An urban area is characterised by dense populations, man-made infrastructure, high levels of industrialization & business activity. It’s also basically far removed from natural settings. Rural connotes an area that’s peripheral to commercial & industrialized areas. It’s majorly intertwined, co-existent & very much close to & in touch with nature. Approximately 4 billion of the global population is urban (almost 55% of the total). Thus the norm is that the rural population is supposed to be less than the urban. However, Zimbabwe is unique in that it has a rural population of 68.9%, meaning only 31.1% is urban – this is actually implicit of urban to rural migration. So let’s compare the two:

Population Density

Urban areas are more densely populated as compared to rural areas. This is a nightmare for cases of disease outbreaks.  Rural areas are mainly constituted of sparsely populated settlements. This implies that privacy is severely compromised in urban areas, whereas in rural areas there is lots of privacy. In rural areas, one household can be radiated by an open area spanning even some few kilometres before getting to the next household.


Basic service providers namely, schools, shops, health care facilities, financial institutions etc, are so few and not easily accessible in rural areas. Generally in instances where such amenities exist, they are, for the most part, small, archaic or less-developed. Plus travelling long arduous distances is usually the case in order to access those that are available. The scenario is further exacerbated by the common absence of basic roads, electricity, internet & telecoms infrastructure.

As for urban areas, amenities are modernized & ubiquitous plus they are easily accessible with even room to choose preferences. Roads, electricity, internet & telecoms infrastructure is much more developed and available.

Standard & Cost Of Living

In urban areas, standard of living is generally high due to modern facilities & services available. Basic health care & educational services are way better than for rural areas. Entertainment & recreational facilities are everywhere and are very well-developed. However, the cost of living is extremely high. There are more diverse opportunities for making money or finding occupations though.

In rural areas, there is a high prevalence of poverty. Living standards are generally quite low due to under-development. Rural areas are mostly agro-based & that tends to be the main source of income. Due to the common reliance on unreliable rain for agriculture, a lot of people end up in dire straits of poverty due to poor harvests. Cost of living is also generally very low due to the fact that most basic needs are met without having to pay for them.

Socialization, Style & Quality Of Life

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said something interesting about urban communities. He noted that urban areas do foster growth & cause people to interact more, BUT, makes people way more fake or superficial. There is a high level of competition in urban areas for one to survive; this makes people very egotistical and self-seeking. People tend to only pursue interactions that benefit them even at the expense of others. Urban life is also characterised by a broad diversity – you’ll most likely interact with people from various cultures & backgrounds in an urban area.

Rural communities are mainly characterised by genuine & sincere interactions, plus there is less noise. There is generally a lot of collaboration & teamwork to realize shared benefits. Diversity is quite scarce; you can find a whole community being homogenous in that they will be of the same culture & possibly background. Overall, people are generally more socially accommodative, sincere & well-meaning in rural setups.

Health Issues

There is a lot industrialization in urban areas that results in land & air pollution (impurities & noise). This is an issue most urban people are oblivious of – but, it’s a major contributor to the occurrence of many diseases. The other aspect is the presence of little or no flora & fauna – industrialization tends to destroy or destabilize the natural ecosystem. This results in a compromised environment that makes people highly susceptible to illness. People also tend to have easy access to cheap & processed food that may be harmful to health. Another less acknowledged issue is that of radio or cell towers and Wi-Fi routers which are now everywhere – research has discovered that signals emitted by those entities are harmful to health.

Malicious damage to the environment due to industrial activities is rare for rural settings. Agriculture is commonplace and actually contributes to a stable ecosystem. This results in a cleaner environment & cleaner air which contribute to good health. People also tend to consume natural (healthy) foods which are more readily available. Thus the occurrence of illness is less prevalent. People in rural areas are generally more agile & healthy due to that.

Pace Of Development

Pace is very slow in rural areas; you can find construction projects that were aborted and haven’t been finished in over 20 years. Road networks are grossly poor & under-developed – this also contributes to challenges in developing these communities. Generally government & entrepreneurs are disinterested in instituting real & meaningful development in rural areas. This, however, is something that could change with the coming of the #ReImagineRural challenge & initiative by Strive Masiyiwa.

Urban areas are fast-paced and development is a daily affair. The rate is so high that finding a virgin piece of land is now hard & expensive. This is even sparking conversations on the need to now explore vertical & underground urban development so as to circumvent to scarcity of land.

Urban life is presently more glamorous than rural life which makes it more alluring. However, with a dose of development, rural life now presents better prospects as opposed to urban life. The downsides of living in urban areas (such as pollution (impurities, signals, noise), division, etc) now seem to cloud the modernization and development that those areas pride themselves in.