How to Find the Right Rural Community for You
Deciding you're interested in life at a slower pace is one thing. Choosing where, exactly, you'd like to experience that slower pace is a little more difficult. In the city or the burbs, you have access to just about anything, any time you want it. In small towns, that's simply not the case — or is it? With advances in technology and broadband to rural areas, you'd be surprised at the wealth of resources at your fingertips, whether you live in the middle of the city or the middle of the woods.
But, how do you know you're choosing the best community for you and your family? Ultimately, it's a very personal decision based on what's important to you. But here are some questions to ask yourself to get you started.
Will I be able to access health care?
Many rural communities and small towns have terrific healthcare systems. But if your ideal community is located a bit of a drive from the closest hospital, you can still have easy access to world class health care via telemedicine, telehealth or eVisits. By any other name, it's basically Zooming with your doctor. According to McKinsey,[i] telehealth usage has increased 38 times from pre-pandemic levels. The rise of telehealth during the pandemic is no surprise. Who wants to go into an urgent care waiting room with other sick people? But what may surprise you is that it's not going anywhere, anytime soon. Like working from home, people have become accustomed to not having to leave the house for routine healthcare visits, things like colds, the flu, sinus infections and other low-grade ailments that used to take an office visit. According to that same McKinsey report, 40% of people said they expected to continue to use telehealth in the future. That's up from just 11% before the pandemic. Coupled with the rise of broadband rural areas, you'll have the same access to great healthcare than your city cousins do.
What about higher education options?
In recent years, because of the rise of student debt, more and more graduating seniors and their parents are getting creative with their higher education. U.S. News[ii] reported on the trend of colleges taking their classes online during the pandemic, and like telehealth, this trend isn't going away, either. More and more kids will earn their diplomas virtually, the report predicts. And "virtually" will be the key word. As in, virtual reality. The metaverse makes it possible for students to get hands-on experience in labs, even if those "hands" belong to their avatars in the metaverse. So wherever your child is living, world-class education is just a click away.
Are there good restaurants nearby?
If you're moving from the city, you're likely used to eating out often. Some small towns, especially in very rural areas, simply don't have that kind of variety of options. We think small towns get a bad rap on good eats. They can knock your socks off with great restaurants, especially if they have a large ethnic population. Some of the best Italian food in the Midwest can be found in a small Wisconsin town, population 2,000. Want the best lefse this side of Norway? Go to northern Minnesota, or to the Norske Nook in Osseo, Wisconsin. You'll find authentic Mexican food in western Minnesota small towns like Montevideo where generations of migrant farm workers have settled. Also, brewpubs are opening up in all kinds of different small towns.
Is there a town library?
In many small towns, the library can be the heart of the community. There are book clubs, kids' programming, reading groups, author events and all kinds of opportunities for engagement. Joining in on these events is a great way to make friends and settle into the community if you're new in town.
These are just a few questions to get you thinking about your wants and needs when moving to a new place. We think you'll find you won't be giving up many city amenities that really matter.
Ready for life at a slower pace? Contact us today. We'll help you get there.