Some people love living in a large metropolitan area, while other cringe at the thought of living so close to others, dealing with traffic and crowded subway cars and other facets of city life that urban dwellers must face each day. Others can’t imagine living anywhere that doesn’t have big, wide-open spaces and more chickens and cows than people.
If you are a Big City person, you may find it hard to believe that anyone would ever want to give up on the vibrant, exciting and dynamic city life and move to a sleepy small town somewhere in the countryside. Yet, more and more people, tired of the hectic lifestyle in their metropolis or disappointed with their unfulfilling dreams, decide to do exactly that. Most of them claim it was the best decision they ever made. Others regret it every single day.
Which would you be?
Moving from a big city to a small town may, indeed, result in culture shock (there’s just one pub in town?!?), but usually, it only lasts until the newcomer becomes a part of the community – a process that can be as quick as just a few months. At this point people realize just how much safer, happier, and more enjoyable their lives have become…or for others, just exactly how boring and mundane their new world has proved to be.
So, what are the pros and cons of moving to a small town? And why would you (not) want to move there?
There’s lots of reasons why someone might want to move away from the city. From financial struggles (big city life is not easily affordable) to psychological factors (longing for peace and serenity), and anywhere in between, but the final result of your relocation is likely to be one and the same – increased quality of life, higher disposable income, and greater peace of mind. Why is that, you may ask? It’s a direct result of the numerous advantages of moving to a small town:
1) Higher quality of life:
Higher safety – Crime in most small towns is about 50% to 80% lower than in the big cities. This means that you won’t need to worry about the safety of your property and the well-being of your loved ones. Your kids will grow up happier and have a better outlook for being in such a safe and friendly environment;
Better health – Pollution has been causing a decrease in overall human health for the last century. With the exception of some heavily industrialized country areas, however, it is mainly a big city problem. Air quality in the countryside is several times better and tap water is much purer and healthier than it is in the large urban areas. Besides, living in the countryside provides various opportunities for exciting outdoor activities and going back to the nature. Therefore, moving to a small town will have a very positive impact on your and your family’s health – respiratory diseases, allergies, and many other chronic health conditions will be alleviated or even cured in the clean environment;
Less stress – Another factor that greatly contributes to the large variety of physical and psychological problems in our modern society is stress. In the countryside, there are no hectic schedules, no big expectations, no constant pressure, no obsessing over material possessions – when living in a small town, you can slow down, take life easy and focus on the things that really matter to you;
More time – Time is the one thing you never have enough of when living in a big city – your days are usually booked, from morning to night, several weeks ahead and you don’t have a minute left to spare. When you move to a small town, you will suddenly have extra time on your hands – there will be fewer social events to attend, no urgent meetings, no overtime work, nothing to keep you from your family and your passion projects. You will be able to spend much more time with your kids, to practice your hobbies, to rest and step back and reflect on your life;
More space – Housing options in the countryside are much more abundant and way more affordable than in the big cities, so you will probably be able to buy or rent a spacious new home with a vast outdoor area when moving to a small town. You will no longer suffer from lack of space and will be able to realize all your dream projects – a lush garden, a personal workshop, an artistic retreat, a summer kitchen – anything you’ve ever wanted.
2) Financial advantages:
Affordable housing – Buying or renting property in the countryside will cost you far less than it would cost you in a big city. Even utilities and property taxes are much more affordable in a small town, so you can easily get your dream home there;
Lower cost of living – Commodities are cheaper in rural areas. From groceries and household essentials to school tuition and professional services, living expenses tend to be much lower in a small town. This means that the same income will give you a much greater purchasing power;
Different employment perspectives – Career opportunities in the countryside may not be as diverse and lucrative as in the big cities, but smaller cities offer more support channels and less competition, so you have every chance of getting a good job in your field of expertise. In a small town, it is relatively easy to develop relationships with people in your line of work and the local industries tend to be welcoming and supportive because they’re usually small and extremely close-knit. Therefore, you may be able to easily get your own small business or career off to a flying start in a small city.
Last but not least, you’ll have fewer temptations (no fancy restaurants or high-class clubs to frequent, for example) and fewer things (no luxury boutiques or jewelry stores) to spend your hard-earned money on. Besides, many of the fun activities you may want to engage in will be free – town festivals and sports events, games and outdoor activities, etc. You’ll be able to save more and feel financially comfortable when living in a small town.
3) Friendlier community
People in small communities are kind and friendly to each other, always ready to lend a helping hand if necessary. Your neighbors will care about you and will be glad to assist you in any way they can. You will know almost everyone on a first name basis and you’ll make more friends within a couple of months in the small town than you’ve made all your life in the big city. You will be invited to every local event and your children will be included in every activity they want to participate in. You and your family will live in a peaceful, safe and friendly environment, and will be able to appreciate the small joys of life without any stress or fears.
As inviting as moving from an urban environment to life in the country may sound, you should note that more people are moving in the other direction – from the country to the city. In fact, in 2007 for the first time in our nation’s history more people live in an urban environment than in the country. That might lead you to wonder if they know something that you don’t know.
Now that you’re familiar with the great benefits of moving to a small town, you may want to have a look at the disadvantages as well:
The infrastructure will be very different to what you’re used to. Public transit may be very limited or may not exist at all, so you’ll have to drive a lot when living in the countryside. The roads may be much narrower and not so well maintained. You will certainly enjoy having less traffic around, but you may get stuck behind a large vehicle with no lane to pass it or you may find the gas station locked if you happen to run out of gas after midnight;
There will be less job opportunities available for you (your main options will be in the sphere of agriculture and house maintenance), so you will have to research your employment perspectives well in advance and make sure that you’ll be able to earn a living in the countryside before making a final decision to move to a small town or city;
Small town schools have better discipline and a more personal approach towards the students than big city educational institutions, but the facilities (sports equipment, arts supplies, school libraries, etc.) may not be as good as the ones in the large cities;
Services will be limited and less reliable. Your internet connection may not be stable or fast enough, there may not be mobile coverage in certain areas, and you can expect power outages from time to time. If you need a plumber or an electrician, you may have to wait for days because the few specialists in the area may already be booked or out of town. Even access to specialized medical care may be very difficult;
There won’t be as many conveniences as you’re used to. There may not be a large or even a small supermarket in your vicinity and you may have to drive to the nearest big city to get the brands you want or to go on a Christmas shopping spree. There may not be a place for you to practice your fancy hobby (yoga, for example) or a sports center where you can enjoy your not-so-common favorite activities (such as ice skating or curling). You may not be able to get a doughnut at 4 am or order pizza to your door. Deliveries may cost you more when you are away from the convenient big cities. And so on, and so on;
You may find life boring without the constant buzz and colorful dynamics of the big cities – you may miss the exciting nightlife and the spectacular cultural events that take place in the large urban areas, the multicultural environment and diversity of the metropolises. The peaceful life in the countryside may just be way too quiet for you;
You may suffer from lack of privacy in such a close-knit rural community. If you are a shy person who prefers to keep to yourself, you may find your overfamiliar neighbors too nosy and too indiscreet.
So, what do you say? Are you eager to pack up and leave the big city, or do you laugh at the very idea of moving to a small town?
No matter which environment you choose to live it, it’s a good idea to understand that there will be advantages and drawbacks to both. The challenge is to find a place that offers enough of the good quality of life features that you want with as few drawbacks as possible. That may be your best bet in finding the the place that’s just right for you.