I’ve mentioned before that in my heart I’m a City Gal Always have been, always will be. Even though I’ve made my peace with living in a small town, I still don’t relate to this lifestyle. Few months ago, there was a talent show in my kids’ school and most acts were of “country” variety. There was a group of kids singing “cowgirls don’t cry” and a boy who’s talent was cracking his whip for solid five minutes. With a microphone on. I applauded like crazy when it was finally over.
No, these are not mine, somebody shared this photo with me on Facebook
Still, living in a poor town (without a mall or any decent restaurants) has its advantages. The obvious one: low cost of living. The houses here are much cheaper than those in coastal Florida counties, and I won’t even compare prices to big cities like New York. For most families, mortgage is the biggest monthly expense. More disposable income=more money for travel.
But first, I feel like I need to address the elephant in the room. We currently live in a polarized environment, and there is no way around it. So, let me give an answer to an imaginary reader who may say: “Why would I want to live among backwards, simpleton, angry white males/subservient women, mobile home dwelling rednecks?”
First of all, not everyone who lives in a small town is backwards. There are many types of people here: some are smart, others not so much. Kind of like big city, no? Besides, in my book, character matters more than brains. I would much rather be around a kind person of limited intelligence than a super smart, out-of-touch-with-reality jerk. As for mobile homes, here is the deal. Nobody in US dreams of living in one. People buy them because that’s all they can afford. Shocker!
My brother-in-law lives in a mobile home and he is one of the smartest people you will ever meet. He speaks several languages and is currently training for a career in a medical field. He bought it because he couldn’t afford anything else. Period. Several of my husband’s relatives live in mobile homes and they are all intelligent individuals. So, this stereotype of mobile home=dummy is simply not true. You know what’s really backwards? Judging someone’s worth by the type of house they live in and the kind of car they drive.
That being said… If you are a minority (as in, non-white person), you will have a tougher time living in a country, especially in the South. It would be incredibly foolish for me to deny this fact. Don’t get me wrong, nobody in our county (as far as I know) is burning crosses in the yard or marching with KKK.
The racism is usually subtle and presents itself in marginalization or lack of opportunities for anyone who doesn’t fit the standard profile. It’s not that you can’t succeed as a minority. Heck, the three guys my husband works with are Mexican, Korean and black. It’s just that it will be harder for you and your family.
But regardless of what your views or beliefs are, you can usually find like-minded folks no matter where you choose to live. You don’t have to hang out with racists or angry white males.
So, if you are white or a minority looking for a challenge, here are five reasons to at least consider moving to a small town:
1) You like a slower pace of life even if it means foregoing various recreational options and top-notch schools
This is why my husband likes living in a country town. He is as far from cowboy as you can possibly get. And he is most definitely not an angry white male. Well, not usually. But he is a bit of a hermit, and enjoys peace and quiet. Besides, even though we live in the middle of nowhere, Disney is less than 1.5 hours away and so are beaches like this one:
Not too shabby of a view, eh?
2) You and your spouse have kids and one of you wants to stay home with them
There is no question that staying home with kids is easier in a small town than it would be in NYC or San Francisco. It depends on your spouse’s job, of course, but I doubt my husband’s $62K per year salary would get us very far in Manhattan. But here we can have a relatively comfortable life, though we still have to watch our money, of course.
I get that not everyone wants to be a SAHM (dad) and I’m not here to tell you what’s right for your family. But the reality is, not having a full-time job outside of the house gives you more flexibility. When one of my kids gets sick, I don’t have to call my boss and cringe every time I need to ask him/her for yet another day off. I can also attend those endless and boring award ceremonies at school. Ugh.
Being a mom is a full time job and you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel less worthy due to this choice. Plus, you can always do blogging on a part-time basis. Just don’t expect tremendous financial returns on your time.
By the same token, if you are a “working” mom, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty either. We are all doing the best we can. Motherhood is hard and there is a lot of guilt associated with it. I constantly feel like a failure. But I’m convinced that staying at home with my kids is the right choice for my family.
3) You have a job that can be done remotely
Times have changed. In the past, if you wanted an exciting career, you had to live in or near a major metropolis. These days many jobs require a decent internet connection, an iPhone and that’s it. If that describes you, maybe living in New York City isn’t the best option, financially speaking. Plus, airfare is so cheap, you can always visit a big city for a weekend. Miles and points hobby can help tremendously in reducing your out-of-pocket cost.
4) You are susceptible to peer pressure and find yourself constantly trying to keep up with the “Joneses”
While we do have wealthy residents in our county, most people are poor or lower middle class. Very few travel anywhere outside of state of Florida. So, there is no pressure to keep up. While I would love to claim that I’m not affected by peer pressure, the truth is, we all are to some extent. Why do you think so many in the miles and points community fly to Maldives shortly after discovering this crazy world of ours?
5) You have relatives in a small town and you get along with one another
This is probably the number one reason we are still here. Being near family is important to me and my husband. My in-laws help us with raising kids, and we help them as well. Since they are getting older, I suspect they will rely on us more and more, which is the way it should be.
Nothing city life can offer: various entertainment and transportation options, better access to decent schools etc. can make up for not having my in-laws in our life on a day-to-day basis. And I mean it. No, it’s no paradise, and we have arguments quite often. But pros outweigh cons, for sure.
I’m not here to tell you where you should or shouldn’t live. I’m simply encouraging you not to dismiss the possibility of living in a small town based on stereotypes or various truths that no longer apply in the internet age that we live in.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.