If you’ve been dreaming of a more simple, peaceful life, you’re not alone. Almost half of the people who took part in a recent Gallup poll said they would rather live in a small town or rural area over a suburb or city.
When asked where their ideal home would be, 17% said a town and 31% said a rural area over a city or suburb — a total of 48%. When the same question was posed back in 2018, only 39% said they’d prefer to set up home in a small town or rural area. Additionally, the number of people who would ideally live in a suburb dropped six percentage points between 2018 and 2020 (although the fraction of people who favor cities didn’t change).
Gallup suggests that this shift toward country living is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 21 million people in the U.S., with more than 357,000 fatalities as of Jan. 6, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus resource center.
While the preference for rural life is up across all demographic groups, the biggest shift is among Republicans and non-white respondents, and those in the South.
The recent results are similar to that of a survey carried out in October 2001, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — another time when U.S. residents felt under threat. According to Gallup, 47% of respondents at that time said they’d rather live in a less populated area.
There appears to be a similar state of mind in the U.K. Rightmove, the U.K.’s largest online property website, reported a 126% increase in people considering properties in village locations in June and July 2020, compared with a 68% rise in people searching for more towns, reported The Guardian. When the publication asked its readers why they were considering a move to the countryside, many said the pandemic was a “significant factor,” highlighting the lack of garden space, city overcrowding and isolation within the community.