Country living has pros and cons, like any other way of life. This blog post will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of rural living. If you are considering moving to the country, knowing both sides of the story is essential.
First, the advantages:
Much Less Stress
When I stop to think about it, the most advantageous thing about being the country life is significantly reduced stress. It’s not that the city is a total rat race. Still, I remember how population density, transport issues, and noise contributed to high-stress levels.
In an urban area, silence is almost impossible to come by at any time of day or night. When we try to find ways to remove the noise in the city, I use things like my noise-canceling headphones.
High stress levels, or rather what we could call undesirable stress, definitely harm mental health and psychological well-being.
One thing that reduces stress for me is the connection with nature. When you get up in the morning, open the curtains, and observe the mist hanging over the field, for the birds flitting around the trees, that makes a tremendous difference.
I find that being surrounded by less stressed people, in turn, produces less stress in me.
There is a feeling of minor imposition and less risk from things like crime in a rural community, which impacts stress levels also. But, overall, it feels more relaxed than with urban living.
Connected to Nature
Being closely connected to nature is a significant advantage of living in the countryside. In an increasingly technological world, it’s essential to have headspace away from the stresses and strains of daily life and reconnect with what is natural.
The opportunity to take daily walks alongside rivers, in forests, and so forth is a true privilege. All the time, I see breathtaking landscapes. All this is in stark contrast with city areas.
Last night it rained very heavily, so this morning when we went to our local river, it was quite a bit faster than usual—being able to observe how nature changes according to climate and weather.
It’s a living, breathing thing.
When we first moved to where we now live, I was amazed to see a stork sitting on a rooftop on the fringes of the Exmoor National Park. I think it was the first time in my life that I saw this.
I consider the starscape as another part of this. There is much less light pollution in the countryside. Therefore you see much more of the night sky. It may sound cliché, but looking up and seeing the wonder of the universe directly is a privilege. It reminds you of your place in this world and gives a sense of what matters.
Sometimes it’s the small things. For example, a plant is outside our door where the bees gather. Leaving the house and returning after a shopping trip, I often take a few seconds to observe them busy with their work.
Connected to the Seasons
In the same way living in the countryside connects you more to nature, the same is true regarding the year’s seasons. Somehow, I find that the sense of seasons is diminished or lost entirely in urban environments or cities.
This means that a sense of the passage of time is also lost.
I do no doubt that living in the countryside means access to better food.
We choose several farm shops locally and food suppliers who are specialists in their trade. This is very hard to find in cities these days. Where the supermarkets have taken over, and the best you can get is the deli counter.
One thing I appreciate is that you are closer to the food source. This means that the food is likely to be much fresher and that the people selling it to you will be more involved in growing it. Either they will be the farmers themselves or know the farmers.
Once a week, we order eggs directly from the local chicken farmer. Not only does this mean that we enjoy wonderfully fresh eggs, but we also enjoy a connection with the person who supplies them.
The result is that you are fuelling your body with a good resource. Meaning better health and more energy. The immune system is also built up in this way.
Village life typically means tighter connections between people. It’s unusual in the countryside, at least around here, not to say hello to people. This builds a sense of relationship and connectedness that is hard to find in a major city.
Neighbors look out for each other. Which in turn dramatically diminishes the chance of any attack or crime.
You don’t feel that you have to fully lock your door when you go out for a walk. Windows can be left open to air the house. This would be unthinkable in a large city.
People in the countryside are friendlier and more interested in your words. There is more mental space to open up and discuss life. Also, it needs to be noted that there is less discussion of money, success, and so forth – which I think is a good thing. It leaves space to talk about other stuff.
I’m sure that all of this positively impacts mental well-being and a sense of positivity.
One of the things I appreciate about rural living is that we can be private when we wish to be. This is very hard to accomplish in the city, where being overlooked and overheard is par for the course.
To my mind, this is a much better way to live. To have freedom of movement and the choice to share in the community or enjoy quiet, private time.
