Small Towns Are No Longer Small

When you think about small towns you may be thinking remote, off the beaten path with very little things to do. There probably are some small towns today that fit that description perfectly, but many that don’t.

Many small towns these days are located on the outskirts of large metro areas or in resort areas. In these towns you still get the feel of a small town, but with many more resources nearby.

Near these small towns there is probably a large regional shopping mall within easy driving distance. Some excellent gourmet type restaurants are located in small towns.

When I moved to a small town a couple of months ago, I was concerned about how far away I would have to drive for basic things like grocery store, drug store, dry cleaners, restaurants, and retail stores like Kohls or Target.

Google maps has been a wonderful help to me by locating these stores and giving driving directions also. With GPS on my smartphone, all I have to do is say “Pulix” if I want a brand or just “grocery store” for all, into the google search microphone.  My phone says there is a Publix 2.9 miles away and another 3.4 miles and another 5.2 miles away.  I have been to the closet Publix, the “new Publix” as it is called, and it has everything and more than my suburban Publix did before I moved.

There are two Kohls with 5 miles, and three dry cleaners within three miles, and a CVS within 3 miles. There are several independent banks close by but my credit union is about 8 miles away and is the only thing that takes a little driving to make deposits.

The new 100 bed hospital is less than one mile away and that was a major reason we liked this location.  Doctors and hospitals are the one thing you better check on before moving.

Driving to the largest shopping mall in the state only takes 15 minutes but on the way I pass farm houses, a lamas farm, barns, and traffic is light.

By the way, I love my Amazon Prime account with free two day shipping.  I have ordered just about everything I need without making any trips.

However I downsized quite a bit before moving and I am really going to try not to buy too much stuff, a lot of which I would use infrequently.

So small towns are not so small after all.

We moved to a Del Webb Active Adult Community in a small town so we get the bonus of feeling like we live in a cosmopolitan areas with people from all over the country moving here. Plus all the socialization opportunities and activities are right outside my door.

We have 9 miles of hiking trails and I can enter the trail about 100 yards from my front door.  I ordered two walking sticks from Amazon and will be out tomorrow to get them a try.

The suburban community we moved from had no activities, busy neighbors, very little socialization except for our good friends who lived next door and no hiking trails.

I think this was a good move for us.

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

Great Small Town Main Streets

Great Small Town Main Streets

My travels last week took me to two small towns with great main streets.  I have seen rejuvenated downtown areas of small towns before, in fact they are quite common. But these two small towns had wonderful main streets, which defined each city.

Hendersonville NC Main Street

Main Street Hendersonville NC
Main Street Hendersonville NC
Main Street Hendersonville NC
Main Street Hendersonville NC

 

Greenville SC Main Street

Main Street Greenville SC
Main Street Greenville SC

 

Downtown Greenville SC
Downtown Greenville SC

Both of the outstanding Main Streets had plenty in common.  They are historical, have unique architecture, are very walkable. They are the center of downtowns, good places to stroll, esthetically appealing, have plenty of activities weekly and fairs and festivals often. Just make you feel good to visit.  These Main Streets are a major reason why both Greenville and Hendersonville have so many visitors.

Main Streets have a history and a personality. They are each different. They are more like walking in a park rather than a shopping mall.  Much more interesting.

Big wide sidewalks, brick accents, statues, interesting lamps and of course benches, flowers and plenty of things to see and do.

Small Town Resources:
Historic Hendersonville NC
Our visit to Greenville SC
Greenville Visitors Center
South Carolina Small Towns

Photos below from – Where is the Best Main Street?

Main Street Rockland
Rockland, Maine
Main Street McMinnville
McMinnville OR Main Street
Holland MI
Holland MI Main Street

 

 

Factors That Make Small Towns Desirable for Retirement

Factors That Make Small Towns Desirable for Retirement

In planning for retirement, many people seek out a new home in a new town, whether to downsize, move to a sunnier climate, or simply for a change of pace. While some baby boomers are looking for more excitement and a thriving night life, many people – both singles and couples – hunt for new homes in quieter, more cozy places than the suburban or urban environments in which they spent their working years.

Small cities – those with populations of 25,000 or fewer – offer some distinct benefits for senior citizens seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle of life, but don’t want to live out in the middle of nowhere. In the hunt for the perfect small-town retirement destination, you may want to consider a number of factors: criteria that can help you determine whether or not a small city in question is a good spot to retire.

