I live in a small rural town - well a village really - with a population of about a thousand people. Families come here from all over the world. They like how the village looks and feels - it's proximity to countryside but also to the town - it's wide open streets, it's community focus.
Within the town boundaries - which are easily walkable - theres a school, church, pub, superette, two cafes, three gift shops, Playcentre, museum, petrol station, hairdresser and a few other non-retail businesses, community facilities, and clubrooms. We have our own newspaper, monthly market, Christmas festival. There's clubs and interest groups galore, from Bowls to Weaving to Scouts. It feels like most people are either on a committee or in the volunteer Fire Brigade, or helping out at school.
Everyone knows each other, or so it seems. Children walk or bike to school with each other. They drop in on their friends after school and at weekends. There's always a kid to play with at the park. You always see someone you know at the store. When someone dies, half the village seems to be at the funeral. Families socialise together - children get to see others families in action, and parents get to share that load a little. I have made some incredible friends here and they have in many ways become my family.
Some years ago I explored the possibility of living in an intentional community - you know the kind - a place people choose to move to, where people share values, and sometimes real estate but maintain their own homes. Where families eat together and learn together. They share their veges and mind each others children. It all sounded rather Utopian. It was exactly what I wanted, for me, and my children. The down side was I was going to have to move a long way from ''home''.
And then it hit me - I actually live in one already.
I feel incredibly blessed to be part of such an awesome community and have no plans to leave. Having lived all over the world, I think I've found the place I can truly call home.