Why You Should Consider Moving to a Poor Rural Town (So You Can Travel More)

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.

Speaking of, have you seen Florida cowboy boots?

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.

Bottom line

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.

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Author: Leana

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.

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8 thoughts on “Why You Should Consider Moving to a Poor Rural Town (So You Can Travel More)

  1. I read your post with interest. I grew up in a very small town and lived in an area I think of as “country”. As in your small town, we could easily access beautiful beaches within a couple of hours – but it ended up as our only option for a vacation. After college, I met my wife (a city gal) and relocated to her new city environment – not New York City – but it does have around a million people and an international airport. You described small town life (with all the stereotypes with accuracy) and I was perhaps one who resisted living in a big city for many of the same reasons I hear today – too much traffic, too expensive, too fast-paced, etc. My view of all of this has probably changed as much in this direction as yours has in the other. Now I love to travel to big cities with all that there is to do and all of the options (Minsk is still a city I hope to visit). I still love the beaches (and maybe at heart still think of myself as small town). But when I return to my hometown many of my friends still think of the beach as their only option. I try to explain miles and points can get you airfare and hotels to London and Paris – but it falls on deaf ears.

    • @Steve Thank you for your comment. I can definitely relate to what you just said. I think there are misconceptions on both sides, and the bottom line is: people are essentially the same everywhere. I hate stereotypes.

      Many in our community vacation solely in the state of Florida, with an occasional jaunt to North Carolina mountains. In fact, if my husband had any say in it, that’s what we would be doing as well! 😉 It’s funny, though, the other day, he said that he is glad I force him to venture beyond the state of Florida. He is just not the “explorer” type, and it’s hard for him to get out of his comfort zone.

      I lived in Minsk and I think it’s a nice city, though I think I prefer Grodno where I grew up. It’s a 4-hour drive from Minsk, but if you ever get a chance, try to visit it. Heck, even my husband loves it. In fact, he said it’s the only city he wouldn’t mind moving to, so that says something right there. I doubt we ever will, but it’s a dream of mine.
      You are right that many people in US (especially in small towns) don’t think of visiting other countries as a reachable goal. And it’s a shame because with the help of miles and points you can often go to Europe for less than what a Disney vacation would cost. Crazy but true!

  2. I live in a small town in a remote area and have lived here all my life. I love living here except for not having good wage jobs available (about $20k less than what you mentioned). My wife also wanted to stay home with our 3 girls, a choice I support and agree with as best for our family. Most of our family also lives in the area too, which can be a blessing and a curse! 😉 One of the hardest things is not being able to travel much and the difficulty in getting out of our area as the nearest major airport is 6 hours away!

    • @David Toste I totally agree that living near extended family can be a blessing and a curse! So true. That’s why I didn’t want to make it sound like we have some sort of utopia thing going on here. Far from it, and there are many conflicts. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
      Aslo, to clarify. My husband’s wage is not typical for our area, it’s actually on a high side. Most people are fortunate to make 40K around this neck of the woods. So I suppose I should have added that caveat. There is a reason the houses here are cheap.
      Also, I can understand how living 6 hours away from a major airport can hinder one’s ability to travel. We live less than 2 hours from Orlando, and that seems too far. Plus, travel isn’t cheap for families, that’s for sure. I really don’t want to present a distorted picture and overuse the word “free” in my posts. Miles and points are great, but they are only part of the equation.

  3. I feel like we have the best of both worlds. We live in a small, New Hampshire town that is a 40 minute commute (without traffic) into Boston, MA. However, it’s not cheap to live in a “quintessential New England town”. Due to the proximity of Boston, most residents are white collar or blue collar skilled tradesmen. We love it here but look forward to the day when the kids are educated and we can move South to a town like you describe!

    It’s funny because I grew up in a larger town 5 miles away and the difference is amazing. I didn’t know anyone growing up that traveled further than the mountains or beach. Now, in our town, it’s completely normal for my kids to hear about their friends trips to Europe, Caribbean, cruises etc. The status symbol in the elementary/middle school is to come back after February or April vacation with your hair braided Caribbean style. LOL.

  4. @Michelle I guess that’s another thing to consider. Not all country towns are created equal/cheap. Makes sense that yours is on expensive side, being that it’s so close to Boston. Lots of commuters, I imagine.
    In our town, there are few “white collar” jobs (my husband is fortunate to have one). The rest of middle-class commutes to phosphate mines, about 40 minutes away. But while wages are decent, you have to be willing to work shifts, plus, mining in Florida is on its way out. With agriculture dying as well, I’m afraid there won’t be much left of our small town in several decades.
    It’s definitely something that concerns me, since my husband is the breadwinner in the family. But you can’t plan for everything in life, and we are mainly here because his aging parents live across the street from us. As long as they are alive, we are not moving, unless there is no other alternative.
    On travel already being a status symbol in elementary schools, how crazy is that? I actually tell my daughter not to talk too much about her trips, because most of her classmates don’t go anywhere during school breaks or summer. It’s very sad.

    • I completely understand why you stay. It’s the reason we are still in the frozen North when we love the Southern lifestyle. My children attend school with their cousins. My daughter and nieces take the same dance class and my parents are in the next town 5 miles away (we just stretched the umbilical cord). Our good friends moved here from Hungary and it’s hard for them to be so far from family. They spend a month there every summer but it’s not the same. Every time I think of the beautiful weather when we are having another snowstorm, I have to remind myself how hard it is on our friends to be so far from home!

      • @Michelle Haha! It’s funny, I was thinking how I would like to be up north right now. It’s a rainy season down here in Florida, and yesterday me and the kids were drenched when we walked out of Dollar General. It was downright dangerous to drive home, almost no visibility and flooding everywhere. But yeah, when northerners are shoveling snow, we are enjoying the sunny outdoors. “Snow bird” retirees who come to Florida during winter got it right. That’s what I want to do when I get old, except we’ll probably be going to Belarus for the summer!

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