Around 15 percent of people in the United States live in rural areas. There are many different reasons why you might choose to live in a rural community. You may want a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life. You may enjoy having access to big, open spaces for recreation. Rural areas are less crowded and can offer more privacy. You may choose a rural area so that you can live near your family and friends.
But there are also challenges to living in a rural area, including when it comes to taking care of your health. Compared to urban areas, rural communities tend to have:
- Higher poverty rates
- A higher percentage of older adults, who are more likely to have chronic health problems
- More residents without health insurance
- Less access to health care. For example, clinics and hospitals may be far away.
- Higher rates of certain substance use, such as cigarette smoking and opioid and methamphetamine misuse
- Higher rates of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and obesity
- More exposure to environmental hazards, such as chemicals used for farming
There are solutions to deal with these problems. A few examples include
- Clinics offering telehealth to provide care for people who live far away from specialists or can't easily get to their providers' offices
- Local public health agencies working with their communities to promote healthy living. They can provide wellness and exercise classes and start a farmer's market.
- Local governments adding bike lanes and trails to encourage people to bike and walk
- Rural schools can offer counseling and mental health services for their students
- What Is Rural? (Rural Information Center)
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Rural Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Toolkit (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Agricultural Health and Safety (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Oral Health in Rural Communities (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Rural Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Trauma (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Rural Health Disparities (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Rural Health Policy (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Rural People with Disabilities (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Substance Use and Misuse in Rural Areas (Rural Health Information Hub)
- Telehealth: MedlinePlus Health Topic (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Violence and Abuse in Rural America (Rural Health Information Hub)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Rural-Urban Differences in Health Care Access Among Women of Reproductive Age:...
- Article: Rural-Urban Differences in Delivery Hospitalization Costs by Severe Maternal Morbidity Status.
- Article: Crisis and continuity: Rural health care students respond to the COVID-19...
- Rural Health Concerns -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- HRSA: Find a Health Center (Health Resources and Services Administration)
- Rural Aging (Rural Health Information Hub)