Small Town Living

cathycdkSeptember 22, 2006

Not sure which is the correct Forum to post in:

My husband and I are considering moving from Phoenix Metro to a small town environment in a cooler climate. After some preliminary research, we like the Cheyenne Wyoming area.

We're interested in hearing about your small-town experiences, things we should be aware of or consider before making such a move, and particulars about living the the Cheyenne area!

Thank you so much!


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Moving from Phoenix to Cheyenne is going to be a shock.
When I was in Phoenix a about four years back it was over 100 degrees at the end of November! Do you know that there is four inches of *SNOW* predicted for *this evening* in Cheyenne!?!? In September.

Oh, yes there is:

Winters on the plains are brutal. I know Wisconsin winters and I know South Dakota plains winters and I am imagining that the Wyoming plains aren't much different than SD. Snow drifts across the roads could lock you in for days. Do you already own winter clothing, snow boots, a snow blower, shovels? Is your current car up to running in cold and have enought traction for snow or will you have to purchase something new?

In genreral, I think moving to a small town may matter greatly depending on how old you are.

Are you a young couple ready to start a family and want to get away from the crime and chaos of the big city or are you about to retire and looking to live out your golden years in an idyllic setting?

In a small rural town you generally do not have access to medical facilities nearby. In some areas there is only one hospital in the entire county and they do not have the doctors on staff for anything unusual that may arise. Often times medical emergencies can only be stablized and the patient flown to the city for life saving treatment. Even if you have always been in good health, remember that as you age, you will need hospitals more and more...........

This is something that many do not consider, and realize too late when they are being flown 600 mi on Flight For Life for open heart surgury at a high tech facility in the next state, or taking a bus 200 mi every week for chemo treatments.

This may be a deciding factor if you are elderly or have a family of young'uns.

If your children have special needs, rural schools may not have the resources to enable them to reach their full potential. My cousin had a child born deaf and found that the rural schools did not have any special education programs like the city schools do. There were no tutors in the area to hire privatly either. Moving to a big city gave them a school that could educate their son and ALSO offer the support of meeting other families with deaf children for support and so the kids could socialize with each other.

Small towns do not give one *options* to choose from. There may be only one hair salon in town and if you do not care for their work, you are either stuck with bad haircuts or have to travel quite far to get what you want. The same goes for anything else - bakery, plumber, dentist ect. Small towns sometimes suffer because the dazzleing entrepeuers pick up and move their businesses to the larger cities, leaving their lackluster competitors to serve the smaller town.

How important is it to you, to find a good manicurist? A good vet? Kosher food? An herbalist? A seamstress? Are you willing to make lifestyle changes if the town does not offer the things that you have become accustom to? Or will you feel miserable? Can you adapt?

Small towns always get technology much , much later that the rest of the nation. If you are the type who wants the newest, latest, greatest gadgets right away, you will not be happy.

Things like Caller ID don't get to rural areas until YEARS after the intoduction. My relatives were just able to get cell phone service in their area a year and a half ago! AND they only have ONE cell phone company to choose from at this time. Again, as said before, there are less options to choose from all are around, when you live in a remote rural area.

Police service may not be what you are used to in a metroloitan city.You may find yourself up against a 'good ol boy' network in a small town.

Small towns sometimes have a HIGHER crime rate, than larger cities due to a higher rate of unemployement and lack of wholesome entertainment venues for young people. Alcoholism is rampant, and vandalism and petty theft beome pastimes.

The fire department may be made up of volunteers who assemble at the station house when there is a call. It may take them HOURS to get to you with the equiptment.

If religion is very important to you, in a small town, you may not find a denomination that suits you. Small towns can be very cliquish. If you are not a member of the predominant religion in the area, you may be ostracized - especially if you do not belong to a Christian sect. If you do not belong to *any* religion, you may be shunned just for being different. Larger cites offer more diversity and acceptance.

