Best Rural Areas to Live and Work
Finding great rural places to live is easy, but finding great rural places to live and work is hard. That is why more and more people live near big cities -- for jobs. But, if you like rural living, there's no need to compromise.Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
NeighborhoodScout.com targeted only those small-city areas of the nation with the strongest predicted job growth, and then aimed their patented search algorithms within 20 miles of each to find the best rural areas near these small cities for great living. Their Great Rural Living Score is based on the quality of the local public schools, high home ownership rates, high adult educational attainment (a powerful indicator of location quality), and safety from crime, all combined with a bucolic rural environment (based on population density).
Click through our gallery to see the list of 20 stellar rural areas that combine great living and excellent predicted job growth. See the Full Study Methodology
No. 1: Green Acres, Wash.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 99016, 99030, 99023
Median House Value: $399,775Nearby City: Spokane, Wash. / Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Nestled in the Spokane Valley of Eastern Washington between Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Spokane, is the lovely rural area of Greenacres, Washington. A large sparsely populated area, it was unincorporated until 2003, when it was annexed to Spokane Valley. Still largely rural, it has rural beauty, excellent quality schools, is more educated than 80% of all communities in America, and is in an area boasting some of the best job growth in the nation.
No. 2: Benton City, Wash. (Badger)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 99320, 99338, 99352
Median House Value: $252,162Nearby City: Kennewick, Wash.
Benton City is a small town of 2,800 people. It is located in the Eastern Washington sage “desert? area, but is in a fertile, green bend of the Yakima River. The climate offers long falls and moderate winters, and averages 300 days of sunshine a year. The area is chock full of orchards and vineyards, and framed by mountains. The Kennewick area has some of the highest projected job growth in America, and the Badger area of Benton City is one of the most educated rural areas in the nation.
No. 3: Horse Creek, Wyo.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 82009, 82059, 82061
Median House Value: $292,056Nearby City: Cheyenne, Wyo.
Horse Creek, Wyoming is an unincorporated place in southeastern Wyoming, north and west of Cheyenne. At about 6,500 above sea level, it is an active ranching area, yet within easy driving distance to either Cheyenne, or Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming. Besides true western culture, Horse Creek enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.
No. 4: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (Mica/Rockford Bay)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 83814, 83876
Median House Value: $378,742Nearby City: Coeur d'Alene, ID
On the southern outskirts of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is the rural area of Mica and Rockford Bay. The area runs from the ridge to the shores of Coeur d'Alene Lake. Fishing is good, scenery is outstanding, and the job market is projected to grow.
No. 5: Watkinsville, Ga. (Town Center)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 30677, 30621
Median House Value: $238,673Nearby City: Athens, Ga.
Just 10 miles from the flagship campus of the University of Georgia in Athens, Watkinsville is a small town with a recently renovated downtown, an active arts community, and an educated populace in the quiet rolling hills of Georgia.
No. 6: Fox Island, Wash.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 98333, 98335
Median House Value: $532,276Nearby City: Olympia, Wash. / Tacoma, Wash.
Fox Island is in Washington State's beautiful Puget Sound. Accessible by a short bridge from the mainland, it is rural but accessible, making homes here rather expensive. But you get fishing, scuba diving, educated neighbors, and top-quality public schools all with rural island living in Puget sound, and a job market projected to grow in the Olympia area, not far away.
No. 7: Harwood, N.D.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 58042, 58059, 58005
Median House Value: $187,362Nearby City: Fargo, N.D.
North Dakota you say? Yes. And here is why: the Fargo area enjoys one of the most solid economies in America. The Harwood area on the edge of Fargo is classic Dakotas rural, combined with educated adults, very low crime, and median home prices of about $187,000. It is hard to beat.
No. 8: Gig Harbor, Wash. (Artondale)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 98335
Median House Value: $469,191Nearby City: Olympia, Wash. / Tacoma, Wash.
Gig Harbor is less than 20 miles as the crow flies to Olympia, Washington's state capital, and about an hour from Seattle. It is referred to as "the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula" due to its beautiful parks, and historic waterfront with shops and fine dining. Pricey, but wonderful, rural, and in a great location to access good jobs.
No. 9: Rothsay, Minn.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 56579, 56520, 56522
Median House Value: $115,589Nearby City: Fargo, N.D.
Rothsay, Minnesota is near Fargo, North Dakota, with its solid economy. Rothsay offers solid family values, good rural living, and is safer than 99% of the communities in the nation.
No. 10: Felton, Minn.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 56536, 56560, 56546
Median House Value: $183,921Nearby City: Fargo, N.D.
Felton, Minnesota is remote (based on population density) and dotted with farms, but an easy drive to Fargo, North Dakota just over the state line, with its solid economy and job market. Besides being small, the Felton area is more educated than 60% of the communities in American, safer than 80%, has schools rated as better than 78% of those in America. Many workers in the area are in management, including quite a number of farm managers. Home prices are a bargain for such quality compared to most places in America.
