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Country life appeal is ramping up post pandemic

A promising situation is ramping up for rural U.S. and Canada.

The American Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), a lobby group that closely watches trends influencing tractor and other service machinery sales on both sides of the border, notes that Americans are moving to rural areas in record numbers.

Its own study, released earlier this week, showed almost 70 per cent of respondents said they’d be open to it.

The organization calls the phenomenon a pandemic response.

First, it reflects people’s increased desire for more space, and for their own space.

That’s the same desire that’s sent urbanites racing for cottage properties for nearly the past two years.

Real estate agents and rural municipalities – along with businesses that sell riding lawnmowers and garden supplies – will be interested to know those who were part of the AEM study articulated a clear vision of the elbow room space they’ll acquire. About a third of them are expecting a large yard or property, under an acre. But more than half say they think they’ll own up to five acres. And more than 10 per cent plan to own more than five acres.

That’s significant. Imagine going from a standard city lot to any of these options. Your equipment needs would skyrocket, even if you used a professional landscaping company to look after your place. So no wonder the AEM, whose members sell equipment, is keeping an eye on the situation.

Another reason for rural migration is the perceived lower cost of living. That, however, is not always the case. Housing is somewhat cheaper, but in rural areas near metro centres, the margin has narrowed. And the cost of transportation has to be figured in – live in a city, take a bus. Live in the country, and your options are much more limited. There, getting by without vehicles and all their associated costs, can be pretty tough.

The AEM notes that urban people are embracing entrepreneurial opportunities in rural areas. They either see a gap and they fill it, or they go to work for those who saw it just a bit before them. Some of these opportunities entail providing services to newly arrived urbanites. In that way, the migration circle is complete.

Working from home is another new possibility for urban people interested in rural living. We’ll see how this all washes out in time but even pessimists think it’s possible to do at home at least some of what you used to do at the office. Optimists think that in many cases, you could do almost everything from home, even though conditions there might not be ideal.

Here’s the key though: working at home was mostly made possible in urban areas because of adequate internet access. And while investment continues in improving rural internet, better service mostly remains elusive.

“The rural migration trend could get even stronger if rural broadband gets the attention those who are now working from home say it needs,” says AEM.

And finally, the organization had some observations about those who self-define as “ruralists.”

According to the AEM, ruralists believe that their life is more beautiful than city living. They also believe that a rural lifestyle is healthier, and they feel that it could be a better place to raise children.

“They feel that there are more opportunities that they can impact their community, as smaller communities are closer knit and more reliable in the eyes of a ruralist,” it says.

Can you put up with lousy internet for now, in exchange for that kind of lifestyle? Apparently, more and more people think so.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

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