Now, I am mostly refering to SMALL towns like I am used to, and Cheyenne is not all *that* small. Do a lot more research. You are bound to go through quite a bit of culture shock when moving to any new town.

Personally I wouldn't want to live in Cheyenne based just on what I have read. Are you going to be happy living in a town with a public smoking ban? Will you feel comfortable living in a city that has 10 percent of the residents living below poverty level? Are *you* going to be looking for work when you get there? Are there jobs in your field?

What about the fact that 30 percent of the residents in Cheyenne are government employees?? That is not a common occurrance in cities. And BTW the Air Force base there, is there for the maintenance of the NUCLEAR MISSILE SILOS strung around the area. You may want to assess your comfort level with this.

There is very little agriculture in the region and fresh food prices are going to be higher there, than they are living closer to a food source. Quality may be lower too.

What sort of entertaiment venues does the city offer? I couldn't find anything on a search. Just a buffalo museum and a botanical garden. One movie theater. Is there going to be enough things to do in your free time so that you do not get bored? Are there going to be people there who share your same interests and ideals?

Have you looked into all the little "hidden" expenses? I don't belive that WY has a state income tax but what is the state sales tax compared to where you are now? Property taxes? Does the city pick up the garbage or do you have to contract for it? Water from the tap? Or are you responsible for your own well? Is there a fee to use the parks? Does the city plow the roads? Alleys? Or do you buy a snowblower and hire someone to push it?

Check out the local Cheyenne newpapers online to get a feel for the culture of Cheyenne.

Hope fully someone who has experienced living in Cheyenne will respond to the thread with specifics.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 3:39AM
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If you're still considering moving to a small town after reading Bud's post, (which by the way, is right on the money) you may want to consider a college or town with a college or university. College towns usually have more diverse population, more businesses, entertainment, eateries, shops, museums etc. It's like getting the good stuff from a city in a small town atmosphere.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 11:20AM
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Bud's statements are very accurate. While I don't know anything at all about Wyoming and have never been there, my family and I had a similar idea.

We moved from Southern California to a small town in rural Iowa. We liked the idea of small town living, lack of crime, etc. We had a small acreage, and could enjoy animals.

It was the biggest, biggest mistake of our lives. It was horrible. We were "outsiders" because we weren't born there. We couldn't get jobs other than cleaning jobs. (With a Masters Degree in Education.) It was absolute misery.

We tried moving to another small town in western, Iowa.
It was worse. Meth labs, hostility towards anyone not born there. Miserable people. When we went to church, we were ostracized and no one would speak to us. We were very unwelcome, and that was made quite obvious.
So much racism. Unbelievable.

We cut our losses, sold the house at a loss - and got out of there. We wound up looking for cities OVER half a million in population, as even 100,000 would be too small after our experience.

We're now living happily in a very big city in the Southwest.

Our biggest shock after moving here was that people are actually nice!
We had forgotten that after living in small towns in Iowa. People are nice!

We had gotten used to the surliness, unfriendliness, rudeness, etc.

We were dumbfounded when we first moved back to a big city and still are!
We were so used to being ignored in stores, having doors slammed in our faces, rudeness, rude questions, lousy doctors, backwards schools, moldy restaurants, etc. We were dumbfounded once we returned to civilization and realized how much of our lives we had wasted.
...Just wasted...

Our advice: Learn from us.

Oh, and the cost of living is MUCH cheaper in big cities. We paid a fortune for utilities in Iowa, everything was much more expensive in a small town - and there was absolutely nothing to do. Nothing.

Nothing. Nothing. You had to drive so far to do anything, by the time you got there you were too tired. Example: 100 miles to a Shopping Mall each way, and 85 miles each way to visit a family member in the hospital in winter.

Now, we have endless opportunities, good jobs, nice friends, great neighbors. Wonderful scenery, great weather, etc. Things to do.
Yes, there's crime - but we avoid it be being cautious. And believe me, I would rather be a little worried about crime and be alive, than be sitting "dead and stagnant" in a small town. We were living there, but we weren't "alive" there, at all.

