Fewer than one in five Americans live in rural areas, whoever, over half of Americans say they would prefer to live in the country. This is according to a recent poll. And Northern Virginia is no exception. Factors such as lower property prices, larger living spaces, and a quieter lifestyle attract individuals and families wanting a simpler, more “wholesome” environment. However, it’s important to note that this trend may vary depending on various economic, social, and personal factors. Here are some reasons this phenomena is trending upward and why many are looking for country living in Northern Virginia.
BACKGROUND – CURRENT HOUSING MARKET CONDITIONS
To understand the reasons people want to move out to the country, it’s important to understand the current real estate market. As we outlined in our August 2023 Market Update, housing is marked by high interest rates and low inventory. Those wanting to buy a home are either renting or own a home that no longer meets their needs. Some may need to downsize as they become empty nesters or are going through some other life change. Others may need more space for a growing family of children or aging parents. With interest rates higher than last year’s, home buyers realize they may not be able to afford the home they could have afforded before.
WORK FROM HOME OPTION
One major reason people are thinking more about moving out to the country is the ability to work from anywhere. The pandemic made remote work a realty for many who never had that opportunity before. In Northern Virginia, with so many technology companies, a great proportion of the population were already doing this. Still, while many employers are asking their workers to return to the office setting, there are also some employers who see the benefit of having more of their staff work from home.
The Wall Street journal article comments, that companies that “allow at least one work-from-home day each week are higher in the Northeast. They appear to be fading across much of the South, Midwest and parts of the West.” It makes sense that for many in Northern Virginia, where tech jobs are in demand, there is less of a need to live close to where you work. This opens up areas where buyers can start looking. This means moving away from high concentration areas closer to Washington DC like Arlington and Alexandria and looking out west to Loudoun and Fauquier counties.
MORE HOME FOR MONEY
Affordability is another major issue people are looking to live in more rural areas. With interest rates closer to 7%, home buyers cannot afford as much as they could have last year this time. Pair this with home prices in Northern Virginia going up year over year and it’s easy to understand the dilemma.
As an example, based on today’s interest rates, a person wanting to keep the monthly mortgage payments under $3,000 could afford a home for about $484,000. When compared to the median sale price for Northern Virginia at $650,000, it explains the dilemma for many. To stay in a larger city, this means considering condos and small townhomes. The option is to continue renting until a salary increases or looking where you can get more home for your money.
To remedy this, many home buyers are now looking in counties where home prices are closer to what they can afford. This usually means they will look further away from large metropolitan areas like Washington, DC. Homes tend to be larger and you can get more land as well.
CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE
Another reason homebuyers are looking further out for homes is a significant change in lifestyle. As we all transition through different stages of our lives, the peace and tranquility promised by country living lures many away. A growing family may want more safety and wholesome living for their little ones. Empty nesters closer to retirement may want a more quiet and less fast paced setting. Others may be looking at a more modest frugal lifestyle and no longer have the desire to be in high cost areas. Whatever the reason, moving out to more rural areas offers more opportunities for starting fresh.
Country Living in Northern Virginia offers more open space, quiet, and a more natural setting to live in. People tend to feel more connected to nature than when living in more urban settings. Home buyers enjoy more home and land for their money and a more laid back lifestyle. While not for everyone, it does have an undeniable appeal.