Why Are People Grumpy In Dense Population While Rural Is Friendly?


Why is it that people who live rural are (generally) more friendly and helpful than people who live in population dense areas? As the population density thickens, it seems as though more and more people have ‘drawn in’ to themselves and are less friendly or helpful to others. Many of them become downright grumpy (or worse).

While there are certainly exceptions (not everyone follows this pattern), my life experience indicates that it is definitely the general majority.

Why is that?

We have been living in a rural area for going on a year now, and this time period has been the first we’ve lived outside of any fairly dense population. Although never having lived in ‘the city’, we’ve lived in a number of various densely populated metropolitan areas, partly because we’ve grown up there (Mrs.J and I), and partly because we’ve moved around several times over the years to other similar regions (career choices). I’ve even worked near ‘downtown’ in a major city for more than a decade during a previous career. The way that people are and the way that they behave (in these regions) has simply been a part of my normal life experience.

Having finally moved to a rural area, the stark contrast of human behavior characteristics are quite evident (and refreshing). So far, most all the people we’ve met are friendly, mostly outgoing and not seemingly ‘afraid’ to talk to others, happy to offer help, they can take care of themselves, they are not jumbled up with ‘technology overload’, they don’t need to ‘Google’ something on their smartphone to know the answers to the most important things that matter, they are seemingly not too concerned about criminal activity (the town doesn’t even have a PD), they leave their doors unlocked, there’s no one walking around with their pants hanging from their ass, they actually smile, and they seem to be happy with what they have…

By contrast, in a typical population dense region, someone might be a multimillionaire but they’re not happy because they don’t have an even nicer car or even bigger house (etc..). Population dense regions contain people who are generally more ‘closed off’, introverted, aggressive, all about themselves, often phony, are always in a hurry, buried in their smart phones, they’re often rude, grumpy, or inconsiderate, they always have to be ‘first’, and will ‘stab you in the back’ when it suits them to do so. These same people are often fine within their own sphere of friends or family – but out in public it’s quite a different story.

This might not be ‘you’, and certainly not everyone is as bad as portrayed here, but I think you know what I mean…

While I have many of my own presumptions as to why this is, I’m curious to hear your opinions. It might make for an interesting discussion especially when considering the behavior of these same people under ‘real’ duress or even SHTF.



  1. In my opinion, the single greatest factor which influences people’s attitude toward their fellow man is their faith in God or lack thereof. Let me explain. How people behave toward one another and what people value are both a product of their worldview. What is the prime reality in a person’s life? If the God who created the universe and His teachings are the prime reality in a person’s life, then that person will live a life characterized by love: obeying God’s commands and loving his neighbor as he loves himself. I think this is the underlying reason why people in some places are kind and people in other places are hostile. It is the extent to which the culture has been influenced by Biblical values. If you look carefully, I think you could probably build a good case for the fact that in general people in rural areas tend to be more Christian and Biblical in their values than those who live in the city. Thus, the contrast in the way people treat each other in the country vs. the city.

    1. Amen brother Phil! on top of that I remember being stationed in the NYC area for a two year stint while in the military. Even though I am a Christian I wanted to go postal a couple of times trying to get through the traffic and masses of people. Living in the country now my stress level is much lower (other than the stress caused by watching the overall destruction of our country). Keep the faith.
      Semper Gumby (always flexible) :)

    2. Simple, people don’t like people. I’ve got a family member in law enforcement and they say its for the same reason that dense populations have more calls for service and the rural areas have less. Cram people together equals problems. Spread them out over larger areas equals less problems.

  2. I think Phil hit it squarely on the head. We raised our family in southern California and noticed a degeneration of civility and common courtesy in most areas that have a high density population.

    I’ve found that when people no longer are content to worship any Being greater than themselves, they then worship THEIR personal omnipotence and treat others with disdain. Since we moved out of my native state, I’ve noticed how much more loving I’ve become, and am glad because of it. I also have had a serious problem with what I like to call, the “Crush of Humanity”. In densely populated areas, it is far easier to become callous and disregard courtesies, because of the more anonymous nature of the population demographics, than in more rural, less populated areas. I enjoy the “dawdle” of our lifestyle now, as compared to having to plan for the traffic, and the “Crush of Humanity” wherever we went prior to moving. That, is emotionally and physically draining on all family members. In contrast, we lived in a great neighborhood and whenever we left the confines of that neighborhood, we “noticed” the immediate change in attitudes of people. Phil got it right.

