The United States is a nation made up of smaller towns and cities. Fewer than 5000 people live in approximately 76% of the nation’s 19,500 incorporations. Over 206 million American’s live in an incorporated place, and only 4% of major cities have a population of over 50,000. Consider the big cities with the suburbs of that city; you can find these suburbs being small, medium, or larger sized.
Being a younger individual, growing up in the smaller populated areas of the country, you may find yourself getting bored or want to escape the moment you can. You may want to find an apartment in the big city and make all your dreams come true. Others may love being a part of a smaller community and feeling like this where they belong. No one is wrong, but it is essential to consider the pros and cons of living in a small city, so here, we will outline some of the important ones to consider.
Financial – Pro
Living in a city can be expensive with the rental prices growing and the cost of living, for example, groceries and consumer goods and services. When looking at a smaller city, the financial freedom you experience is enough to make you speechless.
Let’s look at New York City, where the average cost to rent a 2-bedroom apartment is roughly $2,500, and buying will cost you approximately $400,000 for a single-family home.
In small towns like Warsaw, Indiana, you can find yourself a two-bedroom to rent for a monthly payment between 900 and 1300 depending on the neighborhood, year of built, etc. Saving money on rent can allow for savings to build up faster if you want to buy a house. If you are already established and have a home, the amount of square footage you can find in a new small-town home is quite comparable.
It is important to remember that not all the small cities in America will save you money on rent or mortgage. Doing your research can help you find the perfect city for your financial needs.
Lower Insurance - Pro
Looking at accident data, it will show you that people who are driving in small towns have fewer accidents compared to those in a big city. Having a clean driving record allows the opportunity to shop around for the cheapest auto insurance rate.
The same goes for housing. It is possible you will find a better home insurance rate when living in a smaller city compared to those in a larger area. When the population is lower, the crime rate can be decreased; this isn’t always the case, but for many, it can be. If you are living somewhere with a low crime rate and minimal vandalism and theft, shopping for a lower rate is a pro for small city living.
Views - Pro
Breathtaking views are far more common for a city with a lower population. Waking up to see the vibrant colors of the leaves on the tree in your front yard during the months of September and October. Yellow Springs, a small town in Ohio, is a prime example of charming scenery you will see every day while living away from the big city as it is home to the 78-mile-long Little Miami Scenic Trail that connects to the 752-acre John Bryan State Park.
There’s a lot of history when it comes to the lower populated areas in America. Pawley’s Island roots can be traced back to the 1700s. Historic towns will have plenty of artifacts to see and learn about.
Security - Pro
The home you live in should be your safe place, but it isn’t a secret that crime rates are increased for cities that have hundreds of thousands of residents. Crime doesn’t disappear because you live in a particular area of your state; however, the type of crime does seem to change. Vandalism may increase for the sheer fact kids are bored because they lack entertainment where they live. When looking at violent crimes, you can find several smaller areas to live in that report a total of zero violent crimes in a years’ time.
Community – Pro
When visiting cities on a smaller scale, you may feel safer, people who may not know who you are wave, and walking into a store, you feel more welcomed with less pressure to purchase. This is a sense of security and community. If you are a resident of a city with a lesser population, chances are you know most of your neighbors and community members. If someone paints their house or changes their garage door, people take notice. A long-time neighbor falls ill, the whole street gathers for support. Having this sense of security and familiarity can be inviting and comforting to anyone who is new to the area.
Everyone knows you – Con
As mentioned above, having a community where you are known by many can have its advantages, but the same thing can be said when you are looking at potential cons. Having all of the locals know one another can bring gossip; everyone knows each other’s business. Painting your house will not go unnoticed, and while this can get many compliments, it could also bring you negativity; everyone will have something to say, whether it is positive or not.
Employment – Con
One of the more significant drawbacks is the lack of career opportunities. We know this isn’t always the case, but it is important to research job openings and the type of work that is being advertised. You can indeed find that people are hiring, but there may be a lack of consistency. If you are living in an area not far from the city and are willing to commute, it is possible to successfully fulfill your career needs while being further away. For others, commuting isn’t an option, which can make a living in a less populated area not as delightful.
