This year, many of us are learning that the “normal” way of living might not be the healthiest, safest, or most sustainable for us or our planet. As people adjust to shifting social patterns and navigate this global change in routine, a new trend is emerging. More people, especially young families, are moving out of congested cities and flocking to rural areas, where they can find a space of their own to raise a family, and maybe a garden, too. 

The new trend that marks a reverse of the steady growth of urban populations is known as counterurbanization, or the flow of people out of cities to the countryside. This migration has only been exaggerated by recent events in public health, which have shed light on the dangers of overcrowded cities and the many benefits of living in a more open, sustainable community. 


What’s the Counterurbanization Movement About?


Counterurbanization is a popular idea because it offers many advantages to individuals and families looking to escape densely populated areas in search of open spaces. Outside of the city, people can enjoy less congestion and traffic, safer neighborhoods, less pollution, and an overall improved quality of life. 

Let’s look at a few reasons behind the counterurbanization movement and the benefits of moving away from the city to a sustainable community.


Get Some Elbow Room


Counterurbanization is a rising trend as people respond to the need to establish distance from others. It’s true that spaced-out living is often effective in limiting the spread of contagious diseases and viruses, but the movement to rural areas is about more than preventing sickness. Living in proximity to green spaces is proven to be an important factor for mental health, while natural light and fresh air have all sorts of health benefits from improved concentration to faster healing. Escaping to the countryside might be the healthiest choice you could make, and the counterurbanization trend suggests that it’s catching.

Sustainable communities are designed around open spaces. Instead of living on top of your neighbors, you are spread out, with two or three acres of land between you. Although they’re physically separated, residents still enjoy a neighborly connection through environmentally friendly and nature-focused activities like gardening, raising chickens, maintaining beehives, or exploring nature preserves and trails.


Grow Your Own Food


Outside of city limits, you’ll find space to start a garden and grow your own food, have a chicken coop for fresh eggs, or keep bees and contribute to the local pollinating population. Powered by the sun and your hands, a sustainable lifestyle is organic, healthy, and cost-effective. You control the quality of your fresh produce and can avoid things like preservatives and pesticides, and limit both your carbon footprint and trips to the grocery store.


Establishing a productive garden is not as difficult as it might seem. Explore online resources for budding gardeners or ask around at your local food co-op. Sustainable communities foster the sharing of skills between neighbors, from tomato-planting tips to the best recipes for that kohlrabi you don’t know what to do with. Joining the neighborhood lets you tap into a network of knowledge and use what you learn to improve your health and sustainable lifestyle.


Achieve Energy Efficiency


One of the biggest advantages of counterurbanization is a push for sustainable practices in homebuilding — particularly the pursuit of energy efficiency. With a goal of no reliance on utilities at all, many homes in sustainable communities are able to achieve net zero energy through the use of environmental technology like energy efficient appliances, home fixtures like doors and windows, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. Some net zero homes even generate surplus clean energy and send it back to the grid where utility companies can purchase it.

Achieving energy efficiency through reducing consumption as well as implementing renewable energy solutions like solar and wind are important parts of a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainably built homes are not only better for the environment, but they also save money on energy bills — or eliminate them altogether.


Keep Your Family Safe


Sustainable communities are great places to raise your family in a safe and healthy environment. With fresh mountain air and plenty of space to run and play, these neighborhoods are popular with active and adventure-hungry kids. Parents don’t have to worry about their children getting into trouble, as most sustainable communities are self-containing and back up to hundreds of acres of preserved land for kids to safely roam. 


Think of the last time you left the house after breakfast and played outside all day until dinner, making forts in the woods, galloping across fields, and racing home for dinner with dirty hands and grass-stained knees. In a sustainable community, families can enjoy the freedom and safety of natural spaces, and make use of the excellent opportunities to teach their children valuable life skills surrounding conservation, gardening, and sustainable living.


Enjoy Social Spaces, Not Shared Spaces


Counterurbanization is the social process of migrating away from the crowds and close-quarters of city centers, but it doesn’t mean feeling isolated or anti-social. Rather than shared spaces, sustainable communities promote social connectedness through environmental interests.

It’s true that you won’t find a clubhouse, shared gym, or neighborhood pool in a sustainable community. Instead, “shared space” is the great outdoors. You can interact with your neighbors on your own terms by going for a hike on the trails, helping out in the garden, or by sharing a greeting across a few acres of space. Neighbors can enjoy the benefits of a close-knit community of conservation-focused individuals while maintaining their privacy. 


Choose a Better Way of Living: Sustainable Living


The counterurbanization trend shows that people want to let go of “normal” and choose a better way to live. People are increasingly attracted to the idea of trading a fast-paced life in the city for the chance to slow down and live mindfully in the countryside. It’s no wonder that with a more intentional approach, surrounded by large green spaces and net zero opportunities, people want to spread roots in a sustainable community where they’re in a better position to grow. 


Choose a better way of living, and choose sustainable living. Prioritize your health and wellness, pursue energy efficiency, and explore natural spaces. You can gain more control over your health and enjoy a safer, more fulfilling life by moving to a sustainable community.


If you’re looking for a new beginning in a sustainable community, consider Couch Mountain. With properties available overlooking the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, you can enjoy all that a sustainable lifestyle has to offer, including growing your own organic produce, contributing to the pollinator population, and exploring a huge network of trails. Homes in our community have the chance to achieve true energy efficiency with net zero energy. To learn more about opportunities to join our sustainable community, reach out to us online!

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