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Moving to a Small Town

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Moving to a small town, especially if you have never lived in one before, can be a real learning experience. Make the move as smooth as possible with these tips. This is a guide about moving to a small town.
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8 found this helpful
October 25, 2011

Here's some advise from someone who has lived in small towns all of my life until now (Salem is the capital of beautiful Oregon). In small towns, everyone is related (I exaggerate). Don't ever enter into gossip because you will be talking about someones cousin, brother in law, step mom, step sister or step brother. You get the picture. Zip the lip and listen carefully.

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Source: I was a hairdresser in a beauty shop before I retired.

By hopeful from Salem, OR

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October 25, 20110 found this helpful

Learned that lesson the hard way, in spades, when I moved from a large metropolitan area to a small town. Everybody is related.

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November 23, 2011

When I moved to the small town I currently live in (population under 3000), I had extreme difficulty finding businesses and organizations. Not only was the town small, but they were also clicky and tight. I was an outsider, and just didn't fit in.

I also lived on a farm in the country, so didn't have a neighbor next door or across the street close by, nor were there kids in the neighborhood for mine to play with.

The town did not have a welcome wagon, but the city hall told me the chamber could give me information. So, I headed to the Chamber. The Chamber told me they would be happy to give me info and a town packet if I "joined". Needless to say, I didn't join.

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Since my children were involved in scouts, I called the scouting headquarters to get the names of some scout troops in our area. Turns out, there were scout troops for older girls, and for younger girls, but none for my girls' ages.

My children had also been involved in 4H. So, I headed to the county extension office. Here is where I hit my jackpot. They set us up with 4H information, a county and city map, a phone directory and names, addresses and phone numbers of community people who ran businesses out of their homes. They were not in the directory; such as a woman who did custom sewing and mending, a lady who made soap, a mechanic and a farrier. I quickly learned that anytime I had a question, the county extension office could direct me where to go with a simple phone call.

Our 4H group however, didn't turn out to be a good fit for us. The meetings were all scheduled on Sundays, during the time we normally attend church. So, with another family, we started another 4H group and quickly had 40+ kids and their parents involved. Again, this proved to be a jackpot. I have met wonderful people this way, found a great home school co-op through this group, a book club, community choir, and other women who share some of my interests.

I also have met friends by shopping a little differently. This town only has 1 grocery store, and it is a chain (wow, no WalMart!). So, when possible, I shop from private persons who are selling items that I would normally buy, such as produce.

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Taking the local paper has been very informative. Here I find info to holiday parades, craft shows, children's events and more. I found out in the paper that a near neighbor cut hay, as we were looking for someone to cut our hay. I also found here a local retired tractor mechanic who fixed our tractor.

A few friends I found by wearing t shirts. Sounds odd, but one lady approached me because I was wearing a 4H shirt. She and her child are now a member of our club. Another time I was wearing a Republican shirt, and a lady approached me and asked if I was local. I told her I was, and she replied she hadn't seen me at any of the meetings, and handed me her card with a website on it.

Later I looked that up and found out that the Republican women in my county have a breakfast once a month, with a speaker, as a way to get to know each other. Needless to say, the speaker rarely is a politician. In fact, this month's speaker is showing us simple Christmas crafts to make.

It has taken me 5 years, but I can finally say I now know some of our town's people, and finally fit in.

By mom-from-missouri from NW Missouri

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November 23, 20110 found this helpful

You know, it's really a sad commentary on the way some people act. Especially adults! You would perhaps expect cliques from kids, but from grown adults? How shameful. I live in a somewhat small town, but I'm older and it seems the young ones have taken over because of their kids. But most everyone is friendly, at least on my morning walks I've met some really nice, friendly people.

That brings to mind something else. This Saturday is supposed to be "buy local" Saturday. While that is a nice sentiment and a great idea, if the customer service is lousy which it is a lot of times, I won't shop local.

I had a large construction project that I needed done to my house 2 years ago and I tried desperately to have the local contractors bid on it. You think I could get them to respond? They wouldn't even return my phone calls? And I'm supposed to support their business? I don't think so.

Anyway, I'm glad you finally found your "niche" and now fit in. I hope you don't fit in to the point that you snub other newbies like you were snubbed. I just don't get it.

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0 found this helpful
October 27, 2011

Always remember you are PFA (people from away), and that will never ever change.

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1 found this helpful
February 14, 2010

We have 8 years before the hubby retires. We are looking to move out of California; are there any towns out there like Mayberry any more?

We are looking for somewhere with trees and that doesn't get a ton of snow. We are hoping for a community where shopping is available, there is a hospital in town, and we don't have to travel an hour just to get food.

