According to the National Association of Realtors, 8.9 million people have relocated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the reasons for moving are varied and mostly anecdotal, many people have moved from the city to the suburbs or the country for three common reasons:
- Wanting to have more space for social distancing
- Needing more room for children to move around
- Striving to spend less money in this unpredictable economy
According to Realtor.com’s Market Hotness rankings for May of 2020, suburban and rural zip codes spiked in their search rankings. Out of the surveyed 20,000 zip codes, suburban zip codes experienced a median improvement of 404 spots in rankings, while rural zip codes saw a median jump of 846 spots.
If you’re thinking about buying a house in the suburbs or country due to COVID-19 or other reasons, here are some perks to consider.
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1. You May Get More Home for Your Money
Depending on what city you’re moving out of and the rural area you’re moving to, you could get much more for your money. You may be able to afford a condo in a city, but you could possibly get a single-family home with several acres of land when buying a house in a rural area.
“You can usually get a bigger apartment or home for the same or lower cost than what you paid in the city,” said Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized money-saving expert who has appeared on Good Morning America. “This is the primary reason we are seeing more individuals and especially families moving from their city-dwelling to a house with a yard in the country.”
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For example, let’s say you live in New York City. The average rent for an apartment in Manhattan is $4,210 a month, which is about three times the national average of $1,463. The median price to purchase a single-family home across all five boroughs is $571,000, and New Yorkers spend an average of $477 per month on groceries, which is more than residents of every other U.S. city spend.
Compare that to Woodstock, New York, which is in Ulster County and only two hours north of New York City. The average cost of a home there is $293,826, and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,400.
When you’re wondering, “Is it worth buying a house right now?” you’ll have to do your research and see which rural areas are the most affordable because rural doesn’t automatically mean cheaper in all cases.
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2. The Cost of Living Could Be Lower
Generally, the cost of living in the country is cheaper. You might be able to get cheaper car insurance rates, groceries, utilities, school, childcare and more when you’re buying a rural property. Since wages and rents are typically lower in rural areas, then services and goods will cost less. Before buying a house with acreage in the country, you should spend time looking at the average day-to-day costs of living to get a good idea of how much you’ll be spending each month.
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3. You Could Turn Your Home Into a Vacation Rental
When you rent in the city or own a condo or a smaller home, you only have space for yourself. However, if you’re buying a house with land, you could potentially build another property on it or rent the spare rooms in your house on Airbnb, TripAdvisor or other vacation websites. The money your guests bring in could cover your full mortgage if you move to the right area.
If you purchase a rural home right outside of a big city, you may attract the city crowd during the summer or winter months, depending on where you are. One of the questions to ask when buying a house in the country is, “What are the town’s rules about short-term rentals?” You may need a short-term rental permit, or your guests may be required to stay a certain number of days. If you plan to make your country home a second home, see how much it’ll cost to have a vacation rental company manage it for you.
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4. You Can Sustain Yourself on Your Land
When you’re buying a house with land, you may have the space to raise chickens for their eggs, grow vegetables and herbs in your garden, plant fruit trees, and use wood from the trees to build things or burn in your fireplace. You could become a real homesteader and not have to rely on grocery stores and other providers to give you your sustenance. As an added perk, you could live a much more environmentally friendly lifestyle when you’re in the country.
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Financial Drawbacks of Moving from the City to the Country
While moving to the suburbs or the country could make sense for many reasons, you’ll still want to consider the caveats of such a move. There are a few you’ll need to be aware of before making your decision, such as the type of protection you may need and potentially paying more for internet or cable since you’ll be in a remote area.
Additionally, you will likely need to purchase a car — and possibly one with four-wheel drive — if you’re buying a house in a rural area. And if you have to commute to the city, you’re going to have to shell out for gas and find and pay for car insurance.
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You may have to invest in snow shovels, garden tools, tractors and other equipment if you plan to homestead. The bigger your house is, the more that’s likely to go wrong, so you could end up spending a lot on repairs. You’ll want to make sure your homeowners insurance covers such equipment and other outbuildings on your property. You will also need home hazard insurance to protect your home in the event of weather damage to the structure or property.
Not to mention, you may not have access to many goods and services that you’re used to having in the city. If you want a decent sushi roll or latte, for instance, you might have to drive several miles to your nearby metropolitan area to get them. There may not be any suitable public schools around, so you might end up enrolling your child in a far-away private school.
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Once you’ve made a list of pros and cons, then you can determine whether or not moving to the country is the right decision. And remember: It’s not all about the finances. If you want to join a tight-knit community, keep your family safe and live a more peaceful existence, then that could be worth much more than the money you’ll save.
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