According to the U.S. Census Bureau, rural areas cover 97% of the nation’s land area but contain less than 20% of the population. Trading hectic city streets for secluded country hills could provide a much-needed dose of space and simplicity.
A bucolic life isn’t all goat yoga and farmer’s markets, though. Before you leave the hustle and bustle of an urban center in favor of some peace and quiet, consider both the pros and cons of moving to the country.
The benefits of country life
You get more for your money.
Less populated areas tend to have lower costs of living. Expect housing and other daily expenses to decrease. You will also pay lower taxes, both income and property. Auto insurance usually cost less in rural areas as well. If you put in a well or add solar panels, you could spend even less on basic needs like water and power. You may also have space to garden and grow your own food should you want to exercise your green thumb in the name of lower grocery bills.
You have better access to nature.
In addition to the space, privacy, peace and a colloquial breath of fresh air that country living provides, there are a range of health benefits associated with living in rural areas. A boosted immune system, lower blood pressure, increased energy levels, reduced stress, improved mood, greater focus and better sleep have all been linked to spending time in nature. Air quality also improves the further you get from urban environs. The gorgeous views don’t hurt either.
You’re less likely to incur theft.
FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics data suggests that rural residents are less likely to become crime victims compared to their urban and suburban counterparts. Ranging from aggravated assault to vehicle offences to larceny theft, each event is worth avoiding. This is partially because there are simply less people out in the country, but the stable population and differences in demographics likely play roles as well.
The drawbacks of rural living
It can be isolating.
Other than bugs and coyotes, most country transplants are unpleasantly surprised by the lack of creatures they meet. Though the lower population may contribute to a lower rate of crime, it also means there are less people to befriend. Plus, social circles in smaller communities are typically more challenging to break in to. To make matters worse, internet and television services may be less reliable so you may not even have your favorite characters to keep you company.
It will take longer to get anywhere.
If you’re going to live in a rural area, you’ll probably need a car — and be willing to spend more time in it. There will be a longer commute to work (or school if you have children). You’ll have to travel further to access supermarkets, pharmacies, clothing stores, restaurants and entertainment options too. The same goes for medical facilities, which can be problematic in a pinch. Keep in mind, you may also be responsible for maintaining your own road and driveway.
There are a host of unique dangers.
Country homes may be more vulnerable to fallen trees, forest fires, debilitating storms and power outages. And just like you will likely have to travel to access medical support, emergency services will take longer to reach you during critical events. Your community will also be lower priority if there aren’t many residents. Either way, alternative power sources, a stockpile of essential supplies and reliable homeowners insurance is a must.
So, is moving to the country right for you?
The pastoral and provincial isn’t for everyone. Living in the country definitely has its advantages, but the disadvantages don’t always get the same attention. Plus, in addition to the pros and cons listed above, some features of rural living are subject to the people weighing them. Take the slower pace, for instance. Seriously seasoned city dwellers may welcome the change, while others may struggle to cope without the noise and rush of other urbanites.
No matter your zip code, there are going to be trade-offs. You should evaluate your options carefully before completely uprooting your life in search of something new. Be honest with yourself about what you want and the changes you’re comfortable accepting. And if you land firmly on the fence, why not compromise on suburbia?