Are there any towns that will welcome out of towners? We know of 3 people that moved to a small town (2000 or less) and the town snubbed them cause they didn't grow up there. Is there such a town now a days? So far we love Missouri and Arkansas.

By Tammy

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

Like the previous poster I wanted to advise you to also look at property taxes, state taxes and any other tax for the State/town you are considering. As a retired individual your income is limited (or not if you have other income) and to be stuck paying high State, sales property etc taxes would not be offset by living in a quaint town.

I personally like TN Smoky Mountains foothills area. Very quaint small towns, low property taxes, no income tax but sales tax are about 9%. What ever you do please do not come to South Florida! It is no longer the retiree mecca.

Good luck hope you find your dream town!

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

Just curious, should have been a sociologist, I guess, but why should Tammy, or any other retiree, not go to South Florida, Annae? Is it because you live there and don't like the place or you live there and do like the place but it's the "small town not wanting outsiders" thing again? (No offense, just curious; been hearing so much, both in the media and from people I know, about unfriendly small towns lately.)

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

Just a couple of thoughts. What you see in a small town today might not be the same in 8 years, taxes included. Be sure to check with the economic planning board of the county to see what the long term plan is for the area. In our area, I-40 opened about 10 years ago. There is a 1 mile section between I-85 and I-40 that was residential and still is but, the long term plan is for all of it to be commercial.

Having said that, this area (Hillsborough, NC) is a great place to live but our taxes are higher than neighboring counties. Three hours to the east and your feet are in the ocean, three hours to the west and you're on a ski slope. Within 10 -15 minutes we have Duke Univ. Med. Center, Univ of NC Hospitals, and 60 minutes away we have Wake Forest Med Center, all great teaching hospitals. Lots of cultural events in the area, 25 minutes to the capitol with state art, science and history museums. Needless to say, we are close to lots of shopping areas. Even with all this close by, we are still a small town.

In neighboring counties, to our west is Mebane, another small, up-and-coming town, which has I-40/I-85 on it's border; south of us (past Chapel Hill) is Pittsboro with no interstates within 30 miles, and to our north is 40 miles of farm land that is beginning to see development.

To answer Lynn from CA, I think new people get 'snubbed' because with any growth you get change, and many times the small town life as we (lifers) know it becomes a way of the past. And, you hear "where we came from they did...." which translates into "this place that you love isn't good enough for us". And, with growth you have to have services to accommodate it which sometimes means taking family lands for new roads or new schools, your small road becoming a busy 4 lane thoroughfare, etc., etc, etc. And there is my personal favorite, once new folks arrive, they want to shut the gates and restrict growth! I love it!

Anyway, we all know 'they ain't making no new land' and growth is going to happen everywhere as the population goes up. On behalf of small town lifers, I apologize to those who feel they have been snubbed. I hope you find your ideal retirement town, wherever it may be.

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

On South Florida for retirees: we lived in an area of central NJ--where there were quite a few small-town- feel places - for most of our lives and "accidentally" relocated to S. Florida ( came to be with an ill family member and ended up staying).

That said,the South Florida Fort Lauderdale/Miami metro area really has no small-town feel; it's sprawling urban for the most part. The downside is the Indy 500-like traffic and a medium high to high cost of living ( and a real estate market currently in the tank); the upside is great access to the arts and culture, big emphasis on outdoor activity and generally great weather year-round.

The atmosphere is more intimate in the Keys, friendly but pricey and in the Lake County area--think around Mount Dora. We take day trips to both areas often and really like the whole feel there.

The Panhandle area, furthest northwest has lots of small towns but in our experience also a lot of Old Florida look-at-those-tourists attitude. Just sayin' :)

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February 18, 20100 found this helpful

I notice that Perryville and Ozark, Missouri have both been mentioned. You'd probably do great in both places. I'd think that if you get a suburb of a small city, you do great. Normally people in a town are pretty much what you'd expect them to be. Perryville is on the east side of Missouri and it's beautiful country over there. Not too far from St. Louis, there are a lot of tourist attractions nearby - Elephant Rock, Johnson Shut-Ins and Cape Girardeau on the Mississippi River are nearby.

Ozark is close to being a suburb of Springfield (about 10 miles away to the south). I live in Bolivar, 30 miles to the north, but lived in Springfield for 30+ years. I'd love to live in Ozark because it is a small town, yet right between Springfield and Branson. Branson would be too, too busy most of the time, but it's still a nice place to visit. Springfield has several hospitals, a nice shopping mall and since it's a college town, is flooded with eating places and churches.