Now, I don't know if any of this would be true in Wyoming. It may be a wonderful place. But, I am just sharing our experiences of moving from a large metropolitan area to a small town in rural Iowa.

I think what it amounts to, is if you've known better you will not be able to tolerate backwards living. If you've grown up there and it's all you know, than it would probably be OK.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 2:22PM
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rio oso, sorry to hear about your bad experiences in Iowa. I know nothing about Iowa, but I do think that experiences vary by the town and state, so it definitely is important to check out a place before jumping in. I am originally from quite a large metro area in Florida - for the most part people are friendly. The city is too large and hot for me, and DH and I have bough a second home in Asheville, NC - a mountain town in WNC with a population about 70,000, but feels MUCH larger. This town has everything - the friendliest people I have EVER met, great medical facilities, gorgeous scenery, 4 mild seasons, and a restaurant and arts culture worthy of a place several times its size. Yet there are MANY small towns in NC which are just as rio oso described - unfriendly to "outsiders" etc.

The important thing is to research. However, I certainly agree with those who say it will be an EXTREME shock to go from the weather of Phoenix to Cheyenne! I think you better spend a couple weeks in the dead of winter to see if you can stand it!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 2:33PM
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Rio oso --- I am so sorry to hear about your experiences in Iowa. And yes, I do know something about Iowa. I happen to live on the east coast of Iowa, along the shore of the Mississippi.

Personally, I think small town living is like gardening. You get exactly what you put into it but it does take a few years to nuture and grow. I live in a town of 800 people --- I was not born here --- but I operate a small agri-entertainment business. I have people from all over the country come out -- today guests were from OK. I've had guests from VA, MI, ID, TX, AZ --- just to name a few states. And they say that Midwesterners are some of the friendliest people out there.

This weekend -- we have a large River Roots concert -- 16-17 nothing bands --- if you consider the Black Crows nothing. There is also a Greek fest. Last week was an art fair, a flea market, Latin fest, and a beer fest. The week before included another art fair and an Irish fest. There was a Celtic fest sometime in there too. That doesn't include car shows, county fairs, concerts (one the top award winning concert venues in the nation is here) a minor league baseball team, arena football and a TPC golf course.

Besides --- it's not Iowa --unless you have shaken the hand of EVERY Presidential candidate at least 3 times!!!

You can happy anywhere ---------- if you go into it with the right attitude. You do need to be aware of small town living. And bud was absolutely right. Yes -- it can be tough -- I drive 25 minutes to get milk. No pizza delivery and you never drive on E.

But I can see stars at night -- and hear the locusts in the trees -- you will never get me off this farm.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 8:21PM
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I was raised in the big city and have moved many times since I married. I've lived in small cities as well as big ones. Now, we're living in what I'd call a resort town in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in Montana near the Idaho border.

There is one movie theater that only gets the major movies, never those Indi type films. We do have 4 supermarkets that are all very expensive compared to anywhere else I've lived. We also have 1 K-Mart and 1 Radio Shack, a McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell and A&W.

We can drive 45 minutes to the college town where there are 2 Walmarts, Target, Best Buy, etc.

Medical care is something to consider but Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming. I'd assume they'd have decent medical care. I've been warned about the local hospital here and have had problems with it. People say if you hurt yourself that you should just start driving to the "city" where they have 2 hospitals. We do have a doctor here but it's run by a husband and wife team and it's hard to get in for an appointment and they always take their vacations at the same time.

I have not found the people here to be very friendly. But I'm not an outgoing person myself so I could be part of the problem of not having that many friends here.

Also, if you are planning to work, check out the wages in Cheyenne before you move there. Where I live, they pay 1/2 of what I would earn anywhere else. And they think they're doing you a favor to give you these measly wages in a place that has a very high cost of living. We're second after Hawaii in gas prices, for instance. And housing is definitely not cheap here.

