Embracing RURAL

by Erma Ratliff

Moving to a rural area can be a life-altering decision, and for Kirk Gordon, the decision to move from Bronx, New York, was fueled by a desire for a simpler life, a tight-knit community, and a change of pace from the bustling urban lifestyle. 

Kirk’s decision to move to a more rural area was guided by specific criteria: a small population, a charming downtown area, walkability, and the presence of essential amenities like a hospital. When he found a church for sale in Caldwell, Kansas, he decided to take a look at it. Unlike most of the real estate sales we are used to in our small communities that happen even before a for sale sign goes up, Kirk was able to do a virtual walk-through on a video call with his realtor. After the second virtual tour, Kirk had a vision for the church and decided to take the leap of faith and buy it. Despite having no personal ties to the area or previous experiences, Kirk found Caldwell to be an ideal location that matched his vision of a charming and peaceful life.

Having experienced rural areas in various parts of the country for work, Kirk was prepared for the transition to a small community. In June of 2023, Kirk finally made it to Caldwell. Within days of arriving, he was invited to a neighbor’s house for dinner, which highlights the close-knit and friendly nature of our rural communities. He noted how great it is to be able to walk across the street and sit down at the Red Barn for small talk and giant pancakes. The transition from urban to rural living has its challenges, but Kirk feels the friendly atmosphere and opportunity to enjoy a slower pace of life more than compensate. He does miss his family and his favorite foods in New York but is able to regularly go back to visit, which makes his decision seem like the best of both worlds. Kirk mentioned it also helps that Caldwell is within short driving distance to Wichita, Oklahoma City, and Dallas to balance what he likes about city and rural life.

Kirk enjoys designing and construction, which makes his purchase of the church a perfect choice for his own DIY abilities. He has been able to post some of the treasures left at the church online for others to grab and repurpose. He is currently remodeling the south part of the church into a 4 bedroom/2 bathroom home.  He then plans to turn the north part of the building into his ultimate office space as a senior IT consultant working remotely. 

During our interview, Kirk emphasized having the advantages of rural life shouldn’t mean sacrificing internet connectivity, and in Caldwell, with a multi gig-capable fiber connection, it doesn’t.  The ability to escape the urban hustle without sacrificing internet connectivity makes rural living an attractive option for those seeking a more balanced lifestyle. In a world increasingly reliant on and open to remote work, high-speed internet has become even more crucial. Kirk acknowledged Kanokla fiber is convenient, and allows him to work seamlessly from home. 

Kirk’s passion for culinary arts plays a significant part in his aspirations with a future dream of opening a restaurant in Caldwell. He has followed a pescatarian diet since the age of 13, focusing on fish, vegetables, and fruit. Whether his future restaurant goal turns into a brick oven pizza joint, or an establishment featuring a unique menu, Kirk knows he wants to share his love for cooking. He looks forward to introducing the community to some of his favorite recipes, such as veggie lasagna.  We mentioned our team at Kanokla is ready to be taste testers anytime.

As Kirk continues his remote work as a Senior IT consultant, he dismisses skepticism from family members who bet on his return to New York within a year. Only 5 months to win his family’s bet! Kirk’s journey to Caldwell reflects the growing trend of individuals seeking the sense of community rural communities have in spades. His experience highlights the welcoming nature of small communities and the benefits of a well-connected rural lifestyle. We love hearing and sharing stories like Kirk’s, which we hope inspire others to embark on a similar journey towards a simpler, more fulfilling life in the heart of rural America.