Who's made the move from big city to small town? (Alexandria: violent crime, chapel)
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I move from a large city (Chicago) to a small town on the tip of the Ozarks in Missouri. Sure, there was no traffic/noise/violent crime, etc.. Small town life comes with its own set of challenges. Aside from the obvious: no good restaurant selection, movies, professional sports, concerts, shopping, etc., you also had to put up with small town attitudes and pettiness. You can kiss privacy goodbye; everyone in town will know who you're dating, everything you say will come back at you. Nosiness is a given. God forbid you should forget to put your flag out on Flag Day (like I did)---people will question your patriotism. Your choice of house paint/furniture/lawn ornaments/patio furniture will be the talk of the town. Acceptance in an established community is difficult. Bizarre conspiracy theories are accepted as the truth. Needless to say, I lasted a year. Never again.
I'm not sure what town Smithy77 moved to but my experience has not been anything like that at all.
We moved from Old Town Alexandria, to Purcellville 1 year ago, and have found it to be wonderful. Everything we expected, wanted, and some even very pleasant surprises. The commute is better, the prices are way cheaper, the traffic is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better, its actually dark at night and we can see the stars, we have more privacy because the houses in our neighborhood (its an old historic hood) are much much farther apart. No one really seems to care much about nosiness. THere are a couple of "issues" between a couple of neighbors on the street, but nothing significant. Just typical neighbor stuff like someone wanting to cut a huge tree branch hanging over their house from their neighbors tree that the neighbor will not allow them access to in his yard to cut... things like that. People are very friendly, but at the same till will largely leave you alone and not say too much. Really, I have only had a couple of not good experiences with people out here. Other than that we have managed just great, made tons of great new friends, and have really just found a niche I guess.
Purcellville may not be exactly a tiny town anymore (Its population is around 7,500 or so) but it sure is small town America in many respects, and sure is a "small town" to someone who is from where we are. I grew up in the bright lights of the big city of Washington DC, and am very used to cities. I just got tired of the rat race and was in a position to be able to move to the country so we did. So far, we LOVE IT!
Loved living in urban areas during my 20s but after a few years the suburbs started becoming more appealing. We've since been slowly working our way further and further out into the burbs. They're not for everyone but we love it. It didn't hurt my career since my work is out here, too. I'm now at the retirement stage and we'll be moving to a small town. I'll miss the burbs--had a great time here--but we'll make a pretty penny from this house. More importantly, a certain small town is beckoning.
I think the urban to small town thing kind of depends on the location and specifically where the small town is in relation to a big city. I lived in Vienna, VA for the past 11 years. From the outside, one would call it a town or a small town, perhaps, with a population of 15K. On the other hand, it is not an isolated town as it sits outside a large city, Washington, DC, so has access to all big-city amenities - jobs, shopping, museums, nightlife, etc. Now compare this to where I live now.
I recently moved to Chapel Hill, NC. By all accounts this town is larger than Vienna - population is 50K and houses a major university. BUT, it is not located anywhere near a big city. The largest nearby cities are Durham (10 miles away) and Raleigh (20 miles away), both of which pale in comparison to a big city like DC. I find it slow here and isolated. Even though the town I am in is bigger, there isn't as much going on (outside the University). There is little shopping and jobs are in short supply. While I am about the same distance from Durham that I was from DC when I lived in Vienna, Durham is no DC. Yes, they have a cool museum or two or perhaps 10. But they do not have 50 or 100. There is no zoo, no major landmarks, there are not tons of festivals and events going on every weekend, and much less nightlife.
So, my opinion is look at the whole metropolitan area that you are moving to. Moving from Washington, DC to Warrenton, for example would be a heck of a lot different than moving from DC to middle-of-nowhere, Kansas. Even though I didn't live in DC, I still consider myself having lived in an urban area. In that respect, moving from an ubran area like DC to a small town like Chapel Hill, not near a big city has not been a positive experience for me.
On the other hand, each person is different. Others would kill to live in a slow-paced area. For me, it's not a good fit, but for others, suburban DC wouldn't be a good fit. It depends what kind of person you are. But make sure you look at where the small town is located - that could make all the difference.
While Purcellville is in the greater Washington D.C. Metropolitan area, it is fairly far flung, and fairly "isolated". It's rural out here. The closest large town / small city is Leesburg 8-10 miles east of us up over the Catoctin Mountains. However, suburban encroachment has built up almost all of the area between Leesburg, and the other communities to its south and east. There is still a bit of a rural feel in some areas on the edges of Ashburn over there but that is about it. Purcellville is 50 miles WNW outside of Washington though, so I would not consider that to be "close" by any stretch. Leesburg is "close". I will give you though that this area in general tends to be more progressive in many ways, even out here, and while it is one of the farther flung towns in the metro area, it is still fairly "accessible".
I think its hard to compare just simply big city to small towns. Alot will depend on where said small town is. The place in the Ozarks where Smithy77 moved, well, its in the middle of no where, its southern, probably extremely conservative,...etc. Some places like that are almost like they are lost in a time warp, and have not really advanced / grown much at all over the decades. So it is safe to say that not all small towns are alike. There are alot of variables in play, so its not really as black and white of an issue as the question which was asked might lead one to believe. Yes there are lots of general things that are in common, but there are enough variables / difference that give a question like this many multiple answers, and all of them will be different.
I would've thought the Triangle area would have more stuff, maybe not ALL the stuff of DC, but maybe 60-80% of the stuff DC has. Isn't there a NC Symphony Orchestra/opera/ballet group, for example?
And yes, I do like the "edge towns" -- areas that had a separate existence before the big DC blob took over but are still within shouting distance of DC itself.
There is a NC symphony. They were supposed to come play in Chapel Hill this summer but it got rained out. Not sure about opera or ballet. Don't get me wrong - there are things to do here. But, it's much more subdued, spread out in terms of location, and not as frequent.
For example with sports, clearly college basketball is big here. And there's minor league baseball, but no major league. Ice hockey is in Raleigh, but basketball and football are based in Charlotte. In DC we could do all of the above.
When people came to visit me in DC, I loved taking them to see the Washington Monument or gaze at the White House or walk along the mall or visit one of dozens of museums. It was exciting to entertain out-of-towners there. Here, I am at a loss over what to show them. I show them small-town things - the UNC campus, the planitarium, the local farm with homemade ice cream, a science museum in Durham, etc. They're "nice" but not world-class exciting monuments.
Also, at any given time in DC and its suburbs there are literally dozens of of festivals going on (in decent weather). For example, on a given day, you could go to Taste of Bethesda or an Indian festival downtown or a homes tour in Herndon or a parade in Alexandria or probably dozens of other activities around the region. And I could hop on the Metro and go to all the downtown activities. On the Triangle board on C-D, people ask if there are any festivals going on during a given weekend and I remember the answer one time being, "You should have been here last weekend, that's when there was a lot going on." I don't think is there ever a weekend in DC when there aren't a dozen festivals/events going on.
Part of it is what I'm used to. I grew up in Philadelphia and was used to having various sections of the city such as Chinatown, South Street plus major US history landmarks (Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Valley Forge, etc.). My family is from NY so I spent A LOT of time there, too - at least one weekend per month growing up. Then I lived in DC, so I am used to large, major, world-class cities. So while there ARE things to do in a small city like Raleigh or Durham, they are just not in the same league as a big city. Add in the fact that I live in the smallest point of the triangle, which is essentially a college town, and I just don't find it all that exciting.
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