even more valuable and coveted. COVID-19 has been creating internal questions about where people want to live free from the fear of the virus or even to invest in their personal projects in the best way possible. The traffic and violence present in everyday life have gained an even greater weight when facing the counterpoints between the countryside and the big city.

Brasil, Brazil, flag, Brazilian, São Paulo, São Paulo flag
Photo by sergio souza from Pexels


Moving To The Countryside

We have been living the pandemic in Brazil for a year and two months now, and it has reached a point where it has reached more factors than just the health of the population, such as the psychological and financial ones. New alternatives had to be thought of to get out of the suffocating life that the city offers during the pandemic, and one of them is to pack your bags and go live in the countryside with fresh air, a different house, and a new way of living. Luiz Carlos Silva, a 48-year-old engineer, tells his story.

“The plan to go to the countryside and escape this rush, traffic and violence of São Paulo always existed, but it was an idea. On June 20th, I started working more in Cajamar than in Interlagos and after one month the company was not helping with the transportation (tolls and gasoline). With the fourth month of the pandemic and no sign of improvement, we received an offer to rent the apartment in São Paulo and decided to stay in the countryside for the next months, however, due to the distance, I was staying away from my family during the week and going to the countryside on weekends, besides the risk of bringing the disease to my family and father-in-law. All this led us to get to know Jundiai, which is close to Cajamar and has no tolls. As if that was not enough, we liked the neighborhood and found a house near a very nice nursery school. Things were falling into place and the financing was approved. As they say, it all worked out. Today we have been in Jundiai for six months and with life adapted to the countryside.”

Luiz and his family are just one example of many people who are looking for a new life in the countryside. Instead of keeping on with the plans of only moving to the countryside when they get older, the pandemic has speeded up these ideas for the present.

“We always had the plan of living at a house in the city of São Paulo, but this would only be possible in condominiums with semi-detached houses and very high prices, which means, low cost-benefit and still living in the middle of violence and traffic every day. We believe that the pandemic speeded up this decision that may only happen after retirement, that means, 15 years ahead of time. If we must go back to São Paulo, I’m sure we will do it with much more pain than moving to the countryside.”

Even in a short period of six months, Luiz has already created an appreciation for life in the countryside, making it clear that it was a great decision for his family. The pandemic brought precious lessons that changed the way we look at life, giving more value to the present.

“In addition, the pandemic brought and strengthened the need for us to live the present day. In the big city we seem to live for tomorrow, ‘tomorrow will be better’, ‘I’ll do this on the weekend’, ‘on my vacation I’ll be happy’. Realizing that we may not be here tomorrow has strengthened the obvious that we should enjoy every moment because life is short and can be even shorter.”

As we can analyze Luiz’s thoughts, the pandemic has messed a lot with the mental health of society and the issue of valuing our lives even more. Replacing human contact with cell phone screens, exchanging a hug for a simple nod — keeping an appropriate distance —, birthdays have become one-guest events, masks that cover one of the most adorable ways to show affection — a true smile — and the most painful: the loss of those we love and admire.


Asking A Psychologist

These are all reasons why the city is suffocating so many people and driving them to move to the countryside. Psychologist Rose Claudia Batistelli Vignola, 47, tells us that what people want to find in the countryside is a better quality of life. Because of social isolation, the benefits of the big city — for shopping, entertainment — have taken a back seat. The home office has become even more in demand in the pandemic and brings the benefit that it can be done from anywhere. Along with the home office, online classes also facilitate this change. 

One fact is that social distance deprived most people of face-to-face encounters — so they are already used to the lack of social interaction and would live in the country more easily. Rose also says that there is less possibility of contamination in the countryside than in the cities, bringing even more peace of mind. Besides the factors of climate and landscape that are very attractive.

But every choice has its ups and downs, and you must consider the risks of the pandemic and how this change will affect your lifestyle. Rose tells us a little about both sides.

“Being able to do everything you do where you live today in some other place, more peaceful and with a higher quality of life always seems very worthwhile. You must consider that the pandemic and its risks — getting sick, dying or losing someone, unemployment, loss of income — is anxiety-producing and can be present wherever you are. Smoothing out risk factors always greatly improves the quality of people’s mental health and consequently the quality of life of the individual and his or her surrounding environment. The counterparts are the problems of adaptation of the individual or members of his family, giving up the practicality of big cities that promote access to better health care, employability, more structured schools. Finding new friendship circles and support networks at a time of social distance can also make the moving process more difficult.”

Happy Lifestyle
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez from Unsplash

The pandemic has shattered a concept widely thought of in society: retire and go live in the country to have a quieter life. But because of everything that is happening, people no longer think the same way, this is Luiz and his family’s feeling, and Rose confirms that the change of plans is occurring more frequently nowadays because of the apprehension due to the risk of infection, the possibility of death, the eventual loss of employment, the online classes, they have made these plans more urgent.

Moving to the countryside has always attracted a lot of attention, and now even more because of the difficult situation, we are living in all over the world. If you are thinking of moving to the countryside, Rose also left some tips before you make this decision.

“It is important that they list their priorities highlighting what they are looking for with this change. All choices include both gains and losses. When you know what you’re looking for, it’s easier to calculate risks and analyze if what you gain outweighs what you lose in a situation like this.”

Defining deadlines also helps to go through the adaptation period — definitive housing, the time you intend to stay there (will it be “forever’, !only during the pandemic”, “to wait for the children to grow up”), a new job or occupation, starting a business. Rose says that the adaptation may be tumultuous in the first moment, and for this reason it may give the feeling that the best choice was not made, motivating premature “regrets”.

“It is worth a careful evaluation and perhaps set short deadlines for each stage, with the flexibility to review decisions and re-evaluate those previously established that are not working well.”


The article above was edited by Lívia Carvalho.

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Me chamo Luisa Cardoso, tenho 19 anos e sou paulistana. Estou trilhando meu caminho no mundo incrível que é o jornalismo, com um objetivo: transmitir informações da melhor forma através das minhas palavras, para conquistar aos poucos, meu espaço no mundo.
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