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Old 10-01-2010, 12:17 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I know you can't give a population that will apply to towns everywhere, because there are variables like what area you live in, how close a town is to other towns.etc, but roughly, what population does a town have to have before you call it 'small?'

For me I'd say anything below about the 4,000 mark, below which everyone tends to know everyone else.
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:19 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
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I might push the upper limit to around 5000 for a small town.

1) Everyone at least knows everybody else by sight if not by name.
2) The principal and all the teaches in a school building know every kid by name.
3) The streets are still full of kids out playing and riding their bikes.
4) Max number of stoplights: 1
5) A tractor parked downtown is no big deal, or even given a second thought as being out of place.
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Middle America
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Having grown up on a farm on the outskirts of a village of 350, attending a consolidated school system in a neighboring community of about 7,000, attending college in a town of about 9,000, and then moving on to metro areas ranging from two to nine million as an adult, I've been exposed to a wider range of population-related lifestyles than many.

Personally, I start to look at 10,000 as the upper limit for the "small town" designation. To me, the earmark of a small town is knowing the other residents, at least by sight, if you spend any time out in the community at all. Over 10K people, and that gets less and less realistic. It's still possible to be relatively anonymous in a community that size, but it takes actual effort to do so.

However, in the metro area I live, now, there are suburbs that have smaller populations than 10K. I don't consider them small towns, because they're butted right up against and sandwiched between other, in many cases, much larger municipalities with nothing other than a nominal dividing line. As a geographic part of a metro area, population alone doesn't qualify them as small towns, to me, not when they're really just a part of a conglomerate metropolitan unit. To me, small towns are stand-alone...at least five or six miles from the next small town, and usually not neighboring a large metro area (although, typically, the metro areas end up sprawling out to reach THEM...my current suburban community of 80,000, directly adjacent to a city of 400,000, began life as a small railroad town on the prairie, and then the city spread out to meet it. It began life not as a suburb, but a small, rural town).
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Ridgway/Saint Marys, PS
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I've never lived in huge town... went to HS in a town of 17,000 people.. had a job along the Florida Space Coast of 20K people, worked in a NH Seacoast college town of 20K (plus the college) and spend time in some small midwest/northern plains and southeast towns of 2K to 5K.

TO ME, a big town is anything over 25K.. a small town is 4 to 5K or less.

ALOT of it depend son how isolated the town is really.
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Old 10-05-2010, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Minnesota
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Myself I see the "small town" designation as below 1000 residents. Somewhere that does not have chain stores or a wal-mart.

In a small town everyone does know just about everyone, in a place with 2 to 5 thousand residents that isn't quite true. It's small by population standards for sure but not so much on a personal level. Those in this range attract visits from the small town residents for shoping and other business needs that can't be met back at home.
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:56 AM
 
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In a town of 30,000 you pretty much know everyone in 5 years, some of them you might know enough to avoid but you can make lots of friends. It probably has several gas stations, grocery stores, hardware and other shops, more than one post office, library and school.

In a town of 15,000 you know pretty much everyone in 2 years, you'll definitely know who to steer clear of. It probably has several gas stations, grocery stores, hardware and other shops, but only one library and post office, one school at each level (2 elem, 1-middle, 1-high).

In a town of 5,000 you're lucky to have a gas station/convenience store; you'll know who's feuding with who, who's sleeping with who, who has a bunch of DUI's and needs a ride, who might burglarize your house if you go away on vacation (yes, they're watching), and you'll have a hard time getting contractors because there isn't enough business there to make up for the travel time. Your kids get up very early as they have an hour ride on the bus to a regional middle/high school.

In a town of 1,000 there's three families everyone is related to, better hope they all like you.

I'm from a village with only 6 houses and a peat bog...I emigrated first chance I got.
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:26 AM
 
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Ok I live in a town of about 6,I go 25 miles from here to a town of 3,000 to meet my DIL I'm complaining to her about being in the Big City with all the Traffic she just can't help but laugh at me.

Truth years ago I drove Big Rig in every Major City in the U.S. anymore I go to a city I get physically sick I just can't do it.

brushrunner
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:36 PM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,683,788 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teachertype View Post
In a town of 30,000 you pretty much know everyone in 5 years, some of them you might know enough to avoid but you can make lots of friends. It probably has several gas stations, grocery stores, hardware and other shops, more than one post office, library and school.

