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Does moving to the country make financial sense?

If you've been caught by the allure of life at a slower pace in a rural area, owning your own hobby farm with a couple of goats and chickens running around, having enough land to spread out and plant a garden, and all of the other benefits rural living provides, you may be wondering: Can I afford it? The answer is, there are a lot of moving parts that you need to consider when deciding whether you should make the move. (And not all of them are monetary.)

Rural vs. city mortgage costs

Let's start with the cost of your mortgage. According to new analysis from Redfin[i], the 2021 median sale price of a home in a rural area is $290,592, while the median cost of a home in the 'burbs runs $330,000. Fully urban areas bring up the rear on this list, with a median price of $288,000.

If those numbers don't work for you, moving is a moot point. You can find out easily using our mortgage calculator. Plug in the purchase price, down payment, term and a few other factors and you'll see what your monthly payment will be.

But that's not all there is to it. The question then becomes, what are you getting for your money? How much house can you buy in the suburbs or an urban area versus a rural area for the money? Odds are, you're getting more house and more land in the country for what you'd pay for a postage stamp-sized yard in the burbs.

Rural vs. city income and expenses

What will your income and expenses look like when you move to the country? Let's take a look.

Income. According to the U.S. Census,[ii] the median household income for people living in urban areas (including the suburbs) is $59,970. In "mostly rural" areas, that figure is $47,020. In "completely rural" areas, it's $44,020.

So, the general rule of thumb has been, if you live in the city, you'll earn more than if you live in the country. But hold on. That may be changing.

During the pandemic, the economy saw a great shift to remote work. Those who could work at home did. PwC's 2021 Remote Work Survey[iii] revealed that not only were people more productive from home than they were in the office, but employees and their employers agree working from home has also been a great success. When life settles back into a post-pandemic world, 37% of U.S. jobs can (and likely will) be done at home, or in a hybrid arrangement with a day or two in the office and the rest of the week at home.

Couple that with the expansion of broadband into rural areas, and we're suddenly in a situation in which people can work from anywhere. So you can have your hobby farm or dream acreage in the country and still pull in the salary you were making at your job in the city. It literally is the best of both worlds.

Expenses. What about day-to-day expenses? That's a mixed bag. You might think everything would be cheaper in rural areas, but that's not always the case. Here are a few stats from Wealthmeta.[iv] 

Urban dwellers spend more on eating out and entertainment, while people in rural areas tend to spend more on groceries. But that gets offset a bit if you have your own garden.

  • Insurance is less expensive in small towns and rural areas than it is in the city.
  • Transportation generally costs more in small towns. People spend more on gas because they have to drive further to get everywhere. But in cities, people pay more for things like parking.
  • Health care can cost more in smaller communities, and be less accessible.
  • People in small towns spend less on apparel and services.
  • Utilities can sometimes cost more in small communities.

So, expenses go up and down, depending on where you live. But in general, it shakes out that people in rural areas spend less on daily expenses than their city counterparts.

Variables. Most urban residents don't have farm tools, a riding lawn mower, a snowblower, chain saws, gardening tools, composting equipment, a chicken coop, boots to muck around in the garden ... the list can go on. Also, if you live in a far-flung area, you might want to consider getting two cars, because you likely won't be using Uber or Lyft to get around.

Bottom line, there is a lot to consider financially when contemplating a move to the country. But some things you can't put a price on: clean air, peaceful surroundings and waking up each day surrounded by sounds of nature.

Ready to make a move? Contact us today!

[i] Redfin

[ii] U.S. Census

[iii] PwC

[iv] Wealthmeta

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