  3. Born and raised in NYC. Then 6 years military and 20 years come next month in NH. Ken, I know exactly what you are talking about. lol. The thought of living in a big city again makes me cringe.

    1. @coldbrian, I’m glad to discover yet another MSB visitor who lives in my present state of NH ;)

  4. I used to live in the greater Phoenix metro area (Valley) for almost all my life ( 40 plus years) I watched it degenerate into a vat of attitude, ignorance and arrogance , mostly transplants from “somewhere else”. I watched as a mostly friendly, approachable populace turn into a horde with the “I am special” attitude, as evidenced by their rushing around, running red lights, impatience and overall arrogance.

    Almost 3 years ago , I moved to some rural property in the same state. I have to admit that I have observed, sadly, the same percentage of people acting in the same way, and these are people that were raised in this part of the state. It seems that they ALL have been influenced by the same forces that they to are special, and everything they are going to do is special, and everywhere they are going is somehow special.As evidenced by the necessity to drive 85 mph on 2 lane state highways, obviously in a hurry to participate in these “special” activities. Also while risking the lives of others. Albeit the people are more friendly and approachable, the same attitudes prevail.

  5. This article reminds me of that scene in Crocodile Dundee where he says, “That’s incredible. Imagine seven million people all wanting to live together. Yeah, New York must be the friendliest place on earth.”

    Just glad I live in the rural south.

  6. I was born in “Jersey” but moved to the south as a young teen. I remember up north for its nasty, vulgar, hurry-up attitude. Even now I can pick out a Snowbird Yankee by their hatefulness. As I told a Preacher one time when he asked me where I was from: “I was born in New Jersey, but I’m Southern in my Soul!”

    1. Not do demean our Northern folk from big cities… but, I was born in the south and have lived here all my life. Unfortunately, our small town has in the last few years, become a place where retirees from “up north” want to live. They’re bringing their attitudes with them. When they’re showing their attitudes in public, us “locals” will look at each other and mumble “ain’t from around here” and feel sorry for them. Must be a terrible way to live, being angry, in a hurry, and so much more important than anyone else. Some of the “transplants” will learn to relax and appreciate why they moved to such a lovely place, some will never change.

      I know we have large cities in the south too… I try to avoid them.

  7. You folks have nailed it. We live “in the woods” and love it. We moved from a dense population to one that we see people only when we shop..it is Great! We buy online and could never go back. Then again, we have friends who will never leave the city, choices we all make.

  8. I live remote and love the freedoms and wilderness I get with it. City life is stressful, people run on a faster time schedule, it’s crowded, there are traffic jams, seem to have road rage more, and it is fly paper to the homeless, druggies, gangs, and the constant unemployed.

  9. City folks (my neighbors) think my driveway is their personal parking spot.
    If I “ask” them to move, there’s the attitude. Even after telling them my new work hours, there’s still issues. That “unknown” car blocking my driveway all night that got a ticket, well that was their son’s girlfriends car and I should have known better. Meanwhile her fireman husband blocks the fire hydrant constantly, but that’s ok… because he’s a fireman.

  10. i have lived in a variety of places… ten miles from the nearest tiny town, small town, medium city, suburb, and large metropolis. I find that I used to be calm in the middle of no where but after being around the globe, I am less comfortable being somewhere that no one could hear me if there was a problem. I grew up checking the tracks on the driveway to see if anyone had been up to our place when we were gone. My dad chased a guy off our property who was trying to steal gas once. But the thing that I found most troubling about being in the smaller community was the lack of competition especially if a narcissist was in charge. People do all sorts of crazy things in their attempt to be top dog in a small town and many of these types use their religion as a means of saying… See, I am such a great person because I go to church… Truly religious people that do right by others are wonderful to be around. Those that use religion to gain status in a community are, as I see it, fake. We have seen many cases with friends and family where a contractor that claims to be a Christian business acted very unprofessionally. Whereas those businesses that are run by Christians that don’t mention how Christian they are are the ones to go with.

    I have seen so many dutiful Christians do the song and dance about how nice they are when they treat their neighbor extremely poorly and then they have the nerve to declare how much they do for everyone. I just do not know how they justify things like this in their head…
    So I guess that I like to be on the edge of a medium sized city with a connection to the farming community and also in a neighborhood. I feel too isolated to be in the middle of no where and too stressed to be where there is always someone wandering around the streets at all hours of the night and traffic/sirens at all hours of the day and night.