If you've never lived in a winter climate, I would also recommend that you spend 2 weeks in the winter there. I don't mind the winter if I don't have to drive everyday to go to a job.

Out of curiosity, why did you choose Cheyenne?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 1:54AM
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I've lived in cities and I've lived in the country, and I can honestly say the quality of your life will GREATLY depend on the city or the town you choose to live. No doubt about it there is more of everything in a large town or city... good AND bad. More restaurants, more crime, more choices, more traffic, more options, more noise...etc etc.

I currently live in a tiny resort community on a lake located smack in the middle of the Texas Hill Country. The population? 6,000 in the city and a good chunk of them are retired military. We have one fast food chain restaurant, one video store, one drug store, two banks and hopefully we will get our first grocery store. The nearest grocery store is 12 miles away down a treacherous winding road nicknamed "White Cross Highway" due to the high death toll. I work as a graphic artist and I'm making a third of what I would in a larger city.

Why do I stay? Because I love the country. I love that I see a fox on occasion. I look out my window and it's like watching a nature show everyday. We have roadrunners, coyotes, bobcats, songbirds, hawks, owls, and deer.

I also love that this little city needs me. I volunteer for things like decorating main street at July 4th, and judging the parade of floats and they welcome me. I love that I see the mayor every morning walking. I love that my plumber moonlights as an Elvis impersonator/Karaoke show host at the local bar and that if you need emergency plumbing at night, he shows up still in his white studded jumpsuit.

I love that if I'm sick, or if something happens to me or my family that folks we hardly know will go out of their way to help. In times of trouble, you can count on at least 30 casseroles delivered to your door. I love that when you go to the local players plays, you recognize the city secretary, or the guy who owns the liquor store or your hair dresser on stage in a local production of Arsenic and Old Lace.

I love that the "big crime" in the newspaper is some teenager smearing Twinkies on someone's garage door. I like that if my dogs get loose, that everyone knows it's my dog, and my neighbor will open my back door (because she knows it's unlocked) and let them back in. I love that we all know the one local bum by name, and we've all given him odd jobs or a ride. I love all the quirky characters, and how appreciated each one is.

Most importantly, what makes living in this tiny, sometimes backwards, overbearing little town work for me is that I'm within 20 minutes from the city of Austin. Twenty minutes to top notch health care, to indy films, to concerts, to the best Indian food restaurant, to Saks, etc etc.

Sorry to have gone on so long. I just wanted to point out that there is a happy medium, and thank goodness for the internet which makes it possible for a person living in the most desolate lonely place on Earth to feel part of a community.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 10:52AM
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I've found this to be a good site for checking out a city:

The site gives a nice summation of general quality of life facts, and has a *comment section* where residents and former residents give and insider viewpoint.

Not a lot of comments about Cheyenne, WY though.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 7:35AM
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I just got back from visiting friends who moved from the Twin Cities area to a very small town about 600 miles away (I'm going to change some details to protect the innocent and the guilty). There are two main employers in town. One is a subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company which is healthy -- though if the company sneezes, this town catches cold. The other major employer is Wal-Mart, whose presence pretty well gutted other retail in the town.

If you aren't Protestant or Catholic, you're driving (a distance) to church/temple/mosque. And, in a town that size, people know who goes to which church (and whether you were there on a given Sunday). Fast-food ethnic restaurants aside, there is one Chinese-American restaurant, two "Mexican" restaurants, and one "foo-foo coffee" place (n.b., not a Starbucks). It's an hour's drive to a city of about 40,000, where you'll find a Sears, a J.C. Penney, a Best Buy, and a Lowe's. And a hospital.

