Home Sweet Home: The Return to Small Town America

Written by on November 4, 2012 in Family - No comments | Print this page


Young adults may be moving to the urban areas attracted by the big city lights, but those in their 30’s and older seem to be migrating back to small towns, even rural, for a simpler life, a less costly one, a safer environment, and for nostalgic and family reasons.  “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to,” said Pulitzer Prize winner, John Ed Pierce. 

In the past it was assumed that the opportunities were in the big cities, but that is not necessarily the case. Cities like Detroit are in shambles, and many other large cities don’t provide as many employment opportunities as they once did before the economic down turn of 2008, and housing, taxes, and other cost-of-living expenses have since soared.

That isn’t to say that all small towns across America have become havens of employment opportunities, quality education, low crime, and affordable housing. In fact, there are pockets dappled across the U.S. map that show from Nebraska to the Dakotas there is both a migration loss. Perhaps it is due to these areas being extremely isolated with little industry or farming prospects, or populations large enough to sustain call centers or small manufacturing to come in fill their job needs?

Still, there are small town booms in states like Montana, Florida, Colorado, and South Carolina.

Small Town Family Ties

Why are people returning home, or moving to rural areas? One major reason, according to a University of Minnesota study, that adults are migrating back home, or to these rural areas and small towns and their easy living to communities has been family.

Family ties in a community are as important a drawing card for enticing one back as almost any other factor. In tough economic times, families draw closer together by relying upon one another more for both emotional and financial reasons. Families have each other’s back, and when there is an economic national stress like the United States  has been experiencing, it is good to have warm, friendly faces and family whom one can count on.

For the Children

As well, Christiane Von Reichert, who led the U of M study, says, “A lot of people have given up economic opportunities for the benefit of their children and also their parents. The extent to which people are willing to give up opportunities for their kin is amazing.”

Those with small- and teenage children are coming back because they want their children to grow up with a certain type of freedom that fosters independence, responsibility, and to keep them away from big city and suburban influences that are wasting away many other families. Kids get to grow up in more of an Andy Griffith world where they can ride their bike, run through the woods, walk home alone from school, and not feel so concerned, whereas in the suburbs and city, these things are not always wise to do.

The Small Town Community

Additionally, there seems to be more of a sense of community in these towns where everyone looks after each other. Knowing one another’s name makes each somewhat accountable to each other. Neighborliness is a valuable commodity. Moreover, those who move back tend to become very involved in their communities, hoping to make it a better place, and engage in local politics, education, sports, and the arts with excitement.

The Small Town Business Opportunity

Just because the town is small does not mean the business and entrepreneurial ideas are. Moreover, just because the town is small does not mean there will not be any competition. In fact, small towns mean fewer dollars to go around, so those who are driven to run their own business in a rural are or a hamlet of a few thousand people must be wise, well-funded, and patient.

Starting your own family-friendly grocery store across from a one that has been operating for decades may not be a wise idea. The key is to know the needs of your small town community and see what is not being fulfilled. If what you discover lines up with your passion and can be done at an affordable financial stake required to become operational and sustain yourself for a few years’ time, then by all means dive in with a business plan and the wisdom required to succeed. Join the local chamber of commerce and get out in the marketplace and meet people.

Examples of this are plenty. Meet a few who have done just that:

  • Personal Injury Attorney at Elrod Pope Garrett Johnson of Elrod Pope Law Firm in Rock Hill decided he wanted to leave the crowded highways and crime of the big city he was living to move to small town Rock Hill, SC. He joined their practice in September 2011 with his primary focus being personal injury and serious accident cases.
  • Tim Kelly was the Indiana Pacers’ Otolaryngologist for a few years while practicing and teaching medicine at Indiana University in Indianapolis, IN. Though well respected in his community, he and his wife, Cindy, felt it was time to move to a smaller town and enjoy a slower pace of life and chose to work for ear, nose and throat specialist CCENT that serves the area of York County, about 30 miles south of Charlotte, NC.

Of course, small towns and rural living aren’t for everyone. But it seems that it is the right move for many families and entrepreneurs seeking to claim their stake in their future.

This is a guest post.  From the writers at Lancaster Reviews.

Image courtesy of porbital / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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