According to Statista, there were approximately 57.23 million people living in rural areas in the US, compared to about 272.91 million people who opted for the urban lifestyle in 2020. But even though a majority, 56.2% of the global population, now lives in cities, more and more people are tempted to leave the chaotic urban jungle behind and restart their lives in a calm and peaceful environment.
And for those who’re wondering what it is like to wake up to birds chirping instead of neighbors arguing on the other side of the wall, this Reddit thread may be particularly useful. A Redditor u/MotorArea posted a question “People who live in a rural area/out in the country, what will ‘city folk’ never understand?” some time back, and received 4.2k comments.
From nature smells to burn piles, these are some of the most quintessential features of country life we don’t ever come across in an asphalt jungle.
The dark. In a city at night you can read a book outside. In the country on a cloudy or no moon night. You can’t see anything. Not like it’s kinda hard to see, but it’s so dark you might as well be blind; the stars and gravity are the only way to know which direction is up. Also a clear night sky in places that get truly dark like that is something my vocabulary can’t describe.
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In the city, you ignore the sirens and listen for the gunshots. Out in the country you ignore the gunshots and listen for the sirens.
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Letting my kids just go outside and play. Ride their bikes down the street, go into the woods out back and explore. But more importantly just feel generally secure about their safety doing these things.
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Chickens. They’re a lot more animal than I think people realize. They eat almost anything organic, so their enclosures are barren. If you free range em – they will eat your garden, even buried stuff like potatoes.
Also they will both produce almost no eggs, then when you get 4-5, they will produce all the eggs. Like so many you’ll start giving them away.
And animals love chicken. Hawks, coyotes, foxes, dogs, even damn raccoons get brave for some chicken.
Oh yeah – roosters. They totally sometimes call at 5am. Also they’re mean suckers, and have large talons on their feet called spurs which are basically little chicken daggers for defense.
Oh, and eggs come from the same hole they poop from. Eggs almost always have poo on them.
I’ve loved raising chickens, but damn would I never want someone who isn’t use to it to try. They’re pretty gross at times, not at all intelligent animals, and tend to fight themselves when they aren’t be predated by animals you’d never consider a threat.
They can be kind of affectionate though.
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The scream you hear in the middle of the night isn’t a woman being murdered. It’s just foxes shagging.
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“Watch out for deer” when saying goodbye is another way of telling someone you love them.
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The amount of animal noises at night.
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Constantly losing power because of wind and rain damaging old wires, transformers, etc.
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Burning trash in a barrel or a “burn pile.”
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Waving at people when you see them on the road
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How little politics affect your every day life when you aren’t surrounded by people talking about it. If it weren’t for social media (which I avoid 99% of the time) we’d have no idea what’s going on out there.
Also, how quiet it is. I have city friends that love to come out just to listen to the quiet.
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When you hear a car door slam in the middle of the night, something is wrong.
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I live in a very rural, very northern latitude and almost full homestead area. There are lots of thing different.
Seeing stars and the Milky Way when it gets dark as well as full sky of northern lights.
Stocking up firewood in the summer when it’s hot and sunny. With that the dry warm heat from your woodstove in the middle of the winter is something everyone should experience.
Shooting guns off your deck to make sure they are still sighted in.
Having friends drop in just because they were in the area.
Taking a 4 wheeler to the store and spending an hour there because you keep running into people you know.
Fresh chicken eggs and veggies from the garden
Your local store is also your gas station, post office, deli, liquor store, movie rental.
There are so many other things, I don’t see how anybody can even live in the big city’s at all but that’s just how my upbringing is.
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When a road sign says Last Gas for however many kilometers
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The extent of our pantries and freezers. We can’t just “run to the store” to pick up that forgotten ingredient or spur-of-the-moment craving. But if we’re well-stocked, we can whip up just about anything!
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Seeing Deer isn’t a special occasion, those f*****s are always showing up.
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Our traffic is tractors during harvest / planting.. usually you can just zip around.
There is something so empowering about being able to go outside in your panties and tshirt and have no one around to give you a second look. ( best way to watch the stars at night and drink your first cup of coffee in the morning)
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How small it really is.
When I graduated in 2014, my class was 14 people. And we were one of the largest grades at the school, the grade below only had 6 people, the grade above me only had 4. I originally grew up in a hamlet, population 20 people and then moved to a village where I went to school, roughly 300 people.
