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What You Need to Know Before You Move to the Country

Birds eye view of San Diego County looking west from downtown Julian, CA.
Photo Credit: Creative Flow Media

So, you’re thinking about moving to the country—you're not alone. Over the last few years, low-population rural communities have seen a steady increase. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, population growth in rural counties has continued to grow. Moving to the country can be an adventure and a positive experience. Removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can enjoy a slower pace of life in the country. You’re also likely to find more freedom to live the lifestyle you choose. There are a few things you need to know, though, before you make the big move. Let’s dive into them.

Reliable Income

The secret is out: rural homes are significantly cheaper. There is a good chance house-hunters can get more bang for their buck in terms of square footage and acreage. Most newcomers don’t consider, however, that the property will require more maintenance, and utilities will likely be more expensive. Most jobs in backcountry communities in San Diego County are tourism-based. This means that the jobs available are in customer service and will be centered around peak tourism times (weekends/holidays). Jobs paying over minimum wage are hard to come by in rural areas. Before picking a house, it’s important to make sure you have a stable income to support the country lifestyle you are pursuing.

The Possibility of Tourism

Rural communities aren't just gaining population. They are also gaining popularity as tourism destinations. I highly encourage you to look into the seasonal tourism patterns for the prospective community you are looking to move to. Communities like the one I live in, Julian, CA, tend to have very slow seasons followed by a few busy months of the year. In order to avoid the tourism traffic, locals have to plan their schedules around peak tourism hours. It can be very frustrating for some residents to have to plan their schedules around factors outside their control.

Available Services

Being removed from the hustle and bustle of city life means that you have beautiful night skies, quiet days, and an abundance of wildlife. On the flip side, it means that available services are few and far between. Your desire to be in a remote country town has to be greater than your desire for big-city convenience. If it isn’t, then country life is not for you. Part of the rural lifestyle requires you to be a do-it-yourself kind of person. When you live outside the city, you have to plan ahead. For example, in San Diego County, public transportation is almost non-existent, the internet is slow, cell service is spotty, and power outages are frequent. Residents have a hard time finding service-based businesses that serve our area. Additionally, access to big box stores and medical services is a good way away. Each community has its own limitations. It is important to look into what is locally available and what is not available in the prospective community you wish to move to.

Embracing the Local Climate

Many benefits come with living in a four-season environment. Each season brings natural beauty and recreational activities for residents to participate in. For those who have never lived in a four-season climate, there will be a bit of adjustment. In areas that receive snow, residents need to not only equip their house for winter, they also need appropriate clothing and all-weather vehicles. Preparation also includes having a good supply of food on hand in case you are snowed in. Delays in clearing the roads are common after a snowstorm. Residents who commute to work often either make sleeping arrangements prior to the storm or work from home when snowed in.

Living among Wildlife

Living in the country means you are living in nature—there are wild animals, bugs, and lots of unwanted house guests. Be prepared to share your land—and sometimes the road—with wildlife. Modern-day urban culture customarily exterminates animals, but in the country, we must take into consideration how extermination will affect the entire ecosystem. Residents have to learn to live with the wildlife. There are many simple changes that residents can make to help eliminate pest problems. You can learn more about how to live among the wildlife here.


Urban areas have a myriad of rules and regulations instructing residents on what they can and cannot do. One of the many benefits of country living is that these regulations may not exist. Living in a less structured environment gives you and your neighbors freedoms that may not exist in urban areas. You aren’t in the city anymore. It is acceptable to have livestock, a few extra cars, and maybe make a few modifications under the home inspector’s nose. Do not become the tattletale of the neighborhood. Pissing off your neighbors is not a situation you want to be in. There will come a day when you need your neighbors’ help.

Preservation and Respect

Wildlife, beautiful night skies, peacefulness, cleanliness, and friendliness are just a handful of reasons why the country is so desirable. In order to keep it that way, we must make adjustments to preserve it. This means you can’t kill every wild creature you come in contact with. This means that you can’t leave bright lights on at night. It means that you can’t drive loud cars, let the dog bark, or blast your music. In order to keep the land clean, you can’t litter and must maintain your yard. To keep the friendly, small-town culture, you have to be friendly. You can’t alienate your neighbors. Don’t install chain-link fencing. These habits aren’t just efforts to preserve. They are also basic signs of respect for nature and your neighbors. Everyone around you lives in the country because they enjoy the peace, tranquility, and lifestyle of country living.

Respecting the Local Culture

Each rural community has its own culture. People live in the country because they like it just the way it is. This can be good and bad. Sure, there are many areas that need improvement, but it’s almost impossible to get anything in motion. As a newcomer, you will be expected to learn and live within the norms of the community. I encourage all new residents to find their place within their new hometown. If you feel that you have to change the town to fit in, maybe you should find a new place to live. People who try to resist the ways of the town they live in and force change on others don’t usually last long.


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