Should we consider a change of pace?
- You will most likely find lower housing costs in a smaller town.
- If you want to start a small business, living in a small town can make it easier and cheaper.
- Small towns have affordable artistic and cultural offerings.
Life in a big city is a dream for many people, and for good reason. If you like bright lights, culture, and interesting economic opportunities, living in a city may be the easiest way to get there. But it’s often not the cheapest way to live in a city. However, it could impact your quality of life if you give up on those big city dreams without getting anything in return. So here are a few ways this decision can work to your advantage – financially and otherwise.
1. Reduced housing costs
Let’s start by looking at the cost of buying or renting in cities versus small towns and suburban areas. The most expensive places to live in the United States are all located in busy metropolitan areas, such as New York, Honolulu and San Francisco. According to Apartment List, the current median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in New York will cost you $2,174. This data is for NYC as a whole, but note that some areas (like in the borough of Manhattan) will cost significantly more. Apartment List also notes that the average two-bedroom rent for the entire United States in November 2022 is $1,348. Quite a difference, and the difference in costs for buying a home is often just as striking.
If you insist on being close to a certain metropolitan area, you could save money by choosing to live within an hour or two of that city. It’s likely that your housing costs will be much more affordable, and while you may be too far to drive into town every day (or week), you can plan weekend trips. Planning a potentially expensive city break in advance can also be good for your budget. I’ll also point out that while NYC may be out of reach for you financially, the Empire State has other excellent (and affordable) cities.
2. Less expensive to start a business
Want to start a small business? Your start-up and running costs will likely be lower in a smaller town or city. Commercial real estate prices are also lower in less populated areas, which means that if you’ve got your heart set on opening a small cafe on Main Street, you’ll probably have an easier time.
And another benefit of starting a small business in a small town is that you can position yourself to truly be part of your community and use that local goodwill to grow and maintain your long-term customer base. If you live in an area with a much higher population and lots of transient visitors like tourists, it might be harder to gain that “beloved local business” influence.
3. An accessible (and more affordable) culture
One of the biggest draws of big cities is entertainment. New York City, for example, has world-class museums, Broadway shows, and all sorts of pop-up entertainment options like festivals and parades. Although your average small town may not have as many (or as frequently) entertainment options as a large city, many of them have unique cultural opportunities that you can partake in, usually for much less money. I’m a veteran of small town history museums, and many of these institutions offer very cheap, if not free, admission. Compare that to the $20, $30 or more you might pay to visit a major museum in the city.
If you like live theater, you can also often find small, quirky theater production companies working in small towns, and while they may not have the budget to put on a revival of a major Broadway musical, you will find cheap tickets for smaller rooms. and products offered. And if you want to act or volunteer, these companies will probably love having you. When was the last time you walked into a theater on Broadway, volunteered to paint sets or arrange props, and were welcomed with open arms?
You’re also likely to find hidden culinary gems in small towns, including local dishes you won’t find anywhere else. In short, there is culture and fun in small towns and you won’t have to empty your bank account to enjoy it.
Do you want to take the step?
If I’ve convinced you that moving might be right for you, definitely consider all the angles before taking the plunge. A big consideration is likely to be your employment status. Remote work has made many people rethink where they live, but even if you don’t work remotely, you might be able to find a great job at a small-town company. Once you’ve identified a few areas that interest you, see who the biggest employers are and determine if your skills could match an opportunity there. And from experience, some areas just won’t suit you, personally or professionally. Look before you jump in, but consider the savings you can make by rethinking your postcode.
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