In the wake of the pandemic, many Americans found themselves wanting to move — and often to more rural and remote parts of the country.
For some, it was to avoid the high transmission rates of the big city, while for others, it was more about capitalizing on the freedom that newfound remote work had provided. Still, others opted for rural locations to save money in the wake of pandemic-related job losses and industry downturns.
We’re a few years from that initial pandemic surge, but the move toward rural America is still ongoing. Data from the National Association of REALTORS® shows that rural communities had the highest share of inbound moves during the first half of 2021. Small towns and “micropolitan” areas were next in line, with large metro areas trailing the pack.
Here are just a few reasons Americans are flocking to these lower-density areas — and why you might want to consider it too.
1. There’s more land available.
If you’re looking for room to roam, you’re not going to find it in the big city — nor will most suburbs have what you need. Nope; if you want land — space for your kids and pets to run or a place to raise animals or grow crops — less dense rural areas are really your only option.
Rural communities also offer you a better connection to nature. Because there are fewer homes, properties, and businesses around, there are typically more intact natural elements in these regions. You might have access to a lake, river, or pond, enjoy forests and trails for hiking, or even be near designated hunting areas if that’s what floats your boat.
2. There’s more privacy.
In the big city, you typically share walls, ceilings, and floors with neighbors, and many times, can hear every conversation that goes on between them. And in the suburbs? You might have slightly more space (even a yard and a fence possibly!), but you’ll still be within earshot of neighbors next door, behind you, and across the street. You’ll hear their parties, their dogs barking, and their fireworks on the fourth of July.
If a quieter, more private existence is your priority, then a more rural location may be the best choice. Buy a ranch far removed from other residents, build a house near your favorite lake, or just put a good couple acres between you and your next door neighbor.
With less density and more land available, the options for creating your private abode are endless.
3. Home prices are more affordable.
Home prices have skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the median home price in the U.S. jumped 17.5% between December 2020 and December 2021.
While rural homes were no exception to this trend, their prices still pale in comparison to some areas. In January 2022, for example, Redfin data shows the median rural home price as $290,592. While that’s up 16% over the year, it’s still a far cry from prices in the suburbs. There, the median price clocks in at just over $330,000 — about $40,000 more.
That $40,000 could mean a larger down payment (not to mention a lower interest rate and lower monthly payment), added cash for furniture, decor, or renovations, or just extra funds for that much-needed emergency stash.
You also get more bang for your buck in rural communities too. According to that same Redfin report, the median price per square foot is just under $150 in rural areas, $170 in the suburbs, and $184 in urban cities. That means for the same amount of money, you get a much larger property (and who wouldn’t want that?)
4. You could use zero-down USDA loans.
Another huge perk to rural communities is that they’re typically USDA-eligible — meaning homebuyers can utilize the USDA mortgage program, a government-backed loan option that comes with serious benefits.
USDA mortgages require zero down payment, have low interest rates, and they don’t require perfect credit either. There are also options for low-income borrowers, and in some cases, you can even spread your loan out over 33 years — pretty much unheard of with traditional mortgages. (It also means a lower monthly payment than those, too).
If you’re considering buying a home in a rural area, make sure to reach out to an Embrace Home Loans office in your region. They can walk you through the ins and outs of the USDA loan program, as well as check your eligibility for it and estimate your costs.
5. It’s great for animals.
If you fancy yourself an animal lover, then rural living is for you. You can give your dogs space to roam, take your horse on a ride around miles of trails, or carve out a plot to raise or breed cows, goats, pigs, and other animals.
You’re also more likely to find yourself with the occasional wildlife visitor when you live in a rural area. A deer might join you on your porch during morning coffee, or you might encounter a fox or rabbit on that afternoon walk. These types of glimpses at nature are much less common in suburban and urban areas.
6. There’s less pollution.
Miss seeing the stars and constellations at night? Sick of all the smoke and smog? Just tired of the constant car horns blaring and alarms going off? Rural areas aren’t plagued by all these things.
Unlike big cities and crowded suburbs, there’s not tons of traffic or constant noise and air pollution in a rural community. Lights from skyscrapers don’t crowd your nighttime view, and the air is clear, crisp, and exhaust-free — a benefit to both your health and your mind.
7. There are more opportunities for an active lifestyle.
Sure, big cities have gyms and Soulcycle classes, but in rural communities? You have the great outdoors. On any given day, you can hike, bike, jog, ride your horse, and take a dip in the local pond or lake. Even just mowing your much larger yard or tending to your crops or animals can lead to a more active lifestyle than you’d find elsewhere.
It’s also a great option for remote workers who might be feeling cramped by the city or suburban life. As long as teleworking is on the table, they can keep their big-city jobs, while enjoying a more active, nature-inspired lifestyle at the same time.
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