Rural and urban living have always held varying levels of appeal for different types of people. Homes separated by only a few miles can provide sharp contrasts in terms of the kind of lifestyle they offer; depending on whether they're located in the countryside or in a busier urban area.
Naturally, before settling on a location for your new property, it’s important to think carefully about the advantages and disadvantages of country living compared to city life, and figure out which option is going to suit your individual preferences, tastes and needs best.
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In this guide, we’ll cover some of the most important pros and cons of country living compared to urban living - it’s worth thinking about each of these factors carefully before committing to a move because this decision could be pivotal in helping you achieve the home life of your dreams (no pressure!).
The case for rural living
For many people, the idea of a home in the countryside represents a dream come true; a long-cherished life goal or a reward for many years of hard work. That’s because there are numerous unique benefits to rural life that simply can’t be found in the busy city.
Lower upfront costs for a more luxurious home
Generally speaking, properties in rural locations can often be purchased for a lower cost than a similar-sized urban property, in particular those in our largest cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham where city living comes at a premium and means you get much less space for your money too.
Demand for limited living spaces in towns and city centres ensures that prices for relatively small properties remains high. So whilst bigger cities will generally command a premium, making moving to the outskirts a cheaper option, this isn't always true for truly rural properties in desireable villages.
Likewise there are some big towns and cities across the UK that are somewhat rundown. As a result they may have far cheaper housing on the market than can be found in more desirable, adjacent countryside locations.
Reduced cost of living
The monetary savings associated with country life don’t end with the initial property purchase, however. Those accustomed to paying city-centre prices will soon find that their salary stretches that bit further out in the countryside, with amenities, groceries and nights out costing less.
Did you know that even the big supermarket chains charge different prices depending on the location of their store and affluence of the area?
The reduced cost of living however can sometimes be offset by a rise in the cost of utilities, for example high-speed broadband can be limited and cost more and heating costs can also go up in rural properties as many will have individual home heating oil tanks that can work out more costly in the long run.
Space to live and enhance wellbeing
Being more connected to the countryside can have a very positive impact on wellbeing, helping to improve your quality of life.
Rural properties tend to be more spacious and are far more likely to have their own gardens, making them ideal for those raising growing families. Countryside residents have nature and wildlife all around them, making it far easier to get back to basics and get back in touch with what really matters.
This is one of the key reasons why most country-folk dislike cities and would never choose to live in one, citing living a life that is calmer, happier and more connected to nature as being far more important that being within walking distance of a 24 hour takeaway!
A stronger sense of local community
Since fewer people live in country villages and rural areas, purchasing a home in these locations will give you the opportunity to become part of a closer community, and those who live in small towns and villages often cite the community feel as being a bit reason why they prefer living rurally.
We'll leave it up to decided whether you think folks in big cities are friendlier than those in rural communities, for example up in some villages in Cheshire it's perfectly normal to nod, smile and say hello to people you pass on the street, a type of regard for others and politeness you'd be hard-pressed to find in a big bustling city!
It turns out that a greater sense of community and being more connected to the people around you, is actually really good for mental health too.
A more relaxed pace of life
Country saught after and valued becuase the sense of peace, refuge and comfort they can provide could be perceived as being highter than in similar urban hom, with soothing natural landscapes all around, a mere glance out of the window and onto open fields or other green spaces can help lower stress levels.
Not only are rural neighbourhoods quieter and more picturesque, but they’re also known for being safer, with less crime, pollution, litter and traffic.
This makes them ideal for older people, parents raising young families, or simply those who want to live a more secure and health-conscious life, away from the hustle and bustle of the urban centres.
The case for urban living
For every person craving the peace and homeliness of a countryside property, there’s another who wouldn’t be able to bear missing out on the energy, vibrancy and boundless possibilities that come with living in a thriving city.
Better professional opportunities
For career-minded people, city life can often be an absolute essential. Leading businesses are usually headquartered in big cities, and in many sectors, the very best roles are only available to those with easy access to major urban centres.
As such, moving to a city is likely to provide you with a much wider array of career options and commuting by public transport won't be an issue. For those that live rurally, commuting by public transport to get into the city centre to work can either be impossible (making a car a necessity) or highly time consuming and expensive.
Easier and cheaper to move around
The robust infrastructure of towns and cities makes it much easier to get from A to B than in the countryside, where residents often find themselves at the mercy of limited public transport routes, or having to drive long distances to get anywhere.
In fact, many urban dwellers are able to skip buying and keeping an expensive car entirely, as they know they can rely on regular trains, buses, taxis and trams, or simply walk a few minutes to get to where they need to be.
The cost of a 2-3 mile taxi journey to the other side of the city will be far cheaper than the cost of traveling a similar distance by taxi for those who live rurally where public transport and taxi are often much more expensive and harder to come by!
Access to a large variety of amenities
Urban living provides you with all the amenities, services and creature comforts you could need, both in and out of the home. That means being able to access the fastest fibre broadband and the best mobile coverage; it also means having the biggest choice of shops, libraries, gyms, shopping centres and leisure facilities right on their doorstep, often with 24/7 access.
Cities also tend to offer better access to medical, dental and police services, so help is always right around the corner should you need it.
The opportunity to find your own niche
Towns and cities are home to so many people that it’s often much easier to find social scenes and communities that suit your individual tastes, no matter how obscure.
In addition to the lively bars and restaurants, you’ll be able to find local groups, societies and meeting places that will put you in touch with like-minded people, and you usually won’t have to venture very far to find them.
A chance to be where things are happening
Town and city life is most likely to attract those who want to be where the action is and get involved with the most exciting cultural developments. By moving to an urban centre, you’ll gain access to big events, historic museums and galleries, multi-cultural dining experiences and all sorts of other enriching, exciting opportunities that are just waiting to be found.
Other factors to consider
Of course, picking between a country and a city home isn’t always a simple black-and-white choice - most people will need to weigh up the pros and cons on both sides before coming to a decision. It’s also worth considering a few other potential factors that might influence your choice.
The suburbs can offer a mix of both worlds
Today the differences between rural and urban life are not as clear as they once were, and modern suburbs exemplify this. Similarly rural villages that have grown into small towns, essentially growing to meet up with the boundaries of other towns means they can feel more like larger towns with many of the amenities and benefits of town or city life but less of the downsides.
Suburban homes can offer fast and easy access to town and city centres and a range of urban amenities, while still retaining the slower pace and greater sense of space and being more connected to the natural environment that attracts many people to the countryside. For those who are looking for a blend of the two environments, living on the outskirts of a big town or city could be a great solution.
Family considerations may end up being most important
Choosing a home isn’t just about your individual preferences - for many, the needs of their family and friends will be a huge deciding factor as well. Make sure to consider the current and future needs of everyone in the household - especially when it comes to school accessibility, and consider whether a move far away will take you further from the rest of your family than you’re comfortable with.
A change can be positive, even if it’s not what you’re used to
For those who are already firmly entrenched in either rural or urban living, do give some thought to the idea that a change in your current circumstances may be less daunting and more rewarding than you might realise.
Long-term rural residents often find they thrive when they have a world of leisure and entertainment choices right on their doorstep, while city folk could gain a lot from a slower pace of life, focusing less on consumption and more on the natural environment and their wellbeing.
Before making a decision, it's always worth paying a visit to any area you’re considering moving to, so you can get a much better feel for what living there might be like.
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You can also check out our full guide to choosing an area to live in for more information on what to look for when selecting a new home and if you're moving home with family pets, take a look at Helpful Advice On Moving Home with Pets.