Families need to consider several issues when contemplating a move to a rural community, says Karen Shirer, associate dean of family development at the University of Minnesota Extension.

In the late 1990s, Shirer was a member of the Iowa State University Extension program and worked on the Family Demographics Project, a study of rural life that examined a variety of family issues.

Economic opportunities are the primary consideration when moving, often followed by the need for affordable child care, which can be harder to find in remote areas.

"Another concern for parents was decreased funding for K-12 schools in rural communities," she said. "They were worried about how that economic situation would impact their children's education."

The top reason cited for a move to a rural area was a sense of safety and security, followed by a desire to live in a natural environment, a slower pace of life and a stronger sense of community.

"If people are considering this kind of change, employment prospects, educational opportunities and finding a social support network should all be part of the discussion," said Shirer.