5 Key Differences Between Building a Home in the Country and the City

At first glance, building a home in the country or the city might seem fairly similar. But when it comes to actually choosing a site and building a home, there are several unique considerations for each location that need to be considered. In both cases, you’ll need to purchase the land on which you’re building—a REALTOR® can help you with this—but there are other aspects of the process that differ.

Whether you’re longing for the bustle of city life or the tranquility of the countryside, here are five key differences to keep in mind when choosing where you want to build your next home.

Keep in mind, these points are based on buying a plot of land on your own and building a home. If you’re interested in reading about buying a new build from a developer, check out our article on The Pros and Cons of Buying Pre-Construction Real Estate.

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1. Municipal systems vs. private

“The biggest difference is whether your home will be connected to municipal water, power, and sewer systems,” says Bruce McGaw, a REALTOR® and salesperson with Exit Realty Town & Country in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

In the city, access to municipal systems is pretty much a given. But for rural locations, it may be up to you to install the septic, water, and waste systems. This can add costs and time to your build, and it also means you’re responsible for upkeep and maintenance. 

For some country homes, you might need to dig a well. As John Dunlap, a REALTOR® and broker of record with Moffat Dunlap Real Estate Limited in King City, Ontario, explains, this usually means hiring a licensed well contractor. 

“A good well contractor will be able to determine the quantity and quality of water on any property you’re considering, or whether there’s any water at all,” he says.

Take a look at local zoning and regulations to see how they might impact your project

2. What’s the zoning?

The next factors to consider are the local zoning and regulations that could impact your build.

“City zoning is highly codified, whereas zoning in rural areas can be more flexible,” Dunlap notes. “But this is rapidly changing. Country properties have their own set of rules, even for agricultural uses. This is good to know if you want to run a hobby farm or raise some chickens.”

In the country, you’re generally more free to build what and how you want. In the city, on the other hand, local regulations could limit the size or type of home you can build. Just be mindful the zoning for a specific parcel of land could dictate or limit your building possibilities. 

If your building site is in the middle of a busy downtown, for example, the access for large construction equipment could be more challenging. Or if the footprint for your site is on the smaller side, you may need to apply to the city or municipality for a variance if you want to build a home that’s larger or has more storeys than other houses in the area.

Zoning in some cities can also limit things like how tall your fence can be, how large your garage is, how far back from the property line your home has to be, or whether or not you can add a laneway house. Local sub-zones could also restrict you to building only a certain type of home, such as a single-family house vs. a duplex or multi-family home. And then there’s the neighbours to think about. 

“In the country, neighbours are often farther away,” McGaw explains. “In cities, you may have to deal with multiple levels of government to get approval, including public consultations. This could limit what you can build, and lead to delays or increased costs.”

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3. Costs and resale value

In terms of land cost, the purchase price per square foot is usually higher in the city—depending on where you are. If there’s already an existing building on the site that has to be torn down before you can start construction, you’ll have to factor the demolition costs into your overall budget.

There are pros and cons to everything and the city versus country cost debate is no different.


  • Country homes can be more expansive which is appealing to those who enjoy their privacy.
  • City homes tend to have higher resale values than those in the country due to the proximity to amenities.
  • Both city and country homes offer a level of personalization so you can create a home that’s perfect for you.


  • City homes can be more expensive to build due to location and the premium on city lots.
  • Country homes can be expensive to maintain due to tasks like lawn care, dealing with downed trees after a storm, maintaining any fences aimed at keeping wildlife out, and keeping your access road clear during those long Canadian winters.
  • Over-personalized or custom homes might be difficult to sell as they can narrow down the buyer pool. 

“If you’re on a private road, you’ll have to take care of the snow plowing yourself, or hire someone to do it for you,” McGaw says. “Over time, those costs can add up.”

Working with a REALTOR® in advance can help you understand some of the long-term cost implications of a country build versus a city build.

Buying a home in the country vs. the city: Things to Know

4. Construction timelines

Another consideration is the availability of contractors, tradespeople, and materials. There’s generally a greater pool of contractors in the city than in the country, but there’s also a lot more construction going on, which means they might be busy when you’re ready to start building. That’s where your REALTOR® can help. 

“A REALTOR® who knows the area can connect you to all the local contractors, inspectors, lenders, and other professionals you’ll need,” Dunlap says.

Local is typically best when it comes to finding the right contractor. The idea being that, wherever you’re building, a local contractor (i.e. city contractor for city builds and country for country builds) will know the local zoning, regulations, etc.

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5. Lifestyle

Finally, it’s essential to decide what kind of lifestyle you want.

If you want your home to be as sustainable and self-reliant as possible, you may have more options in a rural site to add some solar panels or start a hobby farm. If you crave outdoor adventures, hosting large family get-togethers, or the peace and quiet of rural life, then a country home might also be the perfect choice.

But if you can’t imagine living without strong, reliable Internet or phone service, movie theatres, grocery stores, or your favourite coffee shop within walking distance, then you might be happier in an urban setting.

“I always tell my clients the best place to start is with their vision for what they want to do with the property,” McGaw notes. “The next step is to connect with a local REALTOR® who can help you refine that vision, and find the property that meets your needs.”

SOURCE - https://www.realtor.ca/blog/5-key-differences-between-building-a-home-in-the-country-and-the-city022

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