Our Guide For Anyone Looking To Move To The Country in a Post COVID World
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Daily life has taken on an entirely new shape since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, for better or for worse. Many would say the silver lining in the whole thing is the forced slowing down, the opportunity to stop and smell the roses, and the renewed interest in a simpler way of life. Many who would say these things are the same people heading the wave of migration to rural living.
While country living may seem like an unachievable daydream for most, many do their best to make that dream a reality. If you’re one of these folks, hats off to you. Country living means slowing down and soaking in all that each moment has to offer. It also means significant changes are in store, some expected, some not so expected.
Regardless, adjusting to this kind of significant life change can be challenging at best and, at worst, downright demoralizing if you’re not adequately prepared. So, before you jump into this life feet first, let’s take a look at all the pros and cons of such a move.
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Pros of Moving to the Country
The process of packing up and leaving your suburban or urban life behind can feel a little daunting at first. You may even suffer from many “What the heck am I thinking!” moments. All of that is natural, don’t worry. Whenever you feel in doubt, just refer to this pros list as a reminder of why this kind of change is the right decision for you.
More Affordable Cost of Living
Believe it or not, $4.00 for a gallon of milk is not what people typically pay. According to the USDA, residents of major cities across the United States pay somewhere in this ballpark for milk alone. If you’re paying this much for milk, it’s hard to imagine how inflated other living expenses are. Looking to have some work done on your house?
Get ready to pay an arm and a leg for that too. In fact, practically all living costs, from dining out to groceries to gas, are more expensive in the suburbs and cities than in more rural areas.
Sure, people living in these areas typically earn higher wages to offset higher costs, but the difference between pennies earned and pennies spent are bigger in rural areas. For example, on average, Washington D.C. residents pay 18% more on food, 50% more on housing, 142% more on transportation, 45% more on personal care, and 38% more on Entertainment than a person living in the rural Virginia town of Staunton, Virginia.
Sense of Community
As cheesy as it may sound, there’s something quite special about living in a small town where seeing familiar faces each day is the norm. We are all social creatures, albeit to varying degrees (yes, you social butterflies I’m talking to you), who are easily affected by isolation. And city living can be exceedingly prone to an isolative lifestyle even though you are around more people!
Living in the country provides an opportunity for long-lasting, meaningful relationships to form where people rely on each other for support and assistance, whether that be emotional, physical, or anywhere in between. According to Harvard Health, a study conducted on over 300,000 people found that individuals who did not have strong relationships with others were susceptible to a 50% risk of premature death due to isolation and depression.
Living in the countryside often means less sitting and more doing. Whether it’s enjoying submersing yourself in the calming effects of the great outdoors, simply working hard to take care of that 40-acre lot of pasture land you just bought or conducting countless repairs and upgrades on your little 1800’s era farmhouse, you may find that your body is moving in ways that had escaped you before your big move.
Rural living in general moves at a slower pace than its urban and suburban counterparts. This deliberate mozying through life instead of the sprint you were struggling with before means more time to focus on your personal health and mental well-being.
Abundance of Nature
Urban living has its many advantages, but connecting with nature isn’t always one of them. When you see more city rats and pigeons on a daily basis than you do woodpeckers, foxes, or white-tailed deer, you may forget altogether just how soothing and captivating the natural world around us can be. If you live in the suburbs, you may be fairing a bit better than your city brothers and sisters.
To truly appreciate the soul-settling ability of mother nature, consistent time must be spent surrounded by her. The easiest, most direct route to this goal is simply by moving out to the country. At first, the lack of noise and frenzy of wildlife, both big and small, may put you off. Give it a chance, and inside a week or two, you should be a tried and true believer.
Urban lifestyles can be more stressful than manageable for many. Traffic, congestion, noise pollution, and overcrowding are just some negative contributing factors. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety, psychosis, mood disorders, addictive disorders, and depression is high in city environments.
You are moving to the country, where life has the chance to slow down a bit and slough off all the trivial minutia so you can focus more on the things that matter: family, friends, and most of all, food! No, really — as many people have rediscovered recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, cooking, baking, or otherwise preparing food from scratch can be significantly calming and restorative.
And yes, it can lower stress levels. So can many other hobbies you’ll have more time to take up once you simplify.
According to the FBI’s Crime in The United States annual report, rural counties consistently witness less crime across the spectrum than urban and suburban communities. The most considerable difference can be found in property crime and theft.