    Oh, and one more thing… being in a smaller community that is put on the map due to being highlighted by politics and education every so often creates a bubble of people that think they are more important or advanced than people in other similar sized towns. This importance creates a closed mindedness which is interesting since their importance in the national scene is not due to the qualities of their community but rather to the location of where their community resides… I find it interesting to observe the locals sometimes…

  11. Here is my opinion. It is the congestion of people, you have to drive in congestion, traffic jams, people driving like idiots, cutting you off because they didn’t expect there to be so much traffic and they have to be somewhere on time. Doing this day in day out. Everywhere you go you have to wait in line, lines everywhere, the drive thru, the movie theatre, the store, the pharmacy, everywhere. And this is when you finally make it to where your going and find a parking spot. Then your surrounded by stupid people, at least that is how it seems. People who don’t know what they want after reaching the front of the line, not prepared for what they are going to need. Money out and ready, or credit card, paperwork they knew they would need to have filled out, etc. When you exist in a crowded area, things need to go flawlessly and people need to be on their game for things to flow as they need to. But that is not how people are. Add to this the lack of peace and quiet, you have cars, trucks, motorcycles, people playing loud music, there are police and traffic helicopters, sirens from police, fire trucks and ambulances all day and all night because big cities go 24-7. People are on their cell phones or distracted at red lights, so when the light turns green they sit there, so the people behind them have to honk their horns, adding to the noise. Then you have rude people that cut you off in traffic, stand in the way in the isle at all the stores, so you cannot get past them, and they are so self absorbed they don’t realize they are in peoples way. It seems that people just stop and talk, right in the flow of foot traffic at theatres, stores, any crowded areas. I know that there are people like this in rural areas, but there are far fewer people, so it isn’t happening to you all the time, everywhere you go. This causes people to have stress, and stressed people act differently than people that are at ease, they tend to focus on their own needs and aren’t as aware of things going on around them or other people needs, and this adds to the whole situation causing people to be cranky. This is my experiences in big cities.

    1. That all sounds very familiar ;)
      You’re spot-on with all that…

      I also agree entirely with your statement, “I know that there are people like this in rural areas, but there are far fewer people, so it isn’t happening to you all the time, everywhere you go.”

      In addition to the magnification of stresses and behavioral issues that are more unique to the cities and MSA’s, its also about the raw numbers, the odds of encountering the various behaviors. Fewer in the rural areas.

  12. This might also have something to do with it… there are so many of us…

    An enormous change occurred in our population during such a short and recent time slot in all of human history.

    It took all of human history until around the year 1800 for world population to reach one billion people.

    The second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930).

    The third billion in less than 30 years (1959).

    The fourth billion in 15 years (1974).

    The fifth billion in only 13 years (1987).

    The sixth billion in 12 years (1999).

    The seventh billion in 12 years (2011).

    1. 1800’s standardization of the Medical School system, sterile technique and the invention of x-ray.

  13. I have been trying to ” get out of the city” since 1983 when we left the San Francisco Bay Area to move to Bend Oregon. During the late 80’s and early 90’s the central Oregon area was discovered by mostly Californians (you may be familiar with the term Californication” and the area changed from rural to a small metropolis with all the attending problems. Once again we set off to find a peaceful and quiet environment and now live on an island in the Pacific Northwest. After twenty years it has become populated with uber rich and those hardly able to make a living. There is constant agitation between environmental and other (monied) groups over land issues. Tourists flood in during the Summer months creating traffic, noise and garbage. There is no escape from the greedy and stupid masses. Believe me, I have tried.

  14. Generally its other people who cause me to be in an ill-mood. The more people in a set area, the higher the probability that something will occur to put me in the aforementioned ill-mood.

    The more time I spend in cities, the more I encounter people who are fools and socialists. As I return to my little slice of heaven and lock the gate behind me, my dirt road, trees, creek and wildlife magically erases my ill-will.

    God Bless this Great Republic!

  15. Cincinnati in the 50-60s
    San Diego in the 70-80s
    Four Corners New Mexico 80 till now.
    Been there done that, I’m staying put.
    Settled in here with land, good friends and my “stuff”.
    Oh yeah, and my dog Blue.

    I literally HATE going to town of 30K of people for shopping.

    Even here in very rural New Mexico some of the imports (people) are turning into azzholes and it’s showing it’s evil head.

    I believe it’s because people are angry at everything that’s being shoved down our throat or up our azz as some say.