The primary reason is that there are fewer people around. As a result, the housing density is lower, and usually, very few people go past our window.
In more rural environments, the chances are that you won’t have any immediate neighbors at all. This is not to say those supportive neighbors cannot be found; it just is that they are further away. For me, this is one of the things that delineates the suburbs from the countryside.
This is a matter of personal taste, of course. But to my mind, I enjoy the variety of houses around. For example, we have hundreds of years old houses around my area in the countryside. Some of them are cottages. But a bit further down the road, you can find a modern home built with style and minimalism.
For me, this kind of variety serves as a source of inspiration. Both for what we might enjoy in the future and for inspiring my writing and filmmaking.
I found the rows of Victorian terraced houses in a London suburb depressing. They were system-built for workers: pack them in like sardines, take them to work on the railway line, and return them home at the end of the working day.
Homes in the countryside we usually built for families. And it shows in their appearance, atmosphere, and location.
Outdoor Sports and Activities
It is much easier to enjoy outdoor sports in the countryside. For example, if I want to go for a run, I put on my running shoes and run straight out of the front door into the green. Getting to a local park would usually be a question in a city. Getting to a large park-like Hyde Park would involve a metro or bus ride.
Some activities are only really possible in the countryside. For example, horseriding, archery, hill walking, kayaking, drones, shooting, etc. Friends of mine immensely enjoy mountain biking and rock climbing. Therefore, they live in the countryside to be close to the locations to enjoy these sports.
Healthier: Fresh Air, Low or No Air Pollution
Air quality significantly impacts allergies, heart conditions, the immune system, the nervous system, common respiratory illnesses, etc.
The bottom line is that cities and towns are polluted to a lesser extent. One of the main culprits is the car. Until electric vehicles become the norm, this will remain a problem.
Another issue you could encounter in big cities is trash on the sidewalks. When I lived in Paris, the waste collectors would be busy trying to keep it down once or twice daily. Although I appreciated the clatter of rubbish bins and bottles because I knew they were cleaning up the city, it was also a source of stress and disturbance.
Generally speaking, people are less stressed about littering in a city than in the countryside. There are exceptions, of course. For example, occasionally you encounter fly-tipping in the countryside, where someone has decided to dump their rubbish in the open country. But this is rare in my experience.
The fresh morning air is an absolute delight when living rural life. More often than not, I will open up my window first thing in the morning and take a deep breath in. Then, if I have time, I’ll take a quick walk in the local wood. This is a tremendous start to any day.
Better Working Environment
There are issues connected with networking and job opportunities, which we will examine below. However, I think the countryside provides a better working environment for many professions and businesses than city living.
I am a writer, audiobook narrator, business owner, and long-standing documentary film director. In these activities, the peace and calm of the countryside help my focus, concentration, and productivity.
Going outside into fresh, unpolluted air and taking a short walk is a great way to revitalize during the day. The experience in the countryside is much better than for a city dweller.
For many years, there has been a trend in people starting up their businesses and freelancing. In my view, the countryside is an ideal place to base yourself when doing this. Remote working has accelerated during the Covid pandemic. It has made a tremendous difference to those running a business in the countryside. Remote working is much more accepted now than 2 or 3 years ago.
The high costs of urban life mean that it is a much more competitive environment. There is more pressure to perform than you’ll encounter in the countryside. The counterintuitive thing is that this does not necessarily make you more productive. On the contrary, stress and worry impede good performance.
When you move to the countryside, you step out of a large chunk of the rat race.
Independence of Travel
When you live in the countryside, your primary mode of transport will likely be the car. The difference between the city and the countryside when owning a car is that you are far more independent in the countryside.
It is much easier to park in the countryside or local towns. For example, it’s a 10-minute drive when we get groceries, and we park directly outside the shop. This means that shopping trips are more straightforward, the food is fresher, and we can load the groceries into the car without the hassle. Contrast this with the experience in a city. The first 5 to 10 minutes will be spent driving around the supermarket car park to find a space.