We have one bar, one grocery store that closes at 6pm, a carwash, a bank(in the neighboring villager 15 minutes away) post office and school in town. Everyone else is either oilfield workers or farmers.
And it’s f***ing boring, for fun in the summers we used to bike down the highway for hours to no where and then turn around and bike home.
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Its basically impossible to live if you can’t drive, I live a few miles out of the village so I have to get lifts to work, to go see friends and everything. The only bus only leaves the village every 2-3 hours to go into the city and is ridiculously expensive.
But it is gorgeous and can be so peaceful, i often take my dog up the hill behind my house, there’s no roads and only a couple of other houses and its so quiet and relaxing, i can lie there for ages on a nice day. I also have a horse and its great to go for a mental out-of-control gallop through the fields and the forests.
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I don’t have a leash for my dog, because where the hell is she gonna go?
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The reality is your neighbors are nosy little f*****s, they don’t have a life and wanna know what goes on in others.
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Sorry mr, Thompson. I have to leave class today. Cows got out.
Your mom has a list of who you can and cant date, and when your cousin gets married the list gets cut in half.
The monthly Costco run
Having literally everything. Seriously I have so much sh*t laying around, but cant get rid of it because who knows when you will need an extra carburetor.
Chatting at Dutch bros with the barista for 2 hours because there’s nothing better to do.
Gutting a deer during lunch break.
Driving 45 min to the nearest bowling alley.
Not going anywhere because you forget to fill up gas before the weekend when the stations are closed.
Knowing every single logging road by memory and practically a rally driver in a lifted truck, but freak out when your driving in a city where there are roundabouts.
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Small Town Texas here
Friday Night Lights Ghost Towns
The smell of the rain
Country Road parties
Driving for an hour and not seeing another car
Small Town Festivals
Knowing everyone business and everyone knowing yours
Snakes are your friend
Dead Coyotes hanging from fence posts
The sky at night is inspirational
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Cornfields and woods are not scary!
Your way more likely to get stabbed or shot in a city.
It’s also possible to have guns and never shoot a living thing. I only shot at old TVs computers and targets.
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Driving and transportation. I grew up “out in the country” and currently live “in town”, and I’ve spent time in major cities. When I first did traveling to a large cities, I would rent a car because I didn’t want to get stuck somewhere. But soon learned that the car was more of a hindrance, when I could just simply walk to half a dozen restaurants or get a ride if it was further out. In a city, driving is a privilege and oftentimes a nuisance. In the country, driving is a requirement, something you need to sustain life. In a small town, you might be able to get by with walking/biking, but you’ll spend a lot of time doing it.
If you live in town, you might be able to get pizza delivery. It’ll probably be a Pizza Hut or Pappa Johns. If your town can sustain it, maybe both. If you want pizza from the third pizza place, you can call it in and go pick it up in your car. Same with Chinese.
The town might have a local hospital only 15 minutes away, but the rise of larger regional hospital systems may have shut down most of the services, so if you want to give birth to a baby in a hospital, that’ll be the larger hospital 30-45 minutes away.
If you’re having elective surgery during the pandemic, you need to drive 45 minutes one day for your consult, then drive up a different day for your covid-19 test, then 3 days after that for your surgery.
On the plus side, if you want to have a campfire in your yard, just scrape out a bit of a hole or put some rocks in a circle and build a fire. If you want to avoid a city-wide riot, the nearest one is 2 hours away, so you’ll be fine.
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How hard it is to get high speed internet.
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I temporarily moved to a rural village in order to get my foot in the door early by getting the EXACT job I wanted without the necessary 5 year experience. My plan was to get a bit of union time in then leverage that and my bit of experience to get back to the city. I moved 2.5 hours away from the city. It has been 11 years and I love it here.
I don’t think urban people can understand how much more simple life is. There is no pressure to keep up on trends or make up, but if it interests you, then do it. It is a small village with not too much around it except the ocean so everything is clustered together. This clustering means 2 minute commutes to work. Empty beaches, no need to jockey for spots on the sand and those beaches are within 10 mins. Oh, you prefer the woods? Then drive 10 mins the other direction. Let me tell you, when you spend 4 mins a day going to and from work, a whole world of hobby time opens up for you and getting 8 hours of sleep is still easy.
