As part of a celebration and reflection on our one year anniversary of moving to Iowa/starting school/starting a business... I thought it would be fun to share a little on the topic of living in a SMALL town. Evan and I grew up in a small town (population 10,483). We are used to being hours away from the nearest mall. We were considerably sheltered. But we moved away and went out and experienced the world. Once you do that, it's hard to go back.
After living in Columbus, Ohio (population 787,033) for a few years, we got used to having things easily available. Things to eat, things to do, things to see, things to buy, places to live, places to work. One year ago, we moved from there to Estherville, Iowa (population 6,360). There's not much to do, to see, to buy - nor are there many places to live or work. I love the safety, comfort and charm of a small town but I love the options and experiences available in a big city.
Here is a fun list of the pros & cons of living in a small town, from our personal experiences:
- Lower cost of living.
- Easy to attend events (if there are any) because you don't need complex plans. You just go.
- Everybody is nice. Almost.
- Everybody remembers you. (depending on the situation, this could also be considered a con)
- Cute. Small towns are so cute!
- No traffic.
- Cool thrift store finds (because I'm usually the only one looking for certain things)
- Very walkable. Walk to the post office, utility office, library, etc.
- People are eager to help you.
- Slower pace, more relaxed environment.
- Safe. Easier to trust people.
- Big fish / small pond.
- You can get your picture on the front page of the paper if you just ask. (I've done it).
- It's quiet. No horns or highway noise.
- Because there's nothing here, it's easy to spend less money.
- Less food options and availability.
- Bad fabric selection (quilt shops or WalMart are the only options)
- Everything closes early. There is no 24 hr. coffee shop or cafe.
- Not a good beer & wine selection. At all.
- Nowhere to go dancing or see a concert.
- No art scene, or music scene, or fashion scene, or any scenes at all.
- Lack of movies in the theater.
- Cell phone reception is iffy (mostly due to lack of providers in the area).
- Out of date places - like bars that only take cash and their ATM's don't even work.
- People don't understand fierceness (when I went out as Lady Gaga for Halloween, I scared people)
- Don't bother trying to take a cab.
- Nowhere to buy things except WalMart so we are forced to support it.
- It can be harder to find likeminded people.
- It's hard to recycle because there's such a small program with limited facilities.
- No one knows what I am talking about when I ask if the store has Cous Cous, or Hummus.
- The library never has any books that I am looking for.
- USPS is a monopoly. There are no other shipping options.
- We are just way too far from really good things like Trader Joes. How I miss thee.
- Closed minded people. I know they are everywhere but...I swear they're more concentrated here.
- Seeing people you know when you don't want to - is inevitable.
In conclusion, I really feel like we need the best of both worlds. I hope that when Evan graduates and we move on to greener pastures - we can find a small town that is nestled in the vicinity of a bigger city. I want safe and quiet and cozy and easy - but I also want accessibility to things that will make our lives a bit easier and more cultured. If there are places like this out in the world, I would love to know so that I can settle there and stay for a while or forever. I'm tired of moving, ya know??
How do you feel about where you live? Do you like busy big cities or quiet little towns? Is it better to raise kids somewhere cultured or somewhere sheltered? Do you think that we'll find our perfect little place in the world? I hope so!!