Residential parking is another bonus when living in the countryside. We park our car directly outside our door. No payment is required for residential parking or anything like that.
Nor is there any zoning in the countryside. So if you live in London, you must pay a fee to drive your car into the city center.
Visiting friends is much easier with a car in the countryside. You dive into the car and go! In a city, you’d consider taking the car, the metro, or other means. It’s a game of calculating which service will work best and get you there fastest.
Depending on where you live in the countryside, the independence of a car can give you a tremendous variety of experiences within a brief period. For example, where we live, we can reach the beach in 5 to 10 minutes. Drive for 10 minutes inland, and we arrive at one of the most beautiful woodlands in the UK. A further 10 or 15 minutes down the road, you are on the top hill overlooking the entire county. This kind of experience is not possible in a city.
In the States, living in the countryside can meme much cheaper car insurance. Drivers living in the country save almost $1,000 per year compared to their counterparts in the city.
Natural Resources & Foraging
The countryside offers clear benefits for those interested in self-sufficiency and perhaps in foraging in the wild.
In our local woodland, we could gather mushrooms and nettles for soups.
In the hedgerows, you will find blackberries and elderberries.
Several of our neighbors keep chickens; there are beekeepers in the area. This offers them the opportunity to have delightful fresh food. It can also bring a small income to supplement their activities.
On the whole, crime is lower in countryside areas than in cities. Violent crime is much less.
It’s often the case that the per capita police force is higher in the countryside than in the city. Even though sometimes the police are further away.
I have never felt unsafe in any countryside area; this has not always happened in cities. However, when we moved away from Paris, I was amazed to discover that the building we had lived in for several years had a history of break-ins and crime. Of which I was unaware. People told us about it only as we left!
The tighter sense of community that you have in the countryside means that disruptive individuals are known. As a result, unusual activity associated with crime or violence is spotted much more quickly. There is a very active Facebook group in my local area where the town’s life and surrounding countryside are documented and commented on regularly.
For families living in the countryside, you will feel more secure with your children playing outside than in a city, especially in an inner city. As a child, I played in the fields and woodlands of our local area in northwest England. The memories and connection with nature that this now gives me in adulthood are sources of joy.
The less permissive environment for crime in the countryside means you get more peace of mind at the end of the day. It’s also less expensive regarding insurance for the house, possessions, car, etc.
Chance to Have a Garden
Even if you are not a gardener, a garden is a delight. As the weather improves in spring and summer, sitting outside in your garden is an absolute pleasure, if only for a few minutes.
Bringing friends around to share a drink in the early evening or have a barbecue is tremendously enjoyable.
If you are a gardener, the combination of hard work and satisfaction is unbeatable. Seeing things grow and feel you are creating something simultaneously is great. You can have a real sense of pride in what you accomplish. It connects you to nature in a way that few other activities do.
Children and pets will appreciate your garden, also!
Much Better During a Time of a Pandemic
The reality is that it’s been an incredibly disruptive couple of years for the whole world.
Without any feeling of smugness, it’s been terrible to observe how people have suffered in the cities. My own family suffered a loss from Covid. But, on the other hand, living in the countryside has been a far better experience than it would have been in the city.
The obvious thing is that far fewer people are immediately around you. Therefore you feel safer every day. There is never a time when you have to squeeze past people.
Things like shopping are much safer. For example, one of the local farm shops has a rule that no more than three people can be in the shop at any time. This makes things much safer for everyone involved. Another local farm shop has hand sanitizers at the entrance, which I use for everyone there. This is in contrast with what happens in supermarkets, for example.
Add the time of lockdowns in the UK; we were privileged to two-step outside our door and walked in the local Woodlands. This brought us a sense of calm and security during nervousness. Internal, this feeds into one’s mental health and sense of positivity.
Calm and Pace of Life
Whenever I think about the calm and peaceful life in the countryside, I always think of Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony with a smile.
There’s no question about it; life is lived slower in the countryside. Which, to my mind, is an excellent thing. A famous French general said, “I am in a hurry. Therefore I go slowly.”
