Rural areas in America cover 97% of the nation’s land mass while only 19% of Americans live in that huge land mass.

Rules are different in rural areas than in urban/suburban areas, people are different, housing is different and challenges are different.

The financial crisis in rural areas was milder than in urban/suburban areas but rural areas have yet to heal from that crisis. As debilitating as the financial crisis was to some residents, people living in rural areas are much more concerned with stagnating home values and limited opportunities for economic mobility.

Youthful out-migration is the norm as young, local adults leave their rural roots to educate themselves and spread their wings in urban/suburban work and technical environments. Older in-migration is also the norm as older and/or retired people on fixed incomes move into rural settings for a quiet, “simpler” life that is a less expensive one.

According to Zillow’s 2018 Consumer Market Trend Index, the median age of people living in rural areas is 51 years compared to a median age of 45 years in urban/suburban areas. One half or 50% of rural dwellers earn less than $50,000/year, while 42% of the 40% of the people who rent in rural areas earn less than $25,000/year. The median price of a rural single-family home is $133,722.

Of the people who are in-migrants to rural areas, 52% earn approximately $50,000/year or less. A quarter of those in-migrants earns $50,000-$100,000 and the other quarter earns more than $100,000/year.

76% of the people who own their own homes in rural areas occupy those homes…owners do not rent them out on either a short or long term basis. 67% of those owners intend to never sell their homes…only 33% of them intend to pass down their homes to their families. “Moving up” the housing ladder is not part of rural residents’ thinking or vocabulary.

Any kind of a middle class has all but disappeared in rural areas. True, any kind of middle class is shrinking in all settings but in rural areas, the middle class is next to non-existent. Economic mobility within rural America has all but evaporated. The most talked about alternative currently being floated to help remedy this situation is to intentionally locate tech enterprises within rural areas. Who knows?