What it means. In days of yore, a ruralpolitan might have been called a “gentleman farmer”—think of Eddie Albert’s character Oliver Wendell Douglas on the 1960s show Green Acres (shown). But in modern parlance, a ruralpolitan is a professional who has abandoned the urban dwelling for a rural lifestyle and lives on three acres or more, typically within 40 miles of a city.
Be he—or she—a corporate lawyer, hedge-fund honcho, or other well-paid business type, a ruralpolitan might commute to work by rail or car or, if he embraces technology, telecommute from the comforts of a lavishly appointed home office. A ruralpolitan doesn’t typically work the land he owns but does profit from it emotionally through the pleasures of gardening, small-scale livestock raising, or just watching his kids gambol through a field of wildflowers.
Why the buzz? Ruralpolitanism is tinged with romance, depicting a return to agrarian values and pastoral idylls. But country folk still have to mow the lawn and plow the driveway, a fact that city slicker advertising types on Madison Avenue are richly aware of. Indeed, ruralpolitan has earned wider usage as a marketing term used to identify a new segment of the outdoor-power-equipment market.
There’s even a magazine devoted to ruralpolitans, Living the Country Life, a quarterly that goes to 200,000 homes around the country.
Here at Consumer Reports, you won’t find a ruralpolitan category in our Ratings and recommendations, but we do test equipment that can handle heavy tasks. In lawn care, that includes tractors with features like cruise control, ideal when you have to mow several acres, and tow-behind attachments, helpful for hauling stuff from one edge of the property to the other. When testing snow blowers, we make sure to include two-stage gas models, which can clear long driveways more quickly and easily than single-stage models. For chain saws, we rate fast-cutting gas models as well as lighter, easy-to-operate electric ones.
Whether you’re part of the burgeoning ruralpolitan class or a suburbanite with less lawn to tend, use our buying advice to find the equipment that’s sized to fit your needs.—Daniel DiClerico