Aside from the adjustment from living in a Midwestern cultural center to a tiny town several hours from a similar city, my friends have had to adjust to people "knowing their business" (the sale price of their house was common knowledge) and to "local time" (on which service people don't show up for appointments until the second time they're scheduled and stores may be closed early just because the owner thought things were kind of slow that day). OTOH, many people in town still keep their doors unlocked, and my friends were able to buy a very nice house for not a lot of money by Twin Cities standards. The winters are easier, too, though the summer lasts much longer than Minnesotans are used to.

I think they'll be back up here when they get the chance. In the meantime, though, they're learning to deal with the differences and enjoying the positives. It's not easy.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 5:54PM
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I greatly appreciate all your comments. It's these types candid experiences that I am looking for!

We currently live on the west side of Phoenix, about 20 miles to Phoenix, near Luke Air Force Base. Palo Verde nuclear plant is about 30 miles west of us. If we want to do anything besides shop at a box store or eat at a chain restuarant, we still have to drive about 45-60 minutes into Phoenix or the East Valley. There are very few professional jobs in this area, and a good paying job requires a 30 mile or more commute in increasingly worse traffic. Most of the blue collar jobs and labor is done by illegal immigrants, who get paid low wages.

The crime is getting very scary! Road rage in the news on a daily basis. Lots of dangerous gang activity. In the past 2 weeks there have been 4 attempted kidnappings near elementary schools about 2 miles away from our house, and in the past month there have been 3 armed bank robberies within a 2 mile radius. It's not the same people, because they caught the suspects from the first two robberies, which were unrelated. More and more meth labs, and home invasions. And this is the outer suburbs! It is worse in the city, where they have just caught the "Serial Rapist" who killed serveral people, raped a bunch and shot a bunch. The "Baseline Killer", another serial violent criminal is still on the loose!

Arizona's schools are ranked 50th in the country, and standardized test scores range from 12th perentile to 70th. We homeschool our children, and will continue regardless of where we live.

My husband and I grew up in New York State. He grew up about 18 miles northwest of New York City, and I grew up in a tiny town of 250 people in between Buffalo and Rochester. Where I lived was called the "snow belt" and it was common to be snowed in for a week or more. I remember snow on the ground at Halloween, and I remember snow as late as Mother's Day. My bus ride to school was an hour, to a town of about 2500 people. The closest store was about 10 miles away, and there was no fast food, no pizza delivery, no cable. We heated our house with wood that we we cut and split ourselves, we had 2 vegetable gardens and we raised pigs and cows for our own consumption. We also fished in Canada and hunted deer.

We have lived in Phoenix for over 6 years, and we hate the hot weather. It seems to get worse every year, as the "heat island" grows larger. There is very little green, the air quality is rated the lowest I've seen (a 1 where 100 is best). We miss four seasons tremendously, and hate humidity. That is what led us to research Cheyenne. Housing is affordable to us. Due to the raging market here, we could be totally debt free where housing is more affordable. We are a one-income family now, and would continue that. However, with no mortgage, job options would be more flexible. I have used the Best Places website extensively to compare many cities, where we've lived to where we may live. I also have a book entitled Cities Ranked and Rated, which has much more detailed information, but only for metro areas of more than 50K in population. This website and book lack the human factor though which is why I am interested in people's experiences.

We are planning to visit Cheyenne in Novmeber.

