From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
Using augmented reality technology, Pokémon GO has brought the beloved Pokémon franchise to the real world. Unfortunately, it appears that urban areas have benefitted the most in terms of activity for Pokémon GO. Although there are still Pokémon to be found in more remote regions, the variety is limited compared to urban areas. PokéStops and Gyms are also more scarce. Nonetheless, there are still ways to enjoy Pokémon GO even if you happen to live in these areas.
First, it's important to understand why urban areas such as large cities are the ideal location for playing Pokémon GO. The game uses your phone's GPS, clock, and camera to create an augmented reality where wild Pokémon appear around you in the real world. It appears that the areas of interest in Pokémon GO are largely determined by data that Niantic, the publisher for Pokémon GO, has gathered about cellphone data usage, as well as additional crowd sourced information. The source of much of this data is Ingress, the first augmented reality mobile game created by Niantic, and is used to create the data pool where PokéStops and Gyms appear in Pokémon GO. Evidently, areas with greater population density and active telecommunication networks proved to be the most popular locations for these landmarks. As for the locations where Pokémon spawn, these are determined by geographical markers in the game's map that designate areas based on certain properties such as climate, vegetation, and soil or rock type. The amount and frequency of spawning seem to correlate with more populated areas as well.
The Pokémon GO experience in rural and suburban areas
Although you should be able to find Pokémon anywhere, the variety of available Pokémon decreases the further you are from active urban areas. According to a statement by Niantic CEO John Hanke, Niantic's goal is "to make it so you can walk out of the house and within five minutes, you can find Pokémon. It may not be the most rare Pokémon in the world, but there'll be a population of Pokémon living near all our players." So if Rattata, Pidgey, Zubat, are some of the only Pokémon that you are able to encounter, you are probably living in a rural area. Furthermore, you may find it difficult to locate PokéStops and Gyms nearby.
Suggestions for playing in rural and suburban areas
- Get on the go: True to its name, Pokémon GO encourages exploration of the real world in search of Pokémon. For the most part, the Pokémon won't come to you, you have to go to them. It's highly recommended that you visit the most populated areas in your region to get the greatest experience possible out of the game. Walking seems to be the most effective method of encountering Pokémon, but it is certainly not the only way to do so. Pokémon GO also works inside mobile vehicles while in motion, so your avatar will continue to move on the screen as your location in the real world changes. Note that attempts to hatch Eggs faster using vehicles may not work because the game will not record distance travelled if you are moving too fast. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you happen to leave the area when interacting with PokéStops you won't be able to finish interacting with them. In general, if you are playing in a moving vehicle, the interactions work best when you're slowing down or fully stopped near an area of interest. However, once you initiate an encounter with a Pokémon, it will stay with you until it flees or you catch it. Additionally, please remember to stay safe at all times and don't play Pokémon GO while operating a vehicle. For more information on safety measures, follow the Safety Guide.
- Make the most out of opportunities: Since the amount of PokéStops and Gyms in your area may be limited, it would be advantageous to capitalize on every interaction with them. Once you have collected items from a PokéStop, it will automatically restock with supplies after a few minutes. This will allow you to stock up on a bulk of items if desired. You also do not need to move away from the PokéStop for it to refresh (however, you do still need to be in range to access them).
- Location: Similar to the main series Pokémon games, some wild Pokémon can only be found in certain real-life locations with various environments depending on their type. In rural and suburban areas, these landmarks may historical and cultural markers such as sculptures, monuments, churches, and memorials. A good idea in general is to situate yourself in locations with heavy cell phone traffic and places with large crowds of people. Some popular hotspots for Pokémon GO activity include: college/university campuses, shopping centers, metro/bus stops, and busy streets. It's also possible but unlikely for Pokémon to appear inside your home. Remember to keep the app open or it will not alert you to new Pokémon.
- Items: You can use Incenses to increase your chances of attracting Pokémon to your current location. You can use Lure Modules when on a PokéStop to lure Pokémon to said PokéStop. It is suggested that you stock up on as many items as possible when you get the chance to interact with a PokéStop as you are probably not going to encounter many of them, and doing so will make its available items respawn in a few minutes.
- Trading? Although yet to be implemented, Niantic has stated that they are working on a trading feature for future versions of the game. Hopefully this will give players who live in areas with access to only certain Pokémon an opportunity to trade their commonly found Pokémon for more rare Pokémon from other regions around the world.