I grew up in a small town (4,000 or so) on a farm we kept just for my family and now I live in a major city with major foreign connections (DC). I like both. What I don't like is suburbun living, as it has all the negatives of both the small town and the city.
I would agree with others that most small town/rural residents do not have more skills, and in many cases they have fewer skills, than city dwellers. This didn't used to be the case. My grandfather and his peers, all farmers, basically bought a tractor and a baler, and built everything else. We had wagons made from old car axles, plows welded together from 50 different things, etc. I think that skillset has fallen by the wayside in rural areas.
One reason the rural areas have probably lost a lot of skills is that the smart people move to the cities for jobs. 50 years ago most people stayed. Now anyone with half a brain gets a degree and moves to the city. Hard for an area to keep skillsets when there is a brain drain.
I don't agree that growing your own food is back breaking labor. Farming for a living is, but not growing your own food. We had a small herd of beef cattle, ducks, chickens, rabbits, and a giant garden. Most of it wasn't that hard. Chickens suck, but the cattle and garden were relatively easy and provided a ton of food.
Also, I don't think hunting with a rifle (deer) or a shotgun (small game) is that difficult. Shooting a high powered rifle that is extremely accurate and hitting a deer at 100 yards isn't that hard.
If you are looking for a good rust belt city checkout Pittsburgh. Cheap, stable, semi-close to NYC and DC, and not as rusty as many of the other rust belt cities.