If you’re thinking of moving outside the city, you probably have a lot of questions about what it will be like. This article paints a picture of modern country life based on 6+ years of talking to country people, researching country land, interviewing land buying experts, learning about all aspects of country and small town life, writing hundreds of articles and eGuides, and living in the country ourselves.
To say that big city life has changed in the last few months would be the understatement of the century!
And while every city has fared differently amidst the pandemic, the work from home movement and other events have given people new cause to consider relocating outside city limits.
In my neck of the rural woods, Western North Carolina, homes and land are going like hotcakes, often snapped up within hours of listing at or above asking price. This area has always been desirable for its natural beauty and outdoor spaces, but the market wasn’t quite like this pre-COVID.
The same thing is happening all over the world with reports of properties being in high-demand in suburban and rural places, as rent and home values in many big cities are either already plummeting or trending in that direction,.
If you’re toying with the idea of moving outside the city, you probably have a lot of questions about what it will be like—especially if you’ve never lived in a rural place before. To help paint a picture, we’ve compiled a list of 15 reasons country life beats city life. This list is based on 6+ years of talking to country people, researching country land, interviewing land buying experts, learning about all aspects of country and small town life, writing hundreds of articles and eGuides, and living in the country ourselves.
#1: More space
One of the biggest draws to country life is the prospect of more space.
Space to breathe, space to start a hobby farm or homestead and space to live your best life without restrictions on precious freedoms.
In the COVID era this is especially important to families who desperately want space for their children to roam and play safely. Having more outdoor space not only creates an awesome opportunity for play and adventure, it also provides a peaceful and private backdrop for parents to work from home and enjoy a variety of hobbies.
#2: More property and more house for your money
If you’ve never looked for a home or land in the country before you’ll be absolutely SHOCKED at how much you can get for your money (especially if you’ve been living in a desirable city).
For example, in Nassau County, Florida—which feels very rural yet is a stone’s throw away from beautiful beaches, culture, great schools, etc., you can buy land for as little as $10,000 an acre!
Or in Walker County Texas, you can get a 20 acre plot of rural land for just over $110,000 with a driveway and fencing in place.
Imagine if you sold your home in the city for $350,000-$1,000,000...that leaves you hundreds of thousands to either build your dream home/property and/or save for the future. It truly is remarkable how far your hard-earned money can go when you move outside city limits.
#3: You can make your land work for you
Photo courtesy of Jill Houser Photography
Over the years, we’ve featured a variety of former city-slickers who are making their rural land work for them; either as their primary income or a side hustle. Some of the ways they did this include:
- Shepherding and dog training
- Starting up a nature-based preschool
- Vegetable farming on small acreage
- Starting a farm to fork business
- Growing elderberries and selling herbal products
- Sustainable ranching
- A lavender farm
- Running a mountain bike retreat
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
- Running an Airbnb
- A backyard flower nursery
- A Barn Events Venue
- Growing medicinal mushrooms and selling tinctures
...and that’s just a short list! Get even more inspired in: 8 Weird and Wonderful Ways to Make Money Off your Land.
#4: More exposure to trees
This may seem like a small thing, but a growing body of research has shown that human beings are physically and mentally healthier when they spend time around trees.
For example, trees naturally release immune-boosting essential oils known as phytoncides which help increase natural killer cells and boost levels of anti-cancer proteins. Time spent around trees has also been shown to reduce anxiety, stress, heart disease, hypertension, blood glucose issues, obesity, high cholesterol, stroke, myocardial infarction and diabetes.
Learn more in: “Want to be Healthier? Live Near Trees, Studies Say”
#5: Less stress for adults and less life-long stress for children
If you’ve had a feeling that getting out of the city would be good for your family’s mental and emotional health, then you’ll feel validated by this.
A study published by the journal Nature found those who lived in cities had:
- a 21% increase in mood disorders;
- a 39% increase in anxiety disorders; and
- double the risk of having schizophrenia as those living in rural areas.
MRI scans performed on the study’s urban-dweller subjects revealed an increased activity in the amygdala region of the brain, which plays a key role in emotions such as fear and anxiety and the release of stress-related hormones.
But it gets even more interesting when it comes to children.
The MRI scans performed on city-dwelling children showed an increased activity in the area of the brain that helps regulate the amygdala region.
The study showed children raised in the city are more likely to have a permanently heightened sensitivity to stress than those who move to a city later in life.
We explore more about the rural lifestyle/stress connection in:: “How Rural Living Helps You Stress Less and Live Longer”.
#6: Good healthcare
People often worry they will have to sacrifice quality healthcare if they move outside the city.
However, many rural places offer excellent healthcare options including bringing in doctors and specialists from the city to see patients. Plus, with the increase in telemedicine options you may even be able to keep seeing some of your existing providers online. It’s also worth noting that though there are no guarantees, small-town hospitals are less likely to be overwhelmed during a national or global health crisis (such as COVID) due to smaller population density.
