If your New Year’s resolution is to lead a healthier life, then living/moving to the country puts you ahead of the pack.
Common wisdom holds that most people break their resolutions within the first week of the year. It also holds that most New Year’s resolutions relate to having a healthier lifestyle and a better quality of life. In terms of achieving these goals, people in the country have a headstart. So, perhaps the best New Year’s resolution is – move to the country.
According to a 2012 DEFRA report country dwellers live longer – 1.5-2 years – have better mental health; drink less; and breathe better quality air. Another significant factor that leads to a better quality of life for all is greater income equality.
It may be harder for those living in remote rural areas to access secondary health care but the gym lies just outside the door. There are dogs to be walked, gardens to be tended and balls to be hit on the golf course. And it is credible that you can carry on doing all these things well into your dotage. So perhaps this explains why if you live in the country you are less likely to die prematurely from cancer, stroke or heart disease.
The same is true of mental health. Access to formal mental health care might be trickier and people living in close communities may fear the stigma of seeking help more than those in urban environments. However, this factor is balanced by the strength of support networks and communities that exist in the country.
And, lastly but not leastly it’s perhaps easier to follow through on a pledge to drink less when there are fewer pubs.
Better Quality of Life
Many people living in urban areas make the leap out of cities when they become parents, or think about having children. The benefits of family life in the country are considerable. Children have the freedom to play outside and kids learn to take risks with their freedom within the confines of a relatively safe environment.
An as Ad on the New York subway put it: “Raising a baby in a NYC apartment is like growing an oak tree in a thimble.”
The cost of living is also much lower (in most regions) than it is in cities where space comes at a premium. A move to the country can mean more bedrooms, bathrooms and a bigger garden. You are much more likely to spend time outdoors, know your neighbours and feel part of a community.
In turn your community is much more likely to be mixed than it is in the city where it’s all too easy to live within a small social circle of people whose earnings, opinions and lives reflect your own.
Rural communities are much more inter-dependent. Yes, there are income and social differences but they don’t exist as barriers to friendships and relationships in the same way as they do in the city. People of all ages from 16+ are nearly 10% more likely to volunteer in their communities than they are in urban areas.
More People Moving to the Country
Here in Scotland more and more people are choosing to move to the country thanks to improvements in transport and road links. The move is mostly to accessible rural areas, those that are within a 30-minute drive of a town with a population of 10,000+. Between 2001-2013 the population in accessible rural areas has increased by 15.6% compared to the national average of 3.6%.
It may mean those of us already living in the country have to share the space and benefits of country life but there’s something in it for all of us. More money circulating in local areas for local businesses. Better health and education outcomes for more people, plus enlivened and revitalised communities.
Finally, it means more people will be sticking to their New Year resolution of a healthier lifestyle.
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