Going to the “city” is now an exciting trip. I felt stupid when I realized that but then I realized it makes for cheap thrills to be this easily excited.
Saving money is easy peasy. Nothing to 5 dollar your life away at. At housing prices!! I bought a 3 bedroom, 1 bath (booo), 130 year old home for $100k.
Specific to where I live, I don’t know if it is the same elsewhere, but our postal system is fast. I get things delivered here faster than my mom does in the middle of the big city where both our parcels go through. And couriers are hilarious. They will leave you a note letting you know who they left your package with if you aren’t home.
Oh and the gossip, better than any soap opera.
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Small towns aren’t one size fits all. There’s a lot of difference. The town I’m from has 300ish people and hits every single negative stereotype imaginable. But an hour away there’s a town of 1500 that is basically the poster child for good country living. I’ve also found they don’t understand the physical toll working in certain trades can take. Also, driving an hour isn’t considered a long trip where I’m from
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I can play music as loud as I want.
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You can just pee anywhere outside.
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Driving to the next town over with your friends for something to do, after-prom being a beer-filled bonfire party, your Tinder options are guaranteed to only be white boys in Bass Pro hats holding fish.
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My grandmother lived on a mountainous farm for 30 years:
a neighbour’s water supply turned black, turns out a sheep had fallen in and died. They fished it out and the local doctor said that as long as they weren’t having any major issues, they’d be fine. They were unfazed by the event.
when selling the house to a family moving from an apartment block in London, they were asked about the plumbing. When they were explained to them what a septic tank was, the family decided to go out in the January rain at the bottom of the garden (basically a swamp at this point) and measure it themselves despite being told that yes, it was sufficient.
the family also decided that one of the fields was “too dangerous” for children because of a former mole infestation.
“this is a nice cut of meat” “His name was snowflake”
a conservation group has started a campaign for the rewilding of the Welsh countryside. As you can imagine, the farmers who use the Welsh countryside for sheep grazing are not happy about this, as it is their livelihoods.
they didn’t lock their cars. The nearest house was a mile away. Who was around to steal it?
When it snowed, they just didn’t leave the house. The pantry had enough food for at least a week.
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I’ve been living in a busy street of Milan to move to Switzerland in a small town near the mountains. The silence in the night was something weird and actually annoying my first nights there.
So I’d say total silence around you at night.
Also nature smells : grass or animals for example
Oh and having actual animals in town like cows or horses.
Oh and… ok I’ll stop there and let the others talk
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That we need to have a car.
It’s all fine and dandy that you want to be environmentally conscious (I do too), but where I live public transport is non-existent and it’s can be several miles to the closest anything.
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I grew up in the country… graduating class of 24. Went to college in a smaller town.
After college I moved to Denver.
If I had heard that people picked up their dog poop anywhere in the world, I would have laughed.
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They’ll never truly understand the power of nature. The feeling of being surrounded by it and hearing every living creature all around you.
Outdoor freedom. You can do whatever you want out here. No cops. No neighbors. Hell its like the Wild West. No permits or regulations. No permission slips. Wide open backroads through the country with windows down and a little Hank Williams Jr. Can’t beat it with a stick.
Your neighbors are important, you gotta check on them, they gotta check on you.
Drinking and driving is more common cause the bar is so far away and Uber or Lyft are not a thing.
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Wildlife is wildlife… Don’t call bylaw for: moose, coyotes, wolves, deer, skunk, raccoon etc.
Dogs bark. Your 4 lb chihuahua may not be loud but it’s 100% more barking than my 80 lb husky mix.
When it snows, road will be ploughed. It will NOT be a dry, black stretch of road but it WILL have less snow on it.
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Having to travel down dirt roads. Hating life when the rains wash out said dirt roads. Wonder at your neighbors who first complain about the dirt roads with you then in the next breath say they would fight the county if they tried to pave the road.
