After reading some of your descriptions of ‘rural’ , I need to rescale my definition of rural. I live in a small housing estate in a village bordering the Brecon Beacons. I have shops I can walk to and pubs I can drink at. In the UK I guess that qualifies as lucky rural – shops and pubs often struggle to survive elsewhere. It’s the tourists that keep us going I think. It’s a popular kicking off point for hikers.
I never understood ’empty’ quite the same after I travelled overland through Australia – Darwin -> Adelaide