U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Rural and Small Town Living
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 06-25-2011, 10:33 PM
 
Location: Middle America
37,146 posts, read 43,082,479 times
Reputation: 51738

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lily0fthevalley View Post
There's also the fact that in small towns the schools are the heart of the community. Usually the whole town turns out for the plays, sports events, spelling bees, and etc. So there's a lot of support from the community for school children in a small town.

Also, in small towns we all know one another's families. So if a kid is acting up in school we all know about it and talk about it - this is a form of behavior control/crime-gang prevention. But this is probably hard on the kids whose behavior doesn't fall in the realm of the "norm" for their community. That's why artsy or gay or socially awkward kids may have a harder time at school in a small community.

These factors were huge. I was raised on a farm where the closest community with a school was about 10 miles away, and that town had 7,000 people. High school athletics, band and choral concerts, theatre productions, etc. are the heart and soul of the community. There was definitely a lot of social pressure to keep your nose clean, too, because everybody knew your family. God forbid if I was seen 'speeding' around "the strip" in the family station wagon...my mom knew about it before I even got home. We had both public and private schools (the private schools were mostly parochial). Teaching quality was hit and miss. Rural districts, like inner city, often suffer from property tax base problems, and can't always afford to attract and retain the highest caliber of educators, and not everyone wants to take a teaching gig in the middle of nowhere. Like anywhere, though, there are always some fabulous, dedicated souls.

It was generally a safe environment - although teen drinking and driving was HUMONGOUS; I and my siblings lost more peers to drunk driving incidents than any of my urban/suburban-raised peers once I reached college age had ever heard of. This was partly because in order to socialize in small communities, you had to do a lot of open-road 2-lane highway driving, often of fairly significant distance, to the next small community, which for teens is a recipe for disaster, but in a small town, you pretty much have to drive to get to anything, unlike in urban environments. It was also partly because of the familiar teen adage of there being "nothing to do" in a small town but drink. I never found it to be true, but many do.

I loved growing up in a small community. I never felt like "Oh, God, get me out of here." I did leave for college...to another, similarly sized community a state away that happened to also have a college. After I graduated, I moved to a large city, one of the nation's largest. Having grown up rurally/in small towns didn't hamper me in any way from gaining an education that prepared me to excel in a demanding college environment, or from thriving in urban life as an adult, either. It gave me the perspective to know that there are a whole lot of different environments that are home to me.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 06-26-2011, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Maine
6,072 posts, read 11,562,758 times
Reputation: 5672
Quote:
Pros of urban area:
-much wider network of potential friends to socialize with
That can be a con too. There's a much wider network of friends who can be a bad influence.
Quote:
-wider array of activities available to try
Different variety yes, but having grown up in a larger area and moving my family to a very rural area, there's no truth to that in my experience. There's no lack of things to try out here.

Quote:
-more and more varied jobs for teens
I don't know of a teen who wants to work out here who can't find a job. How many urban kids work in a canoe all summer? Kids out here can do anything from working at McDonald's, bag groceries, wait tables (my youngest averaged $18/hour), count loons, intern on farms and much more.

Quote:
-greater diversity in the community
Maybe, but not here. My daughter graduated from high school this month. Her friends are white, black, Mexican, Native American and Asian. Pretty good considering I live in the whitest state in the country. And, diversity is more than race.

Quote:
-better "high end" schools if the kid can get in: eg the average public HS in North Dakota might be better than the average NYC public school, but you're not likely to find places like Stuyvesant in North Dakota.
My daughter graduated in a class of 52 kids. She enters college this fall with one semester of college complete. She's able to skip those core classes that have nothing to do with her majors (two majors and a minor so being in a small town didn't hurt her education in any way) and get to the important subjects.

Pro and con are abstract, not concrete.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-26-2011, 11:26 AM
 
478 posts, read 662,293 times
Reputation: 494
From the responses I've read, I definitely feel that the sense of community so frequently described is a pretty compelling reason. I can understand why a setting like that might give people a stronger feeling of rootedness and connection.

