Fewer than one in five Americans live in a rural area these days, but far more would like to. When asked what type of community they would prefer to live in if they could live any place they wished, nearly half of Americans pick the country — far ahead of either the suburbs or a city.
Most people who live in small towns and rural areas seem to like where they live: 52% would continue to live in a rural area if they could live any place they wished. But nearly half of suburbanites would also prefer to live to live in the country, compared to just 22% who would prefer to live in a city. City dwellers are more divided, but the country is their top place to live, too.
Still, country life isn’t for everyone. Thirty percent of Americans who currently live in a small town or rural area would prefer to live in a city.
Cities tend to appeal more to younger adults. Among those under 35, 37% would prefer to live in a city, nearly as many as who would rather live in the country. The country seems to have greater appeal as Americans age, and most Americans 55 and older would prefer it to a city or the suburbs.
This poll was conducted by telephone July 13-18, 2021 among a random sample of 1,006 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.
The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.
Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.6 points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.