The Benefits of Living in a Small Town
In 2018, The Atlantic reported that America’s three largest metropolitan areas—New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—were losing anywhere from 160-280 residents every single day. The article went on to note that this urban flight is resulting in an increased population in cities like Dallas, Las Vegas, and Phoenix—large cities to be sure, but they lack the urban congestion and limited geographic area of the aforementioned municipalities. Once again Americans are heading west in what The New York Times calls a “national homecoming.”
Small towns seem to all but promise an increased quality of life for the residents who call them home.
While there are many practical factors that weigh in this decision, such as cost of living, quality of life, and economic opportunity, there's also a more deeply rooted motivation for many. In 2018, 80% of American’s lived in urban areas, but a Gallup Poll reported by The Washington Post showed that only 12% of Americans preferred urban life. A staggering 39% of those surveyed said that they would prefer to live in a rural environment or small town. So while the big cities tend to get all the glory, it's clear that the charm and very real advantage of small-town living is not lost on many Americans.
Here are a few benefits of living in a small town.
A True Community
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, right? The most appealing characteristic of small-town life is the feature embedded in its definition—a small population. With fewer people often comes a closeness that simply isn’t possible in the anonymity of a larger city. When neighbors know one another and recognize each other on the street, a spirit of cooperation takes hold, and residents work together. There’s nothing else like it.
Low Traffic and Car Insurance Bills
It’s not difficult to imagine that one massive benefit of living in a single-stoplight town is the pronounced absence of traffic. While big-city residents have to do mental math before traveling across town or going to work, small-town folks don’t bat an eye before running out the door.
In addition to smoother commutes, State Farm notes that urban drivers pay more for car insurance than those in small towns due to generally lower rates of vandalism, theft, and collisions in less densely populated areas.
Lower Cost of Living
Now that we’ve established savings on as granular a level as insurance rates, it’s time to acknowledge one of the biggest advantages of small-town living—the lower cost of living. One Business Insider article reports that the biggest factor in the cost of living shift from urban to small-town life is housing.
The great outdoors are often right in your own backyard.
The article makes the eye-popping comparison of two New York towns—New York City where the average home price is reported in the mid $600s and Woodstock, New York where the median price sits in the high $300s. In addition, small-town homeowners are more likely to see their property taxes decrease significantly. While property taxes do vary from town to town, the general trend seems to suggest that homeowners are highly likely to save here as well.
The Small Business Scene
One of the best aspects of living in a small town can be the colorful local business scene that can’t be found anywhere else. Not only can shopping local provide unique finds and quality services, but it also means supporting your neighbors directly and giving back to your community. The lack of fierce competition for space and resources also makes small towns great for starting up your own business and putting down roots in your community.
The aforementioned Business Insider article also notes that business owners in small towns may have a higher profit margin stating, “The average revenue per business in America's biggest cities is $1.4 million, but the number is tripled to $4 million in smaller cities and towns.” Combine this metric with the lower cost of living, and small towns seem to all but promise an increased quality of life for the residents who call them home.
Because small towns often provide a tight-knit community where residents look out for one another, they're also ideal for raising a family. Smaller populations naturally may lead to smaller class sizes and educational environments where children can be in class with their neighbors, cementing social bonds that are key to development.
A spirit of cooperation takes hold, and residents work together. There's nothing else like it.
Proximity to Nature
While some small towns exist as tight-knit communities in the shadow of more densely populated areas, many are characterized by their rural landscape and sometimes even remote location. This means that the great outdoors are often right in your own backyard.
Celebrities Living in Small Towns
Dave Chappelle famously lives in his hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio where he has attended city council meetings, and recently began hosting live, outdoor, social-distanced comedy shows in an effort to revive the municipality’s struggling economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. John Mayer also retreated to the small town of Livingston, Montana in Paradise Valley back in 2012 to escape the chaos of city life, and iconic actor Morgan Freeman makes a home in Charleston, Mississippi where he co-owns the iconic Ground Zero Blues Club.
Small towns often provide a tight-knit community where residents look out for one another.
Things to Know Before Moving to a Small Town
While this article shows that it’s possible to live large in a small town, these communities have challenges like any other. Small-town residents across the country know that the main street movie theater is probably a few weeks behind on the latest releases, and big musical acts aren’t likely to pass through any time soon. The culture that does evolve in these communities can be so special and rooted in timelessness, not short-term fads or trends—so a small town might not be the place to launch a fashion trend or influencer career. With that said, if a slower pace and timeless traditions sounds more up your alley, it might be worth considering small-town life.