It found unsecured debts in rural areas are generally lower with the average amount owed by a town or city resident over a £1,000 more (£3,600) compared with someone in a rural area (£2,510).
It also found those in the countryside are less likely to be overdrawn or unable to clear their credit card balance each month than those in urban areas, who are also more likely to use high-cost loans.
However, more than half (51%) of those in rural communities – which the study found tend to be older and are more likely to be retired – rely on their state pension to get by compared with 37% in urban areas.
The survey of 13,000 adults by the Financial Conduct Authority – the UK’s financial regulator – looked at the urban-rural divide when it comes to how people manage their money.
It also found more than two thirds of people who never use the internet across the UK live in rural areas, and the take-up of mobile banking in rural areas (23%) is nearly half that in urban areas (45%).
This is likely because of patchy broadband and a greater reliance on banks, although the survey also found those in rural areas have difficulty getting to a branch for heath reasons.
More than a quarter (27%) of adults living in the countryside are highly satisfied with their financial circumstances overall – compared with 20% of those living in towns and cities.
One in 10 people (13%) have no savings in the UK, but the report also found a clear North-South divide with more people in the North having no savings. Around 17% of people in the North West and 16% in the North East have no savings compared with 9% in the South East and 10% in the South West.
The study also found the North West (55%) has the highest proportion of adults potentially vulnerable to financial harm if something goes wrong in their lives – meaning they may be less able to engage with financial services. This compares with 46% in the South West.
Those living in London have the highest level of financial difficulty (17%), compared with 15% across the UK, and those living in Yorkshire and the Humber are most likely to be “in difficulty” (11%), compared with the UK average of 8%.
Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive, said: “This survey shows just how different the experience of financial services is for consumers across the country.
“That’s important for us, as we shape financial services policy. But it is also important for firms, as they decide how best to serve their customers.”