Poll: Growing Share of Americans Would Choose Towns, Rural Areas Over Cities, Suburbs

Freshly cut wheat fields are shown near a farm, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, near Moscow, Idaho. Harvest is in full swing in the region known as the Palouse.

Freshly cut wheat fields are shown near a farm, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, near Moscow, Idaho. Harvest is in full swing in the region known as the Palouse. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

A Gallup poll found 48% of Americans in 2020 preferred to live in towns or rural areas, compared to 39% in 2018.

An increasing number of Americans would prefer to live in a town or rural area as opposed to a city or the suburbs, a new Gallup poll found.

A survey taken last month found that, if given the choice to live anywhere, 17% of Americans would prefer to reside in a town and 31% would prefer to live in a rural area. That’s compared to results from a 2018 survey, that found 12% of Americans would like to live in a town and 27% would like to live in a rural area.

The findings come nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered businesses and schools across the country. With millions of Americans working remotely during the virus outbreak, some have already acted on those desires and left expensive cities for cheaper locales.

Smaller cities and less densely populated states have already seen population increases this year. Idaho and Arizona are the fastest growing states in the country, according to U.S. Census data.??

Gallup researchers did not examine the reason for the increased desire to live in less densely populated areas, but noted that “the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on Americans' lifestyle preferences could very well be a factor.”

Similar preferences for less densely populated areas were also noted in a poll Gallup conducted in October 2001, a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“That reading, like today's but unlike the 2018 one, was taken during a time of great national upheaval—shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the public was still on edge about the potential for more terrorism occurring in densely populated areas,” researchers wrote.

The 2020 survey also found that 27% of Americans would prefer to live in cities, and 25% would prefer the suburbs. That’s compared to 29% who preferred to live in cities and 31% who preferred the suburbs in 2018.

With many offices closed during the pandemic, employers have transitioned to remote work and allowed employees to move to new locations. One recent survey found that two out of three Americans would consider moving from cities to rural areas if work-from-home policies adopted during the pandemic became permanent.

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: States Should Lead the Effort to Reform the Electoral College