Over recent years, many people have decided to swap their lives in built-up urban areas for a less frantic life closer to, or within the countryside. There are many significant benefits to doing this. In this feature, we will look at seven ways a switch to rural living can benefit you.
In 2020, I moved into the countryside, and if you ask me if I would ever willingly move back into a built-up urban area, the answer would be a resounding no. It’s nothing to do with the people residing in the respective areas; it is more to do with the improvement I have experienced in my physical and mental health, which are frequently pushed to one side in people’s pursuit of money and material goods.
Some people look at a move to, let’s say, “Greener pastures” as something they will do when their enthusiasm for chasing money has waned. I think this is the wrong decision because the harm they are doing to their minds and bodies through pollution and stress is taking days, months and even years off their lives. Another reason why some would fear opting for rural life is leaving behind doorstep convenience. I would say to them, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!”
As you’ve gathered from the title of this piece, we’re looking at the positives rural living offers; however, in all fairness, life in an urban area does have some significant advantages. These include frequent transport services, far more work opportunities and shops and restaurants on most corners. It is an important consideration given the rising cost of living and the eye-watering fuel prices.
However, the flip side to this, is the stress, pollution and the hustle and bustle that do the mind and body no favours. Add to this the constant noise from road traffic/people and the higher cost of living, and it’s no wonder some people feel the need to escape what has frequently been dubbed the madness.
There’s no doubt that rural life would be a more attractive option for some people compared to the above, and those who have made a move are discovering some significant health benefits.
1. A profound boost to Mental Health
As we’ve highlighted in our recent Doffing the Hat podcast shows, in conjunction with some of the world’s leading medical experts, poor mental health is the next big crisis facing the world. Mental health hit the headlines “big time” during the pandemic when millions were trapped inside their concrete jungles without access to significant green space and fresh air, leading to spikes in depression and many other issues.
It’s not only the lack of greenery that caused problems. The pandemic lockdowns also caused a shock to the system when there was an almost instantaneous switch from being subjected to noisy streets, fast-paced daily routines, flashing lights and constant loud thrum to comparative silence.
Scientific research has proven that being immersed in natural surroundings boosts mental health and leads to less stress, and as many of our regular readers will have seen, as soon as the light turned green, there was a mass exodus of city-dwellers into the countryside.
2. Less pollution means better respiratory and cognitive health
One of the biggest drawbacks of city living is pollution levels. However, it must be said that many authorities are doing their best to address this. I am a fervent believer that the constant drum of traffic has a negative impact on one’s mental health. The Center for Urban Epidemiology at University Hospital Essen conducted research into the impact of road noise on mental health in 2015, and their research, although not definitive, led them to conclude that people who live with constant road noise face a higher risk of developing depression.
Also, studies have found that spending time on a busy city street could impact our cognitive functions, which results in our brains being less able to retain information and control impulses.
With trees and greenery replacing shooting cars and mopeds, there are fewer such problems in rural areas. Not only is the countryside quieter, giving your ears and head some well-deserved rest, but the air is much cleaner too. You can breathe fresh quality air without worrying about running into respiratory problems.
3. More privacy
Rural living is a great choice if you want to regain some personal autonomy. With all the distractions and social pressures that cities come with, living in the countryside offers you the chance to dedicate yourself to your own needs and priorities. The chances are that, if you move to a rural area, you will not have to deal with noisy – and nosey – neighbours either.
4. A stronger sense of community
Despite being packed with people, cities can actually lack a sense of togetherness. Meanwhile, residents in rural areas are bound to get to know each other at some point and tend to enjoy a close-knit community.
Paradoxically, rural living can help tackle sentiments of loneliness. With a shared sense of community, there is always someone to meet up with to have a good, heart-to-heart chat. However, when you are not in the mood for socialising, you can keep to yourself and make the most of the tranquillity of the glorious British countryside.
5. Easy access to fresh produce for healthy cooking
There is no hiding that you are spoilt for choice when choosing to dine in the city centre. You can taste whichever cuisine you fancy and grab a bite whenever you feel peckish. But it is also true that the food is almost never as fresh as it could be.
Rural living is the perfect way to enjoy quality food and products on a regular basis. With nutritious, locally sourced products just a stone’s throw away and no fast-food chains in the zone, you are likely to cook your own meals and experience the benefits of a healthy diet every evening.
6. Better access to outdoor activities and exercise
With fields, woodlands, and ample green spaces just outside your front door, there are plenty of opportunities for some all-important exercise in the countryside. If you are not good at weightlifting or running, you needn’t worry.
With parks and trails nearby, rural living gives you the chance to get out of the house, move, and be active whenever you feel like it. This will help you keep fit and in shape while also providing a boost to your mental health.
7. Miles of greenery on your doorstep
It is not a stretch to state that you do get more living space for your money in the countryside when compared to a property in built-up urban areas. Rural living is a great solution if you need some extra room and want to relax in airy communal areas. This will also allow you to welcome some new friends to your family.
Whether it is dogs, cats, or horses, being around four-legged companions can work wonders on your mental health and happiness. With more expansive indoor space and miles of greenery at your doorstep, there is heaps of room in the countryside for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
Ultimately, rural living conceals an endless list of significant health benefits. From fresh food and clean air to quiet surroundings, off-grid opportunities, and close-knit communities, there is so much that will do both your physical and mental wellbeing.
This guide was compiled in conjunction with the Off-Grid Gas Division at Flogas.
Read more health guides and features here.