Now, we’re not saying you should go hog wild and keep your front door unlocked once you moved to your newly beloved small town. But you might be able to rest a little easier knowing that your chance of becoming a victim to a crime has significantly dropped since you moved away from the city.
This one is kind of a given, right? Cities, and even suburbs, can be quite crowded. Most people have to drive out of town to get some wide-open space that’s bigger than the local community park. We just want to make sure you understand just how much more room you’ll get by moving to a rural area.
No matter whether you end up on a lot that’s half an acre or 50 acres in size, you’ll get as a bonus prize an expansive view of the countryside around you. For once, the skyline will consist of trees, hills, maybe mountains instead of skyscrapers or rooftops.
Hallelujah to that! Traffic must be the single largest contributing cause of skull-splitting headaches in metropolitan areas across the United States. No matter how hard we try to avoid it, it’s always there. Thirty thousand other commuters have also found that sneaky new route you found into work.
The train you catch in the morning is becoming increasingly cramped, and not to mention unreliable. Yet, in many small towns, the only traffic jam you’ll run into is the one caused by the mail truck, the school bus each afternoon, or perhaps someone’s cows that decided to stop in the middle of the road again.
Cons of Moving to the Country
Not to cause a stampede all at once out to the countryside, we’re going to put the whole rural living concept into perspective. You may be convinced that moving to the country is the absolute right choice to make. But, after reading these cons, you may think differently. The point is here that by weighing the pros and cons evenly, you can choose whether to go or stay that you feel good about, one that balances desire with practicality. Here’s our list of country-living cons.
Possibly the most significant deterrent to moving to the country is the simple fact that jobs are few and far between the more rural you go. Deciding where to move may primarily be based on what kind of employment you’ll be able to get your hands on.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown so many of our employers and us that working from home is, in fact, a viable option. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have an occupation that was either primarily based from home before this health crisis.
Or maybe your job became a virtual position and may stay that way after this is all over. If so, the location may not be as much of a factor for you. In fact, many occupations such as the ones below enjoy the benefit of being able to work anywhere in the world. Here’s a quick list of the most popular remote-based domains according to BusinessInsider:
- Product Manager (average annual pay: $82,916)
- Business Development Manager (average annual pay: $82,916)
- Marketing Manager (average annual pay: $64,500)
- Curriculum Designer (average annual pay: $61,389)
- Front-End Developer (average annual pay: $71,145)
- Copywriter (average annual pay: $50,570)
- Social Media Manager (average annual pay: $49,881)
- Web Designer (average annual pay: $49,649)
- Recruiter (average annual pay: $49,544)
- Translator (average annual pay: $47,974)
- Online ESL Teacher (average annual pay: $43,878)
- Customer Support Specialist (average annual pay: $41,382)
- Virtual Assistant (average annual pay: $39,617)
Another option to look into is finding semi-rural locations. If you have access to shopping, dining, and healthcare within a forty-minute drive, you may be able to find a job that is also within that driving distance. Then again, you may be defeating the purpose of moving to the country in the first place if you choose that option.
The cost of living was a pro, but it’s a con, too. Employers determine pay based mostly on the area in which you live. If you live in a rural region, the cost of living will be lower, but so will your income. You’ll need to investigate your earning potential at each rural location you’re considering a move to and compare that against the cost of living for that area.
Before making a significant purchase such as a new home or land for a new home, keep in mind that you’re most likely going to require a much smaller mortgage than the one you’re shouldering now.
All you homebodies, this is your moment to shine! Rural living loves people who love being at home. Sure, you’ll have your opportunity to get out and about to visit the restaurant in town or drive down the road to that local winery you’ve meant to try. But all in all, the number and type of activities pale compared to what’s available to you in metropolitan areas.
- Say goodbye to high-end shopping centers and upscale dining. Say hello to local menus, a quaint hardware store if you’re lucky, and a long trip to any decent apparel stores.
- Say goodbye to a walk to a cab ride to catch a show. Say hello to serious coordination to drive to the nearest town for a local performance of a well-worn classic.
- Say goodbye to pro-sports venues and impressively sized museums. Say hello to the local minor league team who puts their heart into every game for their few hundred fans.
Possible Boredom and Isolation
Relationships take time. Finding people you connect with immediately isn’t all that easy. It can be even harder when you only ever see people during your bi-weekly trip to the grocery store. You’ll need to put in much more effort than you did before seeking out new people and getting to know them.
The best way to do this is by putting in earnest effort to engage with the rest of the community through social functions and local events. Once you’ve taken that first step, the rest of your journey won’t be as difficult.