I experienced one surprising “perk” of rural healthcare personally several years ago when we had our first baby in small-town North Georgia...and had the entire maternity ward and staff of 4 nurses to ourselves! It was an incredibly sweet and personalized experience that would not have been possible in a city or suburban hospital setting.
The key here is to research the healthcare options available in your desired rural area.
You can learn more in: Healthcare in Rural America: Can You Get Good Care in the Country?.
#7: More freedom to build the home You Want
Rural land parcels typically do not come with strict limitations on the type of home and outbuildings you can design and build. Which means you can truly create a unique place to call your own.
However, not all land parcels come with zero restrictions...and that’s usually a good thing.
Depending on where you buy there may be zoning requirements or what’s known as covenants, conditions and restrictions which serve to protect your investment by holding properties to certain standards.
Learn all about it in: How Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions Help Protect Your Investment.
#8: Traffic? What traffic?
Imagine how many hours of your LIFE you could get back if you didn’t have to sit in traffic and stop at stop lights every few feet? Plus, with so many products available online these days you can get nearly anything delivered to your farmhouse door, no matter where you live.
#9: The Freedom to be as Self-Sufficient as you Please
Country life offers so many opportunities to expand your level of self sufficiency.
Just the mere fact that you’ll have more space means you can:
- Start a garden
- Learn to hunt (or sharpen your skills)
- Catch your own fish
- Build a smoker
- Chop your own firewood
- Build a root cellar
- Get off-grid with wind or solar...without it taking over your whole yard (or roof)
- Keep farm animals or milk, eggs, or meat
- Practice primitive skills
- And much more
Check out our free eGuide: From City Slicker to Self Sufficient to learn more.
#10: Stronger Immunity
We were pretty amazed when we started digging into the health benefits of rural living...especially when it comes to strengthening your immune system by creating a healthier gut microbiome.
This is especially prevalent on farms, where farmers are exposed to a variety of germs from farm animals, soil, compost, barn dust, homegrown food and plenty of time in the fresh air. These good germs help diversify our gut microbiomes while safely challenging our immune systems, which creates strength and resiliency.
Intrigued? We explore the concept further in: “Could Country Living Be Your Best Probiotic?”
#11: Less pollution
In general, rural areas have less air pollution than big cities; which means no more “red” or “orange” pollution alert days, and less risk to those with lung issues.
But what’s less talked about is the lack of noise pollution in the country, which can benefit your heart, stress response, sleep, nervous system, and hearing.
#12: Strong communities
If there’s one commonality we’ve observed throughout our dozens of interviews with rural people it is how much they value their tight-knit communities.
Comments like, “people watch out for each other and each other’s children”, “it’s nice to run into your child’s teacher at the store” and “business owners out here really do help each other out”, run through rural stories like a common thread.
Strong communities certainly exist in all types of places, but people in small towns and rural areas do seem to take a special kind of pride and care in staying connected with the people around them.
#13: Great food!
Small towns typically aren’t associated with world-class restaurants or gourmet markets. However, you can’t beat rural places for an amazing selection of super fresh and super healthy locally-grown food.
Many farms still put up seasonal farm stands where you can purchase fresh fruit, veggies, local honey and even meats and dairy products for a bargain.
Small towns also host farmer’s markets featuring local farms and artisans, and there are co-ops and delivery services throughout the country that make supporting your local farmers easy, affordable and healthy.
You may even find some of the same grass-fed beef or organic pastured eggs you’d buy from your big-city market at your local country store, only fresher and a lot cheaper.
#14: Healthier kids
The research backing the physical, mental and emotional health benefits of country living and farm life for children is pretty impressive.
For example, after years of speculation researchers believe they’ve figured out at least two of the reasons Amish children are so much healthier than city kids. The first reason is barn dust, which they believe strengthens the childrens’ lungs and immune system making them less susceptible to asthma and allergies. The second reason is their consumption of raw milk and exposure to farm animals, which diversifies their microbiomes making them more resistant to common childhood diseases.
Country living, with its close proximity to nature, reduced noise pollution and irresistible backdrop for unstructured play, lends itself to a less stressful childhood. This benefits children in numerous ways---from better sleep and sharper cognitive skills to higher emotional intelligence and overall happiness.
Read more in our eGuide: “How Country Life Makes Children Strong and Resilient”.
#15: Amazing stars (and some perspective)
Did you know light pollution from urban areas has become so intense that scientists now say one-third of the population (and 80% of Americans) can no longer see the Milky Way?
Sure, we have our star gazing apps to help us navigate what we can no longer see with the naked eye…
....but let’s be honest, no app can hold a candle to the experience of gazing up at a clear night’s sky from a big empty field or big gnarly tree branch.
Stargazing in the country is one of those little pleasures that takes us back a few years, gives us humble perspective and reminds us of the greater, intelligent universe around us.
It can stop the busiest person in their tracks, and reminds us of the innate beauty, vastness and consistency that surrounds and connects us all.
It may seem like a small thing, but these days a little natural beauty and perspective can go a long way to creating fulfillment and happiness!