So, what makes certain small towns more desirable for retirement than others? There are a wide range of answers to that question, but the same few seem to pop up again and again: Low crime rate; mild weather; ease of travel within city limits (walkability) and to other destinations (nearness to international airport); number of retiree amenities per capita; natural beauty and charm of the surroundings; and ability to make quality social connections. While some of these factors (low crime rate and mild climate) are easy to quantify, others are a bit more subjective.

Ease of travel: To some, this may mean the ability to walk easily to the majority of restaurants, venues and shops in the community, while to others it may mean excellent public transportation options in a small city.

Retiree Amenities: Some are looking for a bonafide 55+ community with all the included amenities and facilities, while others look to the town in general to see what healthcare facilities, senior centers, adult education opportunities, libraries, and arts and entertainment venues are available.  Is there a senior center nearby?

Social Connections: Many small towns or small cities share a common “theme,” or may have large concentrations of certain types of people. Perhaps citizens share a common ethnic heritage, like Leavenworth, WA’s Scandinavians, or shared interest like the Sedona, AZ population of artists. Towns that host annual festivals and other events also offer many opportunities to meet new people.
Are there many baby boomers or seniors your age?

Regional Medical – Is there regional medical resources nearby and 24 hour medical services close by? How about assisted living homes?

Tip! Small towns with one of the large Active Adult Communities like those of Del Webb, K. Hovnanian Homes, Brookfield Homes, Lennar, Beazer Homes,  WCI Communities or Erickson Retirement communities – they usually have done the research for you and are in or near desirable small towns for retirement.

Retiring to a small town can be an appealing option on many fronts. After battling traffic and hassles of urban or suburban living for decades, the attractions of small town life can be a serene alternative, and offer opportunities to learn, grow, socialize, and live happy and healthy lives as seniors.

Are Best Small Towns to Visit Good For Retirement

small town homeThe Smithsonian Magazine has come out with the Best Small Towns to Visit list and since this blog is titled “Best Small Towns to Retire” I jumped on it.  Of course the best small towns to visit could be different than the best towns to retire let alone live in.  They go on with a sub title “the most intriguing small towns to enjoy arts and smarts”.  How catchy.

So they screened for small towns big on culture and looked at small towns with populations of less than 15,000.   If that possible?

Further they embellish “Happily, the top towns also boast heartwarming settings where the air is a little fresher, the grass greener, the pace gentler than in metropolitan America.”   Continuing “Most important are the people, unpretentious people with small town values and high cultural expectations- not a bad recipe for society at large”.   Well with all that testing they certainly have a larger budget than I do, so I will consider their best small towns list.

Ok what do we have on the list of the 22 best small towns?  This is going to be good.

1. First up is Gettysburg, PA home of the Gettysburg battlefield which draws over a million vlsitors a year and a quant towns with relic stores, a Museum, a tavern, even a winery.

Well this may be fine a place visit and maybe even to live or retire in, but I just wonder if you would tire of the blue grey theme. See our Best Small Towns in Pennsylvania

Note: don’t worry I am not going to cover all 22 small towns here. See them yourself here.

2. St. Augustine on Florida NE coast is near the top of the best towns list too.  They point out the Dow Museum with a current collection on loan of 39 artworks by Pablo Picasso.   The Lighthouse and Museum and even an Alligator Farm.

I have heard St. Augustine is beautiful so it may be fine a fine place to retire and is worth checking out.   Not on our Best Small Towns in Florida to Retire In list, but a candidate.

Some others on the best towns lists include:  Sitka AK – well everyone knows Sitka a good place to visit just ask anyone who has ever taken an Alaskan cruise, but I don’t see it is a place to retire, at least not for me.   Sausalito CA is another interesting place to visit and probably to live if you can afford it.   Jackson WY is a wonderful place to visit I can attest to after taking two vacations there.  In Jackson there may be some seasonal homes there too.  At one time a lot of California people were moving there.  I have only seen Lihue HI as a cruise ship passenger but I could see retiring there.

Well these 22 small towns really do seem like a good place to visit, maybe even to stay awhile.

Small Town by John Mellencamp

Small Town Lyrics – John Mellencamp – Youtube video plus the Small Town lyrics

Small Town Lyrics – John Mellencamp

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob’ly die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town
Taught to fear Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another born romantic that’s me

But I’ve seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town
Married an L.A. doll and brought her to this small town
Now she’s small town just like me
[ From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/j/john-mellencamp-lyrics/small-town-lyrics.html]

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who’s in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that’s good enough for me

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that’s prob’ly where they’ll bury me