Decreased Access to Healthcare
One of the biggest challenges affecting rural communities across the United States is the lack of access to quality healthcare. A recent CDC report highlights the disparity of healthcare access for rural Americans compared to their urban counterparts. Health experts make the following points:
- Rural Americans typically die more often from heart disease, injury, respiratory disease, stroke, and cancer than those who live in urban areas.
- Folks who live in the country are 50% more susceptible to unintentional injury resulting in death. This susceptibility is partly due to car accidents, but the opioid epidemic that has swept rural America is also to blame.
- On average, rural Americans are older and sicker than urban Americans.
- Some rural areas have characteristics that put residents at higher risk of death, such as long travel distances to specialty and emergency care or exposures to specific environmental hazards.
- Some rural regions are located long distances away from emergency and specialty health care facilities, which directly impacts residents’ access to healthcare.
Of these factors, distance from health care facilities and increased rate of automobile accidents are the ones worth paying attention to when considering a move to the country. To give you a little note on the upside, within this cons laundry list is that virtual healthcare has caught on in popularity like wild-fire, which will have significant implications for access to medical care for rural areas.
Lower Education Opportunities
On average, rural areas means less income, which means lower taxes, which translates to lower tax revenue, which results in less money for schools. Less money for schools means lower education opportunities, or does it?
While rural schools may not be as well funded as some suburban and urban one, opportunities for high-quality education isn’t merely a matter of money. Rural schools tend to be much smaller because there aren’t as many kids in the area to attend. What sometimes results from these circumstances is a lower teacher-to-student ratio.
Also, given the wide variety of online classes, students can get down in the muck in the subjects they care about the most, whether that be coding, music theory, or deep-sea oceanography. The challenges to quality education are undoubtedly prevalent in rural communities, but a little perseverance and ingenuity may help you overcome those obstacles.
Lack of Modern Conveniences and Services
Now, this topic might be just enough to make you slam on the brakes and ditch your plans to move to the country altogether. Brace yourself. Do not expect everyday life to be convenient in the country. You’ll have to make many sacrifices in the following areas:
Most rural homes do not have access to city water, which means you’ll have to use a well. Doesn’t sound all that bad, right? Maybe it sounds kind of romantic in a Little House on the Prairie kind of way. The reality is wells are prone to problems just like any other major house fixture is. Wells can dry up, the walls can become cracked, and the well pump will go out at some point and need total replacement depending on the age of the well.
Any of these services could cost between $500 and $10,000. Well water needs to be filtered. That means you’ll need to maintain a whole house filtration system. Luckily, those aren’t as expensive. Do your homework, though, because different kinds of water need different types of filtration systems.
Septic tanks are a harsh reality of rural living you never want to have to discover. Septic tanks must be emptied every few years or so, depending on the size of the household. If you don’t drain it, it can overfill and ruin your drain field, resulting in astronomical repair costs getting things back to normal. Also, you’ll need to be careful what you flush down the drain. Anything besides septic approved toilet paper and the usual waste can clog the septic piping causing it to burst. That means no feminine products and no kids flushable wipes, please.
Electrical Power Outages
If you’re dealing with above-ground electrical wire so commonly found in rural areas, you may also be dealing with frequent power outages. You may find the need to invest in a whole-house generator to keep your remote job going from home while the repair people pull a tree off the powerline for the sixth time that year.
Internet and Cell Coverage
If the well and the septic didn’t deter you, the internet and cell service options just might. Telecommunications companies are notoriously neglectful of country communities simply because most of our nation’s residents live in suburban and urban areas. While telecommunication industry leaders are making concerted efforts to remedy this problem, rural America still suffers from lousy internet and mobile phone coverage.
If there are any particular communities in the running for your big move, determine what kind of internet and cell availability they have there. Then weigh your priorities so you can make the right decision moving forward.
Depending on how far off the beaten path you live, you may end up hauling your own garbage to the dump. Or you might find yourself paying sky-high prices for someone to collect your trash for you. Be sure to keep a lid tightly on the garbage can because the country is host to all sorts of critters looking for a late-night nibble.
The Availability of Groceries
Okay, this may sound like a minor con, but it will matter to all the foodies out there. Most rural community grocery stores carry only the basics plus maybe some local favorites. Amazon may become your best friend for the non-perishable item must-haves. But fresh produce and other perishable foods that may only be found in the more eclectic stores will be near impossible to find in your newfound country community.
|Grocery Stores You’re Likely to Find In Rural America||Grocery Stores You’re Unlikely to Find in Rural America|
|Food Lion||Whole Foods|
Different Types of Threats
While you may not have to worry as much about potential muggings or bad cases of road rage, living in the country comes with other anxiety-inducing factors:
- Close-Mindedness – This will vary widely from community to community. Still, residents of some rural areas in the United States may have opinions that contrast your own to a sharp degree.