I should have avoided using a buzzword, "diversity," in my opening post but I did not mean by that simple racial diversity. Racial diversity is a component of what I was thinking insofar as it can foster different cultural activities, but far more important are:

-diversity of industrial base to mitigate boom and bust cycles that can undermine a community

-diversity of educational & intellectual backgrounds. of course there are highly educated and intelligent people in small towns, but I was thinking of a critical mass of such people necessary to create a subculture. I'll give a personal example to illustrate. When I was growing up, I loved the piano and studied it extensively. After studying with a local teacher for a few years, it reached the point that my mom had to drive me 2 hours to study with a new teacher with far more skill. I'm very grateful to my mom for this, but it was very inconvenient. I also didn't like the fact that so few of my peers had a substantive interest in music. There were few high school bands and such, but I wanted to interact with other kids who really loved the piano and classical music and there was no such social outlet for me.

Last edited by ktaadin; 06-26-2011 at 11:40 AM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-26-2011, 12:59 PM
 
Location: Middle America
37,146 posts, read 43,082,479 times
Reputation: 51738
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktaadin View Post
-diversity of educational & intellectual backgrounds. of course there are highly educated and intelligent people in small towns, but I was thinking of a critical mass of such people necessary to create a subculture. I'll give a personal example to illustrate. When I was growing up, I loved the piano and studied it extensively. After studying with a local teacher for a few years, it reached the point that my mom had to drive me 2 hours to study with a new teacher with far more skill. I'm very grateful to my mom for this, but it was very inconvenient. I also didn't like the fact that so few of my peers had a substantive interest in music. There were few high school bands and such, but I wanted to interact with other kids who really loved the piano and classical music and there was no such social outlet for me.
This sort of thing can often be mitigated in smaller communities that are home to seats of higher learning. Small college towns become popular places to live for these reasons. People don't have to trade community size and level of close-knittedness when looking for more varied cultural outlets, due to the built in options that come with an academic community. Small college towns (lived in one for a while myself) do come with their own issues, though, of course...the stereotypical "town-gown" animosity being among them. But they can be ideal for people who don't want to lose the small town feel, yet still have access to a variety of cultural and intellectual offerings at their fingertips.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-28-2011, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Powell, WY
992 posts, read 2,057,531 times
Reputation: 1348
One downside:

Trying to fit in in a tight knit community. Some small towns do not care for outsiders. That's a hard pill to swallow for adults, and even harder for the kids. We're in a small town now (one that my husband grew up in) and I really can't stand it. Not all towns are like this, but if you're not "from here" (I grew up on the other side of the lake, which this town calls the "rich" area) then no one wants to know you. We've been here 3 years, have 4 kids and a very small handful of friends...
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-20-2011, 11:09 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,660 posts, read 12,915,140 times
Reputation: 8482
I think one reason parents want to raise kids in small towns is the idea that the kids don't grow up as fast there. City kids seem to grow up faster - date younger, are exposed to things at an earlier age (smoking, drinking, drugs), etc. Whether this is true or not, I do not know, but I think the perception is there.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-21-2011, 12:40 AM
 
5 posts, read 16,633 times
Reputation: 11
The rural kids start drinking earlier because they got nothing else to do is another perception.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-21-2011, 12:34 PM
 
532 posts, read 1,116,726 times
Reputation: 502
To provide your kids with a safe, stable and homogenous upbringing nothing beats a rural upbinging . Most folks I have met born and raised in a small town are firmly anchored to their community.

There is a trade-off though. I think this leaves kids growing up in this environment a bit unprepared for adventuring out beyond the familiar. Leaving the nest having had the same friends since kindergarten and being familiar with only a small sliver of society has its draw backs. Being adaptable and able to acclimate to different environments is a nice skill to have.


As a kid with a father in the Military, I learned at an early age how to make new friends and adapt to new environments. As well as learned that moving on and saying good-bye is not neccesarily a bad things there are friends and adventures to be had around the world if you are willing to pursue them. I was always shocked when I met a kid who had never been on a plane or left their state. This seemed to be more common in rural areas.

