A significant portion of our population — almost 60 million Americans — lives in rural communities, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. Rural life offers many advantages, including less crowding, traffic and noise, as well as tight-knit communities and closer contact with nature. But living in the countryside also requires making some adjustments. Here are a few rural living tips to help new homeowners make the adjustment to living in the country.
Know Your Utilities
Utility services in rural areas often do not include water or sewage services. For instance, if you have a septic tank, you are responsible for cleaning and maintaining it. It's important to get in touch with a local septic service provider and ask advice on caring for your tank. You will probably be advised to have your tanks pumped when you move in, which will give you an opportunity to stand with your service technician while they're working and ask questions about your septic system. You may also want to get a sump pump for backup situations, along with a water backup endorsement on your home insurance policy. It is also recommended to invest in a backup generator; depending on where you live, power line repairs may be slower than in the city.
Related: Learn about how to finance your home "in the country" with a USDA Rural Development mortgage
Take Security Measures
Fire and police services may also be slower in rural areas than in cities. Install good smoke and burglar alarm systems, and make sure you keep them maintained with working batteries — and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Don't forget to secure areas such as garages and sheds, which can be prone to catch fire due to improperly-stored materials or can be attractive targets for burglars seeking out-of-the-way targets. For added security, install motion-sensing lights and radio transmitters to alert you to intruders. Depending on where you live, you may also want to set up security cameras to keep an eye out for nuisance animals such as raccoons, possums, deer, wild hogs, coyotes, snakes or bats.
Dress for the Weather
When you live in the country, you may be outdoors more often, so you need to have clothes prepared for the weather. Depending on where you live and what kind of activities you engage in, you may need to invest in new outdoor apparel. And if you pursue certain outdoor hobbies, you may need additional specialized clothes and gear. For instance, if you plan to do a lot of gardening, you may need to pick up some gardener's clothing and gloves. Or if you're a hunter, you may need hunting gear like boots, fleece, raingear and hand muffs.
Plan Your Travel Around Rural Road Conditions
Some rural roads are not maintained by local governments, and guests, mail couriers and emergency vehicles may not be able to easily access your property unless you take appropriate steps. If you live in an area subject to snow, make sure you have plans either to do your own snow plowing or to make arrangements for someone with equipment to plow for you. Have proper tires and chains for snow driving.
Get Involved in the Community
Rural life can get lonely for some people. Look for social networks in your area, such as groups who share your similar interests. Find facilities where local people congregate, such as churches, restaurants, bars and libraries, and find out what activities are going on there. Look for adult education opportunities, book clubs, hobby clubs and sports clubs. Volunteer to help with phone support for depressed people or pen pal networks. Consider getting a pet.