9 things to consider before moving to a small town

Last update:
December 20, 2022
min read
moving to a new city

Written by Emily Huddleston, www.redfin.com/blog/moving-to-a-small-town-things-to-consider

Are you finding yourself longing for small-town life lately?

Are you looking to have more space, know your neighbors, and to just have a more relaxed way of living? Well, you’re not alone. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, homebuyer interest in small towns and rural areas is growing, fast.

Since we’re all spending more time at home, people are re-evaluating their lifestyles and what’s important to them in a home. Many are craving more space – a larger backyard, area for a garden, a home office, or maybe a craft room. Additionally, more and more companies are allowing employees to work from home permanently or only commute to the office once or twice a week, so living in close proximity to the office no longer has to be a priority.

So, if you’re one of these people interested in small-town life, you might be struggling with what to do – stay in a big city or take the leap and leave it behind. To help with your decision, we’ve rounded up 9 factors to consider before moving to a small town.

moving to a small town

1. The cost of living may be lower

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but small towns generally have a lower cost of living across the board.

The low cost of housing in particular is a major selling point for moving from a big city to a smaller town. For example, the median sale price of a home in Seattle is $760,000. In comparison, in the same state in a small town called Ellensburg, the median sale price of a home is $355,000. While not all small towns have a less expensive housing market than a large city, you’ll typically pay lower rent or be able to buy more house for your money.

It’s not just housing that’s more affordable, factors like property tax, goods and food, restaurant prices, and even gas prices tend to be lower in small towns.

2. There may be fewer job opportunities

While the cost of living may be cheaper in a small town, there will be fewer jobs available, and the spectrum of industry to choose from will be narrower. This means that finding employment may be more difficult or you may have to travel to a nearby city to work.

If you are able to work remotely, which as we mentioned is becoming a realistic option for many, moving to a smaller town or city might give you the benefits of low-cost living while still maintaining employment at a company in a larger city.

That said, you can still find work in a rural area. Just about every town has a local government that needs employees, schools that need teachers, businesses that need managers, and so on. Also, if you’re a business owner you may find that you can have lots of success in a smaller town compared to a larger city since there will likely be less competition.

3. You’ll want to have a car if you’re moving to a small town

In most big cities you can take public transit almost anywhere, so you may not need a car. In a small town, however, having a car is usually a must to get around easily. Don’t forget you’ll need to cover all the expenses that come with it such as insurance, licensing, gas, maintenance, and repairs.

car driving in small town with rolling hills with

4. There will be less traffic and plenty of parking

Anyone who has driven in a large city knows that the uncontrollable ebb and flow of traffic and lack of parking are enough to make you want to move out of town. If you live in a smaller city, you’ll free up many hours of the day by avoiding a bumper-to-bumper commute, and long gone are the days struggling to find parking. A bonus – if you’re a cyclist or a runner, you’ll enjoy not having to battle for space among heavy traffic.

5. Services and amenities may be limited

Services may be slower or harder to come by a small town. Your internet connection may not be fast enough, there may not be mobile coverage in certain areas, and you can expect power outages from time to time. If you need a plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc., you may find yourself having to wait a week or two until someone is available. Before moving to a small town, it’s a good idea to learn some home maintenance tips so that you’re prepared to do things yourself.

In terms of amenities, there are usually fewer store and product options in a small town. There may not be a mall or a large supermarket in the vicinity and you may have to drive to the nearest big city to get the brands you want or to go on a larger shopping spree.

Also, if you’re accustomed to booking a doctor’s appointment and being seen quickly, you’ll need to adjust to the lengthy wait times usually found in rural areas. If you’re seeking specialized treatment, your options may be limited or you’ll need to travel to the nearest city to meet with a doctor.

6. You’ll have more space

Besides affordability, housing in small towns also tends to offer one of the most wanted commodities: more space. In bustling cities, outdoor space in particular, is rare and comes at a steep price. Homes in small towns are more likely to include a sizable front and/or backyard, and maybe even a deck or porch.

However, if you have a more spacious home or a larger outdoor space, it’s important to remember that you’ll be spending more time caring for your home – whether that’s cleaning, making repairs, or tending to your yard.

wrap around porch at home in small town

7. Your entertainment options may change

When moving to a small town, it’s important to consider how you and your family like to spend your free time. A lot of small-town entertainment involves being outside (hiking, sports, camping) which is great if that’s what you and your family like to do. But if you’re into arts and culture, entertainment options may be limited and you may have to look for fun out in the big city near your new home.

That said, small towns usually put on plenty of activities and local events you can get involved in and attend, such as town picnics, parades, festivals, pumpkin patches, fairs, and much more. To get a better feel for the types of events your new town has to offer, look up their community Facebook page. They usually will list all of their recent and upcoming events and activities – this can help when determining if your new town will be a good fit in terms of entertainment options.

8. There will be a strong sense of community

By far one of the biggest benefits of moving to a small town is the sense of community that develops. People in rural areas are generally kind and friendly to each other, always ready to lend a helping hand when needed. If you’re new to a neighborhood don’t be surprised when you hear a knock on your door to find a neighbor with a fresh batch of cookies. This sense of community can be especially good for those people who may feel isolated living in a big city where it can be much harder to meet others and make friends.

9. Everything slows down

It’s no secret that city life can be chaotic. While some thrive on the noise, crowds, and hustle and bustle of a city, it can be overwhelming for others.

In a small town, you will likely notice a drastic change in pace. People in small towns are usually in less of a hurry and everything from running errands to eating at restaurants is often done slower and more leisurely.

But it’s not just that life slows down, it can also be less stressful. Since you won’t have to contend with traffic, struggle to find parking, and be bombarded with sensory overload from the noise and commotion – you’ll likely find yourself feeling a greater sense of calm and ease throughout your day. But again, as we mentioned, some are at their best among the lively nature of a city. If you are someone like this, small-town living may not be right for your lifestyle.  

Life in a small town has its pros and cons – it can be delightful for some, but for others, it’s not the right fit. So before you swap the big city for a small town, consider these 9 factors to make sure it’s the right decision for you.


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