Six Things You Quickly Learn When You Move to a Small Town

"Cowboy Baby" car decal spotting
Living in a small town was never on my life's to do list. In fact, never in a million years did I think I would be living in small town let alone be a stay-at-home mom. 

Fast forward five years after graduating from college and I find myself as a wife and a mom. My hubs and I (along with my baby bump at the time) moved from a city to a small town in Virginia this past summer. Here are a just a few things we quickly learned:

1) All the stores close at 5:00 PM on weekdays and are closed on Sunday.
2) You have to drive an hour to get to the nearest mall.
3) Majority of the restaurants aren't worth the price you pay.
4) The fast food chains don't seem to taste quite as good as you remembered. Not to mention they can't seem to get your order right even when you are the only customer.
5) The movie theatre reminds you of the dollar theatre back home, but worse.
6) The few traffic lights that are in town only allow one of four directions to go at a time.

For those of you that have lived or are living in a small town, what other insights can you share?


  1. The small town I grew up in in New Mexico did not have a stop light. Everybody waved at everybody because everybody literally knew everybody. One gas station and one "grocery store" and also closed by 5 everyday. It is definitely a slower pace. I kind of miss it now that I am not there. I am sure if I went back, I would miss the city as well. For example - I can get any type of food I am hungry for at just about any time I am hungry for it. I have no idea what I did when I was hungry in a small town and didn't want any of the food we had in the house. Did I drive the hour to a fast food restaurant? I remember looking forward to my Dad coming home from the nearest big city because he would bring KFC. Nothing like cold, cold KFC. The Doctor's office only had a Dr 3 days out of the week. If you got hurt on one of the off days or at night, you drove an hour to the nearest hospital.
    I also spent some of my youth in the Dallas - Ft. Worth metro area so I got to experience both. As a parent . . . I think I prefer the small town environment. Maybe . . . They both have pros and cons. My parents felt the small town vibe was gloomy and depressing, but I loved it as a kid.
    Anyway - I couldn't resist reminiscing about my small town experiences!

  2. Your Grandmother,mother,and 3 uncles (@ the time) lived in the small town of Woodbury,CT in the early 60's. Most everything we needed was in Waterbury where the grandparents lived, and that was a half hour away. We never really questioned that we had to travel so far for luxuries. Your grandmother may very well have thought of them.
    Of course, years later, we lived in Centerville, OH, which was a small town/suburbia. We had the Dayton Mall only 2 miles away. As a teen I walked, or rode my bike, to the Mall for fun.
    Things had changed in 8 years. I would have been very disappointed to have all the things it offered so much farther away.

  3. Yo - Anonymous - I think you are supposed to not refer to the person's home town or the fact that you believe you are related to them so they don't get busted out by their neighbors in the small-ish town.

  4. Wow, your town sounds even smaller than mine!

  5. I, too, moved from a large city (Chicago) to a small town of 2500 in western Illinois. I learned that people knew what you were doing at all times -- even before you did it! And it's REALLY uncomfortable to run into your gynecologist in the grocery store after having your annual checkup.

  6. Thanks for sharing your small town experiences Shane and anonymous. I agree, Shane, that there are definite pros and cons. While I realize this post sounds negative there are many positives to living in a small town too!

    What's the population in your town, smalltownmom?

  7. The population in my small town was 800. It's claim to fame? It is the birthplace of Smokey the Bear.

  8. I like #4. I had that experience recently at a restaurant which is in your region. Since the restaurant was adjacent to a university, you'd think the "big city" environment would have improved things. Nope. We'd traveled 45 miles from our small town and things were worse.

  9. My new-to-me smallish small town is giant compared to yours but the feel is very similar. Thus far, my favorite 'you know you're in a small town when...' moment was when the ATM spit out nothing but $10 bills. Yeah, at least there are ATMs.

  10. I can add, I reckon this is what comes to mind about the town I live in.
    Wyoming town POP: 70
    1. Everyone knew our divorce was final before the ink dried on the papers.
    2. Pavement and a sidewalk is a luxury not a necessity.
    3. Traffic jams involve sheep or cattle, never vehicles.
    4. A funeral is a community "bring potluck" social gathering. (people go whether you knew the deceased or not)
    5. If your family didn't battle Indians to live here, you are not considered a "local."
    6. On the rare occasion a job opens and they are hiring outside their own clan, it is not necessary to take a resume in or fill out an application. Buy them a drink at the bar. That's counted as a skill.
    7. In the city 7 miles up the road (population 400) There is 1 school, 2 overpriced gas stations, 1 severely overpriced store, 1 cafe with bar, 1 small medical center, even smaller bank, 3 cemeteries, 1 liquor store that doubles as a movie rental place, 1 beauty shop, and 6 churches! AMEN! Gotta love small town living.

  11. Wow! Population 70! And I thought 7000 was small. I love your 7 things, Laurie.

  12. Hopping from Bloggy Moms! Great site, I grew up in a small town and the best place to hang out was the Kroger parking lot- talk about boring.

