Small town living can be delightful, but for some people, it might not be the right fit.
Thornton Wilder might have described the quintessential small town in his play “Our Town” when the character of Emily Webb says goodbye to the small town she loves.
“Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners… Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking… and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”
Food, coffee, hot baths—while small towns don’t have the monopoly on good stuff like this, we do tend to equate the cozy things in life with small town living.
In New Hampshire and Vermont, there’s ample opportunity to find a sleepy dirt road on the outskirts of a small town where you can raise a family, cultivate a weekend escape, or spend a pleasant retirement, far from the traffic sounds of a city. Of course, small-town living has its own challenges. While you might be free of crowds, a higher crime rate, and outrageous housing prices, there are still obstacles to overcome.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of small-town living.
- You know everyone and everyone knows you. In cities, it can be a lot easier to blend into the crowd. You can paint your house, buy a new car, and plant a garden without anyone even noticing. In small towns, there’s a good chance several people will notice and have many different opinions and advice on how you should proceed, whatever the project. This can be difficult to navigate when you simply want to do your own thing!
- Lack of employment opportunity. Many of us make a sacrifice when we move to a small New England town. In cities, there’s far more job opportunities than there are up here, and you usually have less of a distance to travel to get to the office. We’re pretty lucky around here to have a host of thriving universities, hospitals, tech companies, and engineering companies, but it can still be harder to find suitable employment when you live in a small town.
- A lack of public transportation. In the Upper valley, we’re pretty lucky to have Advance Transit to help with much of our public transportation needs, but even so, you might be walking five miles just to get to one of the bus stops. Without a car, you’re not going to get very far away from home. That’s definitely a problem if your place of work is not within walking distance.
- You know everyone and everyone knows you. Yes, I know this appears on both lists. But it’s true! While it might be tougher to go about your life without anyone noticing, it’s actually nice when people notice. And if they notice that you need something, you might just find whatever it is you need—whether it’s a meal during a busy week, a certain type of screwdriver, or a roof rake—sitting on your front porch waiting for you when you come home one day. People in small towns tend to look out for each other.
- The view. Driving through lovely towns like Lyme, New Hampshire or Strafford, Vermont, you might just notice your blood pressure lowering and your breathing slowing. Beautiful views are good for the soul, and good for your health.
- The sense of safety. Yes, there is crime in small towns, but it’s far less than what happens in big cities. Many small-town residents even leave their doors unlocked when they leave for work. This sense of security is extremely important, especially to families and the elderly. We all want to know that we are safe in our homes.
Small-town living isn’t for everyone, but if you’re thinking of buying a house in a small town, make several visits to the local ice cream place, the hardware store, and the local park to see if it’s a comfortable fit. Try to find people who live there to talk to and ask them what it’s like! They’ll probably be eager to share their opinion with you.