By Kristy Alpert
It was a family decision for real estate broker Jose Quiñones to move from his Park Slope apartment to his rural home in Sussex County, Delaware… or, rather, a decision he made for his family. This single father of three is originally from the sunny shores of Puerto Rico, and decided he wanted more for his children than the life they were living in Brooklyn.
“Leaving was hard, but as soon as I arrived in Sussex County, I fell in love with the place,” recalls Quiñones, who works for Linda Vista Real Estate Services. “I got off the bus from NYC at 8 p.m. and it was pitch black. The next morning, I woke up to roosters crowing and men working the fields, which took me back to Puerto Rico. I felt at home — no metal detectors in the schools, one traffic light in the whole town, my kids could ride their bikes to school, and, at night, there were deer on my back step.”
Quiñones isn’t the only one swapping big city digs for country living, as recent circumstances — coupled with an increasing ability to work from home for many Americans — has put urbanites on the hunt for more sparsely populated zip codes. But there’s more to think about than how to load a moving truck on a busy city street when it comes to making this type of city-to-county move. From adjusting to the quiet nights to dealing with peculiar pests, here’s what to consider before moving from the city to the country.
Internet speeds vary.
“High speed internet is not as accessible as in the city,” Quiñones notes. For the most part, internet is generally slower and more expensive in rural areas than in urban locations. Common connection types in rural communities include cable, DSL, and satellite.
You may need backup.
Energy systems in rural communities are often prone to longer and more frequent power outages, especially during storms or icy weather. In certain areas, solar could be a great option, otherwise investing in a backup generator is a smart option to help supplement power during prolonged power outages.
Options are sparse.
If you’re used to having at least six nearby takeout spots for Italian food and three for Cantonese, rural living may come as a bit of a culture shock, where Uber Eats, DotDash, Postmates, GrubHub, and even pizza delivery may not even exist. “Diversity in all its ways is diminished,” says Quiñones. “Art, music, food; that hustle and bustle completely disappears, and that takes some getting used to.”
Cell service and TV services may be lacking.
Cell service and TV reception are often less reliable in rural areas … if they’re even available. In many country communities, homeowners opt for landline telephonesand satellite dishes since other options aren’t available.
Water and sewer can be different.
“In the city, it’s all municipal water and plumbing,” Quiñones explains. “In the country you deal with septic and wells, which have their own pros and cons.” Well water is often cleaner, and it can eliminate the need for a monthly water bill, but they are often dependent upon electricity and can become contaminated fairly easily, so it’s important to test it regularly. Unlike cities, where the government runs municipal sewer lines for the city, rural areas often depend upon standalone septic systems for each home. Homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of their septic tanks but are free from monthly sewage bills.
“In the country you deal with crickets, garter snakes, and spiders, and in the city it’s roaches and rats,” Quiñones notes.
You gain some perks, you lose some perks.
Although you lose easy accessibility of 24-hour public transportation and exposure to diversity, Quiñones says, “You gain open wide space, and easy access to bike trails, hiking, and beaches. There’s also a greater sense of safety in the country.”
Trash pickup may not exist.
There aren’t garbage chutes in the country. In fact, trash pickup isn’t even available in many rural communities, where residents instead need to take their trash to dump sites or dispose of their yard waste and paper trash themselves.
Neighbor noises are different.
While bumping bass from neighboring studios may keep you up all night in your city apartment, in the country, it will be the sounds of livestock, machinery, or even just complete silence that impede your sleep. “I miss that sometimes, the constant background noise of the city,” Quiñones admits. “It was somehow comforting, and then you come here and it’s so silent.”