Julie recently wrote about how some people still choose rural life over urban amenities despite the existence of urban amenities. Public policies to “change” their tastes, won’t, and will be an expensive waste of time. An excerpt:
Every time people start talking about the “rural-urban divide,” I think about my own parents and friends who made deliberate, informed decisions to live in rural North Carolina.
I think that most people living in rural North Carolina wouldn’t have it any other way. They don’t want to live in Raleigh or Charlotte or Greensboro. They wouldn’t trade the bigger house on the larger lot in a more rural area. They don’t want the pace and stress of urban life. It doesn’t bother them that they’re missing out on some of the opportunities they would have in a larger city. They actually do recognize that there are more jobs, a wider variety of educational opportunities, faster internet speeds, and better health care in bigger cities. They know they may never have access to Amazon’s PrimeNow service, and that’s OK with them. Instead, they weigh up the pros and cons and decide that they’d rather have small towns or acres of farmland or amazing mountain views. That’s a reasonable and valid decision.
Or as recent Mercatus commentary from Adam Millsap entitled “Not Everyone Likes City Living and Cheaper Housing Won’t Change That” puts it:
Despite urbanization and the rapid growth of metro areas over the last 100 years, non-metro counties have held their own recently. From 2000 to 2010 non-metro counties grew by between 0.1% and 0.6% per year, though some of these gains have been lost recently.
Additionally, the population of small towns—technically urban areas according to the census—has been essentially flat: From 2000 to 2013 the total population living in incorporated places smaller than 10,000 people declined by only 0.3%.
Rural-to-urban migration appears to have stabilized somewhat, which shouldn’t be surprising. The people who didn’t care much for the rural lifestyle moved as economic opportunities changed and moving became cheaper.
The people who remain in the small towns and rural enclaves, however, are the people who appreciate the lifestyle. In economic terms, their demand for rural or small-town living is relatively inelastic, and they pass some of this appreciation on to their children through both genetics and culture.
Keep reading for expressions of rural living from the lyrics of Hank Williams Jr. and comments of James Hetfield of Metallica.