I have to admit to being completely biased to living rurally. Both of us here at My University Money grew up in rural Manitoba and we chose to live rurally after we were finished with university. I love the small town feeling of security and friendliness that I have never experienced in an urban center (granted the only real experience I have with living urban is in Winnipeg, but I think it’s probably a good case study). I could go on at length about cultural and philosophical reasons about why I prefer a country lifestyle to a city one, but instead I’m going to focus on the purely financial considerations that most people don’t think of when they decided to cross rural living off of their future list all together.
The vast majority of the people I graduated with last year refused to entertain the notion of applying for jobs outside of an urban area. For those of you who are not familiar with the geography of Manitoba, Winnipeg is the only major urban center and it is located in the South East part of the province. Brandon is the hub of the South West and has a population of around 50,000-60,000. Some would consider this urban, but it is a very farm-influenced center and is definitely more of a ‘big small-town’ than a small city.
Manitoba, and indeed much of rural Canada, has had a very difficult time attracting professionals of all kinds to their little villages. It has been speculated amongst the professionals I have talked to that the lack of luxuries, the older demographics, and the unenviable quest of finding a suitable life partner, all contribute to the shortage of interest in rural life.
Can’t Find a Job? There Are More Options In Rural Locations
I can definitely understand and sympathize with these objections, but I believe that there are considerations that many people don’t think of when they leave their post-secondary education. First and foremost, the job market is just so much easier to break into. This is especially true for teachers. It is almost impossible to find a full-time job in Winnipeg, and from the numerous stories I have heard, it is even more difficult in the GTA and greater Vancouver (amongst others). Going rural is a great way to get a foot in the door and build a resume. Related: 12 Must Know Tips For Graduates
Can’t Save Money? Cheaper Options In A Small Town
A lower-middle class urban salary can make you a rich man/woman in a small town! Using myself as an example, I am set to make 50K this year as a full-time first year teacher. In urban centres the constant user fees, higher taxes, and constant temptations to lure money out of your bank account mean that you will undoubtedly be further ahead from a financial standpoint living in the country. There is just less to spend money on, and the services that are offered generally cost less. Country life presents so many cheap options for someone who likes the outdoors; and it’s not like we don’t have internet and satellite TV either! Related: Graduate from university with no debt
Stuck With a Huge Mortgage Payment or a Roommate?
Perhaps the biggest initial advantage I saw when deciding to live rurally was the super cheap cost of housing. I routinely hear and read about people who have huge parts of their budget eaten up by living situations that they don’t even like. Winnipeg is one of the cheaper cities to live in from what I have heard, and even there I would have likely spent $800-$1000 to find a decent place to rent. This would mean that I would have had to find a roommate, which isn’t the end of the world, but I really enjoy my privacy. It would have been years before I would have saved up enough money for a down payment. After that I would have been forced to buy into the crazy escalation of housing prices in urban centres. When I factor in that any price difference is probably about twice as much as the original ‘sticker price’ due to all the interest payments over the lifetime of the mortgage, I figure I saved myself at least half a million dollars simply by choosing to live rural!
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I can say this with a fair degree of certainty because I bought a house this summer for $95,000. I don’t think I could find a shack for that in Winnipeg (never mind Vancouver or Toronto). The house is 30 years old, about 1000 square feet with a fully finished basement (including a wet bar), 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, and all the furnishings were included. The house was recently painted and a new laminate floor was put in. The best part was the huge double car garage (with an 18×20 workshop attached), landscaped (nothing fancy) lawn, and a spare lot beside my house. A house like this in Winnipeg would easily be 250K. By buying a house cheaply in a small town I am able to start building personal equity right out of university. This would not have been possible for several years if I had chosen to stay in Winnipeg.
It’s Much Better Than Most Of You Think!
I am only letting you all in on this little secret now that I have a permanent job all locked up. I am so happy that most people want to live in large cities because it leaves the door open for people like myself to take advantage of all great aspects of moving to the country. I was fortunate to find my girlfriend before moving out here, and equally fortunate that she wants to live rurally as well; however, even if you are single it may still be worth it to consider the rural option. You can still easily live within driving distance of your chosen city. How much free time were you going to have during the week when you’re starting your career anyway? Go rural, enjoy the friendly atmosphere, build equity, live in an actual home, add to your resume, and watch your bank account grow.
You see those classic catch lines that banks like to use such as, “…And save your money,” or, “you’re richer than you think,” aren’t untrue. It’s just most people misunderstood them. They viewed them through the limited scope of living in a city where rising costs hit you daily. You really are richer than you think if you choose to start life rurally, and you really can save your money!