My wife and I struggled with this same question after having kids some years ago. We bought a house in a great small town. We lived right on a lake. Great K-8 and high school, etc. It was a great place to raise a family.

We ended up selling the house to pursue a great job prospect out of state. A few years after that we did the same thing, kids in tow both times. With both kids older now and getting close to being adults I have no regrets. They have lived in rural and urban areas, attended different schools and made and lost friends along the way. I'd like to think we've given them more tools to be succesful by showing them a life outside small town USA.

In the end I would not choose to live in the sticks or in a city raising a family. I have found living in the suburbs of major cities to be a great compromise. You can find nice communties that have a small town feel, local hardware store, Memmorial Day parades, etc. With the benefit of taking your kids to the city on weekends to give them a feel for the pace and offerings only found in your major metros.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-03-2011, 07:24 AM
 
478 posts, read 662,293 times
Reputation: 494
I apologize reviving a dead thread by writing this, but my perspective has changed lately since I moved to a large city from my small town shortly after starting this post and I think it would make a good update.

There are some things about the rural area that I find I miss very much. Number one is simply having nature around. I guess I took it for granted, but when I've gone home to visit I realize just how much I missed trees, rocks, water etc. Space in general. Free parking! There is a definite ease of living in rural areas compared to city living.

It's true that the city offers more in the way of career and educational opportunities, nightlife, shopping etc but I've found that I'm not able to use alot of these opportunities as much as I'd like because my new job here consumes so much of my time. I've done a few things and it's not been all bad, but getting settled and honestly feeling like this place is "home" has been a challenge. I've reached the point that I plan to live here and do this job for a few years then move on. The most difficult part of the city environment is the stress of dealing with my car (parking, driving, vandalism etc).

I don't have any kids and still couldn't comment on raising them in one environment vs the other, but I can say this experience has made me think. I can see why a small 1BR right downtown might have some downsides that I did not see earlier for a family.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 12-04-2011, 03:38 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
8,733 posts, read 10,155,497 times
Reputation: 7542
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktaadin View Post
Okay, why do you think that parents feel that raising kids in a small town provides them with a better environment to grow up in? I often hear parents (including well-off ones who could afford good private schools) say things like "we don't want to raise our children in that environment [the city]."

As a kid I was raised in a town of 5,000, about 2 1/2 hours from the nearest real city. Throughout most of my growing up years, I wanted nothing more than for my parents to move us to an area near or in a bigger city.

Trying to be objective, I just don't feel that the trade-offs are really worth it:

Pros of rural area:
-less pollution
-less crime
-possibly better schools on average, depending upon the rural area in question

Pros of urban area:
-much wider network of potential friends to socialize with
-wider array of activities available to try
-more and more varied jobs for teens
-greater diversity in the community
-better "high end" schools if the kid can get in: eg the average public HS in North Dakota might be better than the average NYC public school, but you're not likely to find places like Stuyvesant in North Dakota.

I realize my own biases probably come through in making this comparison, but it's an honest question to those parents who specifically wanted to raise their children in a small town. Why did you feel that the trade-off was worth it?
I can't speak as a parent b/c I'm not one. But I was raised in a small town of about 16,000. I know that doesn't sound small to some but compared to its nearby cities in NJ/NYC, it's a blip on the radar . When I think of kids growing up in small towns, I get a visual of Alice when she's stuck inside that small house and her head & all four of her limbs are sticking out of the house because she's outgrown it. Small towns are great for kids -- there's community, lifelong friendship, education to be had there. But once the child starts to grow up from a teenager to a young adult -- resentment will set in towards being so isolated and even towards the parents. I have had friends (in the past) raised in big cities (Chicago, NYC, even ones in NJ) and they were so much more worldly and savvy than I was at the time. I think if you raise your kids in a small town, it's imperative to travel them throughout different places and cultures. That is the only way they will see 'how the other half lives' otherwise it will be a culture shock the first time they step onto an urban college campus. Do I think the tradeoff was worth it in the long run? The child in me say yes, the adult in me says NO.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Rural and Small Town Living
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top