If you’ve lived in a big city or metro area for the majority of your life, moving to a small town can be a massive lifestyle change. Maybe you’re relocating for an exciting new job opportunity, want to be closer to family and friends, or just need some extra space and a change of scenery. After all, the “concrete jungle” can only provide so much when it comes to fresh air and greenery.
From lower crime rates and close-knit communities to decreased costs of living compared to big cities, there are many advantages of small-town life. And with thousands of emerging cities currently experiencing a renaissance throughout the United States and Canada, now is a fantastic time to move if you’re looking for the unique lifestyle that small towns provide.
Should you relocate to a small town?
Regardless of your personal reasons, moving to a small town from a larger city is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s easy to romanticize a more relaxed life out in the country, but how do you know if you should take the leap?
If you’re on the fence about moving to a small town, here are a few crucial questions to ask yourself:
- Are you financially stable? Do you have savings to support your move?
- What types of activities and hobbies do you enjoy?
- Will you need to find a new job?
- Do you want to live in a highly-rated school district?
- Do you know anyone who currently lives in a small town that you can visit or ask for advice?
Transitioning from a Big City to a Small Town
First, be sure to confirm that you’re financially able to make the move. You’ll also want to nail down what specific amenities you’ll need your next home to provide. Are you looking for a bigger yard or a highly-rated school district? These details will help guide you to the best small town for your unique needs and lifestyle.
Next, it’s time to start apartment or house shopping. To keep things manageable, compile a list of your top home options and start narrowing it down by taking short trips to each town. That way, you’ll get a better idea of how you like it in person. Does it look like the pictures? Are the amenities up to your standards? Are the townspeople your kind of crowd?
Even if all goes well, you may want to start with a short-term or annual lease in your favorite location to truly see if moving to a small town is for you. This also allows you the freedom to explore which areas and neighborhoods in your area you like the most.
Related: How to Save Money for a Down Payment on a House
Moving to a Small Town From a Big City: Helpful Tips & Tricks
Ready to make your move? Here are some of our best tips for moving to a small town to help guide you through the moving process:
1. Do your research online
It goes without saying: It’s important to research the town you’ll be moving to before you and your family permanently relocate. Read articles online, peruse local blogs, or even watch some YouTube content to learn more about the community before you visit.
Travel vlogs, city guides, and Instagram content can all be great resources to help you research new and exciting things that are happening in the area. Plus, insider knowledge from local creators and residents of the town can help you get a feel for what life is really like there.
2. Plan an in-person visit
Visiting a new town in person is crucial before making the decision to move there as it helps you get an up close and personal look at the community. Even if everything looks great on paper, you may have a completely different experience once you actually get there. Be sure to explore various neighborhoods of the area to solidify your decision and nail down exactly what part of the town you want to live in.
Related: 10 Travel Tips to Save Money, Time and Hassle
Pro tip: Scoping out some new places to hang out, grab coffee, or simply relax with friends and family can also help you visualize your life there and make a new town feel a little more like home. You may find some hidden gems that will surprise you in your search!
3. Calculate your cost of living
One of the biggest motivations to move to a small town is a perceived lower cost of living than a big city. But you may come to find out that that’s not always the case.
Before making the decision to move, research things like your new city’s job market, average household income, gas prices, rental rates, and more. You can do this by searching online or by connecting with residents that already live there. Social media groups and other online forums are a great tool to use here, too.
Once you’ve calculated an estimated cost of living, you can compare this to your current salary to see how things match up. Will you be able to afford living in this new town, or will you need to find a higher paying job to make ends meet? These are important factors to consider before committing to a move.
Related: Moving to a New City for a Job? 5 Secrets to Surviving the Move
4. Decide your transportation needs
If you currently live in a big city and are looking to relocate to a small town, it’s important to factor transportation into your decision. While you may be used to taking the bus or the subway to and from work everyday, living in a small town means less access to public transit and rideshare options. Buying or leasing a car might be in your best interest if you’re looking to relocate, and that’s a big purchase that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
On a positive note, living in a small town may lead to opportunities to walk or bike to work. Or, with the current rise in remote work, your current employer may even allow you to work from home. So if you aren’t able to buy a new car right away, there may be other options to explore.
Related: How to Ship a Car Easily and Affordably
5. Check out the local food scene
Access to food can be one of the most important factors when moving to a small town from a big city. In the city, you may be accustomed to ordering food for delivery or walking to your favorite corner store or bodega for a late night snack. Moving to a small town means you may need to rethink and restructure your current habits.
During your in-person visit, start by checking out the town’s most popular grocery store. See if it carries the types of food you typically buy, and be sure to take factors pricing, brand availability, and any dietary restrictions you may have into consideration.
In addition to grocery stores and local restaurants, there may also be farmer’s markets and co-ops to check out. Shopping from local farmers, vendors, and businesses can be a great way to support the community and embrace the small-town lifestyle.
7. New changes may impact your lifestyle
When it comes to moving to a small town, it’s important to consider all of the different factors that will collectively impact your life moving forward. There may be fewer jobs available in smaller areas. Medical care and specialists may be further away. You also may find that WiFi may be weak or you may have to find an alternate source for the internet (satellite or hardwire). Longer shipping times also are something that smaller towns/cities may have to face. There also may be fewer entertainment options including restaurants and shopping choices.
Related: How Long Does it Take to Move into a House or Apartment?
While these obstacles are all manageable to some degree, it’s important to keep them in mind while weighing your options. Knowing what’s in store for you and your family can help make the transition from a big city to a small town that much easier.
Moving to a Small Town May Be the Lifestyle Change You Need
Moving to a small town from a big city can be a bit of a culture shock, even if you’re excited about it. You may find that small town life moves at a slower pace, allowing for more time to immerse yourself in nature and take part in hobbies and activities that excite you. But on the other hand, moving to a small town comes with its own unique set of challenges like difficulty making new friends, less walkable communities, and difficulty accessing grocery stores and other resources.
It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of moving to a small town and determine what’s best for you and your family. Looking for more information and firsthand knowledge to guide your decision? Check out our city guides to learn more about what it’s like to move to places like Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Upstate New York, and more.