    A person in general is good, People are Angry, Mad, Discussed, and Hateful.

    It will not end well I fear. When the masses finally have had enough and society breaks from the pressures put on them from the “modern day living”.

    Even Religion is breaking down at an alarming rate, I see people leaving church all the time cutting others off in the parking lot just to get ahead of the next so they can get to the store and buy that “Sunday Dinner”. Frightening to say the least.

  16. a few thoughts as to why..

    -in the city you KNOW you can dial a number to get most things you need, including emergency services. – they are supposed to (HAVE to) come, as it is their paid job, whether pizza delivery/emergency services

    -in the country, especially more rural isolated country, you need to do most things yourself, or ask a favor (which you WILL be expected to return) of a an obliging neighbour. You may be able to book a service/call for help by phone, but it is not likely to be quick.

    so, in the country, you know you may need your neighbour, so it is best to keep some kind of decent friendly relationship going on.

  17. Why are people grumpy in dense population while rural is friendly?
    I grew up in Chicago and now I live down south somewhere deep in the woods.
    In my opinion, its privacy and seclusion.

    In the city, everywhere you go there are hundreds of eyes and ears watching and listening to every move you make. Criticizing and judging everything you do, sometimes silently and sometimes not. So they try to distance themselves from other people the only way they actually can in their situation, by being rude to everyone around them for invading their world. Lack of privacy.

    In the country, you can sometimes go months (especially in winter) without seeing anyone other than family, so when you do make that drive into town, you’re actually GLAD to see people. Abundance of privacy.

  18. In high school Psychology, we studied overpopulation by letting a group of mice reproduce at will. They were fed as much as they could possibly eat, but they were kept in the same small cage all semester. By the end of the semester there were wall to wall mice in the cage and they had started eating each other, even though they were provided with plenty of food.
    We concluded that it was a result of several factors: zero personal space (each mouse had another mouse right in it’s face ALL the time), no privacy, no escape, no way to interact normally.
    Those factors affect people in the same way, after all we are animals too.

  19. Greetings fellow travelers. In my humble opinion, I think there are many reasons for the differences. First, and foremost, rural folk don’t usually have to wait in line for anything. Rare to have to take a number at the deli counter, or wait at the post office. Multiply waiting for city folk including back and forth to work….day is shot. Number two, a whole lot less electro magnetic energy. To prove my point, stand in the middle of a shopping mall, then compare to standing in a grassy meadow, or beautiful woodland. No comparison what so ever. Thirdly, many country folk have spent their entire life, perhaps generationally, in a given area. The locals are all familiar, or related to each other. I see that as a real plus. And don’t deny the faith issue either. Rural life is more consistent, because people aren’t shifting around so much. You screw a neighbor in a business deal, and it reverberates throughout the county. In the city, you just find new people to do business with. I’ve lived both, and the country is my choice. But I hope it’s not everyone’s, because then there would be less country. Blessings, prepare like crazy, become skilled with food production, herbal medicine, and help out your neighbor…in the country, we’re all in it together.

  20. Rural folks, especially southern, are generally more friendly.
    City folks are not.
    Add some degree of stress and —

  21. One thing that is beneficial that is usually plentiful in areas not densely populated is good fresh air. The optimum balance being 3000 negative ions and 2000 positive ions per cc of air. This has huge impact on mood. As does lithium deficiency. Not medical advice. Did you know that 7up originally had lithium as one of it’s ingredients. And that 7 is the atomic weight(rounded off) of lithium? The up comes from the uplifting effect of the lithium :)

  22. Concerning my own experiences, as we live in a smaller city just outside our state capital city. It is the neighbors that have changed. When we first bought our home about 13 years ago, we had older (older than us and retired folk) neighbors in which I mowed some lawns, helped with snow removal, and shared garden experiences as well as the fruit of our labors. As these folks grew older and sold off their homes, the ones that have moved in are younger than us and don’t take as good of care as the ones who previously owned these homes. I used to have no issue chatting with the older neighbors, taking my guns out to my truck for a trip to the range or even worried about my wife sun bathing in the back yard. They all just seemed respectful, outgoing and very helpful. And trustworthy to watch our property as we went away on day trips or vacations. Now, over the past couple of years, I have had a trailer stolen, cars broken into, neighbors home shot at by others (weather bad blood to those on their part or just a random act of violence, who knows).