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I moved from a busy suburb to a country house for a few years because my parents dream was to live quietly for the rest of their lives. We all ended up moving away after a few years back to a suburban neighborhood because they figured out it wasn’t for them. There are a few things to get use to:
it is extremely quiet, almost no noise unless coyotes are nearby then all you hear is howling all night at random times during the year
mowing the lawn takes all day
there’s no one to talk to, unless you bike several miles away to hang out with another kid, and you may not like them but tolerate them because you have nothing else to do.
snow turns into huge drifts, and the forts you can make are amazing
people in small towns have nothing better to do than to gossip and talk trash, so when you are new they all judge you for the first year then decide if they’re going to treat you like s**t.
ignorant white kids saying really dumb things about minorities, which is information they got from their parents. They got really upset when I told them they were wrong and told them stories about friends I use to have before moving. They get really offended and hurt when someone uses facts and experience while having a discussion, especially when you disprove something they say.
There’s a bunch of cool stuff about living in the middle of nowhere, but the worst part of it is the people who live there.
The backwoods bonfire Friday night high school party stereotype is 100% accurate. Now that I’m grown up, the same group now drinks on the pontoon boat every Saturday.
No light pollution, the night sky is amazing. It can also get extremely dark and silent. A large pack of coyotes sounds terrifying, but owls are music to the ears.
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How rural towns stay orderly with no police presence, little riches, and no crime: reputation. Since no one moves in or out, what you do today shapes your reputation for life.
This is why we don’t lock our doors. Locks don’t keep determined rednecks out. But being known as a thief for the rest of your life by everyone you know does.
Working as a pastor in a rural town was hard because those who needed counseling never came for it. If anyone saw a married couple go into the pastor’s office, the whole town knew forever you were having problems.
This is also why we loved yard sales, trading, and such. No one was willing to rip you off because they knew word would get around.
I can’t speak for everywhere, but where I used to live, the vast majority of gun owners didn’t own guns because they were some gun-obsessed redneck. They owned guns because police response time was 25-35 minutes on average. That and animals with rabies.
This doesn’t go for all small town, but the one I live in there is no law enforcement. We fall under the jurisdiction of a neighboring town but it’s like 45 minutes away. So the people out here just deal with incidents on their own. To be honest though, it’s pretty rare that any instances occur.
1. How much you are at the mercy of the elements. (the wind seems stronger, the snow deeper, the driveway impossibly long and difficult to clear)
2. How every project turns into multiple long trips to the hardware store (that is 35 minutes away, unless you have an emergency at 1am, and then you’re heading 90 minutes away to the 24 hour store there).
3. The value of consistently good internet connections
4. How cool it is to cut down trees that are on your property.
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“Just vote” doesn’t always fix things. You might have exactly one person running per position, and on the off-chance that you might have more than one, some of those other position candidates are all in a close network who ensure that they and their buddies are all that’ll ever be in any position of power (and sometimes, opponents aren’t really opponents, they just list themselves as opponents; Mississippi’s most rural areas have BIG problems with this, especially when it comes to water management). Continuously doing this can eventually lead to less than 10% of a town’s populace even BOTHERING to vote. And why should they? You have no choice.
When you compare this to larger elections (like a governor) where choices actually exist, you see how laughably unsupported a lot of the small-town candidates are who very quickly drop out with some excuse if they bothered to run at all.
lifting your hand up slightly when driving as someone drives past even if you don’t know them
Live in a village of about 2000 people which is about an hour from the nearest biggish city. It’s 99% peaceful and 1% boring. I think that living someplace small means you tend to be more self sufficient about finding your own entertainment. You don’t have movie theaters or bowling alleys or things like that. We have a gas station and a couple of diners and an ice cream shop that is open in the summer.
Folks tend to go fishing more, do more hiking, camping, and backyard bbq. I also think that we tend to be more fanatical about our high school sports, they are the only game in town really.
Leaving guns/knives against the wall by the front door. Not like handguns. It’s common for a full length 12 gauge to be the welcome mat.
I’m not sure how “out in the country” it is, but I live half an hour north of a town with a population density of 15 per square mile. I actually moved here six months ago from Toronto. Since moving here, I realized how peaceful life can be. When I’m not working, I’m out on the farm with birds, pigs and horses. It’s absolutely eerie, hearing all these different bird songs, and horses galloping and having a moose crash your party as opposed to a million voices, highway traffic and a methhead. It is so different in a positive way. While we are definitely social creatures, I don’t think we were meant to be packed that close together, away from nature.
Also well water.
A calm night, sitting out on your grandparents porch eating a grilled hotdog off a paper plate while listening to the summer rain hit the tin roof.
