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Tips for Moving to a Small Town

There’s something sweetly alluring about leaving the big city to live in a small town. Visions of the barista knowing your name and your favorite coffee, spending way less time sitting in traffic, having a yard (and a dog to play in it!) — all sound pretty nice, particularly if you’ve grown tired of honking horns and congested sidewalks.

Before you shred your subway card and say sayonara to your city friends, take a deep breath and make sure you’re prepared for a little bit of a lifestyle adjustment. Moving to a small town has its quirks after all, so here are our tips for moving to a small town.

Things actually close at night

And on Sundays, sometimes. Living in the city means you can find a hot meal, a bottle of wine, or dish soap at pretty much any hour — that isn’t the case in most small towns. You’ll need to adjust your expectations and your shopping/dining schedule to work around this thing called “business hours”, which applies to almost all the stores and restaurants you’ll frequent. Most things don’t open before 8am either, except the rare coffee shop or diner — so you early birds may need to make your own coffee. Which brings us to:

You’ll find yourself making coffee and cooking more

Moving to a small town from the big city will probably mean giving up your ethnic food addiction, and it will almost certainly mean you have infinitely fewer options for delivery. Many small towns don’t have UberEats, DoorDash, or Seamless (gasp!), so you’ll be limited to those restaurants that offer delivery on their own. Hopefully, this inspires you to take matters into your own hands, stock up on some spices and veggies, and uplevel your home cooking skills. 

You’ll forget that rush hour was a thing

One of the benefits of living in a small town is that “rush hour” will more likely center around school bus routes than traffic jams, and it won’t mean you need to add another hour to your commute time. Unless you’re traveling to work in a nearby city, getting across town will take significantly less time — meaning you can get more sleep, spend less time sitting in your car and enjoy all that your new home town has to offer.

Everyone comes out for community events

Depending on where you land (there are certainly regional differences), you might be pleased to find that there is a town band. Or that the one movie theater in town has a free vintage movie one night a week. Or that the entire town goes to cheer on the high school sports teams. Among the advantages of moving to a small town is the greater ease of meeting new people. Friendly faces are everywhere — literally because you’ll probably see the same people quite often. Get out and attend those events, and you’ll never have to worry about being lonely in your new town.

Fewer entertainment options = redefine your weekend fun

You may at first feel at a loss for what to do with your weekends. Where are the concert venues, the endless cocktail bars, the odd-but-interesting artsy events? You’ll soon find this means a few wonderful things:

  1. You’ll save money. In some cases? Lots of it.
  2. You’ll get more creative with your weekend adventures. Game night, anyone?
  3. You’ll redefine your friendships to revolve around things other than nights out at the bar/club. Because there might not be a club in your new small town.

You may find that spending less time at the bar means spending more time on Saturday morning farmer’s markets, walking that new dog of yours, or even taking long walks in the woods. Because they have those in small towns.

Not quite ready to completely give up on city life, but looking to live somewhere with a smaller feel? That’s an option, too. Cities like Reno, NV, offer families a bit of a small-town vibe with plenty of big-city perks. Boise, ID, is another middle ground.