You just got your degree all framed and your grad pictures are sent out to all of your friends and family, and now it’s time to take on the job market. You’ve read the articles on interviews and resumes, you are prepared for the “real world” that working stiffs have been telling you about since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. The only problem is that after you apply to 100 jobs you get two call backs, and one of those was a mistake. What happened? You got the qualifications, you handed in your resume face-to-face just like people told you to (where you were able to anyway), and you’ve reached out to the vast network of connections you have been building for years, yet still you cannot get a job in your hometown urban area. I’ll pass along a little secret… it doesn’t matter how qualified you are, your chances of landing a dream job in a major urban center if you aren’t in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field is negligible. Think about how many of your buddies with diplomas and degrees are applying for the same 22 jobs as yourself. The odds are not in your favour (pop culture reference anyone?). Now here is the better news, and it also appears to be a well-kept secret… there are plenty of jobs out there for anyone that wants one. Where is this employment heaven and its bounty of pay cheques hiding you might ask? The same place that $150,000 homes, 5-10 minute commutes, and low crime rates are hiding – in rural Canada!

small town employmentLeave the Pavement Behind? Eeewww

It’s astounding to me how many people refuse to acknowledge that validity of moving to a rural area to being their career. I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Education degree three years ago. I through my resume out everywhere, save the isolated schools up North, and I didn’t even cross those off of my Plan B list. I can honestly say I was one of the only graduates I know from my entire Senior Years (grades 9-12) cohort that got a full-time job that was not a blatant example of nepotism (this is absolutely rampant in many government-ran organizations today). In fact the only other examples I know of were either French teachers or in STEM-related fields. I went into a Chapters back in Winnipeg over the Christmas break and wasn’t too surprised to bump into a former classmate of mine (teachers are geeks… bookstores are like bars for us). What did surprise me was the fact he was working there. He said that he was taking the odd substitute teaching job, but he couldn’t pay his bills (student and credit card debt in addition to everything else) so he got a job there. He justified it by saying he got a nice cut on book prices, to which I responded they were only 20% more expensive than Amazon in his case then. I told him flat out that I had made some good connections in my rural school division that was about 3.5 hours away from Winnipeg, and I was sure I could get him an interview. He said he had no interest at all in living rural no matter what the benefits were. This astounded me, yet I half expected it because it seems to be a very common response amongst people in our generation.

One Small Step For a City Slicker…

I know the rural countryside can look intimidating. Leaving your little cosy nest can be daunting… but do it anyway! There are so many jobs screaming to be filled in rural Canada all across the country. I live close to the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, and there are literally dozens of small towns that need all kinds of positions filled. I grew up very close to Northern Ontario and a recent buddy of mine just graduated from pharmacy and is earning over $150,000 a year because no one will go work out there! I hear the same situation over and over again. People refuse to leave “the city” because “the country” sucks. Now I admittedly very biased here since I grew up rurally, and I would pay a huge premium if I had to in order to live in a city/town that had under 60,000 people in it. The town I currently live in, and the one I group in are both smaller than 3,000 people, and it fits me just right. Even though I’m biased I think I can say that while the city has some definite advantages, and I understand how difficult it can be to leave your home, rural areas have a lot to offer as well.

Owning Your Own House Doesn’t Have To Be a Rich People Thing

From a financial perspective you absolutely can’t beat living in the country. While owning a car becomes almost mandatory, that needn’t be overly expensive if you take the proper steps. You will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in initial costs to your house, plus hundreds of thousands more in mortgage interest over the course of your life if you choose to live rurally. I paid $95,000 for my house which is just under 1000 square feet, built in 1980, finished basement, 3 bed, 2 bathrooms, a huge yard, and a massive garage. You can’t get the cheapest condo in the worst part of most Canadian cities for that price. Taxes are usually much lower, and while your entertainment options are much reduced, they are also much less expensive. I prefer recreational activities such as walks/jogging in a variety of scenery, sports, and swimming which are tailor-made for the country and are much cheaper than shopping or going to see most shows. There are simply less temptations and fewer expenses such as parking and Starbucks to eat into your savings account when you live rurally.

An Easier-to-Climb Ladder

In terms of your career, moving rural to get a foot in the door doesn’t just get you a paycheque, it also helps you gain experience at a much faster pace since positions above you will open up at a faster rate and will have less applicants. I know from my experience in education and my mom’s career in nursing that rural areas offer promotions much quicker than their urban counterparts. Many people take the career path of “climbing the ladder” and getting management experience in a rural area and then applying to jobs in their preferred urban environment after a 7-10 year stretch. Living rurally will likely greatly increase your free time and this can be used to boost your credentials through graduate courses or a certification program. This is one area I’ve truly enjoyed. If you invest the equivalent of your commute.

I find most people (definitely in the world of teaching) greatly overestimate the amount of free time they will have early in their career anyway. If you’re putting in long hours most days does it matter where your location is? You can still drive in to the urban center on weekends and holidays if you want to, the more you do it the easier it will get. Besides the lifestyle, financial, and career-based reasons to come see what the country is all about I can guarantee that your blood pressure levels will also drop simply because of the decreased stress levels.  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

P.S. The country music is optional… we’ll kind of… it grows on you after awhile… kind of.