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Teri and Gilbert Gonzalez love the big-time shopping, restaurants and famous music scene of Austin, Texas. But when it comes to where they want to lay their heads at night, the couple prefers the small-town charms of their historic community of Georgetown, a 31-mile ride away, at the edge of the Texas Hill Country.
“Georgetown has a beautiful square. It’s the hub of the town where everything happens,” says Teri. “Our lives here are built around engaging with the community. We know the shop owners. We know the restaurant owners. We know the winery owners. When we’re in Georgetown, we’re truly at home.”
The Gonzalezes eschew an either/or lifestyle. Instead, theirs incorporates the best of both worlds. “That’s the beauty of it,” she says. “Austin is right at our back door, very accessible. It’s a world-class city on so many levels, and that is a very desirable aspect of living in Georgetown.” For them, home is just far enough from the madding crowds, the traffic, the parking challenges and the “hassles that go with a big city.”
Central Texas and the Texas Hill Country “serve as ideal places for those who enjoy city amenities yet desire a more private and peaceful lifestyle,” says Austin-based Paula Paulette of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty. “Austin is one of the fastest-growing, friendliest, innovative, fittest and fun cities in the United States. But with so much development, both in Austin and its surrounding counties, it has become crowded, inspiring families to look beyond the city limits.” She says places near cultural hotbeds like Blanco, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg and Spicewood, in addition to Georgetown, offer good value and a good quality of life.
In fact, the appeal of these complementary rural-urban desires is manifesting in a trend known as “rurbanism,” in which city renegades bring their urban sensibilities and preferences to the country.
While the number of people living in urban areas surpassed those living in rural areas only relatively recently–2009, according to a report by the United Nations, the desirability of country acreage continues to holds steady. Moreover, as people chase the finite resources of uncrowded spaces and undeveloped lands, many rural pockets are experiencing resurgences.
For some, the yearning for a rural spread is aspirational, the fulfillment of a childhood dream or a return to one’s roots. For others it is about connection, both to community and to the natural world, two factors that correlate strongly to high levels of personal satisfaction and well-being. One British study revealed country dwellers enjoy a better work-life balance than their urban counterparts.
It doesn’t take much convincing for one to see the joys–both big and small–to be found in an “accessible country” location where life moves at a more measured pace, but cosmopolitan perks are always within grasp. The Provencal region of France is a quintessential example.
“The authentic Provencal style of living” includes 300 sunny days a year and the “most stunning nature,” says Anne Marie Biermans of Provence Verte Sotheby’s International Realty in Tourtour, a medieval village overlooking vineyards and lavender fields.
Traditional country farmhouses and villas here check the list of international buyer demands for their authentic Provencal details like stone facades and tile roofs, panoramic views and gardens of olive, fig and almond trees. Life is an immersion of colors, flavors and aromas. “Most of our clients are very busy working people. They find here the tranquility they need so much. They really can relax and enjoy the Provencal way of living: walking in the morning to the little bakery to buy croissants. Having lunch outside on a terrace in the middle of the market square,” she says. And yet major Mediterranean coastal cities are just an hour away. “Indeed we do have easy access to city attractions like shopping, theater, fancy restaurants and lovely hotels, but the biggest advantage is to be close to the airports in Nice, Toulon and Marseille. From there,” Biermans says, “you can reach the world.”
Article provided exclusively to Sotheby’s International Realty, LLC. by Iyna Bort Caruso