In the Dutch policy discourse it is increasingly thought that active citizenship will positively affect satisfaction with the living environment. This article challenges this assumption by examining whether and how volunteering in village life and individual perceptions of liveability are interrelated. Through a series of hierarchical regressions, we found that having the opportunity to volunteer in village life is not a significant predictor of perceived liveability. Moreover, by classifying rural inhabitants as non-participants, nominal participants and active participants in volunteering in village life, we determined that active residents evaluate liveability less positively than the other two groups. Accordingly, determinants other than volunteering and active citizenship are better able to predict perceived liveability, although the specific variables differ for each group of rural inhabitants. This suggests that governments overestimate both the willingness of rural residents to volunteer and the benefits of becoming active in village life.