- Wildlife – Particularly out West, living in the country means respecting the wildlife, especially the carnivorous type. Animals stick to themselves unless they feel threatened. Know what kind of wildlife roam in your area and how to react appropriately if you ever come across them.
- Drug Use – Unfortunately, our most rural communities have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, particularly in the Northeast. Investigate crime and drug abuse in your potential community before you take the plunge.
It’s Harder Work
For many, the draw of moving to the country is that little farmhouse or that big plot of wide-open land. Perhaps you plan to have a garden or keep a hen or two or six or twenty. If any of these sound up your alley, then roll up your sleeves and prepare to work. You may find you’re doing much more physical labor caring for your homestead than you ever did in the city. And, if you’re buying an older home, make sure you have plenty of funds set aside to bring it back to its original luster.We Negotiated Discounts With Great Agents. Find One In Your Area.
Check Out Moving To These Country Locations
Picturesque in the summer and absolutely breathtaking in the winter, the little mountain town of Stowe, Vermont, features quaint eateries, beautiful scenery, and incredibly warm, welcoming people. Like any small New England town, Stowe is in ample supply of charming little churches, unique victorian home architecture, and little shops filled with clever gifts and trinkets.
It is one of Vermont’s more touristy towns, but as long as you can handle that, this place is well worth the move. You’ll enjoy a wonderful community that provides plenty to do during your off-time, from skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking, to name a few.
Bar Harbor, Maine
One of the most scenic coastal towns in Maine (given the number of coastal towns in this state, that’s saying something), Bar Harbor will knock your socks off with every visit. If you can afford to, you may even want to move there. Because of its ideal location and attraction as one of Maine’s most famous tourist towns, real estate prices aren’t as low as the rest of the state.
That being said, Bar Harbor is well situated for anybody looking for small-town charm while enjoying many of the amenities of more metropolitan living. Home to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine’s highest peak, and breathtaking views of the ocean, Bar Harbor is an ideal little place to call home.
Sugar Hill, New Hampshire
In nearby New Hampshire, another little town is waiting to be discovered. Sugar Hill is positioned well so that most views from this tiny town of just under 600 are of the majestic White Mountain National Forest. The town is named for its expansive sugar maple groves that display gorgeous foliage in the Fall.
The cost of living in Sugar Hill is low. The per capita income for the town is around $30,000, yet only 5.3% of the population lives below the poverty line. Tourism is the main draw here, thanks to the White Mountains and history of grand resorts in the surrounding area.
If you’re looking for a rural snowy refuge, then Hailey, Idaho, may be the town for you. Situated in central Idaho, Hailey winters are very cold and very snowy. Approximately 200 nights out of a year experience temperatures that drop below freezing, so make sure you wear your thermal undies if you move there.
Since you’re bundling up, you might as well get out to do some of the many cold-weather activities Hailey has to offer, such as skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and sledding. When the weather is warmer for a sliver of the year, you may find yourself hiking, fishing, or biking.
If hiking or mountain biking is your thing and you’re looking to relocate to a town that features plenty of the two, look no further than Damascus, Virginia. Located along the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, and U.S. Bicycle Route 76, this small town will keep you busy with its outdoor activities and its Virginia charm.
Damascus is also all about community — the hiking community that is. Each year it plays host to the Trail Days Festival, a multi-day weekend event held in the month of May. Hikers from all around converge here to celebrate all things outdoors, good music, and phenomenal food.
One of the most unique yet severely under-advertised regions of the country is the Texas Hill Country. Wimberley, Texas, is located in the heart of it. With a rich, complicated history and beautiful scenery, Wimberley is a unique oasis of a town.
There is quite a lot to do for such a small town, particularly if you favor the outdoors. Camping, swimming, hiking, birding, and sightseeing are just a few activities to keep you busy if you decide to relocate here.
Woodstock, New York
Historically an arts town, Woodstock, New York, has held up this reputation through the decades. The arts came to this town in the early 20th century and has remained there ever since, giving Woodstock the reputation as an arts colony and the ultimate hippy town. While its name was used for the famous 1969 music festival, Woodstock did not actually play host.
