The thought of small town life may sound undesirable for some – what do you mean there’s no Whole Foods in town? – but there are benefits to small-town living which may just have you packing up to leave the bright lights quicker than you can ask: ‘How’s the serenity?’
I have always been a big city person. My favorite cities around the world are a running reel of thriving metropolises: Istanbul, New York, Paris, Miami, and Bangkok. So I was more surprised than anyone when I packed up my bags to swap the vibrant, cultured sidewalks of 14th Street in NW Washington, D.C. for the gold country town of Grass Valley, CA.
So how does a big city lover adapt to smaller city living? It’s been easier than I thought, because it’s very easy to focus on the things that make smaller city living awesome.
Here are the benefits that smaller city living can afford a big city individual.
#1 It’s easier to de-junk your mind
‘Essentialism’ and ‘minimalism’ are buzzwords being used everywhere right now. Basically: less is more. (Try reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Doing Less by Greg McKeown. It will open your mind to a new world of discovery, changing the way you think – adopting the mindset to only do the things that are essential.)
We are the product of our environment and living amongst junk doesn’t only have a physical impact, it has a mental one too. Living in a large city can add to our mental junk with urbanization, less access to nature, and a default setting for work. We have developed this mentality to say yes to everything. Work. Work more. Get more.
We inevitably get caught up in the daily grind of work and life and become weighed down with worries and obligations. What I have found is that smaller cities can enable you to slow down and smell the proverbial roses, and reflect and focus on the things that matter most. Removing the white noise allows you to hear your thoughts clearly and to recharge without constant distractions. For some people, this can equate to a higher quality of life. For me personally, I couldn’t be happier.
#2 There’s more time to work on your passion project
We all have that passion project we’ve been meaning to work on if only we had the time.
Big city living runs on a jam-packed schedule and before you know it, your week has been booked up with a plethora of things to do on offer: art exhibition opening night on Monday; spinning on Tuesday; trivia night on Wednesday; restaurant opening on Thursday – you get the point.
Having less to do in a smaller city means that you’re less likely to be distracted by flashy-sounding events and outings and more likely to have time to work on your passion projects and hobbies because there isn’t a reason to keep putting it off. No more excuses.
Personally, finishing the book I was writing, coaching people professionally, and the wellness blog I’ve always had floating around in my mind finally became a reality (hence this blog post) now that I had the time to sit down and dedicate my attention to making it a reality.
#3 You can be a big fish in a small pond
You might think job opportunities will be limited in small towns, but smaller cities can actually offer more support channels as well as less competition. You can be a big fish in a small pond as opposed to a small fish in a big pond.
Moving to a smaller city has been extremely beneficial in getting my book and coaching business off the ground, despite my initial concerns. It has been relatively easy to develop relationships with people in the industry and, in fact, the local industry has been welcoming and supportive because it’s smaller and extremely close-knit. There have also been instances where I’ve been able to get to people within my industry a lot easier because they are located on the west coast.
Location can be a key differentiator as you can offer a different perspective, which may be difficult to do if you’re one of many small fish in a very big pond, which is everyday life for people working in D.C.
#4 Save your hard-earned dollars easier
Big city living is expensive. Sky rocketing housing and rental prices combined with lavish nights out on the town make for some very difficult – and at times, regrettable budgeting decisions. I definitely lived and learned the hard way.
Living in a smaller city is healthier for the wallet for two main reasons: the cost of living isn’t generally as high as big cities (so even a trip to the supermarket is cheaper, no more $9 carton of eggs); and there is often less temptation to go out to places where your hard-earned dollars will disappear quicker than you can say ‘farmers market’.
#5 Everybody will probably know your name, and it feels great
You can often feel like a faceless person in a mass of people in a budding city (this was especially true in D.C. where the second thing a stranger asks after your name is “what do you do?”), but in a smaller town or city, people tend to know and remember you. I love going to my local coffee house and occasionally scoring a freebie because they recognize me, I love chatting with the coach at my CrossFit gym about business and what drove him to open the gym, and I love the fact that I’m on a first-name basis with some of the employees at our local co-op.
Moving is never easy but it doesn’t have to be hard. When you’re faced with any sort of change your defenses are usually up and the automatic response is not to talk to strangers; however, this innate reaction to close ourselves off from others may be preventing us from developing valuable relationships. Smaller town living offers more intimacy and a close-knit community that you can feel a part of, which in turn is another way to foster your mental well-being.
So, are you ready to be a big fish in a small pond? (We’re always accepting newcomers)