Why A Small Town Is Cool

Most of my teaching career has been spent in small towns.  My current residence is a town of 500 or so people and has been a great place to live.  I recently began putting a mental list together of the benefits and humorous elements of my small town.  These include:

  • I do not need to lock my door.  I do when we are not in town but many resist this practice.
  • I walk to work – all of the 1 minute it takes me – seriously.
  • The fire dept.’s siren goes off at 12:00 each day, so we know it’s noon.
  • I can forget my wallet in my vehicle, leave it unlocked, come back a day or two later and it’s still there.
  • We have no traffic lights, actually nothing more than some two-way stops.
  • I can forget to pay a restaurant bill and no one will chase me as they know I will remember and come back to pay.
  • $5 to golf nine, 18 or however many holes you want.  65 bucks for a season pass.

The automated fee collector

  • Most of our students do not lock their lockers.
  • The air I breathe is probably the cleanest one could get in a populated vicinity.

These are just a few things off the top of my head.  If you live or have ever lived in a small town, please add to the list in the comments section.

I think the pics. below are self-explanatory.

Our local campground

  1. Bahahaha! Such a great post and totally relatable to anyone who has ever lived in a small town.

    I’d like to add a few items to your list (being a former Saskatchewanite from a town of 1000 people):

    1. I concur with the siren at noon. Ours also went off at 9:00 pm, when there was a call for volunteer firefighters and when a tornado was imminent. I miss such a consistent warning system in the big city.

    2. No need to formally make plans — anyone who’s interested in doing something that night will definitely be driving around and you’ll run into them within 5 minutes.

    3. We appreciate the small things in life. Like when our town got it’s first slurpee machine 🙂

    4. You can’t walk around the streets in town without someone stopping every half a block to offer you a ride.

    5. Trade of services and/or produce is often an acceptable currency.

    6. Who needs a facebook or twitter page? Everyone knows what you’re doing 10 seconds after you’ve done it. (Note, this also includes parents finding out about situations such as speeding tickets…lol)

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Dave! I’m actually heading back to my booming metropolis for my high school reunion this weekend! 🙂


    • Vanessa,

      Thx. so much for your additions. I like your point on number 6 because it is sooooo true.

      I hope you enjoy your reunion (well not too much). It is always good to reconnect with folks.

      Take care.

  2. P.S. I like the new look of your site 🙂

  3. It’s the familial, connected sense of community.

    I recently attended a presentation by PR/marketing genius, Doug Lacombe (@dblacombe), who broke Canada down by region based on how we greet each other.

    In Alberta, we ask ‘where do you work?’
    In Ontario, ‘where did you graduate from university?’
    In Saskatchewan, ‘where’s your family farm?’

    But in East Coast towns, such as the one in which I grew up, it’s ‘who’s your father?’

    There’s a pro and a con. Everyone knows your name but everyone knows your name. It’s safe but when you’re an angst-ridden teenager looking for something to do … well, your dad knows even before you got rejected at the bar that you tried to get into the bar.

    I grew up hating that I was known as ‘Shane’s sister,’ longing for the day I would be recognized as my own person. And now when people ask me where I’m from, I identify myself as ‘Shane’s sister,’ because that’s the easiest way for them to figure it out.

    I made it my goal to escape to the big city and I did. Many times, I find myself wistful to have that more neighbourly feel … the one where Dad knows I’m on my way home before I even start to get there.

    A lovely post. The room got a little bit dusty, I have to admit.

    Shane’s sister

    • Shane’s Sister- I mean Angela 😀

      A great story you shared.

      Your info. on Doug Lacombe’s oberservations are very interesting and shows the commonality but yet regional differences of Canada. Even my wife gets tired of being, “The Principals Wife.”

      I think this kind of info. would be helpful to teachers new to small towns. It provides some background as to how towns operate and can help new teachers with the paradigm shift during the school year.

      Enjoy your weekend and thx. for the submission.

    • mrs_honeysett
    • July 29th, 2010

    Great post, Dave!! And great comments and additions too! The first 7 years of my life were in a town of 200 people and the next 10 were in a town of 2200… I now live in a small city of 20, 000. So I relate for sure!

    1.) Everything works on the ‘honour system’… If you leave your wallet at home, the grocer still lets you take the 2L jug of milk, knowing you’ll pay him back tomorrow… and if you don’t, he knows where you live!

    2.) Giving directions according to who lives in which house, instead of road names! Not even sure I could tell you more than three or four of the street names in my home town, but the Andersons live nextdoor to the MacDonald’s… that blue house on the corner by the park!

    3.) No need for “Amber Alerts”… the second a stranger is in town, everyone knows it.

    4.) Finding everyone to invite back for your 10 year or 20 year highschool reunion is easy!! There were only 22 people in your grad class afterall (and that was a big class!)… and SOMEONE in town knows where they’re at!

    5.) There is a slower pace that is almost tangible in small towns. Maybe because it only takes 5 minutes to get from point A to point B, or because people actually stop to say hello. To this day I am a dilly dallier… What’s the rush!

    Some other funny ones:

    • Outstanding info. and thx. for the link.

      #4 is so true. My phone will ring pretty quick if there are suspicious people in town.

      Your #2 is so true here in Sask. People from other provinces wonder why certain old buildings are not just torn down. On the prairies, those are landmarks. “Just turn left at the old gray bin and go another mile, then 1st right after the creek.” 😀

      Thx. again for your additions.

  4. No. 2 in Mrs. Honeysett’s list reminded me … most everyone has a nickname! Because one school class of kids can only have so many David MacDonalds!

  5. Ah, living in a small town. My own journey has been one of moving from larger to smaller. Having started my career in the city, I’ve spent 20 years moving smaller. With each move, people often inquire about why I would do such a thing. My replies encompass all the reasons listed above. Being the parent of 8 children, living in a smaller community has so many benefits for them, from being able to ride their bikes all over town to going to the pool by themselves. As Angela points out, I know what they are doing because people tell me what they are doing!

    Our recent move is to a small town where, dare to say, both my wife and I have family. Having been “away” from family for 20 years or so, the opportunity to connect and be close to family has intangibles that just cannot be measured through a career. Having spent a good part of my career working towards moving “up”, I’ve come to realize that there are some things that one’s work cannot fill and the slower pace of small towns allows one to appreciate, to a greater degree I believe, the importance having time to spend with family. Yes, it’s nice to be near the action but, sometimes, the action overshadows those things that are important and need to be nurtured.

    Great post!

    • Kelly,

      You are somewhat like me. I moved from the city to the rural areas and went to smaller towns after, and it has been good. Our move here got us closer to family and friends as well – only a one hour drive into the city.

      The intangibles you mention are true. I am sure I could have advanced to a bigger school or central office position by now, but “the big picture” has kept me here. Those being, seeing my kids at school each day, walking to work, etc. I think those little elements to life are very important.

      I bet your new school was pretty happy to see 8 kids enrol!

      Take it easy and thx. for the great comment.

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