Having a wendigo eat your cousin that was a pretty weird BBQ
Quiet. Solitude. Slow pace. Peace of mind. Genuine smiles. Good neighbors.
There is an episode of Andy Griffith, where a big-city business type has his car break down in Mayberry. He’s in a mad rush to get to his big meeting in Raleigh. Gomer can’t fix the car, and his boss doesn’t work on the weekends so the the business man can only wait. Which really isn’t in his plans. He finally slows down and ends up enjoying his time in the bucolic setting of Mayberry, sitting on the porch with Aunt Bee and Andy and Barney singing old folk songs, napping and eating ice cream-even after Gomer has fixed the car. He slowed down and reset.
Being in a rural place means you take your time, there’s no mad rush. You sit and listen to the crickets and the creek bubbling by you. You can hear your neighbor’s kids laughing while they’re playing in the back yard. Where I’m at, we can hear the bear dogs howl when they find their prey. It’s a place full of manicured yards where just about everyone sits out on their porch of an evening and they wave at their neighbors as they drive by. Main Street is still full of Mom & Pop shops (which are closed right now, thank you Covid-19) and we have Christmas parades and music festivals and a summer carnival and our whole town comes together and honks their horns when the high school sports teams come back the conquering heroes.
I spent nearly 15 years of my life around the DC Beltway and I came here to this little town (and few other little towns like it before I settled here) and I wouldn’t go back to that grind for any amount of money. The peace of mind and the connection to my community are too precious to me. Yeah, I sacrifice some income to live where I do, but you know what? It’s worth it to me. I still live a comfortable life and I don’t have to worry about all the things that are going on outside my door when I lay down at night. This place is home. It’s roots. It’s where I look forward to returning when I’m gone on vacation or a work trip.
The same thing that Europe can’t understand about the US. No, we can’t just have a $500 million high speed rail network serving the 15 people who live in Northwestern Iowa.
I live near Yosemite and we get a lot of people who don’t know how to drive in the mountains.
Depending on your area, seeing large tractors (preferable green 😉 on the roads is not anything amazing. I’m just trying to do my job.
Driving 2 and a half hours to get somewhere like a mall, or a specialist, is normal.
There are more than like five stars in the sky
I grew up in rural Colorado and we would never lock our house IN CASE SOMEONE NEEDS TO GET IN. Weather at high altitudes is brutal. If a neighbor hit a deer they would be able to shelter in our house instead of walking miles to theirs. Or a lost hunter or whatever.
Also most of what’s been said here already. Monthly trips to the store, deep freezer full of meat, that type of thing. And shooting guns off the front porch of course.
That the second amendment is for folks that need to protect themselves when a policeman is 30 minutes away.
Here young people generally still like oldies music instead of modern music. Not even ironically, they go wild for Status Quo.
I live in the Cotswolds, rural England, brief summary below.
Our nearest police presence is 25 miles away and apart from the usual rural crime of sheep rustling, a few drunks is a trend of atms being broken into. The countryside continuously smells, either pig s**t or wood smoke or both if your lucky. Prepare for silence, seriously it’s so damn quiet I’ve not heard a siren in months though the wildlife is something else. I can recognise the call of at least ten different birds and the worse one is tied between male pheasant who is looking for a new lady friend or a song thrush which has a repertoire of around 20 songs. That little git will go through them evening just as your winding down. The sound of a fox catching something is a sound that will never leave you. I can walk out my house, walk down the road and have a conversation with anyone I meet. Sometimes this is ok but other times you really can’t be arsed. Again, I can walk out my house and within a minute be in a field for a nice walk, sometimes it’s just grass whilst other years there can be eight foot rapeseed which smells rather nice. Be prepared to travel for decent work and shops. Pre lockdown I drove for an hour every day to work because there really are no jobs in the country. Unfortunately I have rely on amazon for most things. Poverty is rampant, I believe the average salary in the Cotswolds is £14k per year. Tourists are everywhere and think nothing of walking up your drive for that perfect picture, they seem genuinely aggrieved when I tell them to sod off. Cyclists are the top of the pyramid in terms of annoying gits, closely followed by caravans and motor homes.
In summary the way of life is a hell of lot slower than city life (grew up in a large city). It suits some people though for others it may be too much.
Any other questions?