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Buying Land

What to Know When Moving to a Rural Community

April 27, 2022

Moving from a metropolitan area to a rural community is something more and more Americans are considering. Thanks to the internet and delivery of goods, combined with the convenience of virtual workplaces, some of the concerns that kept people tied to metropolitan areas have evaporated. However, this doesn’t mean that the culture shock goes away. There are certain expectations in the move from one community to another, including access to things such as schools, hospitals, universities, and affordable costs of living. People take these factors into account before they decide to pick up and buy a new property.

What Does Culture Shock Look Like in a Rural Community?

Culture shock often comes into play with the completely unexpected. The first unexpected shock for many urban dwellers as they move into rural communities is the significant difference in city services.

Seeing the price tag on ranches and farms in rural states can excite coastal and city dwellers that are finding themselves priced out of a home. They can sell off their home and, in some states, they can even receive tax benefits or grants to help them purchase a home in a rural community. This sounds fantastic!

As they tour the properties, it all looks like a dream. With lots of room to spread out, they can see themselves kicking back and enjoying their lower cost of living, while still having access to almost every major vendor through online delivery services.  This buyer may be thinking they’ve hit the jackpot, but there are some important lifestyle changes associated with rural communities that they may not have considered.

There are plenty of items new buyers have likely not considered before they buy, for example:

●      Is water provided via public sewer, a septic tank, or a sewer lagoon?

●      Are there city services for water?

●      How deep/wide should you drill a well if there are no city services?

●      Will the local or state health department need consulting on water access?

●      Do I need a water filtration system?

●      What is the source of heat? Electric, service-provided gas, or on-site storage gas?

●      Do I have trash services from a town or city, or am I managing this on my own?

There are a large number of very small townships across America, with less than 1,000 residents in total and a single elementary, middle, and high school. They may have a couple of restaurants, a bar, and a grocery store. The town may, or may not, have a traffic light.

Rural community in Maine, Culture Shock

When city dwellers come in, it doesn’t take very many to change election outcomes, alter city planning, or change the feel of what was once a small community. Rural communities can be insulated and change for them can be good, and oftentimes necessary. It doesn’t mean, however, that it is always welcome.

When we look at culture shock, one of the quickest ways to see the difference in culture is the attention to local matters. If you pick up a major newspaper in any metro, you will find the front page is a combination of state, national, and local news. If you pick up a paper in a rural community the headline is likely about an event at the local school, the football game from last Friday night, or photos from a parade.

City dwellers may be in for a culture shock when some of the services they expect aren’t there, and rural communities may be in for a shock when their neighbor doesn’t share the same beliefs as them or is a little less inclined to small-talk out in the yard.

Here are just a few ways that rural communities offer a different way of life:

●      Many have a strong sense of identity to them, which is frequently based on well-known history. “XYZ came from here.” “This is our 100th-year celebration”

●      Value and support of small businesses. While chains exist in many rural communities, local amenities have long memories.

●      Rural communities can be insular. Because they are small, it can feel difficult to become part of the community.

●      According to the 2020 US Census, only 6% of the US population live in rural areas, but more than 50% of all churches in America are in rural areas.

Understanding these differences in culture can help to diffuse feelings of culture shock in new members of a community.

The property owner who sold their ranch or farm and the buyer of the land are the only ones who decide what ultimately happens to their homestead. Home rule still matters here. Unlike the city, if you want to celebrate your favorite sports team by painting your house bright green and yellow or purple and silver, absolutely no one is going to stop you. In my experience, if you leave the county alone, they will leave you alone.

As our population grows, more people will be looking for somewhere to call their own and rural communities can provide numerous families with that opportunity. Having the right expectations and the help of an experienced land professional can decrease feelings of culture shock and make land ownership a joy.

How Can an Experienced Land Professional Reduce Feelings of Culture Shock?

When a buyer works with an experienced land professional, they are looking for someone who can explain to them everything involved in the purchase of the land they desire, providing them information about what the land is worth, the condition of any buildings attached, the soil, and walking the land to make sure that the value is there for their buyer. It is a lot easier to envision a life in a house than it is to look at a piece of land and imagine what you will do with it or how you can use it to live out your dream. 

A good land professional should talk frankly and honestly with their clients about what their expectations are to make sure they understand what they are buying. When a buyer is prepared, they have plenty of time to make plans of how they will navigate a new community or discover ways to fit in:

●      Attend the local school district’s sporting event

●      Go to a parade, fundraiser, or another community event

●      Visit the downtown area, check out the local shops

●      Sit down at a restaurant or bar and get to know the regulars

●      Find the local pharmacist

●      Look for the right church for you if you desire

Land professionals can help you understand the services available to your land and how to make the most of them as well as the positives and negatives of every service available to you in your new community.

Moving from an urban setting to a rural setting is a bigger transition than simply moving across town. Inspecting a large number of acres is much different than looking through homes. An experienced land professional will be able to help you navigate all the twists and turns of the land buying process.

The move to a rural community should be a new and exciting time in any person’s life, and it would be a shame for that experience to be dampened by feelings of culture shock. With the help of an experienced land professional, such as those here at National Land Realty, you can rest assured in your decision to move out to the country.

About the Author
Being a Transitional Commercial Land Professional, a registered lobbyist, and a former elected official, I develop land, write policy, and create new opportunities by writing legislation and protecting landowners. In my home life, I tend to horses and cattle beef ranching. Selling land is more than just a listing. The due diligence, different contracts, and disclosures required to prepare the land for its showcase take a skilled land expert to make sure everything is being transferred with the sale and you are getting the highest and best value the land can produce. If you are in the Kansas City area and want to make this your next place to buy land, I would love to show you the best BBQ places the locals know and help you find the right piece of land.