Woodstock is the perfect town for that person looking for a way of life that is low on judgment and high on going with the flow. Life here
Fort Collins, Colorado
If you’re considering moving to the Denver Metro area, but looking for a smaller town vibe, give Fort Collins, Colorado some consideration. It is a quickly growing town, so you won’t get that small-town setting if that’s what you’re going for.
But it is beautiful, with grand views of the mountains and beautiful alpine meadows. Being so close to Denver allows you to live in a more rural location without sacrificing all of the creature comforts that come from living near a big city. In Fort Collins, you’ll find plenty to do, including plenty to eat. It’s home to some fantastic eateries both in town and in nearby Denver.
You’ll find more adventure than you can handle in the town of Moab, Utah. Home of world-renowned national parks, there is no short supply of things to do. Moab is the ideal place to live for the outdoor enthusiast who especially loves the Western United States’ geography.
You name it, Moab’s got it — in terms of outdoor activities at least. Activities at your disposal include hiking, camping, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, and snowboarding.
Brandon, South Dakota
Another town worth looking at just on the cusp of the Great West is Brandon, South Dakota. This small town is a little more relaxed, a little more sleepy than other more fast-paced adventure type towns like Moab.
Brandon is an ideal family town. It’s community hosts yearly festivals and maintains beautiful trails and parks. Outdoor recreation opportunities here include pheasant hunting, rock climbing, geocaching, fishing, kayaking, camping, birdwatching, and more.
If you’re looking to relocate to a quaint little town just bursting with New England flare, Deerfield, Massachusetts, is one town that won’t disappoint. Let’s just get the most critical part of this town out of the way first. Deerfield is home to Yankee Candle, the largest candle store in the world!
You may not have too rough of a time getting a job in Deerfield since its unemployment rate is below the national average and its economy is on an upward trend.
Deerfield is also home to some incredibly rich history, thanks to its historic Deerfield district. Here you can take a trip back in time to colonial Massachusetts and get a real feel for what it must have been like to live as a colonist did.
Kent, Connecticut is a town that perfectly balances the old and the new with things to do for the outdoor enthusiast and the art enthusiast alike. This is a town that attracts its fair share of tourists, thanks to its beautiful views and quaint downtown.
But, it also features a real sense of cohesive community that does its part to come together and celebrate whenever possible, whether that be the Celebration of Light Holiday Festival, the Kent Pumpkin Run, the Sidewalk Festival, the Memorial Day Parade, and much more.
Come to Butte, Montana if you’re serious about getting away to a place that will give you space. Butte has plenty of life in it as a bustling town with a sustainable economy and all the creature comforts one really needs. What it also has is plenty of room to stretch. Take a quick drive out of town and you’ll see why people love calling Montana their home.
Butte is an outdoorsy town, perfect for someone looking to relocate so they can take up activities like fishing, camping, biking, hunting, hiking, and similar. Butte also has a growing economy. Most of its occupations fall in the healthcare, public administration, educational services, technical services, and retail trade categories.
Maybe a mountain town is more your speed. Lander, Wyoming is one mountain town that will not fail to disappoint. It is small and cozy and positioned for some extraordinary scenic mountain views. Similar to other towns in this part of the United States, you can find just about any outdoor activity you can think of to do here.
It is particularly popular for rock climbing, however. It even plays host to an annual International Rock Climbers Festival that attracts thousands of attendees. Chances are, if you move here you’ll be rock climbing before you know it, too.
Alaska is always on the list for those of us who really want to go remote. If you consider moving to Valdez, you can get pretty far away without completely disappearing. Valdez is situated at the trans-Alaska oil pipeline southern terminus. It is an absolutely stunning town with a unique location in the center of the Prince William Sound bordered by towering coastal mountains.
The local economy sustains itself primarily on tourism. Tourist activities seem almost limitless in this small town, especially if you use it as a launching point to explore the rest of the state.
The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our country. But it’s also provided so many of us some opportunities. Opportunities to slow down and re-assess what really matters in our lives. And a good number of us are taking it further, reassessing where we live and the pace at which we allow life to pass us by.
Moving to the country is no small feat. It’s full of so many advantages, like lower stress, shorter commutes, simpler living, reconnecting with nature, and strengthening important relationships. But, like any living location, it’s not without its downfalls either.
Jobs are much harder to find, creature comforts aren’t readily available in the more rural places. You may end up doing more to maintain your house and land than you ever thought reasonable.
Whether you’re in the market for moving to the country in a post-COVID world or you’re merely reassessing city life, we hope we’ve managed to answer some of your questions.
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About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.