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Americans would love to live in rural area, big cities not attractive

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America   A rural area is the dominant choice

Given six choices of a type of place where they could live, 27% of Americans choose a rural area, more than any other option although this is down from 35% in 2001.

Another 21% currently favor life in a suburb of a big city, while 12% would choose a big city itself. The remaining 39% would choose a town, a small city or a suburb of a small city.

These results are from Gallup interviewing conducted Nov. 13-18, updating a question initially asked in October 2001. Respondents are offered six choices of where they would live if they could live anywhere they wished, including a big city, a suburb of a big city, a small city, a suburb of a small city, a town and a rural area.

The broad pattern of responses is similar to 17 years ago. A rural area is the dominant choice in both periods, although down somewhat from 2001. Slightly more Americans now choose a big city or a small city. The higher interest in living in a rural area in the 2001 poll could have reflected a lingering reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that hit New York City and Washington, D.C.

Both times the question has been asked, Americans have preferred living in big-city suburbs over a big city per se, while, conversely, a small city is more appealing than a small-city suburb.

The biggest gap between Americans' aspirations and reality is found in terms of rural areas. About 15% of Americans live in a rural area, while 27% say they would ideally live in such an area. Slightly more Americans live in big cities, small cities and towns than would like to if they had their preferences.

In short, if Americans could sort themselves geographically according to their desires, the nation would see an out-migration from big cities and, to some degree, from small cities and towns, and a substantial movement into rural regions.

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