    It has all changed for the worse. Would I want to let my “new” neighbors in on our prepping, water storage, items I have in my home? Absolutely not. I have sense, added video surveillance, trained clearing my home with a firearm within my home in case of a break in, and have caught more than my share of shadiness in the neighborhood.

    So why are people in these cities grumpier? It could be just due to the lack of trust and the uneasy feeling of, who are these people!

    Hope that made sense, I typed really fast as I have a meeting to attend…

  23. Thought this study sort of went with this….

    Penn Medicine study finds being near greened vacant lots lowers heart rates

    Remediating neighborhood blight may reduce stress and improve health

    Greening vacant lots may be associated with biologic reductions in stress, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Residents who walked near newly greened vacant lots had significantly lower heart rates compared to walking near a blighted, or neglected, vacant lot.

    Our goal was to scientifically explore the connection between city environments and stress,” said the study’s lead author, Eugenia C. South, MD, MHSP, a physician in the department of Emergency Medicine at Penn. “We used heart rate as a physiologic marker of acute stress, and the reduction we found suggests a biological link between urban blight reduction strategies like vacant lot greening and reductions in stress.” The study, published online by the American Journal of Public Health, is the first known neighborhood walking trial in which a physiological marker was measured in real-time for residents in their own communities.

    The researchers used a heart rate monitor with GPS to measure the stress response in study participants in two randomly selected Philadelphia neighborhoods as they went on a prescribed walk around their neighborhood. Vacant lots in one neighborhood randomly received a greening treatment, while the other neighborhood served as a control and received no treatment. Participants walked past vacant lots before, and then three months after, the greening treatment of randomly selected lots. The greening treatment, performed by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, is a low-cost environmental improvement that includes cleaning and removing debris, planting grass and trees, and installing a low wooden post-and-rail fence.

    The current research builds on previously published findings by South and her colleagues, which found that residents living near greened vacant lots feel safer than those near non-greened sites

  24. One of my favorite episodes of the classic Twilight Zone is called “Willoughby”. It’s about a man in the advertising business. His wife is “high society” and expects him to work at a job that is making him ill in order to feed her appetite for luxury. On the way home from a hard day at the office, the man is on the commuter train and closes his eyes for a moment. Suddenly, he’s hearing the conductor calling, “Willoughby, next stop Willoughby!” Well, the man is confused and asks about Willoughby since it’s not on his (real life) train’s route. The conductor describes Willoughby as a place where a man can slow down and live his life full-measure.

    That living life full-measure without the rush to make money to feed an appetite for luxury is why I believe most county folk are happy and relaxed.

    Like you Ken, we have lived in a major metro area mostly because we grew up there. The population was a million. We moved to a small town of less than 1000. What a difference!
    We were shocked by the genuine friendliness and eye-contact from complete strangers we experienced and still do.

    Willoughby in the Twilight Zone ended up being death. Real “Willoughby” is small-town living!

  25. Over crowding and having to deal with stupid people who think they should be able to do whatever they want and do not care about who it affects. Rats will kill and eat each other when populations exceed what a boundary can sustain.

  26. I go out of my way to be friendly here in the country, I just let my neighbor know that if he needs a big load of rock moved he had hauled in to let me know and I will bring my front end loader over to help him, he said he will get with me next week to do just that. I did this just days after he burned a pile of leaves that the wind brought the smoke and ashes over to my yard during a rare family get together and did so at 2:00 pm when the birthday party started and everybody was here. Then when he was done with that he was target practicing, haven’t heard him do that in a long while, he sure had his plate full that exact same day. It took me forever to even get the guy to wave to me when he sees me, but during tornado alerts his family comes here because their trailer house has no protection. Be kind to everyone, it may take a while to pay off and may not at times but it is what we are suppose to do.

  27. I think it has very little to do with religion. I have lived in rural areas, small towns, suburbs and central cities. I have known people who weren’t religious at all who were warm and welcoming. I have also known “good Christians” who were mean spirited and judgmentally harsh toward others.

    What really seems to make the difference in rural and small towns is the fear of being stigmatized or ostracized for being rude and unkind. In a larger population, there is more anonymity. If an individual doesn’t believe he or she will suffer social consequences they will tend to be less concerned about politeness. However, in the country and small town you know you can not avoid your neighbors entirely and having a bad reputation in the community will circulate more freely to more people who are in you every day circle. Rural and small town folks may not be rude to your face, they’ll just gossip about you to others who are likely to know you. The fear that this gossip will hurt your image is a much greater concern in a rural and small town community.

Comments are closed.