No. 11: College Station, Texas (Pebble Creek Pky/Spearman Dr)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 77845
Median House Value: $262,717Nearby City: College Station, Texas
This small area 8-10 miles east of College Station is one of the most educated in America. The public schools that serve it are better than 80% of public schools in the nation, and the college town of College Station is just down the road. If you like long, hot summers, Texas landscapes, and high quality living near a college town, this area may be for you.
No. 12: Wellington, Colo.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 80549, 80536, 80524
Median House Value: $324,334Nearby City: Cheyenne, Wyo. / Fort Collins, Colo.
This rural area, stretching from Fort Collins to the Wyoming border is commutable to either Cheyenne or Fort Collins, both of which have solid economies and are projected to add jobs in the years to come. Wellington combines farms and executives, in a beautiful northern Colorado location.
No. 13: Larchwood, Iowa
Found Within ZIP Codes: 51241, 51240, 51246
Median House Value: $128,271Nearby City: Sioux Falls, S.D.
Friendly and safe, the small Iowa town of Larchwood is surrounded by corn and soybean fields in a classic Iowa setting, yet just 20 minutes from Sioux Falls, South Dakota with all of its amenities and its job market projected to continue to grow. Median home prices here are just $128,000.
No. 14: Brandon, S.D.
Found Within ZIP Codes: 57005, 57068, 57107
Median House Value: $197,600Nearby City: Sioux Falls, S.D.
Brandon, South Dakota is a rural area and part suburb on the outskirts of Sioux Falls. The area we call Brandon includes quite a lot of area beyond the town limits, offering quiet living, good schools, low crime, educated neighbors, and easy access to employment in Sioux Falls, one of America's best small-city job markets.
No. 15: Durham, N.H. (New Market Rd/Durham Point Rd)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 03824
Median House Value: $397,997Nearby City: Rochester, N.H. / Dover, N.H.
This part of Durham, New Hampshire comes in at number 15, but tops our list for its quality of life due to its incredible 91 score on Scout's Great Rural Living Index. It's ranking is brought down some because other areas have even more robust job markets. Both its schools and its safety from crime are in the top 7% nationally. It is in the top 10% nationally for educational attainment, and it is just minutes from a Great Bay, a large salt and fresh water bay. The Atlantic Ocean is under 30 minutes. The University of New Hampshire is located in Durham. Boston is about 60 miles to the south.
No. 16: Swisher, Iowa
Found Within ZIP Codes: 52338, 52333, 52203
Median House Value: $261,074Nearby City: Iowa City, Iowa
Swisher, Iowa is near Iowa City and enjoys easy access to the jobs in and around that city, yet is beautiful in its quiet rural setting. With an enviably low crime rate, exceptional public schools for a rural area, and lots of college educated people living here, Swisher and its surrounding area is a nice combination of rural and sophisticated.
No. 17: Berthoud, Colo. (U.S. Rt 287/County Rd 4)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 80513, 80537
Median House Value: $422,702Nearby City: Fort Collins, Colo.
Known as the garden spot of Colorado, Berthoud has tree-lined streets that fade into fragrant wheat fields at the edge of town. Being near Fort Collins, home to Colorado State University, the economy and job prospects are good, and the quality of life is extremely high.
No. 18: Black Hollow Junction, Colo. (Fort Collins)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 80524
Median House Value: $351,647Nearby City: Fort Collins, Colo.
With an interesting name like Black Hollow Junction, we knew we had to find out more when this community came up on our research as one of the best rural places to live and work. Black Hollow Junction and the Giddings area are on the outskirts of Fort Collins, a small and vibrant city in northern Colorado. The Fort Collins Country Club is actually in the area, and this locale is one of the most educated in all of America.
No. 19: Red Lick, Texas (Texarkana)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 75503, 75561, 75501
Median House Value: $197,309Nearby City: Texarkana, Texas
Red Lick, Texas, on the edge of Texarkana in Southeastern Texas, is a real hidden gem for rural living and working. Texarkana itself is one of the top small city job markets, and Red Lick has high quality schools, low crime, educated neighbors, median home prices under $200,000, and long, warm summers.
No. 20: Big Creek, Ga. (Cummings)
Found Within ZIP Codes: 30041, 30024, 30004
Median House Value: $359,575
Nearby City: Gainesville, Ga. / Atlanta, Ga.Big Creek, Georgia, is on the edge of Cummings in north Georgia, and within 20 miles of the small city of Gainesville, GA. It is also not that far from Atlanta, but it is a place apart with its quiet southern living, where farms still exist amid new homes and rolling hills. Public schools are some of the best in Georgia, crime is low, and neighbors are educated, but home prices can be high. But to find a place this rural yet close to Atlanta, is a real find.
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