Decisions to live in a certain place or region are partly prompted by material and symbolic factors of that place or region. This paper focuses on the importance of these factors for rural young adults based on a household survey in three rural areas in the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Germany. It examines how rural young adults appreciate material and symbolic factors, and to what extent they play a role in their expectations to stay in the area. The results show that the environmental characteristics of rural areas and senses of belonging to rural areas, and not so much the social network in those areas, are highly appreciated and important for expectations to stay. Symbolic factors are slightly more important than material factors, but this differs for specific geographical contexts. Furthermore, while a relatively low share felt part of their local community, a sense of community still played a major role in expecting to stay. Overall, this paper shows that some factors that play a role in staying expectations are already highly appreciated, whereas factors that show lower appreciations do not always play a role in staying expectations, and thus may be of less concern for policy makers.