Thank you again! Can't wait to read more!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 7:34PM
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If you are not happy with the job picture in Phoenix, I think you need to check ahead into the job market in Cheyenne. Can you get a teaching credential there? Apply now. when we moved across country, I got my credential before we arrived, and had job offers.
I think if your children are home schooled it will be more difficult to make new friends, but not impossible. and it might affect your ability to get a teaching job.
Its tough moving into a new school though. In small towns, kids have grown up together and don't often welcome a new kid. That leaves your child with less options for friends.
Dont hope to flee from crime. We have friends who moved to a small town in New Mexico because they were worried about the crime. They were both killed by two guys who worked in their home and admired their cars, etc.
If you enjoy small town life thats great but it isn't paradise either. I taught school in a Upper Michigan, a town with 600 people after living and growing up in Chicago.
Culture shock doesn't begin to cover it. I swear it felt as though everybody was related. I made a comment about the food in a restaurant to my husband and within 20 minutes had a nasty phone call from my boss who was the father of the cook.
I had to commute to my teaching job which was a speedy commute in summer but over 1 hour in winter. They had so much snow every day they didn't call off school for anything short of a tornado. I wish you luck, but I would suggest that you try renting for 1 year. If you make a mistake & buy in the wrong area, you may be stuck with it. Property doesn't turn very often in small towns. The wrong area could simply be one where for some reason the roads turn to ice quicker than anywhere else, or where the old lake used to be,and so the basement floods.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 5:44AM
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wow, please dont take everything here to heart there are some posts in here that would not make anyone move to a small town. we live in edgerton alberta canada pop:395
i lived my whole life in the city and my husband was a farmer. we have an acreage in town and i love it. we are 32km(25min) to a larger centre that my husband works out of, they have walmart, the grocery stores and all the other stuff that you need. we have A school in town as well as resturants a convinience store, bar, liquor store, gas stations, library, play grounds. we have a hocky rink, tae kwan do, 4H, music lessons, soccer, baseball, and if you drive to wainwright (the bigger centre down the highway) they have a brand new hospital, new community plex with a pool, gym, dance studio, gymnastics club and dual hockey rinks. I had 3 of my kids in hospitals in the city and was kicked out within 24 hours of giving birth, had the 4th one out here got 3 nights in the hospital, my son has autism the school in our village is wonderfull and accomidates him greatly letting his aid (which we had no problem finding) come in the summer and use the school to work with him. It takes my hubby 30min at most to drive into work in the city it took him at least 45 in traffic! our house was $200,00.00 CHEAPER than what housing in the city cost, we were able to move here debt free, and i dont have to work. yes we have drugs and all that stuff out here everyone does but out here we know who the dealers are and who does it and you avoid them. small towns are all about how much effort you are willing to put into it, we are social out going people and have made lots of new friends since moving here, my kids have had no problems as well. and some thing i noticed when we moved here is that the kids accually play outside!! and at the parks!! they are not attached to the TV or at the MALL, or at the sitter because most of the moms out here stay home becuase the economy is cheaper. so thats my 2cents thought maybe some one should post something positive about small town living.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 11:32AM
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I remember once when living in another small town in Wisconsin. We asked someone once if he'd done much traveling. He said he'd been to a town that was about 45 minutes away. We thought that was a joke but he was dead serious. Also, we knew others who'd go up to Canada but only fished or hunted. They didn't know anything about Canada's large cities. This is the small town mentality where many people stay close to home and have no wordly experiences.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 11:35AM
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with apologies to John Mellencamp
Big Town
( John Cougar Mellencamp )

Well, I was born in a big town
And I live in a big town
Prob'ly die in a big town
Oh, those big communities

All my friends are so big town
My parents live in the same big town
My job is so big town
i have BIG opportunities

Educated in a big town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a big town
Used to daydream in that big town
Another boring romantic that's me

I've seen it all in a big town
Had myself a ball in a big town
Married an L.A. doll and brought her to this big town
Now she's bigger town just like me

No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this big town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Got nothing against a small town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who's in the small town
But my bed is in a big town

Well, I was born in a big town
And I can breathe in a big town
Gonna die in this big town
And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me ...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 8:29PM
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Since you know Upstate NY ... I moved from Buffalo to South Wales 10 years ago .. for everyone else, South Wales is a rural farm community 35 minutes from downtown Buffalo.
I am also 15 minutes from East Aurora which is a great little town.

I think I have the best of everything ... small town, 20 acre farm, but 35 minutes from Buffalo and 2.5 hours from Toronto.

