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    Life is Movable: Making the Move from a City to a Small Town

    Life is Movable: Making the Move from a City to a Small Town

    By Nadine GravisGeneral

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    It goes without saying that moving, under just about any circumstance, is no small feat. From breaking ties with your current home to locking in a new one, signing heaps of papers, and wrestling unwieldy boxes armed with that irksome tape gun-- let’s just say, relocating doesn’t come without its challenges. There is, however, one type of move in particular that brings with it a host of other considerations--making the move from a city to a small town. In this article, we’ll dive into the why and how of trading in a spot in the fast lane of a metropolis for a slice of rural or semi-rural habitat outside of the big city.

    But first… What Exactly Is a Small Town?

    When you think of a “small town”, what comes to mind? According to Statistics Canada, a small population centre refers to towns with a population between 1,000 and 29,999. The US has a lengthy list of classifications when it comes to its urban and rural populations. The National Center for Education Statistics defines a small town in the US as having a population between 2,500 and 25,00, which aligns with the idea of a small town in Canada. As for the UK, the UK Parliament House of Commons Library states towns with a population between 7,500 and 24,999 are classified as “small”. Overall, it seems a small town can range from the very low thousands to under just under 30,000, depending on your country of residence.

    Geese near the lake

    Geese near the lake

    So why on earth would someone trade in the excitement of the city for the lul of small-town living?

    This may be the first question that popped into your head after starting to read this article (particularly if you live in and love the city!) But it’s important to consider that there are SO many reasons people choose to make the move to smaller communities so let’s take a look at a few of the more popular ones.

    Affordable Housing - It’s no secret that many people choose to live in smaller towns, in part (or in some cases entirely!), because housing, whether buying or renting, is more affordable. Home prices are invariably lower in areas outside of major cities which ultimately allows you to get more bang for your buck when either purchasing or renting a home.

    Remote Work - While working from home hasn’t always been a popular structure available in the workplace, the pandemic, in particular, has set in motion a swift exodus from office work to at-home work. According to, around 5.1 million Canadians were reported to be working from home as of May 2021 and according to an Owl labs study, globally, 16% of companies are operating fully remote. In short, remote work gives you the freedom to base where you live not on where you work, and instead on where you want to be.

    Worklife Balance - Ultimately, whether you are working from home or working in-office in a smaller community, you can pretty much guarantee the removal of a lengthy commute. 2 hours less in the car means 2 hours more with your family, or 2 hours more for yourself that you can spend doing things that infuse your life, rather than drain it.

    The Great Outdoors - Several people, particularly nature lovers, choose to trade in the skyscrapers for the great outdoors. Sure, there are urban parks within the confines of a city, but there is certainly something to be said for having nature on your doorstep.

    Sense of Community - Although some people certainly find a sense of community within a large city, it can be challenging to connect with such a large population. Some people can feel lost within the numbers and are looking for a smaller community with more opportunities to make meaningful connections.

    Exploring the village

    Exploring the village

    How do you make the move to a small town?

    We’ve now covered some of the reasons why people choose to move to a small town, and so naturally, the next question is… how do you do that? As someone who has recently (within the last 5 years) left behind a population of 2.93 million for one of around 50,000, this is an area I happen to have some experience in! Beyond the obvious players in the move, such as finding a place to live, hiring a Uhaul, and hitting the road--there are some helpful points to consider. While just about anyone can pack up and move, “how” you make that move and how that decision affects your life can differ greatly.

    Research - If you’re moving to be closer to friends or family who already live within that desired area, you’ve already got a great resource for research. Ask questions like, “how did this move affect your quality of life?”. And, “how did this move impact your relationships with family and friends?” While the answers may not be the same for you, these are the kinds of experiences you want to tap into in order to get a better understanding of the impacts of moving to a smaller town. Of course, research often also extends to job opportunities, schools if you have kids, recreational possibilities and the natural landscape.

    Support - If you’re someone who relies on family and friends for support in day-to-day life, whether it be childcare, social interaction, or even just a sense of physical closeness, you may want to consider how a move would affect these support lines. Analyze your support systems and determine whether or not they can be maintained with distance. If the answer is no, then you’ll want to take this into account during your research and strive for a location that best meets these needs.

    Finding Work - If you don’t already work remotely, you may be in a position where you’re looking for a new job within or near the location you plan to move to. Keep an open mind and don’t be alarmed by the fact that smaller towns tend to have fewer jobs available. With a lower cost of living, you may be in the position to take a lower-paying job that you really enjoy, or could perhaps even go back to school and work part-time at a local small business. If you do work remotely, you’re likely in for a big win! Cutting your cost of living and maintaining your income during the move means, simply put, more money in your pocket.

    Decide What Matters- The most important thing that should drive your “how” when considering the move to a small town is deciding what matters most to you. Is it earning as much money as possible, or spending as much time with your family as possible? Is it having access to world-class restaurants and highly developed infrastructure or is it having easy access to nature and a tight nit community? These factors will all play into how you make your move. Decide what matters most to you and let these things drive how you make your move.

    Town in Canada

    Town in Canada

    Life is too short to spend it somewhere you don’t want to be

    Many people relish the idea of working hard in a city, earning top-dollar, and then retiring to somewhere smaller and quieter to enjoy their golden years. While this plan works for some, the fact of the matter is that none of us know whether we’ll get to that long-awaited stage of “enjoyment”. Why not enjoy what you can now and do so while you’re at your physical best, or while your kids are still at home? The fact of the matter is, we don’t know how long we have on this earth, so to live in a city simply because of the earning potential, or because you can’t face the prospect of disrupting your everyday life in such a colossal way… maybe think again!

    Moving to a small town isn’t a simple maneuver, but it does have the potential to be the pivot that launches you into your best life. Don’t get bogged down by the sheer magnitude of the task, but instead, keep your eyes fixed on the potential rewards and the effects those rewards will have on your quality of life.




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