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Study Finds Big Interest in Rural Living, Depleted Desire for Suburbs

Housing Markets

Study Finds Big Interest in Rural Living, Depleted Desire for Suburbs

January 5, 2021
Rural town
Photo: nilsversemann

A recent Gallup study found that it may not just be cities Americans are avoiding—suburbs are getting the cold shoulder as well. In 2018, 39% of Americans surveyed said they would prefer to live in a town or rural area. Flash forward to 2020 and now 48% of Americans prefer to live in towns or rural areas, compared to suburbs of a big/small city, or an actual city itself. The increase in low density housing reflects a decrease in suburban living, too. In 2018, 31% of respondents preferred to live in the suburbs of a city, but that rate dropped to 25% last year. City living maintained fairly untouched, just dipping 2% from 2018 to 2020.

Current attitudes are similar to those recorded in October 2001, the only other time Gallup has asked Americans this question. That reading, like today's but unlike the 2018 one, was taken during a time of great national upheaval -- shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the public was still on edge about the potential for more terrorism occurring in densely populated areas.

The detailed responses show that both sentiments -- those preferring town or rural living -- are up from what they were two years ago, while those preferring to live in the suburb of a big city are down. Meanwhile, there has been no meaningful change in preferences for living in a small city or the suburb of a small city.

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