The long shadow of a big decision

Should you stay or should you go?

“Should I leave the city for a small town?”

From what we hear in the culture and see in the data, it’s a question being considered by a growing number of people. Moving away from the city is a big step. Relocating to a small town is a leap from what many of us have known.

It’s a nagging question. Many of us don’t want to leave the city. It’s filled with opportunity and, for some of us, focus and purpose. By leaving the city, do we throw away a valuable thing?


“Is a 21st-century version of the city the best environment you can offer your kids?”

— Eugene Havens, Recently Rural

If you have a family, it’s a logical question. Should you move to a small town for your children? We have to admit the city experience isn’t what it once was. An adult can manage it. You train yourself to overlook the problems. Is it fair to ask it of your family? Is a 21st-century version of the city the best environment you can offer your kids? “Won’t someone please think of the children?”

Is the local park clean? Is the city school your kids learn in the kind of school you went to? Or, is it an overcrowded mini-city?

City optional

The city is not a mandatory lifestyle anymore. Post-pandemic, your job might allow for remote work. There’s nothing keeping you in a city. In a rural housing market, your city equity will buy a larger house for your family. While you think about it, you see the benefit of a slower pace for your kids. You imagine them riding bikes on a safe, lonely road in front of your house. You picture a smaller class size at school. You imagine the tight-knit reputation of a rural town.

It sounds too good to be true. Would these advantages materialize if you relocated? Nothing ever works out exactly as planned. What if you gave up the city and the country wasn’t any better?

You imagine the tight-knit reputation of a rural town.

“Should I leave the city for a small town?” It’s a big decision with far-ranging implications. There’s no bigger impact on your day than where you are. If you’ve taken the city’s benefits for granted, could you suddenly live without them?

Adding to the confusion is the situation of each family. One may find rural life a refreshing alternative. Another may not. How can you know in advance which family you are? Can you?

All or nothing

Leaving the city for the country could be a visionary decision. In twenty years, your kids may thank you for giving them a rural environment to grow up in. You may have beaten the rush to rural living with a large house that has appreciated in value. You may have formed lifelong friendships with family-minded people.

Leaving the city could also be a colossal mistake. Despite the cost savings inherent in rural life, you still have to live there. Your kids might be happy while you’re quietly miserable. The locals may not understand your city focus and task-oriented mentality. Your house might not be as large as you expected. The road in front of it could be too busy for your kids to ride their bikes.

Your kids might be happy while you’re quietly miserable.

Not to sound morbid, but do you envision dying in a small town?

You begin to realize that this transition is all-or-nothing. You don’t want to figure it out after you’ve done it. You need to hear from someone who has already taken the leap. It’s why we’re here.

—Eugene Havens

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