What We’ve Learned After 6 Months of Cabin Life

What a wild ride it's been so far... here's just SOME of what we've learned!
Thinking about ditching city life and moving to the country? Get a REAL, unfiltered perspective from our first 6 months of cabin life including making friends, meeting people, connectivity issues, and more!

Well, we’ve made it. Today is the official 6 month marker of the very first day we moved into our cabin. The first day of walking into a filthy, neglected cabin… and then working nearly every day to clean it and reshape it into a home we love. The time has both flown by and crawled by, depending on the day and whatever malarkey happened that day. But in looking back on the past 6 months, there are a few themes I’ve noticed. So if you’ve been curious about what it’s like to leave city life and move to the mountains, definitely keep reading. We’ve learned a TON — and continue to learn.

My Unfiltered Thoughts: What We’ve Learned 6 Months After Leaving City Life

The people & making friends

I was genuinely worried about meeting people and making friends when we moved away from the city and into the country. My biggest concern was finding like-minded individuals. Ya know, people who believe in basis human rights for all regardless of gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, physical limitations, etc. Based on the number of tr*mp signs out here, I felt like we’d have to be secret liberals in order to even meet people. But I’m not one to shy away from my beliefs and keep them quiet — especially when someone says something racist. So I was really worried I’d struggle to connect out here.

But I’m surprised and happy to report that we’ve actually made some really lovely friends, many of whom also believe in treating all humans with respect. The women, in particular, whom I’ve befriended are truly special, too. They constantly amaze me with their mountain woman strength and resilience. I’ve learned a ton and can’t wait for it to be summer so I can learn even more about the beautiful area where we live.

Day-to-day life & lifestyle shift

When I say that everything is harder than it needs to be and takes longer than it needs to, I’m not joking or exaggerating. For example, now that we’re in the midst of renovating, we have to be reallllly careful with our list making since it is so far to the hardware store. If we’re missing something we need, it isn’t just a quick trip to the Home Depot. It’s at least a 1 hour drive each way! Because of that, keeping good lists and being organized is the name of the game to avoid having to drive constantly.

I am also much more aware of the resources we use, whether it’s propane, water, electricity, or firewood. Propane has to be delivered and the price fluctuates, so we have to be strategic in how we use what we have and how to conserve it best. That means keeping our propane heaters on low as our ‘maintenance heat’ and then having fires in the evening to warm things up. But again, firewood is a resource that requires work. So to heat the house, you also need to chop kindling and haul logs. Because of that, I’m just more aware of what we use. Plus, with our random power outages, I’m aware of electricity usage and water usage. Our well pump is electrical, so if the power is out, we don’t have water. Meaning that we then rely on jugs of water. So conserving water and fuel for the generators are something we are very much aware of when the power is out.

It’s been absolutely wild to see how our lifestyle has changed since moving out to the mountains. I can’t remember the last time I bought new, nice clothes because it feels like everything gets muddy no matter what, so why have nice clothes on? Same for shoes… I haven’t even unpacked most of my shoes because I just wear my galoshes every time I leave the house. I still have an appreciation for beautiful clothing and accessories, but my priorities have definitely shifted.

Personally, I am definitely more active. Some of that is keeping up with our puppy, but some is based on the fact that we moved here in the winter. So when the sun peeks into our valley, I literally will reschedule any meetings or work I need to do and go outside to play hooky. Those sunny, bright days have been crucial in helping me to feel good about the decision we made to move here. Sean has literally forced me and Diamond out of the house to go on a walk to “remember why we live here” and it helps.


Honestly the hardest part for me has been lack of reliable internet service out here. My business relies entirely on a decent wifi connection and that is majorly lacking. We have one options and, to quote the customer service rep I talked to last, “it is one step up from dial up.” It astounds and angers me that it’s so hard to get a decent signal out here — especially given how many children have had to do schooling at home in the past year. It actually really makes me angry because it means that the internet companies have decided that the people who live out here aren’t worth the effort and cost of providing better connectivity since there are so few of us. And given the poverty in this area, it feels like a vicious cycle where the community doesn’t get the support needed.

It pisses me off and makes me feel like internet connectivity needs to be a public utility given that it’s 2021 and we are still in a pandemic. I’m not mad because I’m just a blogger who wants wifi in order to post photos of my house… it makes me so mad that children can’t get the schooling they need thanks to internet that’s a step above dial up.

I’ve found a few solutions that work usually: I now have two phones and use one exclusively as a hotspot. I’m also on the waiting list for Starlink, so hopefully that will come to fruition soon (and live up to the hype).

Things I miss about city life:

  • food delivery — I literally make every single meal that we eat out here. There are no other options until our handful of restaurants open for tourist season in May/June.
  • our friends — another couple with whom we were very close lived a few blocks away from us in Seattle and I really miss having them in my life on a near-daily basis even during pandemic times. While I have loved meeting new people here and making new friends, the history with them cannot be ignored… especially when all you want to do is hangout and bbq. I miss the ease of casual hanging out.
  • easily obtained produce — lately all I crave are salads because it’s been hard to get quality lettuce greens out here. Sean brings me some from our old favorite produce stand every weekend, but by Tuesday I’m usually all out. I know this will be solved once I can get my garden up and running though, so it’s not a huge deal.
  • popping in to visit Sean’s dad — we lived 3 blocks away, so I could see him all the time. But now, it’s a 2 hour drive. He does come to stay with us for a few days every month and that’s been wonderful.

I hope this post doesn’t come across as too negative. I really wanted to give a clear picture of what it’s been like during the past 6 months after leaving city life, especially for those who are considering making a similar move. I’m constantly asked if I regret this move, if I would do it again… and the truth is that I just don’t know. My answer changes on a daily/hourly basis and I still don’t feel like I know enough about living here yet.

Photography by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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