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Wide Open Spaces: 5 Things to Think About Before Choosing a Rural Life

By Steven Threndyle

Published September 3, 2020 • 4 Min Read

It’s about living closer to running and walking trails, creeks for fishing, lakes for swimming (and pond hockey in the winter), trees for climbing, and having plenty of room to call your own.

In Vancouver, a twenty-minute ferry ride takes you to idyllic Bowen Island, where housing costs considerably less than the $2,000,000 price tag for a single-family detached home in the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods. An acreage located an hour away from Toronto’s CN Tower can be yours for around $860,000. Close to Calgary, you can play cowboy out in Willow Creek or Cochrane for around $561,000.

Social activities might be severely curtailed right now, but the quick uptake and approval ratings workers currently give video conferencing (and the attendant decrease in true “face to face” meetings) will surely create an opportunity for telecommuters. After all, a happy worker is a productive one.

Unshackling yourself from the urban jungle sounds appealing, but such a move requires serious consideration.

1. Working Remotely

If your career is anchored in the city your first consideration may be how much your new location will impact your working life. You may be lucky enough to be able to work from home but if you can’t work out some kind of flex-time or telecommuting arrangement, you’ll have to factor in longer commute times and higher vehicle expenses. Even with working remotely, you may still need to get into an office (or to an airport) with a minimum of hassle. Great leaps have been made in improving cellular, home internet, and even satellite communication services for those who live outside major cities, but some companies will always prefer to do daily head-counts.

2. Driving May Drive You to Distraction

If you do have to commute, your gas/auto/repair bills can really add up. You might see the money you think you’re saving on a smaller mortgage eaten up by transportation expenses, especially if your kids are involved in sports, extracurricular activities or need to be driven to and from school. Consider using transit if it is available — and you can socially distance. The commute will give you time to catch up on emails, read a book or take a nap. On the other hand, some people might like the drive in order to simply relax and unwind a bit.

3. Housing as an Investment

If you’re an avid gardener or your kids love nature, owning an acreage (or even a larger suburban home) can certainly look more attractive than a high-rise apartment. If the town you’re looking at isn’t already popular with commuters, your property value (and potential for capital appreciation) will be tied to the local economy. Local real estate values, for example, may change if a major employer opens or closes in the area. Paying attention to local business news can be important to protect your investment.

Before you start searching for the perfect country home, try the RBC Home Value Estimator to see how much your city home could be worth.

Try the RBC Home Value Estimator

4. Small Town Life: Idyllic, or Merely Idle?

Major urban areas are often dotted with dozens of small towns within a two-hour drive, and — strip malls notwithstanding — there are significant demographic differences from one place to the next. Consult census information to find out where young families live, if that’s who you wish to associate with. Linger (and shop) in at a few locally-owned businesses to get an idea of the community vibe.

As neighbourly as small town folk can be, it might take time to fit in. Most people have social and community networks that go back decades. People in smaller communities rely upon each other not just socially, but in emergencies, which can be a benefit.

5. Strengthening Family Bonds

Maybe you’re moving to be closer to extended family, but in any case you should acknowledge how every family member feels about relocating, even if there are disagreements. Discuss the features, advantages, and benefits of why you’re moving to the country, as well as what you’ll all miss. Like most big changes, you won’t know if country living is for you until you try. Seize the opportunity and you may revitalize your life.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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