When we retire, we intend to spend most of our time living in a rural area. We will live on a small piece of property and have neighbors, but the nearest small town will be a 20-minute drive. We live in this rural neighborhood part-time now. Here are some of the positive aspects of retirement in a small town or rural community.
Low cost of living. Food is slightly more expensive in the local grocery stores. If we were to drive another 30 minutes, we can find larger chain groceries with lower prices. But almost everything else that we purchase in our rural community is less expensive, including utilities, insurance, and maintenance services. I attribute much of that to the cost of real estate. Rural land is cheaper, homes cost less to build, and property taxes are lower compared to urban living. This tends to affect other cost of living categories.
Peace and quiet. Without fail, I sleep much better in the country than I do at our home in the suburbs. There is less noise and light pollution. At night, the biggest glow is from the moon and stars. Many city dwellers don’t appreciate how sound and light distractions affect us physiologically. Being in the country calms us.
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Slowing the pace of life. Life truly slows down in rural areas, and generally in a good way. The slower pace relates to geography and practical living. For country folks, it takes longer to get from one place to the other. This causes you to not go there as often. You stay around home more, resisting the temptation to go shopping or somewhere else. In a rural area most places are a lot farther away. Although it can be inconvenient to drive 25 minutes to a hardware or grocery store, the overall slowness of rural living is also something to savor.
Friendly people. Folks in the country are just plain nice. The neighbors are genuinely friendly and helpful. In the city, some neighbors are friendly, some are competitive, and some we don't even know. I appreciate the transparency and kindness of small town and country people. Having friendly neighbors makes it easy to overlook the negatives of rural retirement living.
There are obvious downsides to living in a rural area. But for a retiree, the benefits can outweigh them. A quiet and relaxed retirement is a lifestyle that is worth considering.
Mark Patterson is an engineer, patent attorney, baby boomer, and author of The Failsafe Retirement System. He blogs on matters of personal finance and retirement planning at Tough Money Love and Go To Retirement.