Relocation to a Small Town – Tips From Someone Who’s Been There

Does your relocation strategy call for moving to a small town? If you’re from a big city, prepare for some shocks. I lived in a small town for four years. Much of the time it was wonderful. But you need to know what you are getting into.

1. Check out your town’s unique personality.

Do your research — and don’t stop with the internet. Talk to people who live there.
Ask who stays and who leaves.

2. Investigate housing prices.

Expecting a bargain? As retirees flood an area, prices rise, especially if there are natural limits to expansion. If prices are low and houses are hard to sell, the local rental market may be tight.

3. Be prepared to be active in your new community.

Often friendships develop from belonging to groups: Chamber of Commerce, churches, hiking — whatever interests you. Volunteering may be the norm.

4. Be self-sufficient.

“Be good at entertaining yourself:” that’s what many small town dwellers identify as the secret to small town happiness.

5. Identify your “must haves” before loading the truck.

Crave an occasional espresso? Fresh-baked bread? A nearby shopping mall?

Check your destination to see what’s available. Inevitably, there will be some wonderful options you didn’t expect — and some favorites will be missing.

6. Bring an independent source of income with you.

Jobs may be scarce. If you work for a local company, you may have trouble finding a new job if something goes wrong.

And since people know each other, you can get branded as “difficult” more easily.

7. Be flexible.

No matter how careful your research, you will have surprises. It may never occur to you to ask, “Do you have…”

Customs vary widely when it comes to social life, real estate transactions, and more.

8. Stay in touch with your previous life.

Use email and phone to stay connected to friends, family, and even big city newspapers. Encourage friends to visit. In the long run, you will probably get
comfortable faster than if you bury your past and try to “go it alone.”

9. Expect small-town dwellers to be more sophisticated these days.

Many newcomers are retirees, fleeing from big city life, and others have lived and traveled all over the world.

10. Bring the dog.

Your dog will probably enjoy the fresher air, slower pace and larger yard. Your dog’s happiness will be contagious. And dogs help you make friends and enjoy life as you explore your new home.