  13. Great blog!
    and all of these things are so true. I love Laurie's answers too!

    our small town in South Jersey, pop. 800

    1. if you stub your toe, expect all of your neighbors to inquire about it.
    2. If your last name isn't on 'The Monument', you are an outsider.
    3. Gossip is an art. If you hear something about yourself, you are constantly wondering how your story ended up so far from the truth.
    4. my husband called me on his way home the other day to say he would be late. The car in front of him hit a cow. He narrowly missed hitting it too.
    5. Everyone will ask you what your name is. They don't mean your first name. They mean your family name. They will assume they know you based on this answer.
    6. The streets all have several names. The name on the sign (if there is one), the name on the county map (may be different from the name on the sign) and the name the locals call it (usually "Joe's road", or, "Where the old ball diamond used to be". Good luck finding your way around.
    7. There are no Rules. No posted rules anyway. you better be quick at figuring them out.
    8. if you have a problem and need the cops, call the fire department. The cops don't know where you are.

  14. Be sure and pick up the local paper each week, so you are in the know on all of the gossip. The largest section who got arrested. Forget about news whoever thought that was what you would find in the paper?

    Be prepared to pay higher prices or drive. For some reason they think you won't drive that extra 45 minutes to get to a store that has quality for your $.

    Your newest follower from the Sundae hop. Also, a small town SAHM.

  15. Going to the grocery store becomes a three hour ordeal when you have to factor in travel time.


  16. Hi!

    Just wanted to stop by and say hi! I'm your newest follower from the Weekend Gathering Hop. :)

  17. When I was pregnant with my oldest (now 14), we lived in a small town that had a downtown area that was closed on Tuesdays or something odd like that. Both my husband and I were working until my son's birth, and we never ventured into town during the week, so the way I found out was when my m-i-l visited and decided to check out the downtown area to give me time to nap with the baby...It was on a Tuesday, of course. ;)

    We also lived in a very rural area in Montana--the community was 35 miles away from the nearest town, and 55 miles away from the town with a library (and the library had a cat). We went grocery shopping every 2 weeks back then, and drove to the town with the library. We were 2 hours away from the nearest Walmart, and that was driving into North Dakota! Still, I think we'd move back if we could, if it weren't for the winters.

  18. woah! and i thought I was forcibly moved by parents to small town!
    I'm from a small town up in Canada pop.8,500 but originally from Toronto. and because of all these comments i will NEVER complain about having such a small town again

  19. You have a movie theater? Lucky...

  20. I just moved from Phoenix to Natchitoches, La. I am a southern girl from Texas but I moved away in 1987 to New Mexcio and have lived all over the Southwest since then. The hospitality is wonderful. It is beautiful. But I am not adapting as well as I had hoped. There is no sense of urgency about anything. They will not give you a set time for appts. The AC/Heating guy will come by today. No set time. Limited restaurants. No Starbucks. You have to drive 50 min to 1hr and 15 min to th nearest one. I miss my friends and church in Phoenix. There are clicks in a small town. Most of the people are narrow minded, they have never experienced other places/cultures. Yikes! I sound awful. I have a twang to people in AZ but I felt free there. I miss the constant sunshine. I grew as a person there. Here I feel confined. I am not a liberal by any means but nor am I a traditionalist. I love the Lord and call myself a Christian. Here it seems like its all about appearances and rituals. Please pray for me. And thanks for letting me vent.

  21. I presently live in a microscopic town of about 1,200 in the northern West Virginia and teach at a small college in neighboring Ohio. Thankfully, we live 45 minutes away from vibrant Pittsburgh, PA, but our town and the surrounding towns are boring, entertainment-wise. Having lived in Washington, DC and exciting cities in Florida for twenty years, it has been very difficult to re-adjust to small-town life. Everybody who never left this town still mentally live in their High School Days. 30-80-year-olds ask what high school you attended and the year you graduated. So annoying--and silly( !) Who cares. Your answer to these questions determine if you will (ever) be accepted by our unfriendly, judgmental narrow-minded community. Unfortunately for my husband who grew up in Florida and graduated from a Miami high school, he is up the proverbial
    "creek without a paddle" since he is considered an "outsider." And since I lived away from the town for 20 years, I am considered a "traitor." Unlike warm & loving Mayberry,
    life in my small town is quite the opposite, and we are stuck here for financial reasons.

    1. This is about to happen to me. I was born and raised in Urban Orlando Florida. Moved to Good Ol' Lil Laramie, Wyoming just before I graduated (making that answer sound different). And 3 years back I moved out to DC metro area to be with my now Wife. Now we get to move to the tiniest town I've ever heard of in Ky. Not only tiny, but I'm not even sure they have a post office. Found out it's a dry county, and they have a drug problem of sorts. If the town talks as much as everyone lets on, why even try to hide ourselves. But I hate answering to people when I don't have all the answers myself. Like they can figure me out before I can. Wish us luck, as this will be an opportunity of a lifetime. <3,000 ppl.

    2. How goes it in your small town? Hope you are doing well.

  22. I'm in a small town in the south and literally despise it. I never thought I would end up in a small town. There isn't a grocery store as it closed 10 years ago. There also isn't any stores to go shop at or if we need anything we are out in the cold so to speak. The place is depressing as it reminds me of a third world nation. If you were not born here (thankfully I wasn't) you aren't excepted here. Everyone knows what you are going to do before you do. I'm stuck here over medical reasons.

    1. How goes it in your small town?! Always look for the positive, my friend. While my original post comes across negative, I actually loved living in a small town and I hope you will too.