Going slow does not mean achieving less.
One of the great things about life slowing down is that you observe more. Sunrises and sunsets have meaning. You take time to watch a bird. You spot patterns in a river. So I think it allows you to align priorities well and be more strategic about your choices in life.
One of the most significant advantages of living in the countryside is the amount of space relative to what you get in a city. It is a great advantage and makes for a better life.
Speaking as someone who lived in a one-room studio in central Paris for eight years, I know the difference that now living in a 3-bedroomed house in the countryside in the UK makes. The fantastic thing is that the cost of the dwelling is the same.
I believe we humans are not built to be wedged into small spaces. Having room to move around, lay out your things, and gaze into the distance makes a difference to your overall quality of life.
It doesn’t stop at the space inside the house itself. You will likely have a larger yard, a more extensive garden, and perhaps more space around your home. You may even be lucky enough to have outbuildings. For example, we have a small shed in our backyard, which is tremendously helpful for storing boxes and other stuff.
You might even get permission to build on the extra space in the countryside. You can add an extension, outbuildings, or another way to add value to your property and overall life.
Growing up in the countryside, one of the real pleasures I remember was sitting on my uncle’s veranda in the summertime.
Quality of Life
There is a beautiful scene in the book ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig where ‘quality’ comes up. The bottom line is that quality is something we all feel, we recognize what it is, yet it’s tough to quantify. In fact, impossible.
One person’s quality of life may be another person’s nightmare.
Regarding the countryside, I’m convinced that overall the quality of life is much higher. For me, quality of life is very closely connected to the quality of daily experience. It’s to do with the capacity to enjoy every day’s experiences. Is to do with a harmonious balance between work and living. It’s essential to work to live, not the other way around!
In the countryside, I feel much more in control of my destiny. The pace of life means I have the time to reflect on what’s important and choose accordingly. This is a significant contributor to the overall quality of life. Quite apart from the material aspects of living in the countryside, such as better food, health, landscapes, etc.
Some people may prefer the congestion, noise, and even city pollution! Not me!
Lower Cost of Living
Although houses can be more expensive in the countryside, all other goods and services are generally cheaper.
Things like groceries, repair services, utility bills, eating out, parking fees, etc.
You will also find that hiring people to do small jobs or even large jobs, is cheaper. For example, gardeners, handymen, and man-with-van-style services.
We discovered what surprised us was that supermarket food is less expensive in the countryside than in the city. You would think supermarkets would keep prices uniform around the country, but this appears not to be the case. We spend less on our monthly grocery bills than we did when living in the city.
We spend less commuting than we did when living in the city—no more need for metro passes, or suburban rail services, or bus tickets.
So, now on to the disadvantages!
Dependent on the Car
In the same way that having a car in the countryside gives a great deal of independence, it is hard to live in the country without a car. Depending on your point of view, this is either plus or a minus.
That said, some people live in the countryside using only public transportation and perhaps a bicycle.
Services and utilities are more spread out in the countryside than in a town. However, suppose you are comparing the country to a big city. Then, it takes longer to get to various places in the city – as you plow through a traffic jam – than using the car in the countryside.
If reliant on public transport, it is much less frequent and available in the countryside than in the city. I remember growing up in rural Lancashire. Two buses per day ran from our location to the local town. If you missed the bus, you had to wait until the afternoon!
Another downside of being dependent on the car is that you always need a designated driver for social evenings. Drinking and driving are unacceptable on many fronts, which can be restrictive.
The reality is that you will not find big-city entertainment in the countryside.
Cultural centers such as large cinemas, theatres, ballet, concerts, and so forth are better served in the city. The countryside cannot compete on these. However, you indeed find pretty good cinema complexes in some country areas.
Eating out is much less well served in the countryside in terms of variety and sometimes quality. You would be hard pushed to find a Persian meal in my country area!
If you’re into nightlife, the countryside is probably not a good choice. Instead, you will go to the local city for nightclubs, jazz clubs, etc.
