Survey: 27% of Americans Prefer to Live in the Country, 12% Prefer the Big City

By Michael W. Chapman | December 27, 2018 | 1:35 PM EST

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( -- A new survey shows that, if given the choice, 27% of Americans would prefer to live in a rural, country area and only 12% would prefer to live in a big city. The remainder of the respondents were divided in their answers, with some preferring a small city or town and some preferring the suburbs thereof. 

In the survey, Gallup asked, "Thinking about something else, if you could live anywhere you wished, where would you prefer to live -- in a big city, small city, suburb of a big city, suburb of a small city, town or rural area?"

Twenty-seven percent said rural area and 12% said big city. Seventeen percent said a small city and 12% said a town. 


The survey also found that older Americans, people age 50 and up, prefer the country. 

"Not all Americans share the same perceptions of the ideal place to live," said Gallup.  "Younger Americans are particularly more likely than those who are older to prefer suburbs of big cities and big cities, while Americans 50 and older express the strongest interest in living in rural areas."

Interestingly, the survey further discovered that the higher one's education, the more one prefers to live in an urban setting, and the lower one's education level, the more one prefers the country.

"The higher one's level of formal education, the lower the desire to live in a rural area," reported Gallup.  "Accordingly, those with postgraduate education are much less likely than others to want to live in rural areas. At the same time, interest in living in a big-city suburb is much greater among those with higher educational attainment, becoming the No. 1 choice among those with college degrees or postgraduate education."

Also, "whites' first choice of desired residence is a rural area, much higher than among nonwhites," said Gallup.  In addition, "Republicans are well over twice as likely as Democrats to want a rural lifestyle, reflecting in part the different racial and age compositions of the party groups."

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"Democrats' first choice of place to live is a suburb of a big city, followed by a big city itself," reported the polling firm. 

In its conclusions, Gallup said, "Americans continue to reflect a strong interest in living a rural lifestyle, with over one in four saying this would be their optimal place of residence if they had their wish. ... [I]f Americans did sort themselves according to their desires, there would be an exodus from the big cities and, to a lesser degree, from small cities and towns, accompanying a movement to rural areas."

"The desires of Republicans to live in rural areas and the contrasting desires of Democrats to reside in more urban areas reflect the well-known differences in where these party identifiers live today," said Gallup. "Republicans have become a party that fares much better in rural areas than Democrats do, exemplified by voting patterns in the 2016 election, while Democrats have become much more of an urban party."

Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman
Michael W. Chapman

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