In a town of 15,000 you know pretty much everyone in 2 years, you'll definitely know who to steer clear of. It probably has several gas stations, grocery stores, hardware and other shops, but only one library and post office, one school at each level (2 elem, 1-middle, 1-high).

In a town of 5,000 you're lucky to have a gas station/convenience store; you'll know who's feuding with who, who's sleeping with who, who has a bunch of DUI's and needs a ride, who might burglarize your house if you go away on vacation (yes, they're watching), and you'll have a hard time getting contractors because there isn't enough business there to make up for the travel time. Your kids get up very early as they have an hour ride on the bus to a regional middle/high school.

In a town of 1,000 there's three families everyone is related to, better hope they all like you.

I'm from a village with only 6 houses and a peat bog...I emigrated first chance I got.

Baloney!

Where do you live?

I just returned buying groceries in a town of 4800.
After I read your description of a 5,000 pop town I laughed out load.

The town of 4800-------Walmart Super Center ( open 24/7)

-----------------------Another big supermarket open 24/7
-----------------------truck stop /cafe open 24/7
----------------------full service meat market

-----------------------2 other cafes
----------------------clothing store
----------------------5 other gas stations/convenience stores
----------------------2 new car dealerships
---------------------2 huge Farm tractor/machinery dealerships


Yup.........sure doesn't resemble that town of 5,000 you were describing.

Maybe that town you described is just a suburb/bedroom community of a nearby town.

It sure doesn't resemble any 5,000 pop town in rural central Minnesota.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:39 PM
 
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The overwhelming majority of towns in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont under 15,000 population do not have a Walmart, 24/7 supermarket, truck stop, or farm machinery dealer. The majority of towns around me don't have a gas station. What's a full service meat market? Haven't seen one of those since Wally and the Beaver were on TV.

New England is different than rural Minnesota, some people need to get around a little more before they scream baloney.
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:42 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
11,044 posts, read 10,790,981 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teachertype View Post
In a town of 30,000 you pretty much know everyone in 5 years, some of them you might know enough to avoid but you can make lots of friends. It probably has several gas stations, grocery stores, hardware and other shops, more than one post office, library and school.

In a town of 15,000 you know pretty much everyone in 2 years, you'll definitely know who to steer clear of. It probably has several gas stations, grocery stores, hardware and other shops, but only one library and post office, one school at each level (2 elem, 1-middle, 1-high).

In a town of 5,000 you're lucky to have a gas station/convenience store; you'll know who's feuding with who, who's sleeping with who, who has a bunch of DUI's and needs a ride, who might burglarize your house if you go away on vacation (yes, they're watching), and you'll have a hard time getting contractors because there isn't enough business there to make up for the travel time. Your kids get up very early as they have an hour ride on the bus to a regional middle/high school.

In a town of 1,000 there's three families everyone is related to, better hope they all like you.

I'm from a village with only 6 houses and a peat bog...I emigrated first chance I got.
You can't assume that everyone is either a social butterfly or has a photographic memory. There is no way in the world that in a town of 30,000 or even in a town of 5,000 that "everyone knows everyone." I'd doubt that most folks will know 30,000 other people over their entire lifetimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by teachertype View Post
What's a full service meat market?

...some people need to get around a little more...
No irony there, eh?




The thing you are not picking up on (goes back to getting around more) is that out west, towns are generally spread a bit more (unless they are part of a metro area). So, a town of, say, 5000 that is 100 miles from the next town pretty much has the essentials right there in town. As an example, let me use Price, UT. It's a town of around 8000. It's around sixty miles over the mountains from the SLC/Provo disaster... er, I mean metro area. So, it's a bit far away to be a bedroom community. It's a small town by most people's standards, yet it has everything you'd expect and need right there in town--all the national chain junk food joints and restaurants, Walmart, K-mart, a college, several grocery stores, a downtown area with the typical shops, etc... it may even have a full service meat market (I'll have to check next time I'm there).

It's generally the suburbs and bedroom communities of bigger cities that lack amenities because it's assumed that everyone is going to jump in their car every time they need an egg or gallon of milk and drive to the city. There is less of that in small-town western US. You can live in a small town and pretty much stay there if you pick one that is far enough from the bigger cities. Around my general region, I can think of at least ten towns that are like this. I can also think of several dozen that are close enough to the bigger cities to have few amenities--the "bedroom communities." So it just depends on where you are.
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