Certain sports and activities can only really be done in the city. So, for example, ice rinks and significant sporting events will be in stadiums in urban areas, not in the countryside.
Art galleries are usually badly served also in the countryside. There are exceptions. For example, St Ives in Cornwall is home to the Tate Gallery. But for the most part, you will need to go to the city to get your art fix.
Less Cultural Diversity
The countryside has far less cultural diversity compared to a big city. You will encounter a far lesser ethnic diversity, meaning that your range of experiences in this regard will be diminished.
If you come from an ethnically different culture like my partner, it will be much harder for you to find people with the same background in the countryside. Therefore, finding a support network in the area will be more challenging. Online communities exist, of course.
This has a knock-on effect on the joys that ethnic diversity brings, for example, the range of cuisines. But also in terms of art and inspiration.
More Expensive Housing
Apart from capital cities, buying a house in the countryside is usually more expensive than in a city or town. This speaks to the desirability of countryside residences.
At least common, this is the story in the UK.
That said, the cost per square meter is cheaper in the countryside than in the city. It’s a question of living space. You will get a more prominent place in the country for the equivalent money if renting.
You are more exposed to the elements when living in the countryside. Wind, rain, and severe weather will make you moan more than if you are cosseted in a city.
Rough weather can make commuting more difficult and sometimes even hazardous if traveling by car. But, on the other hand, road conditions can be less safe, and the commute speed will be reduced in heavy rain, for example.
Exposure to the weather also means you need appropriate clothing to weatherproof your house.
It gets colder in the evenings in the countryside, compared to the city. This can boost the cost of heating.
Snow and blizzards are part of winter in the UK and the United States. So digging out the driveway can become something of a ritual.
It is usual practice to salt the roads in severe snow and ice. Although this makes things safer, it does degrade your car’s bodywork.
Living close to the sea will do the same thing. The salt in the air will corrode the bodywork.
In recent years, flooding has become an increasing issue in many parts of the world, including the UK. This becomes a factor when considering where to rent or buy a home. You need to carefully check the local store before committing. If you decide to go ahead, nevertheless, you will probably pay an insurance premium to do so.
Isolation and Boredom
Although fortunately, I have never experienced this myself. Some people suffer from isolation and boredom when living in a country.
They find it hard to get a decent social life due to the challenges of traveling.
It can be harder to meet people and form relationships.
People who have moved from a city environment to the countryside may feel lost at no longer having regular physical contact with a circle of friends they knew in the city. I maintain contact with the friends I wish to keep in my life, and more external connections have melted away.
If moving or living in a very rural area, it will be essential to consider the potential isolation and perhaps boredom and form a plan.
Isolation and boredom can be particular challenges for teenagers in the countryside. So when I was 16 or 17, I could not wait to get away from the country to the city, which I did when I went to university.
Fewer Schooling Choices
Usually, there are fewer school choices in the countryside than in the city. Often in a city environment, you choose 2 or 3 schools for your children in the area. In the countryside, two chances are it will be only one option.
Commuting to and from school may be more challenging than in the countryside. In the UK, it’s called the school run. So the journey to school for children in the country is often longer than for their city counterparts.
You may also find that facilities in the schools are lacking compared to schools in the cities. For example, science and computer labs may not be at the same level. If this is important, I suggest you research and check before committing to a particular area.
They both said countryside schools could be charming and welcoming. My mother was headmistress of a small village school with just 18 children, primarily drawn from the local farming community. I remember it as a delightful and warm environment. She would receive cards from the children for many years after she left.
Fewer Good Shops and Services
There are fewer good shops and services in the countryside than in the city, which might be good if you are a shopaholic!
Apart from county towns, you cannot find designer boutiques in the countryside. Generally, it will be possible to find branches of the major chains in local cities and satisfy your desire to window shop and browse. But they won’t be right around the corner.
For most niche shopping, you must go to a town or city. You find grocery shops in the countryside that will beat anything you see in most towns and cities, aside from capital cities (where you will pay a premium for such products).