I don't know how it compares tax-wise to other places, but it didn't seem to be out of line as far as I was concerned.

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

Hi, Tammy! I relocated from suburban Philadelphia PA to rural Calhoun Country WV two years ago, & like it very much. My small town, called Big Bend, is about a 10-minute drive from Grantsville (1 small grocery chain, 2 dollar stores, a pizza place, & at least 2 small restaurants), & approx a 1-hour drive SE of Parkersburg & NW of Spencer, both of which have Wal-Marts, the former also having the larger chains such as Lowes, Sears, etc. A mere 2 doors away from me is a convenience store w/ gas, & several doors beyond that the post office & a pizza restaurant. There's even a vet.

We're in Agricultural Zone 6A, just as Philadelphia; our winter right now is about as bad as it gets, with maybe 8" accumulation at most. Also, we're on the Little Kanawha River, with a college town about 45-mins away.

Property taxes are low, & zoning is non-intrusive, at least around my place. Land is comparatively inexpensive. It's overall a nice place to make a home, among many older families as well as newer settlers, mostly from the East Coast.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly (bsvgs AT yahoo.com). Good luck - Nica

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

I would like to offer my home state of Oklahoma. Come visit and see what you think. We have small towns, we have medium towns with Universities large and small. The taxes are OK compared to friends in other states.

Weather wise - this year has been tough, but my father had 60 years of weather notes and stated that there are only 6 weeks of the year when he couldn't pour concrete! The springs and falls are wonderful - most winters are very tolerable.

So, check us out on the computer and come and visit. We'd love to have you. Oh, your dollar will go much farther here.

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks everyone for writing I have alot of places to research.It should keep me busy a day or too. :)

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0 found this helpful
March 31, 2015

I have lived in a small town, less then 300, for 10 years now. I still do not feel I fit in with the women that live here. I am a widow. My husband got sick almost soon as we moved here and died soon after. During that time I was home-bound caring for him. A few ladies did try to make friends with me at that time, out of their christian duty I suppose. They were very interested in me joining their church and bible study. When I resisted that they lost interest. Not that I do not believe in God, I do I am just not much of a joiner of anything.

The only other way to get to know people is volunteer fire department ladies AUX. Ugh, I attended a few meetings. I got to helping pick-up our town highway trash. At first I had a helper and then I got 4 miles of road to pick up by myself! Come on ladies. But several of the ladies had quit, so we were all short on help.

Then I got Lyme disease. I was very sick. It took 2 years to get a positive lyme test. So for all that time I was sick as a dog and had no idea why! So I became pretty much home-bound. Nobody seemed to notice I was even sick let alone alive. lol

Now I am feeling better, but am just kinda stuck in a rut about not having anything to do with anyone. Is it time for a move or what?

By Barb

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April 1, 20150 found this helpful

Everywhere you go, there you are. That's a problem you will have to deal with. In order to have friends, you have to be a friend. You can not sit and wait for people to come to you. It may be time to move to a place that is bigger with more variety of activities that you might be interested in. But you will not make friends if you don't go out and join in on things.

You have to become a "joiner". You could also start a group and see if people would like to join in. In my area, a town of about 5000, there are these groups that I might join & some of the activities I take part in - a book club, a singing group that sings once a week at a local seniors residence, a line-dancing group, a quilting group, exercise classes, curling club, part time work as a ski instructor, substitute teacher, and tutor, art club, art classes, Red Hat society, volunteering to do meals on wheels, retired teachers' group, ladies golf group, volunteer at a school, museum volunteer, hospital volunteer, senior citizens club, etc. I do not do all this stuff, of course, but these are some activities I could do.

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April 10, 20150 found this helpful

I do believe you should move. Here's why:

There has to be activities that you want to do in order for you to meet people. Very small towns are often insular and have fewer opportunities. Also, you may find yourself in a town with an aging demographic, with people who talk about illnesses and dead loved ones primarily. This will certainly get you down.

Finally, if you are in a town in which several generations of families have lived, you will no doubt feel you are the "odd one out" if you don't have a street or business named after a prominent ancestor.

In my town we have community opportunities and classes. There is community theater, Toastmasters, yoga, rug hooking, quilting, book club and other groups. You need to find a place like that.

There are also quite a few things going on while the weather is nice such as the farmer's market every friday. Beware though, of moving to a place with a long winter, which is why I can't quite recommend my town- there is a short season due to being in the mountains. But I would recommend Colorado in general. People here are more active, and since nearly everyone here is originally from somewhere else, they are more inclined to be friendly.

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March 24, 20170 found this helpful

My mom has what we believe to be lyme disease, having hard time getting a diagnosis... any tips?

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