It’s a Small Town After All
Some people like it and some people do not. Small towns are known for their closeness of community, low crime rates, and value driven child rearing. However, small towns have been known for their rural locations, myopic point of views, and struggling economic situations. It depends on who you ask and your own personal experience in living in a small town. If you have the right attitude, you can help make your town work for you and enhance its amazing potential.
I live in a small border town in Idaho and I think it is a great community. However, living in a small border town is difficult for businesses and the housing market has to compete against neighboring communities with more resources or added value. Yet, I still continue to live where I do because it is quiet, away from the city lights and traffic, and my family will get to experience their own piece of wilderness in our backyard.
Pro – Everyone knows everyone.
It is hard to make new friends these days without the crutch of social media. In a small town, social media is just icing on the cake. Everyone just seems to know everyone, what they do, and who they are as a person. It is one of the most inviting things to just see people out and about and know who they are and greet them with a smile. The camaraderie is strengthened and the facet of face-to-face contact is revered. The connection between people is alive and the use of social media is not as dependent as it may seem.
Con – Everyone knows everything.
Unfortunately, once you get to know everyone, you get to know everything about them. Others around you may greet you with an expression or make a comment on something you may have thought was private. In some cases, knowing things about people is a good thing. However, people knowing you collect knives may not be well received. Be careful who you talk to and what you tell them. Younger generations of small town folk are more apt to using social media to document personal conversations and interests, and this can turn against you as you get older. Privacy is still a treasured attribute, so it is okay to keep a secret or two about yourself to yourself.
Pro – People can’t find you.
An added benefit in living in a rural area is that it takes some rural know how to get where you live. Some people live in town, while others live on the outskirts enjoying nature. I personally live off the street hidden behind other houses. It is quiet and the neighbors are quiet, just the way I like them. The natural beauty of the environment is inviting and you have a piece of the wilderness in your own backyard. GPS and Mother Nature just don’t mix when it comes to small towns. It prevents unwanted guests from coming to your home on a frequent basis and adds to the allure of privacy.
Con – People can’t find you.
Because it is so difficult to find your humble abode, people may be discouraged from visiting or even doing business with you. Convenience is the way of the world now, and being unreachable is a thing of the past. There may even be a person or two that you haven’t met whom you’ve invited over for dinner and they end up two blocks and a dead end up from where you really are. So, either you need to be great at giving directions or great at drawing maps, because people (especially emergency personnel) need to know where you live!
Pro – Being conservative is a good thing.
It has been my experience in every small town I have lived in where the attitude and views towards many things are conservative and value driven. Honor and integrity are the mainstay, while popular and tolerated ideals are still taboo. However, there is a level of protectiveness that comes with a conservative attitude towards life and has helped keep many members of a community safe. Other ideals build upon working hard and earning what is deserved, being grateful for what you have, and dismissing those who would dishonor your family unit. Values build character.
Con – Being TOO conservative is a bad thing.
Sometimes, being conservative is synonymous with being bull headed or having a myopic view on life. It is not against the law to be in an interracial relationship, but some may see that as taboo because it does not happen often in smaller communities. Being open minded to new things is also character enhancing, but too conservative people can misconstrue these experiences as negative or damaging to traditional values. Limits can become exhausting to adhere to and too numerous to remember.
Pro – A mix of other towns.
Living on the border is an interesting experience. Other small towns are collected together and there is a knowledge of each community’s events and environment. The atmosphere is different, but you know it is still “small town” attitude. Members of each community begin to do business with each other expanding a self-sustaining economy with inter-state trade concepts. Business can get bustling during peak seasons and holidays and there is always something different for everyone.
Con – Competition is fierce.
Border towns can get competitive, though, especially in sports. Rivalries are encouraged and engrained in a history of local newspapers and “back in my day” story telling sessions. In some instances, foul play or unsportsmanlike conduct is allowed or ignored during events, adding to the tolerance of violence in sports. In addition, businesses can feel the negative impact of tax free states. Idaho’s sales tax rate is 6%, while Oregon is 0%. Strategically placed businesses can capitalize on this, and can essentially wipe out the “little guy” trying to make it in this dog eat dog world. The economy’s track record allows certain loyal customer attitudes to wane to save a pretty penny, even one state over.
My Small Town Attitude
I love living in a small town. I like the natural landscape, the atmosphere of a semi-conservative lifestyle, and the engagement I have with my neighbors. I feel like small towns are a great place to raise children and establish well rounded family traditions. This is not to say that this cannot happen in a bigger city, but bigger cities are just not for me. I like living at a slower pace with the ability to connect with people, learning about who they are and where they are from. Bigger cities, to me, have an “I’m fun and come visit me” label on them, which I think is great. Taking a break from the quiet life is what a city is all about, but eventually, I like to come back home to the relaxing ambiance of a small town and sit in my quiet living room, in my quiet house, in my quiet neighborhood and continue building on my own family traditions and values.