Food delivery services are understandably lacking when it comes to the countryside. The distances generally make it impractical for such services to operate. Around us, we have an excellent Indian restaurant that does eating takeaway and delivery. There is a Chinese takeaway, and of course, the venerable fish and chips. But not a lot more.
Although late-opening pharmacies are hard, if not impossible, to find, supermarkets have stepped into their place in the UK. You can usually find a supermarket open until 10 PM throughout the week. The same is true for several other modern facilities.
Harder to Get to Airports
If you have a job requiring frequent international travel or, in the States, frequent cross-country travel, you must choose carefully. Check where the nearest airport is located and which services operate there.
Where we live, it would take about an hour’s drive to get to Bristol Airport or Exeter Airport. Then, you would have to factor in the parking charge if you were away for a few days or more.
Fewer Job Opportunities
Living in the countryside is probably not the best choice if you are looking for a high-end career. Although remote working has become much more common, especially during the Covid pandemic, most major corporations don’t expect you to live in a very rural area.
Employment opportunities are not the same.
If you base yourself in the countryside, you might want to think about how to give the impression that you have ready access to the city. Perhaps something like a room in a shared house, as an option to overnight through the week. You would be more likely to be offered a senior job opportunity with a city address than a countryside address.
Generally speaking, salaries in the countryside are significantly lower than in towns and cities. In some rural areas, there may be only a handful of options. There are fewer opportunities.
Many people in the countryside find a trade or start up a business to control their employment situation.
Not 24/7 – Missing the City Heartbeat
You will not get the same kind of dynamic, energetic environment of the city when in the countryside. But, alongside the heartbeat unique to any city, there is a kind of vibrancy in cities missing from the country. It is, figuratively and literally, a sort of hum.
So if you are someone who needs to be at the center of where the action is, the countryside is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you are happy to observe it from a distance and occasionally dip in, the countryside is ideal.
Less Health Services
Health services in the countryside are variable. In our area, we are fortunate to have excellent general practitioner surgeries. Not only are they experts, but they are also engaged in national trials for the latest medications and treatments.
Not every country area is the same. Usually, if you require special attention, it will involve traveling to a local city or town.
Emergency medical attention can be a critical issue when living in the countryside. It can sometimes take hours to get an ambulance out to a countryside address in the UK unless your condition is critical.
Most small countryside hospitals can conduct minor surgeries but are unlikely to have machines like X-rays. Let alone more sophisticated scanners. Specialist doctors are unlikely to be available in the countryside. The same is true for any specialized medical facility.
Some parts of the countryside have miserably slow internet and other connections. At one point, my father’s address in the country was almost at a dial-up speed. To get a cell phone connection, you would have to walk up the road for a couple of hundred yards before the connection appeared.
It is much better where we live now, further south in Somerset. We get around 60mbs downloads. And around 20mbs uploads. This is enough to run an Internet business and get all of the online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and so forth.
Bugs and Creepy Crawlies
Compared to the city, you will get more bugs and creepy crawlies in the countryside.
In the UK, for the most part, these are entirely harmless. It is rare to encounter a spider toxic in any way. And then only if you directly threaten it. Spiders are a valuable part of any countryside house since they will keep the flying bugs at bay.
And that’s the point when you live in harmony with nature and do not fear it in the countryside.
However, if bugs and creepy crawlies freak you out, countryside living is probably not for you. You may be able to keep the bugs out of the house, but you will encounter them once you get outdoors.
Very Rural: Wild Animals, Floods, and Fires
In certain country areas, especially in the United States and Canada, you stand a real chance of encountering wild and sometimes dangerous animals. Although not in the League of Australia, where there is a 2-volume book called ‘Australia’s Dangerous Creatures,’ you need to know what to do if you encounter a bear, certain types of snake, etc.
For example, in some areas on the west coast, you would be well advised to understand how wildfires operate and what to do if one threatens the country area where you live.