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For most of my life, I lived in a city of approximately 100,000 people. We had multiple grocery stores, a coffee shop (usually a Starbucks) every couple of blocks, multiple Targets and Walmarts, plenty of chain restaurants, and the local entertainment was slowing growing to be something the city could be known for. My life was plentiful. Plenty of things to do, places to shop, restaurants to enjoy, and museums to visit.
Yet I wasn’t content.
Something was missing in my life and I had no idea what it was until we moved to a small, unincorporated town. I didn’t need most of the things that our city provided. I actually needed less of it. My life was too busy and I had little time to really spend on what mattered to me. Now, after living here for over a year, I feel like I can share with you some of the pros of living in a small town.
Slower paced living | While our small town has quite a bit to offer if you’re an outdoorsy person and love the forest, it is not a place I’d recommend to anyone looking for a bustling nightlife or a plethora of places to shop or entertain yourself at. We don’t have a 24/7 anything here, and most places close before I go to bed (which is usually before 10pm.) And I’m okay with that. It forces me to find different ways to spend my time than I used to and allows me some time to just sit back and breathe.
There’s no need for public transportation | We don’t have buses or taxis here. We don’t even have a stoplight in our town so public transportation definitely isn’t a thing here. While some might see this as a negative, there are SO many pros to this. Drives don’t need to be scheduled around rush hour here. (Besides, “rush hour” pretty much only exists when the trails, parks or boat launches are closing.) There are always parking spots. And the only reason your drive would be interrupted long enough for you to be late to anything is needing to wait for a deer or turkey to cross the road.
Everything is within walking distance | If I walk to the post office, I pass one of two gas stations in our town as well as our only grocery store. And bank. And a bulk of the restaurant bars that are in town. And a few gift shops. What used to be a twenty minute drive between stores is now a solitary fifteen minute walk.
Small town hospitality | It’s a thing. You see it in movies and it seems really crazy when you’re living in the city, barely talking to the ten other people that live in your cul-de-sac. But small towns really do have that “where everybody knows your name” feeling. And while it seems really intimidating at first, you realize that even though you actually have less neighbors than you did before – it’s nice knowing who lives by you. And when the power was out for most of the town last year? People guided you around the grocery store with a flash light and warned you about any danger on the road ahead without us even asking. The community really does pull together in times of crisis.
Low crime rates | I don’t really know that crime outside of littering or doing something while intoxicated (driving, behaving inappropriately, etc) exists here. Yet every time I turn on the news from my old city because we don’t have a news station here, someone is dead or something is destroyed. No thanks – I’ll take my monthly reports in the town’s newspaper to keep up with any crime here.
Lower cost of living | We bought a house here for probably about 1/2 the cost (if not more) than it would have been in our old city. And we have land to go with it. And a separate shop for our business. While the groceries may be a bit more expensive sometimes, you can’t beat the housing market.
Fun traditions and celebrations | We have all kinds of traditions that I had no idea existed until we moved here. Corn roasts are a big deal around here. And we have a yearly Mardi Gras parade. And food raffles can be found pretty much every week of the year for supporting some kind of fundraising event. Meanwhile, we had a big parade in our old city for Thanksgiving. I’ll take the Mardi Gras parade that I can watch from my driveway over the freezing parade around the busy holidays any day.
Impulse buying ceases to exist | Since we only have one grocery store in town and one more in the town next to us, along with no Walmart/Walgreens/Target, shopping is extensively planned out. We head to the city (45 minutes or 1.5 hours away depending on what we need) with lengthy shopping lists that are rarely strayed from. Errand days can get long, but I know our bank account is thanking us for the move!
Shopping local is the only option | When we lived in the city, shopping local was usually not the most convenient option. We’d try to make it to the farmer’s market every week during the Summer and stop by local shops when we could, but both were on the opposite side of the city so it didn’t happen as often as I would have liked. Here? It’s not an option – it’s the only choice. We get vegetables right at the farm and crafts from local artisans without even trying.
While there are plenty of cons to living here (another post for another day) – the pros of living in a small town definitely outweigh the cons. I can’t imagine going back to the city and trying to keep up with the kind of life I used to lead.