If you’re looking for a slower pace of life, moving to a small town might be just the right thing for you!
In previous generations, most people lived in rural communities, similar to the one pictured above. Farming was a way of life, so most people lived outside of town, and only went into town to conduct business (shopping, banking, going to the post office, etc).
In recent years, more and more people are flocking to big cities.
Small farming communities are becoming relics of the past, as more people opt for the bright lights, excitement, and endless opportunities of cities.
But are cities really better?
A recent survey by Gallup showed that nearly half of Americans, if given the choice, would prefer to live in a small town or rural area.
We moved to a small, rural community a few years ago, and it’s made me realize the many benefits of living in a small town.
Small Towns are Quaint
Let’s face it – the best part about small towns is how quaint they are!
In our small town, and in most small towns I visit, I can almost picture how they were 100+ years ago – likely not much different than they are now!
I find downtown to be particularly nostalgic.
All the old buildings, even if they might have changed hands several times, still look the way they did a century ago.
I even recently discovered that the bank in my small town has been there since 1908!
Going into town feels like traveling back in time.
In a small town, everything moves at a slower pace. People aren’t rushing like they are in cities. There are also fewer people than there are in large cities, so people are less likely to get frustrated.
Everything is Close By
When I used to live in a somewhat larger city, it would take me easily 15-20 minutes to get from one side of town to the other.
(A major city would obviously have a much longer commute time – sometimes as much as 1-2 hours!).
Not to mention all the traffic, and traffic lights.
In our small town, it’s no more than 5 minutes from one side to the other. And we’re a One-Stoplight town, so no traffic lights tying up traffic!
Less Choices = Less Decisions
In our small town, there is basically one of everything.
One grocery store.
One post office.
One accounting firm.
You get the idea. In short, life is simpler when you are not constantly bombarded with decisions. You don’t have to waste brain space thinking about which grocery store to go to, as there is just one! Until recently, there was only one gas station (now two more corporate gas stations have moved in to the edge of town, but I still choose the mom-and-pop one that has been here forever).
Having limited options is less overwhelming than all the choices that are available in large urban areas.
Stores are Smaller
I don’t know about you, but when I walk into a huge Big Box Store, I feel completely overwhelmed! I feel like I need a map just to find my way around the store. And finding a sales clerk is almost impossible – they even have buzzers in the aisles now so you can track down a sales associate.
In smaller towns, naturally, the stores are smaller. You don’t feel like a small fish in a big pond the way you do in a huge store.
In fact, you are probably so familiar with the small store, that you already know where everything is, and don’t need to ask. But if you do need to find something, there is usually always a friendly human ready to point you in the right direction.
In our local hardware store, they always greet me with a hello when I walk in, and if I look like I’m lost, they always ask me if I need help finding anything. And instead of just pointing me in the right direction, they usually take me right to where the item is and locate it for me.
I rarely, if ever, get service like this at a big city store.
In a small town, you’re much more likely to find local independent businesses, versus chain stores and franchises.
Residents want to hold onto that small town feel, so they are likely to put up a fight if chain stores try to move in.
People Know You by Name
Although we are newcomers to this town (we’ve only been here 4 years), people already know us by name.
We buy our chicken food from the local feed store, and after going a couple of times, they started greeting me by name. It’s so nice feeling like a valued human instead of just a cog in a machine.
As a person who gets easily overwhelmed in a lot of traffic, I particularly appreciate this!
I love that there are only ever a small handful of cars at our single stoplight.
You can almost always find a parking spot downtown.
And unless it’s the beginning or end of the work day, you never get held up by traffic.
When I drive to the nearest larger city, it seems I spend more time stopped in traffic than I do actually driving.
Fewer cars also means better air quality! Breathing in the fresh air in a small town is definitely a perk, and can mean better health in the long run.
Although the downside to this is that yes, everyone knows everyone else’s business, there is something comforting about knowing your neighbours are watching out for you.
They recognize the local vehicles, so if they see one that doesn’t look like it belongs, they will keep an eye out.
We even have a community Facebook group where people will post if there is anything suspicious or unusual going on.
People are also always quick to lend a hand. Instead of ‘every man for himself’, if someone sees you need help with something, they’ll just show up and do it. With no expectation that you’ll do anything for them in return.
Do you despise self-checkouts as much as I do?
I have always refused to use them.
Have you noticed a trend lately – that there are always a TON of self-checkouts open, but only 1 or 2 lanes with cashiers?
I always choose the cashier lane, no matter how long the line-up is. I don’t want to be a participant in the abolishment of employees! I also feel it’s good customer service for someone else to check me out. Why should I do a job I’m not paid to do?
However, in a small town, I don’t have to make this choice – because self-checkouts are not a thing. Every store you go into has personalized service. In fact, I think there would be a huge protest if these small town stores tried to go the self-checkout route.
Ready-made entertainment options are less likely in a small town. There may not be a movie theatre, bowling alley, or night club for you to visit on a Saturday night. (Although my small town does have a live theatre!).
This means you’ll be forced to be more creative, and come up with your own entertainment. This might include inviting friends and neighbours over for a game of cards, visiting local agricultural fairs and community events, or taking advantage of local small breweries or artisans.
Maybe it just means going for a long walk in the rural areas surrounding your town, and enjoying the great outdoors.
In any case, I view this as a good thing, as it means we are forced to slow down and simplify.
Benefits of Small Town Life
As you can see, small-town living has many benefits!
Now that I’ve experienced small-town life, I can’t imagine ever going back to a large city. The sense of community alone is worth the move to a small town.
With abundant options now for remote work and home-based businesses, living in a small-town setting is much more do-able for many people. Job opportunities may be slightly lacking in a small town, but if your town is within reasonable driving distance of a larger city, this shouldn’t be an issue.
If you’re considering moving to a small town, take your time and visit several small towns in the areas you are considering. Find the one that best suits your needs, in terms of amenities, home prices, and even property taxes. You may find that some smaller towns have higher property taxes, but it may be worth the trade-off in terms of what amenities the town provides.
If the community has a Facebook group, join it and get a feel for the vibe of the residents.
You may choose to either live directly in the town, or to live on the outskirts of town. We chose to live on the outskirts because we wanted a bit of land, but we are only a 2 minute drive to town, and just 20 minutes to 2 larger cities where we have access to more services if needed.
Overall, small town living helps you enjoy the simple things in life. It can help reduce your stress levels, and improve your mental health. If you’re looking for ways to simplify your life, then moving to a small town might be the right choice for you!