City dwellers hell-bent on escaping the rat race and beating a retreat to the country might like to think long and hard before taking the plunge. You may be able to afford a bigger house for the money you've got to spend, but you could see your health and income suffer if you move to a rural area.
The cost of buying a home is typically higher in urban areas than in rural settings. The fact that cities are more densely populated than the country means that space is at a premium. City property prices are also kept high by the fact that jobs and industry tend to be more focused in urban areas, attracting workers away from the country. This pushes up wages which has a knock-on effect on property prices. The average price of a property listed for sale in New York City in June 2012 was $2,05 million, according to real estate website Trulia.com. In contrast, the typical price for a property in Sheridan, Kansas, was $47,000.
Volatile energy prices and long distances between workplaces, shops and health services can make travel expensive in rural areas, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology. City dwellers typically live nearer to where they work and essential amenities, meaning they have less trouble getting about for a price they can comfortably afford.
City dwellers are less likely to die prematurely than those who live in rural areas, according to County Health Rankings. This is despite the fact that urbanites suffer more pollution, violent crime, sexually transmitted diseases and are more likely to drink excessively. The CHR report found that 48 percent of the healthiest counties in the U.S. were either urban or suburban, while 84 percent of the unhealthiest counties were in rural areas. New York City, which is one of the densest urban areas in the country, was found by the CHR study to have reasonably good health outcomes because of policies that encourage healthy living, not to mention access to health care providers..
Rural workers earned a typical annual wage of $47,548 in 2010, according to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. City dwellers earned $57,510 at the same time, but those living in the suburbs took home $66,866 before tax, suggesting that suburbanites are doing better than both country folk and their urban neighbors when it comes to pay.
The speed of city life can be stressful for some people. The cost of living and hustle and bustle in urban environments can even be enough to trigger mental health problems in people who live in cities. A 2010 study by Dutch researchers found that city dwellers have a 21 percent higher chance of developing anxiety disorders and a 39 percent higher risk of developing mood disorders than people who live in rural areas.
- Trulia: Average Listing Price for New York
- Trulia: Average Listing Price for Kansas
- County Health Rankings; CBS News; City Counties Ranked Healthier than Rural
- Center for Neighborhood Technology: Rural Americans Strained by Transportation Costs
- Rural Community Assistance Corporation: Rural Counties Poorer in Health Due to Lower Income, Job Opportunities
- Macmillan Publishers Limited: City Living and Urban Upbringing Affect Neural Social Stress Processing in Humans
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.