One decision we made (albeit a little late) in regards to our careers was to leave the bright lights of the city and move to a more rural location. When our early jobs weren’t working out the way we wanted them to, we made a choice: Go where the money was.
What we gained with the move was an instant rise in income (that has continued to go up) in exchange for living somewhere that others may see as less than desirable. Obviously, there are a lot of downsides to living “in the sticks” as well, but I feel that those have been hashed over plenty of times in pop culture and the mainstream, so I won’t delve into them too much, at least not today. This is a Rural-Positivity thread!
What “Living Rural” Actually Means to Us
One thing about living in a flyover state that a lot of people in cities may not understand is that just because you live somewhere that is considered “rural” doesn’t mean you’re on a farm or drive your horse to work. We live in a small city with big box stores, a hospital, a couple of golf courses, several schools, a movie theater, and a couple other decent entertainment options. Restaurants are limited, but there’s a nice variety and we don’t eat out much anyways because of that whole paying down debt thing.
What makes our location really “rural” is the fact that it’s a 2.5 hour drive to the nearest metropolitan area (and 5 hours to the nearest metropolitan that would be considered a major city). A regional airport is about an hour away (although the city airport has a charter company and limited commercial flights). Any way you slice it, even when you consider the fact that we have most amenities that a small city typically enjoys, it’s clear that our location makes it a less than desirable place to live for a lot of people.
We enjoy living where we do, but why do we like it? What are some of the benefits of living “rural”? Let us go through a few.
1. Cheaper cost of living.
This is debatable depending on where you live, but in general it is cheaper to live in rural areas than the cities. Food, shelter, childcare (we have friends who live in metro areas that pay 3x what we do for daycare!), and entertainment are almost always less expensive than in more desirable areas. Yay for cheap stuff!
2. Higher incomes.
The less desirable the area, the higher the pay needed to convince people to move there. Like the cheaper cost of living mentioned above, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. More often than not, however, you get paid a premium for being willing to go where others aren’t.
3. Small town feel.
It’s not unusual for us to go to the grocery store and see a few patients we’ve treated. Many of the businesses we frequent are owned or employed by people we know, a lot of them patients. Admittedly, this can be a good and a bad thing, but overall we see it as a positive.
4. Shorter commute.
It takes me 5 minutes to get to work from my house… if there’s traffic or I hit a light.
5. Slower pace.
Some people love the fast-paced action of the city. I’ll admit that we tend to like it and get caught up in it when we visit cities ourselves. Day-after-day, though, it can turn into a grind. It goes hand-in-hand with a shorter commute, but there’s less rush in a smaller town. And with less rush, you spend fewer minutes (and even hours) of the day trying to get from Point-A to Point-B, waiting in line, or feeling like you’re short on time. This in turn gives you more time to do the things you want to do.
Living rural isn’t for everyone. If we hadn’t grown up in that setting we may not like it either, a fact which isn’t lost on us. Truthfully, the fewer doctors in our specific discipline that live in our neck of the woods the better!
There are some tangible benefits that living “in the sticks” provides, especially financially. If you’re willing to make the move and live somewhere that may not be “ideal,” but is perfectly suitable and “good enough,” you can reap those benefits.
Tell us what you think! Is living “rural” worth the benefits it provides? Or is the lack of big-city amenities a deal breaker? Let us know in the comments!