Entertainment – Con
It is essential for people to incorporate entertainment into their lives. Entertainment brings people together and helps families bond. Enjoying yourself can bring happiness into your life, and happiness is a fundamental medicine that can aid in health and well-being. Happiness can reduce stress and tension and provides us with a way of escaping from everyday tasks and enjoy something fresh that can bring distractions.
A big city brings an abundance of choices for entertainment such as sports games, concerts, museums, and play centers. These are larger events that can be expensive, and when you have to add in gas, dinner, lunch, and possibly a hotel, the cost of your entertainment quickly adds up.
Transportation – Con
More people will need a vehicle to get around. The closest grocery store could be an hour walk, grab a car, and the trip turns into 10 minutes. Public transit could be offered in your place of living, but it may not be readily available compared to a bigger city. The transit you will find in a city will be running constantly, compared to a smaller area, where you may go a full hour in between pick-up times. This isn’t always feasible for people needing to get to work without having to leave their house 3 hours early. The variety of transit that is available to those who don’t work the average 9-5 business days may be even more non-existent. It is essential to add a vehicle and the added cost that comes with this into your budget.
Airfares – Con
Traveling is on many of our to-do lists, and it may not be something everyone needs, but if traveling is crucial to you, this is something to be added to the list of cons.
Your closest city will likely have an international airport with many airlines competing for passengers, which in turn allows them to offer competitive ticket fares. It is possible to have a municipal airport in the city you live in, but chances are, you will be flying into the major city to hop onto another plane to continue your flight. Municipal airports have fewer planes flying out, which doesn’t allow for much room to offer competitive prices.
Many people will choose to still travel out of the closest international airport, but you will have to include the costs of traveling there, which is usually by car service. Many flights have early morning departures, so choosing to stay in a hotel the night before is another possible added.
Mental Health – Pro
When we discuss the population of a big city, mental health isn’t something a lot of individuals might consider. Studies have shown an increase in people having anxiety disorders by 21% when living in a big city; this includes 39% more mood disorders. Communities of bigger cities have higher rates of PTSD and anger management as well. Studies show the same for increased psychological disorders like schizophrenia and paranoia. According to professionals, this is caused by the constant stimulation one gets when you are experiencing the culture of a big city. Being exposed to stimulation this much can put your body in a state of fight-or-flight, which in turn can make you more vulnerable to many of the mental health concerns people in the world face today.
Many of the people surrounded by busy city living can be more prone to sleeping disorders, and their sleep quality has interfered. This can cause an increase in cortisol which is a hormone found in our bodies that controls our stress levels. Poor sleep quality can be caused by the constant noise of traffic outside your bedroom window and the many streetlights, especially in the cities that never sleep, like NYC.
When we bring ourselves to a city with less of a population and the mindset of always needing to be on the go, we decrease our exposure to stimulation. Improved sleep quality can occur from the lack of streetlights and traffic due to most people enjoying their quiet time in their homes.
Education – Pro
It isn’t surprising the class sizes in large metro areas are greater than those in smaller areas. This is beneficial to many children coming into the schools to learn and prepare for their future. Smaller class sizes allow for teachers and children to get to know one another on a deeper level; the same goes for their fellow classmates. Many schools earn a higher number of academic awards when they aren’t located in a big city.
Increased Living Space – Con
While many people would consider this to be a pro, and they aren’t wrong, there are aspects of it to put it on someone’s list of cons. With an increased living space, you may not anticipate all the added costs because you focus on the lower monthly payment. If you are in a home rather than a condo, you have lawn maintenance and gardening. This doesn’t go to say you need to hire a professional, but when you are taking care of a bigger space, the number of times your mower needs gas can increase. This also goes for gardening; more space can mean more flowers and plants, which can increase your seasonal budget. It is essential to consider this when planning a move to a small city to allow yourself wiggle room for the added costs.
There are many reasons someone would choose to live in a smaller city rather than an overly populated area. More opportunities for friendship growth and better mental health are only a few of the many justifications. No matter the reason you decide that small city living is right for you, the important thing is that you enjoy it.