How is Living in a Small Town Different

Smalls towns are not what they used to be. These days they appeal to most everyone who wants a brake from the rat race of urbanized living. Small towns offer so much more than they used to.

That being the case, what are some of the differences you will notice if you move from a metro area to a small town.  I am about to find out moving from a metro area that is getting more urbanized everyday to a small town out one the fringes of a metro area. This move will be to a Del Webb community and that seems to be their ideal location, far enough but not too far, from metro areas.

My post: Anticipating a Move to a Small Town

We have purchased the home and are downsizing our current household belongings, meeting with an interior designer who is giving us input on what to bring and will help set up our home in the new community.

So we are in the process of moving, but are following our new community with many visits to the community and surrounding area during our moving process. Observations are being made and I am updating this page with new observations.

The purpose of this posts will be to share my observations about how living in a small town is different and I have two observations to start this list and will add more as we move.

1. More Influence in the Community.

Kind of like you become a bigger fish in a smaller pond type thing. Your input and efforts make a bigger difference. Example: The county wanted to dig up one of the new tennis courts in my new community to lay a utility line and said they would return the courts to same or better condition.  They did not. They tried to repair the courts but they kept cracking. The county was not going to do anything further but talk.  In the recent county elections the community got behind a new candidate who took their tennis court issue seriously and with help of the community got elected. The new commissioner got this problem taken care of.  That is one example and I am sure there are more not just in politics but in volunteering and other causes.

2. Traffic is different.

Traffic is lighter and is less congested but some things are further away.  So you might drive further with a less congested drive and arrive about the same time. In fairness, many things are closer but some are not. I will hone this initial observation once I start living there everyday.

I very much look forward to continuing this list very soon with my observations of how living in a small town is different than living in a metro area.

3. Churches are Small Too.

Rather than the huge mega churches found in the city and suburbs, smaller churches are all around. In this area many of them are quaint architecturally.

4. Fresh Produce is available.

In the city, the organic farmers markets on Saturday were high priced and very little selections sold by middle men making their markups taking produce from boxes from who knows where. In a small town, there are produce stands selling fruits and vegetables that taste like they should at a reasonable cost.

Robert and Mary Ann Fowler

Getaway To Highlands NC

The wife booked us a three night  get-a-way in Highlands NC,  so we headed up I-985 from Atlanta for the 2.5 hour plus trip. It took 4 hours. So much for Google Maps prediction when it is foggy and light rain in the mountains.

Highlands NC is in Western North Carolina about 25 miles north of Georgia. In this section of Western North Carolina there are other desirable small towns like Cashiers, Sapphire Valley, Sylva, Glenville, Lake To a way and Brevard, a quaint college town.    Both Highlands and Cashiers are resort mountain small towns with lots of charm. Both are favorites of Atlanta people escaping the heat and humidity during the Summer months and Florida halfbacks moving up from the Sunshine state.

Highlands has a walkable town filled with antique shops, interesting stores for shopping, restaurants, some gourmet,  and places to stay like 200 Main where we are staying.

Many people come here on a vacation and end up buying a seasonal home and for some that turns into their retirement home. There are no 55 Active Adult Communities. These are mountain homes and cabins with natural yards. There are many mountain lifestyle communities with activities and amenities that are similar to what Active Adult Communities offer.  Lonesome Valley, Sapphire Valley, and  Bear Lake Reserve are some of the larger communities but there are many more. Many full time residents now call this area home.

Western NC is known for being an appealing retirement area with award winning golf courses, gourmet restaurants, and renowned trout fishing waters. Most get an introduction to the area by renting a home first from rental companies like SPM Resorts and Sapphire Real Estate and Rentals.

I would image with the influx of tourists in the Summer that might get irratating to locals, but this helps supports the gourmet restaurants and attractions. During Winter I bet it gets a little quiet around here but locals love it.

Most of the time weather is great break from city heat and people enjoy hiking the nature trails, golfing, fishing on the mountain lakes and visiting the many waterfalls in the area.

In the meantime back to my trip,  since it is foggy and raining today, we will curl up around the cozy fireplace with a glass of wine and a good book and research where to make dinner reservations.

fireplace
Fireplace at 200 Main Highlands N C

 

old Edwards inn
Old Edwards Inn Highlands

Lessons Learned From My Stay At The Villages Florida

Lessons Learned From My Visit To The Villages Florida

I made a mistake of calling The Villages in Florida a small town, according to one of my social media friends.  He said “Obviously you have not been there!”  Well I took this under advisement and just returned from a weeks stay at Lake Sumter Landing in the heart of The Villages. He was right, The Villages is a large place with 110,000 residents and 60,000 golf carts, three town squares, probably 15+ recreational centers and much more.

I had been hearing for years how much residents loved living in The Villages and I have to agree they have an attractive and somewhat unique idea. So returning from my trip I began thinking of what makes The Villages so unique. What ideas could be learned so other 55+ communities and small towns could benefit from what The Villages is doing.

Here are two ideas that struck me as unique that The Villages is doing and that might be a good idea in other places too.

1. They simply call their senior centers “recreation centers“. I like that. Everyone knows many people don’t like the name “senior” so senior centers started called themselves “adult centers” and other such names.  They are really only recreation centers.  Why not call them 55+ Recreational Centers or whatever minimum age fits.

2. The Villages are open to anyone to visit, eat, shop and use. Their three town squares have all kinds of events like the Arts and Crafts show and the Classic Car show when I visited. Families and persons of all ages were enjoying the town squares. Now the “villages” as they call the residential communities do have a security gate but the rest of The Villages is wide open. I like that.

Lake Sumter Landing Arts and Crafts
Lake Sumter Landing Arts and Crafts

I think towns could benefit from idea 1 above and just call their senior center “55+ Recreation Center”. I also think 55+ communities and small towns could benefit from more of a collaboration in joining the 55+ Community or even several 55+ Communities around a rejuvenated town square with shopping, activities, entertainment, outdoor spaces and the like. It would benefit the town and the community, which really are one and the same.

I still think, even after my visit, The Villages have a small town feeling.

Even though in total they are quite large, the three town squares certainly gave me the feeling of a small town. People greeted, acknowledged and spoke with others like they do in a small town.  Like a small town, people were relaxed and not in a big rush. The recreation centers are close by to each residential community so you are likely to meet your neighbors there. Yes, I think I still consider The Villages a small town.

Robert and Mary Ann Fowler

 

Lake Sumter Landing
Lake Sumter Landing

Best Small Towns to Live In or Retire To