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Rural Living: Top 5 Benefits of Moving to the Countryside

If you’re dreaming about a quiet life in the countryside, you are not alone. According to Gallup, 48% of Americans prefer living in a rural area or a small town, a 9 pp increase caused by the pandemic and the advancement of remote work.

Research from the USDA shows this desire has been followed by actions, with rural counties experiencing an increase in population for the first time after a decade of decline. Former urbanites mostly opted for areas that offered recreation opportunities and comfortable retirement, especially the Great Lakes, the Appalachians and Ozarks, and the Rocky Mountains.

So what is it that’s driving people to abandon their lives in the city? Apart from a slower lifestyle, there may be some economic benefits, especially for retirees and remote workers. 

1. (Mostly) Lower Cost of Living

While not everything is cheaper in the countryside, housing and land typically are. According to the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, urban households typically spend more than rural households, and two-thirds of this expense difference goes to housing costs. People in the countryside are also more likely to be homeowners, at 81.1%, compared to only 59.8% in urban areas.

While groceries can be expensive in supermarkets, the opportunity to grow your own food or purchase at farmers’ markets can mean lower food costs for homeowners. There are also fewer opportunities to spend money on things you don’t need, with fewer shopping centers and coffee shops. This increased disposable income can then be allocated to savings, investments, or paying off debt.

2. Potential for Real Estate Investment

With increased demand and lower costs, buying real estate and land in rural areas can be a lucrative investment opportunity. With larger plots of land and new home construction loans, you can develop properties, create rental income opportunities, and invest in agriculture or agritourism. 

According to the USDA, there has been steady growth in agritourism revenue in the US, although it still only counts for 5.6% of all agriculture earnings. Farms, ranches, wineries, and ventures with horses have diversified their earnings by offering tourist services, from petting zoos to horseback riding, camping, and pick-you-own-meal offerings. Alternatively, you can just relax in your home and enjoy the space and greenery that’s so often missing in the city.

3. Tax Advantages

If you satisfy the IRS definitions of being a farmer, you may be eligible for a number of tax deductions, from deductions on fuel to conservation deductions. Many rural areas also offer tax incentives to attract new residents and businesses.

This is additional income that can be saved, invested, or used to pay off student loans and other debt. Along with lower housing costs, lower taxation can help both retirees who want to downsize and young adults who want to start their families. However, tax and other benefits vary by location, so make sure to research the tax incentives in places you want to move to.  

4. Entrepreneurial Opportunities

The countryside presents unique opportunities for entrepreneurship, particularly in industries such as agriculture, tourism, and renewable energy. Moreover, lower overhead costs and rural business development incentives can be part of a tailwind for your venture. 

At the same time, rural areas have less competition, meaning a well-chosen business may have a stronger chance of surviving its startup phase.

5. Improved Work-Life Balance

The final and, often, the most sought-after benefit of rural life is the improved work-life balance. Many former city residents experience increased job satisfaction and reduced healthcare costs, as lower stress levels contribute to better physical and mental health. Stronger communities, readily available natural recreation spaces, and relatively lower pollution all contribute to better mental well-being.

So although living in a rural community does have its downsides, the benefits seem to outweigh them for a growing number of Americans.

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