In many ways, New York City and little towns in rural Maine couldn’t be any more different.
That said, from world-class museums and convenient public transportation to abundant job opportunities and major league sports venues, city living definitely has its perks.
But since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, hordes of previously content city dwellers have opted for rural life in more pastoral settings like Montana and upstate New York.
Their reasons for leaving vary, but for many, trading highrises and subways for cornfields and 2-car garages is a major lifestyle change.
In short, it’s not for everyone.
Fortunately, if you’re considering saying adios to a big city like Chicago, Los Angeles, or NYC for suburbia or a cabin in the woods, making the best decision for you and your family may be as easy as weighing the pros and cons.
If you’ve already made the decision to move out of your big city, to a small town, check out our list of the best interstate moving companies that can help you make the transition as easy as possible.
City Living vs Suburbia vs Country Living
Large city life in Boston or Phoenix may not be as rewarding as it once was, and moving to the country may seem like a viable alternative.
More power to you.
But first, consider whether you’d be happiest in the suburbs, a smaller town, a rural community with 400 residents, or a cabin in a remote corner of the Midwest where the nearest high school, hospital, movie theater, and gas station are 20 miles from your new home.
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Why Are People Moving From the City to the Country?
1. Dwindingly job opportunities
In years past, cities often had more job opportunities for workers of all stripes.
Now that’s not necessarily the case, and like their human counterparts, many businesses are relocating to less urban areas and taking their jobs with them.
2. Telecommuting is becoming the norm
With many professional positions, it’s now possible and advisable for employees to work from home.
And surprisingly, employers are finding that virtual commuting not only reduces costs but increases worker satisfaction with no loss in productivity.
3. Lower cost of living
It’s no surprise that rent, real estate, and property taxes tend to be higher in cities than in the country.
Salaries generally stretch further, too, which means you can choose to work part-time instead of full time, pay off debt, save for your kids’ educations, and live a better lifestyle.
4. Increasing homelessness and crime
The economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increases in homelessness and crime in many cities.
Though it’s not strictly an urban phenomenon, it’s more prevalent in metropolitan areas, and it has made city life less safe and more unpleasant for many.
5. Poor air quality and other health factors
Especially in western cities like LA, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, poor air quality from forest fires and manmade smog have created real health concerns for many citizens.
It’s especially true for those suffering from respiratory conditions like asthma and emphysema and living in rural states with plenty of fresh air like Idaho, Nebraska, and North Dakota often helps alleviate symptoms.
6. Feelings of claustrophobia and “urban cabin fever”
Many residents feel the need to spread their wings and explore new horizons after years (or decades) of living in tiny apartments in big cities.
Especially now, with restrictions on everything from travel and dining to jogging in public, wide-open spaces, big lawns, and empty forest trails are particularly inviting.
For those of modest means living on pensions and/or Social Security, moving to the country makes good financial sense.
Of course, there are trade-offs like fewer doctors and hospitals, but relatively healthy retirees often report higher living standards in rural areas than urban ones.
8. Getting back to their roots
As they age, some city residents (especially those originally from rural areas) start missing their childhoods’ small-town way of life.
And they’d often rather have their own kids grow up fishing, swimming in lakes, and playing soccer outside than lounging in highrise apartments and staring at cell phones.
Pros and Cons of Moving to the Country
Whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa will depend on your particular situation, finances, and all-around expectations.
Let’s take a look at some of each.
- Lower taxes
- Lower rent and real estate prices
- Fresh air and wide-open spaces
- Access to local, state, and national parks
- Generally less crime, pollution, and civil unrest
- You may learn to be more self-sufficient
- Lower food, fuel, and utility costs
- The chance to make new friends and meet your neighbors
- More job opportunities
- You’ll probably need a car or two
- Longer drives to the grocery store, hospital, coffee shop, and hardware store
- Mowing grass, raking leaves, and cleaning gutters in the spring
- Fixing leaky faucets and replacing broken toilet chains on your own
- Slower internet
- Limited cable channels
- Icy roads and shoveling your driveway after it snows
- Lack of taxis and public transportation
- Being farther away from family and friends
- Fewer school options
- Wheeling your trash cans to the end of the driveway three times per week
- Amazon delivery may take a few days longer
- Critters like skunks, raccoons, and snakes are more common
Where Are People Moving?
According to the 2020 US Migration Report published by North American Moving Services (one of the nation’s largest van lines and relocation companies), the following states experienced the heaviest outbound relocation volume last year –
- New York
- New Jersey
On the flip side, these states had the highest inbound volume –
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
While the first five states are known for their big cities, high property taxes, and even higher public debts, the second five are generally more rural and have lower taxes, lower costs of living, and in some cases, more jobs.
For some, a spartan ranch house on 100 acres in the middle of nowhere just isn’t an option, but there are plenty of smaller cities around the country that are worth checking out.
Here we’re talking about places like –
- Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Missoula, Montana
- St. George, Utah
- Boise, Idaho
Granted, they may not technically qualify as “the country” because they have more than two traffic lights, but they offer the best of both worlds for many families on the move.
The Logistics of Moving From the City to the Country
Moving is a competitive business, and that usually means you won’t pay more (or less) moving from a city to the country than the other way around.
But in some instances, your delivery window maybe longer because fewer household goods shipments are bound for rural areas.
As always, book your move as far in advance of your pick-up date as possible.
A few weeks may be sufficient during the non-peak fall and winter months, but if you’ll be moving during June, July, and August, a month or six weeks is better.
Also, notify your mover about the following obstructions that may prevent the truck from getting close to your new home –
- Low underpasses (most moving trucks are 13 feet 6 inches tall)
- Weight restricted bridges (Tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds)
- Roads and streets that are off-limits to commercial vehicles
Otherwise, you may need a shuttle, which translates into more time, more money and more stress for you, and a lot of work for the movers.
Moving to the country may also mean –
- Going from an apartment, condo, or townhome to a single-family home
- Having more space (and needing more furniture)
- Having a yard, attic, basement, and garage
For an idea of how much it will cost you to move from your city to the country, get a free quote using our moving cost calculator.
Moving can be tricky and daunting for those unfamiliar with the area they’re relocating to.
Thankfully, we’ve compiled dozens of Relocation Guides that can make the process easier and less expensive.
Here are a few of the most popular –
- Moving from Los Angeles to Wichita, Kansas
- Moving from California to Texas
- Moving from New York to Florida
Don’t see your origin and destination locations?
Check out our Moving Guides page for more.
Consider a “Test Drive” Before Taking the Plunge
Though there’s definitely something to be said for making your decision and diving in headfirst, for all but the most daring souls, it may not be wise.
Like experiencing culture shock when moving overseas, going from a metropolitan area to a rural town can take months of adjustment.
Instead of signing a long lease or buying a new house immediately, consider a short-term rental or staying in an Airbnb property until you get your bearings.
You may find that country life is everything (and more) than you thought it’d be.
Then again, you may miss the hustle and bustle, evenings at the opera, trendy coffee shops, and that amazing little Vietnamese restaurant near your old house or apartment.