Where the ‘American Dream’ is Hiding

Is the “American Dream” dead?

Before you answer, maybe we should define the term “American Dream”. According to dictionary.com, there are two definitions:

  • The ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American.
  • A life of personal happiness and material comfort as traditionally sought by individuals in the U.S.

When I think of the “American Dream”, I think of having a good job, affording to buy a house and saving for the future, raising kids in a safe neighborhood with good schools, having health insurance, and the ability to take your family on the occasional vacation.

“Easier said than done”, you might say.

If you’re living in a place like San Francisco, New York City, or Los Angeles, the idea of having enough money to afford this iconic American lifestyle may seem difficult to reach. Real estate prices are astronomical, wages have been mostly stagnant, and health care costs are ridiculous.

So where is this magical ‘“American Dream”? Is it gone?

I would argue that the dream is still alive and well, and for most people it can be easily found: in rural America.  

There are places in this country that, with the right experience and work ethic, you can make over $50,000/year (with or without a bachelor’s degree), and still buy a house for less than $100,000. You can give your kids a great education, actually get to know your neighbors, and still be just as connected technologically as someone in downtown Manhattan.

On top of all that, you can enjoy activities that you often don’t experience in the city, like community 4th of July celebrations, county fairs, and abundant hunting and fishing.

To me, that sounds like the American Dream!

The internet has given all of us the opportunity to stay connected from almost anywhere. Telecommuting and freelancing are both becoming more and more commonplace. Yet, despite these facts urbanization continues, and very few consider the benefits of moving to a rural area.

I know, I know, you don’t want to give up that beach (that you never go to), those restaurants (that you can’t afford), or the art & culture scene (that you aren’t even into), or your friends (that you mainly spend time with online).

Consider this: YOU can achieve the American Dream. The deck is not stacked against you. You do not “fall off the face of the earth” if you live in a rural area. You still have Facebook, Amazon, Snapchat, and YouTube. But you may just find that you actually like being outside, interacting with authentic people, and living your “American Dream” without giving up any of those modern conveniences the internet provides.

Have you moved from an urban/suburban area to a rural town? What are your experiences?

Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.