During the Covid pandemic there was a max exodus from city to countryside, and even small, off-the-beaten track rural and seaside villages suddenly attracted interest from people keen for a slice of the good, healthy life.

And then, sure as eggs were eggs, the reverse happened: missing the convenience, cleanliness and culture of urban living, “down-from-towners” returned to the bright lights and big city, attracted like moths to the flame of urban life.

I’ve lived in most locations – growing up on a rural farm in Surrey before moving to London, then a seaside town on the south coast followed by a small Hampshire village – and have seen the attractions and downsides of each. While I’ve now settled into rural life, there are aspects of each place I miss – so here’s my lowdown on the ups and downs.

I’m sure you have your own list of the good and bad, please do comment below or email [email protected] with your thoughts.

City life


Where to start? No mud. An amazing variety of food that is always immediately available, including great coffee and croissants, choice of takeaways (delivered) and convenience stores open 24/7. There’s culture — museums, art galleries, theatre and shopping all reached by walking or an excellent choice of public transport with taxis/Ubers to hail in the rain.

There’s no need for a car but if you do have one, electric car charging points are easy to find. You can take public transport to airports. You’ll likely be in touch with current trends and there’s a good social life and dating scene if you need it, but at the same time it’s easy to walk down the street on a bad hair day and remain anonymous. Fast access to medical care should not be undervalued. Did I mention no mud?


Busy, noisy, traffic-choked, expensive, isolating. Property prices are at a premium. All that food, culture and shopping is expensive. You live in close proximity to neighbours, often without even knowing them. Rarely is there a real community to call on in times of strife and you’d be lucky if someone noticed if you’d been dead a month.

Everyone wears black and is in a rush and it’s an absolute no-no to make eye contact or conversation with strangers.  And it can be dangerous – street muggings and knife crime. Unless you’re really lucky you won’t see the sun rise or set very often and barely notice the seasons. Off-street parking is like gold dust. NHS GPs are almost impossible to see.

Coast life


The sea. Proximity to which brings tranquility and a never-ending changing scenery that is one of the best medicines in life. Fresh air and outdoor life filled with sunrises and sunsets, great food including locally caught fresh fish. All your friends will want to visit, often.

Great community and healthy, socialising based around sporting activity (folk like to meet to sup, swim and sail rather than drink or coffee, though these might come afterwards). Good potential to list your home on Airbnb and make extra cash. Generally a pretty safe place to live and good healthcare (on account of the average age of coastal residents nudging above retirement). There’s also less pressure to follow trends and have the latest bag, car or shoes.


Traffic and tourists at weekends and holidays – which can drive you mad. The closer you are to the sea the more expensive the property becomes. There are a lot of empty second homes or holiday lets around – often the best houses in the area, which is aggravating.

All your friends will want to visit, often (running a free B&B becomes tiring after a while). Salt in the air from the sea speeds up corrosion of everything you own – from the zips on your jacket, chain on your bike to the paint on your windows.

Average age is well past retirement, so there will be a high proportion of care and retirement homes. Residents of said homes drive around very slowly in Honda Jazz cars while wealthy owners of said care homes bling around in Range-Rovers.

Countryside life


Fresh air; sunrises, sunsets. Wildlife, animals, trees, connection with nature. Outdoor living is inexpensive compared with city dwelling. There’s a strong community with plenty of folk to call on when you need sugar/a lift to the garage/to borrow a chainsaw. There is always something going on from the summer produce fair to bell ringing or yoga in the church hall, coffee mornings and Christmas fetes.

Property is more reasonable (especially the further away from commuting distance you are) allowing more living space than a city and gardens as standard. The village pub, church and/or shop are the centre of the community and you can walk into each and any and know most people.

Forget the gym; exercise is dog walking, cycling, horse riding and gardening and everything takes much longer than expected because everyone stops to talk. Eye contact and cheerful greeting is standard, even with strangers, and it’s generally safe to walk at night. Absolutely no need for handbags and heels – your shoe collection will consist of trainers, walking boots and wellies for every occasion.


It is truly impossible to survive without a car. Public transport is extremely limited in villages and rural locations, if there is any at all, and you will always have to drive to the train station and airport. Traffic on the roads includes tractors, horses and livestock, which will slow you up. There is a lot of mud, which will find its way into your house at every moment. Muckspreading smells. Hayfever.


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Zero culture and ethnic cuisine, takeaways are rarely delivered and the options very limited. Zero privacy if you live in a village: the entire place knows your business and what they don’t know they make up (the only way to deal with this is to play along for fun). Every time you leave your house you’ll see someone (or everyone) you know — but on the plus side you won’t care about bad hair days.

A very small dating pool and communities can be cliquey, especially to outsiders. Unless there’s a very good shop within walking distance you’ll have to get all your groceries delivered or get in the car every time you need something. Especially when you missed the postman and have to collect a parcel from the Post Office in the closest town (there are few left in rural locations).

Little to no infrastructure for electric cars. Rural crime is rife, from opportunistic theft from sheds and garages to cars, 4x4s and GPS systems from tractors.


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