With more than 200 military bases in the United States, every Permanent Change of Station (PCS) destination presents a world of possibilities — and decisions. While some base locations don’t offer much choice between rural and urban living, weighing the benefits of living in the city vs. the country is important when you do have the option.
While your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) will determine your ability to accommodate certain costs of living, there are other factors that go into choosing between city vs. country living. There are pros and cons to buying a house in any type of area, which we’ll provide an overview of in this blog post.
City vs. Country Living: How These Lifestyles Differ
While there are certainly benefits of living in the city vs. the country, there are downsides unique to each lifestyle. Here are a few ways your lifestyle might change based on the environment in which you choose to live.
Cost of Living in the City vs. Country
The cost of living is one of the most important concerns when selecting a new community. When it comes to choosing a country home or a city home, you’ll find that you can live on less when you live in the country.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, gross income for rural households averaged $49,841. Those same households spent around $45,031 annually.
Urban households averaged a higher income but also exhibited higher annual spending patterns. Urban households have an average income of $71,578. Annual household spending is $57,059 on average.
Although the cost of living is lower in the country, the higher earnings for urban residents helped them save more year to year.
Home Sizes in the City vs. the Country
Home builders have a limited amount of space in the cities. Even when they’re working on larger housing developments, the land gets divided up to accommodate multiple new homes. As a result, the lots are smaller and situated closely together. The square footage of the home is also smaller, resulting in fewer homes with open floor plans.
Conversely, lot sizes are much bigger in the country, leaving yards that can accommodate playground sets, swimming pools, and other amenities. The living spaces inside country homes are larger and more affordable than their city counterparts.
Transportation in the City vs. the Country
One of the most important benefits of living in the city vs. the country is that, depending on your interests, there’s more to do in an urban setting. For example, cities offer easier access to libraries, theaters, museums, and events. If your vehicle breaks down or you don’t own one, the city offers better access to public transportation and ride-sharing apps than the country does.
In the country, you need to use your car for every excursion. You might also have to make special trips for shopping, dining out, and other activities that require driving into the city.
Atmosphere in the City vs. the Country
What do you like to do when you get off work? If you like to socialize or just like feeling close to the hustle and bustle, then the city might be for you. On the other hand, if you prefer trees over buildings and enjoy nature-related activities, the country would make a great fit.
Consider your and your family's interests, schooling, jobs, and personality when choosing.
City vs. Country Real Estate Markets
There are some significant ways that home values and real estate markets differ between the city and the country. From initial purchase costs to appreciation, learning what to expect from city vs. country living can help you make a wiser investment.
Where You’ll Pay More
Even though homes in the city are typically smaller and neighborhoods are more compact, these homes tend to sell at higher prices. That’s largely due to the close proximity to worthwhile city amenities such as shopping centers, entertainment, and business centers.
Since you will pay less for your country home, you’ll build equity in your home at a faster rate. You’ll also find that it’s easier to manage a monthly budget when your mortgage payments are smaller. As long as you can commute to work, farm your land, or work remotely, buying a home in the country is often the more favorable choice financially.
How Home Appreciation Differs
As a general rule, homes tend to appreciate over time, making real estate in both rural and urban areas a good investment. In addition to looking at the cost of living in the country vs. city, it can also help to see how home appreciation differs.
The exact rate of appreciation will vary based on the real estate market in a given city, but overall, rural homes tend to appreciate at a higher rate.
For example, the Federal Housing Finance Agency shares that home values in rural areas appreciated at two times the rate of urban homes throughout Colorado. In Michigan, there was a 24.3% increase in the value of rural homes compared to an appreciation rate of 15.2% for urban homes.
Buying a Home for Less in the City vs. the Country
There are many military home loan programs that can help you buy a home regardless of where you want to live. For instance, FHA Loans help first-time buyers with lower down payments and more favorable loan terms.
If you’re in the military or you’re a Veteran, you can qualify for a VA Home Loan that will make it easier for you to buy a house. Whether you choose a city or country lifestyle, be sure to do your due diligence when comparing mortgage options.
Get Pre-Approved Today!
Once you’ve made the decision between city vs. country living, reach out to AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS). Our mission is to ensure AAFMAA Members obtain the best mortgage possible. We’re happy to help you compare interest rates and answer any questions you may have about home loans.
Get your free mortgage assessment today or give us a call at 844-422-3622.
This article was originally published December 22, 2016.