The ‘burbs are busy: a demographic shift to suburban & rural counties

The ‘burbs are busy: a demographic shift to suburban & rural counties

An illustration of an urban skyline next to an illustration of a rural neighborhood, with arrows showing the movement of people from the city to the countryAmerican ethos is continually evolving. The national urban–rural divide is increasingly attracting the attention of developers in North Carolina and the Southeast. Rural areas are beginning to see a demographic shift as they market to millennials, trying to persuade them to move to an environment they can stimulate with a change and excitement of their own.

Art communities in the American countryside are seeing a resurgence, and millennial North Carolinians are looking to towns like Saxapahaw, Pittsboro, Weaverville, and Rutherfordton to settle down and plant their own creative roots. The draw to these communities is the opportunity for cultural growth and natural solitude that comes from living in a “quiet” rural community as opposed to the more socially active lifestyle associated—rightly or wrongly—with urban neighborhoods.

Population increases have not been evenly distributed, however, nor have they necessarily meant these rural counties are adding careers or increasing wages. Fifteen of North Carolina’s 100 counties have grown 10%+ since the 2010 census, but 43 counties saw a net loss in population. Private employers are growing 24% faster in larger, more urban counties than in rural counties. The median household income for North Carolinians was $50,000 in 2018, but only $39,000 in rural areas.

Rural counties around the nation have been experiencing population loss for years, but some of North Carolina’s rural counties are forecast to grow over the next two decades. There are deep roots and untapped potential in these communities that millennials are finding intriguing, attractive, and exceptionally exciting. Housing and highway improvements are underway in many areas, and this is where WithersRavenel comes in.

Are you a developer looking at a rural housing or commercial development project? We can help. Contact Ty Colwell at (919) 535-5209 or