By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent
In a world where the news flashes daily images of war, terrorism and crime more Americans are dreaming of a safe, quiet place to call home. They imagine moving to a small town community where safety and simplicity are easy to find. Potential homebuyers between the ages of forty and sixty are the most likely to be fed up with the fast pace of city dwelling. They are in search of a renewed sense of community and family. Relocation or purchase of a second home in a rural area can also be the perfect idea for homebuyers looking for long-term retirement solutions.
I Was Born In A Small Town
Small town living is especially attractive to buyers who were raised in a rural setting. Many want to recapture the security of their childhood and preserve it for their children. According to the National Association of REALTORS? 2003 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers fifty-six percent of the homebuyers purchasing in a rural location bought because of the neighborhood, while thirty-eight percent purchased in order to live closer to family and friends. The possibility of owning more land is also appealing. The 2003 Profile also shows ten percent of repeat buyers purchased property in rural settings and most were hunting for more space.
In Virginia, rural counties like New Kent, Middlesex, Gloucester, King and Queen, Mathews and King William are all seeing this relocation trend. In my real estate business about eighty percent of my sales in these areas are buyers moving from metropolitan areas. These are places where you can sleep with the windows open and everyone in town knows you. Many locations are only forty-five minutes or an hour from the city, so buyers still have access to health care, higher paying jobs, shopping centers and other activities.
Telecommuting: The Wave Of The Future
Technology is one of the driving forces behind the rural relocation trend. According to the Main Street Economist (a publication of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s Center For The Study of Rural America) one fifth of the US workforce in rural and small towns was self-employed in 2004. CNN.com writer Jakob Nielsen, a web usability expert, also believes technology will change the way Americans live and work over the next fifteen years. On July 4, 2005 Nielsen wrote an article predicting real estate sales in cities like Manhattan, London and Tokyo will decrease by twenty percent by 2020. Technological advances in the Internet, e-mail and collaboration software makes telecommuting more feasible and companies will begin to hire the best people regardless of location. Other advances in home theaters, entertainment systems, e-commerce, express shipping, and healthcare remote sensing will facilitate rural living without isolation from the mainstream culture.
The Aftermath of September 11th
The National Association of REALTORS? 2003 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports that twenty percent of homebuyers in the Northeast purchased in a rural area and thirty one percent in small towns. This is higher than the Midwestern, Southern or Western regions of the country. Many people attribute a portion of this trend to the September 11th attacks. It is a sad reality that we have been forced to trade community security for homeland security.
The Rural Relocation Checklist
Purchasing a home in a rural area can be a big adjustment for those unaccustomed to it. Remember to make a list of all the things that are important to you and your family. Map out the location of hospitals, grocery stores, banks, schools and other activities of interest. Be realistic about the time investment and remember-peace and quiet can turn to boredom if you allow it. Also, many rural areas do not have city road maintenance or water and sewer pipes. Be sure you are ready to be responsible for those aspects of your country home. If you live in the city this may be new territory. Once you are certain relocation is the right choice you will be on your way down your own country road!