15 Things No One Tells You About Moving to a Small Town
Before making the big move to a less-populated place, read these insider tips from people who’ve traded city lights for the countryside.
Medical services are difficult to access
If you’re used to the convenience of booking a doctor’s appointment and being seen right away, you may have trouble adjusting to the lengthy wait times for medical services in rural towns. Seeking specialized treatment, like with a psychologist or psychiatrist, will leave you with even fewer options, greater waiting times and a fair way to travel in order to be seen. Still, people who live in one of the 21 nicest small towns to visit in America, will tell you, there are perks you should consider before writing off small-town life just yet.
You’ll find refreshing peace and quiet
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An obvious benefit of moving somewhere with fewer people is less noise, but the true delight of quiet open space often goes unsung. After moving from Barcelona to Palatka, Florida, J.R. Duren said he loved trading off the concrete jungle for miles of trees and open sky. The peacefulness and spaciousness of small towns make quiet activities even more serene, whether it’s meditation, yoga, or sitting on the balcony with a cup of tea.
Education priorities may be different
The unspoken expectation that you’ll graduate high school, go to college and eventually embark on a career path is often absent in rural regions. Lexi, who moved from Los Angeles to a city a sixth the size in population, said that many students who were going through the school system saw high school as an end goal and college as an option. Many people in small towns, particularly in rural or remote regions, have family ties to the area and are complacent doing ordinary jobs as long as they get to stay local.
Diversity comes in different forms
Small towns aren’t always culturally varied, but what may surprise you is diversity in different forms, from the animal and plant life to the townspeople’s social characterizations. Alan Muskat, director of the show No Taste Like Home, made the move from Miami, Florida (population 453,579) to Marshall, North Carolina (population 889) completely unaware that his new hometown would be a biodiversity hotspot. Sometimes, what makes a town different is what eventually makes it feel like home. Here are the best small towns to retire to in America.
Business and personal mix…often
Clichés depict small towns as gossipy with tight-knit, locals-only social groups. What people don’t really tell you about these locations is that keeping business and personal life separate is tricky. Janice Holly Booth, author of Only Pack What You Can Carry, said she never thought she’d be friends with her doctor or dentist when she lived in Buffalo, New York. After moving to Gastonia, North Carolina, her reality changed. “In small-town Gastonia, everyone knows my business, and it’s pretty much the norm to walk into a restaurant and know most of the people in it.”
Everything slows down
Joana Mendes swapped Lisbon’s 2.7 million people for the 4,973 people of Boliqueime, Portugal. “What surprised me the most was the real quality of life; the real-time you spent with friends, not in a hurry, but really enjoying the moment.” There’s an unexpected change in pace from a big city to a small town, where everything from buying groceries to drinking coffee is often done slower and more deliberately than in a bustling metropolis.
Parking problems are a thing of the past
Katie Wagner moved from humming San Francisco to tranquil Cornelius, North Carolina, where she was gratefully surprised by one glorious perk of smaller towns—parking everywhere! “We adapted to the convenience factor: being able to find parking everywhere we went as opposed to giving ourselves an extra half hour to circle for parking in San Francisco,” she says. In other less-populated communities, finding parking is as easy as pulling up to an open lot and stopping wherever you please. In other towns, you can even walk to all the local shops. Locals would tell you that these small towns beat any big city for your next vacation.
Traveling hours for frozen yogurt isn’t crazy
For people in small towns, especially in remote areas, traveling great lengths for food, shopping, entertainment and more is the norm—even if that means driving three and half hours to another town and back on a Saturday just to scour a mall or bite into a delicious burrito from the region’s best food joint.
The job market is limited
A smaller community will have fewer employment opportunities. What no one tells you is that you’ll likely need to compromise to make ends meet. If you’re moving to a suburb, rural area or remote region for reasons other than employment, it’s important to be mentally prepared to work in jobs outside your professional qualifications or college degrees in order to earn an income. Eventually, an opportunity may open up or better yet, you can create your own.
There’s a strong sense of community
Once you crack the shell of locals-only social groups, there’s an abundance of communal support awaiting you. Hana Pevny went from Austin, Texas, to Kennebunk, Maine after purchasing a business. “One of the most surprising things about moving to a small, seasonal community was the support I received from other business owners,” she said, adding that she feels a sense of community support and inclusion versus the dog-eat-dog world of metropolises. Before you decide to move altogether, try a temporary stay in one of the best (and cheapest!) small town weekend getaways around the country.