Playing Pokémon Go from Rural Area to Big City

pokemon go sarah kohl rural rochester ny

First off, I need to admit something. I don’t have the Pokédex memorized, I failed at nearly every Name-that-Pokémon, and I have never finished a single Pokémon game. You know what though? It doesn’t matter when playing Pokémon Go. The game reminds me a lot of Pokémon Snap. There is no great storyline, gameplay is simple, and there are a limited number of Pokémon you can catch. So why is everyone playing it?

It’s got a great community vibe to it. When I installed it I was in a rural area and there were no landmarks or gyms nearby. Heck, it didn’t even say there were Pokémon nearby! I closed the app and didn’t think much about it until I visited my friend in the great city of Rochester this weekend.

Login issues aside, once we both decided to walk around the block and play we were hooked. What started out as “maybe we’ll play this for an hour or two” turned into a treck from the city, to the beach, and then to visit our alma mater. We kept playing because the game helped us connect with people in real life. It was addicting to be able to walk anywhere at any time of day and run into people who would strike up a conversation.

“What team are you on?”
“Did you get that Pikachu back there?”
“Have you been able to find the Beedrill?”

Easy game-related conversation starters lead to learning peoples names, talking about careers, current events, and even connecting on Facebook so we could hang out later. In a time when people are constantly moving for work opportunities I can think of nothing better than learning about your neighborhood and making new friends. That’s what’s making this game so addictive for me and I hope other people are having a similar experience! (If not, move to Rochester, NY!)

After intensely playing for a short time, I would encourage people to start playing sooner than later. It’s very likely that this international epidemic will wane in popularity in a month or so. If you’re having trouble getting started here are a few things I’ve learned:


  • If you live in a rural area, play till level 5 or so in a city. You’ll want to focus on getting eggs, Pokéballs, and incense. These items will let you go to even the most remote place on earth (with cell reception) and still have fun playing. When you run out of them, you can just make a quick trip back to a city to collect more.
  • Playing with others is more fun. So if you’re walking around alone strike up a conversation with some other people playing. (You can tell by the way they stare at their phone!) If they don’t seem interested in grouping up, don’t follow them. Just tell them where you’ve seen some interesting stuff and find someone else who wants to talk.
  • If you are having trouble finding new or different Pokémon, try going for a drive and finding some new terrain. Water Pokémon can be found next to water, electric ones can be found in parking lots, and so on. You’ll likely see them if you’re out running errands at the store.
  • If it doesn’t seem like your eggs are hatching make sure you wiggle your phone a bit when you’re walking. Your phone’s GPS and pedometer are used to determine the distance you’ve walked.
  • If you’re experiencing issues with the app, log out, and then get frustrated as you try to log back in. Hopefully they will spin up some more servers.
  • If your phone battery is dying and you’re finding the “battery saving” mode in the settings to be glitch, just turn your screen brightness down on your phone and only turn it up when you feel a vibration.







  1. Melissa

    Using incense in a rural area does nothing. Where I live, there are no Pokestops (or Pokemon) unless you get in the car and DRIVE ten minutes to the nearest town. There aren’t even any pokemon in the “nearby” section at the bottom right of the app, even after walking the entire length of my 2-3 mile road with the app open and incense going. Yet, if I drive 10 minutes into town, there are Pokemon and Pokestops EVERYWHERE. Pokemon Go was not made for people in the country, which is not only opposite to the way the real games work, but very sad. When I can play it, I love it. But, unfortunately, I can only play it when I need groceries or am on break at work. 🙁

    1. Sarah

      Oh that sucks 🙁 I don’t have any Pokémon around without incense, but I did get 3 new ones when I used it in the middle of nowhere. I did do some leveling beforehand which might have had something to do with it though. Hopefully they have a fix for this in new versions. I would love to be able to leave my house and find something.

    2. Morgan Clutter

      Mines the exact same way… I live 10 minutes from the nearest town and soon as I get close, the Pokemon start surrounding me so fast I get overwhelmed, but here at my house, with inscense I’ll be lucky to catch one Pokemon in the 30 minutes inscense is running. Sad because I enjoy playing the game but I can only ever make progress when I have a few extra minutes in town. I really hope they change up the population density algorithm soon. At least give the rural areas a decent spawn rate or playing the game isn’t worth the hassle.

  2. […] know the frustration, I talked about it here in great detail, but this post is short. I’ve got some good news for you rural […]

  3. Leane

    I’ve also heard that you can use the map data from ingress to see where spots, gyms, and rare pokemon are. I have an iPhone so i don’t think i can play or look at ingress, but that might help someone else out there!

  4. Leopoldo

    Fellas who of you play Pokemon GO? Amazing game, yesterday i caught
    the rare pokemon Venusaur using some…tools. No ban so far, still using them.

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