I recently moved from one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world, West Los Angeles, to a small town of roughly 9,000, Burley, Idaho. I grew up in a Southern California suburb, which is somewhere in between, so I have a good perspective of the differences and advantages of each. Most of our friends thought we would hate it or go crazy, but we have really enjoyed it. Read on to find out why!
Warning: Be careful reading this, you just might notice yourself imagining the wonderful life that small towns can bring and find yourself craving small-town living!
Small towns are easily compared to a placid pond with a smooth surface. It is largely undisturbed, conservative, and slow to change. Big cities are much like the ocean, lots of change, movement, and such. Imagine if you threw a small pebble into a placid pond. It would create some ripples and be quite noticeable. If you threw a boulder into the ocean no one would even notice a change to the wavy waters found there. This sums up the differences between the impact you have in small towns versus large cities.
You can do small things in small towns and they have more impact and effect than seemingly large things you can do in large cities. Now if you are planning to do lots of shady things then you are better off in a large city.
I am a fan of lists (they are easier to read), so here is my list of the benefits of small town living:
- Reputation is king – in a small town your reputation is infinitely more important in business and in personal life. It is much more likely that the good or the bad that you do, will spread.
- Greater impact – Remember the pebble? If your desire is to do good or evil you can have a more dramatic impact in a small town. This means more of the reward you are seeking.
- Your name matters – Some family names have been around in the area a long time. Businesses are usually named after them. Here we have Ramsey’s heating and Electric, Redder’s Showcase, and several others. Less people means your name has greater meaning and word about you travels much faster.
- Big Fish in a small pond – If you have a particular skill or talent it is much easier to be one of the best in a small town. Here my wife and I are starring leads in the local musical, I have a leading website design business, and people respect me as a marketing and business expert… and we have been here less than a year!
- Honesty and integrity matters – You won’t be in business long if you establish a reputation for being shady or a jerk. Even some businesses in small towns do not realize this or they deal largely with clients out of the area so they can get away with it, but most people want to have a good name and small towns have a higher level of accountability. There are less secrets in small towns.
- Slower pace - Who could argue that the high pace of city living brings lower stress and is better for your health? People have time for people in small towns.
- Local loyalty - Small towns are loyal to local businesses, to their state, and to their country. They are grateful for the good they have.
- Recession proof – Because many small towns are highly loyal to local businesses, this makes them somewhat recession proof. Locals are able to do business with each other and they are often able to run businesses for a lower cost and sell goods and services to larger cities outside the area, which brings more money into the local economy. Unless the local economy is linked directly to a major company, small towns may be the last areas to feel any effects of a recession and are able to weather it much easier. I have worked with several people starting small businesses during, what the news keeps trying to sell as, the worst recession in recent years.
- People look you in the eye – In the The Definitive Book of Body Language they suggest that this is positive in several ways. In larger areas this is avoided as confrontational or because it may mean you will have to communicate with someone, which is too time consuming considering the large number of people you cross.
- People take time to talk – People have time for people, and people are more important than things.
- Family matters – Family is important in small towns and family values are a priority. Even the musical I am in currently, has been altered to exclude some of the racism and swear words, because that is what the community expects. Small towns are these extremely healthy bubbles for children to grow up in, like little garden’s of eden for plants. Don’t worry they have plenty of time to be corrupted later once they’ve grown their tender roots and leaves and know who they are, without being poisoned as they grow.
- Greater focus on nature and the outdoors – I believe that the greater the disconnect we have from nature the worse our health gets and the less connected we feel to things. One way to connect with nature is pets. Other ways include enjoying the great outdoors. There is something soothing about the drive out to Oakley or Twin Falls and seeing nothing but fields or untamed land.
- Cleaner air – This is debatable due to the machinery, lower smog standards, and crop-dusting, and livestock, but overall the air is clearer here, there are less vehicles, and the sky is actually blue. Very different from Los Angeles.
- Lower cost of living – More bang for your buck is a great thing! If you can pull in big city pay by reaching out to areas outside your small town, then small town living becomes luxury living!
- Less bums - It is really unlikely to see a “veteran” with a sign asking for money or food, they go to where there are a lot more people… in a small town their jig would be up in a few days since everyone would know they have no intention of getting off the street and just want to live off of handouts.
- Less superficial and more real – Less focus on personal appearance could be good or bad, but after seeing all the old ladies in Los Angeles that look the same due to excessive plastic surgery, I feel it is a good thing. Los Angeles has models and actors and actresses and sexy people all over the place… it is sort of weird. I miss the eye candy humans, but I really love how beautiful and kind the people are on the inside, here in the small town. It really is surprising and makes me feel right at home. Research suggests friendships are a huge key to health and happiness and small towns feel like home.
- More independence – There is a higher percentage of small business owners since large companies tend to gravitate toward larger populations. This means here are more business owners. Business owners tend to have initiative and be self starters. This seems to translate into a community that values a good days work and values time.
If you came from a small town you are probably missing it right now. If you are crazy and stressed in a big city or even a suburb of a big city, then you may be wishing for some small-town living.
Come from a small town? Lived in a small town? Live in one currently? What goodness have you noticed about small towns? Let everyone know in the comments…