Being accepted by the local community took some time. A single city girl buying a farm by herself? They said I'd never last .. how wrong they were, can't imagine living anywhere else. ANd one of the original naysayers is now a good friend and someone I get my hay and wood from, he works on my diesel tractor and takes down trees for me.

So I guess I'd look for a small town that is close to a large town ... that way you can have the best of both worlds.

And I still like being snowed in for days ... though I don't remember that happening since the Blizzard of 1977.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 1:59PM
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I've been through Cheyenne a number of times and use to live in Rapid City, SD for a spell. I wouldn't move back to that part of the country. It's beautiful to visit, but living there is a whole other ballgame. I come from Southern CA (and am back here now), and it wasn't the winters that bothered me, it was the people and a lot of what rio oso discussed. You're different, you're the outsider, and people may treat you as such. I met a lot of nice people, as well as a lot of not-so-nice people, but even the nice ones seemed to want to keep us at a distance. There was always a comment made about our being from California- and it rarely seemed to be said in a positive way.

I don't know about Cheyenne, but Rapid City is predominantly blue collar and the people reflect that. I'm not against blue collar workers, heck DH is/was one, but there's a certain mentality that seems to prevail when you have a large population of blue collar workers. Not always a lot of pride and unity. I remember they use to run commercials on TV asking residents to "be nice to tourists." You would think that people would understand that their economy was heavily supported by summer tourism and do their best to make visitors feel welcome.

I never knew I was in an interracial relationship until I moved to South Dakota. In CA I'm not, but apparently in SD I was. People asked a lot about heritage; I don't know why, but it seems much more important to people in that part of the world than in CA. They are not as diverse as areas of the Southwest, and they seem to not be as comfortable with those from other cultures. You rarely saw much interaction between cultures.

Around that part of the country there are a lot of Indian Reservations (I hate the term), which unfortunately comes with a lot of poverty and poverty related problems. Drinking and problems that arise from doing it excessively were common there. There didn't seem to be much interest by the powers that be to help correct the situation either.

If you like to spend a lot of time alone out in the wilderness, then it's absolutely beautiful. That was about the only time I was happy there was being alone out in The Black Hills. Oh, and you could by beef and black hills gold for a song and a dance.

The oddest thing I remember about the whole ordeal was right after DH and I moved back to the CA coast. We were walking into a store, DH held the door for a woman and she said, "Thank you." He turned to me with a stunned expression on his face and said, "That's what was missing in South Dakota- no one ever said thank you." He was right. Even in some of the more populous areas of LA that we go, people generally thank one another for holding the door. In SD that almost never happened. You'd think it would be the other way around. Images of the happy, prairie town where life is simple and people are kind and open- well, those just aren't very accurate.

Honestly, if I were you I wouldn't sell the house in AZ, but rent it out for a year while you rent a place in WY to see how well you are going to like it. If after a year you love the move, then go ahead and sell your old house and buy a new one there. Otherwise you will be happy to have your old house to move back into. I can't tell you how many people I know who have sold their houses, moved from CA, and then wanted to come back but are unable to afford buying back into their old lifestyle. Proceed cautiously and hope for the best!

That's JM.02.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 3:28PM
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I guess I'll give my two cents....

I'ver lived in many places from LA to rural Maine. I've lived in 3 rural towns in Maine. One was okay. They other two were on either ends of the small-town spectrum. The town I moved from 2 years ago was friendly and accepting. It had a great atmosphere, cultural events...heck it even had a blues club and decent Thai food. I lived in a neighborhood with a teacher, a mechanic, a carpenter, farmers, retirees, small business owners, but also a doctor, dentist, lawyer and pharmacist. We all knew and cared about each other. The town I currently live in is a different story. Despite the fact that most residents are college educated professionals from different parts of the country and diverse backgrounds, I find this to be the most close-minded, unfriendly place I have ever lived. People only live with other people of their socio-economic class. If you are considered "beneath" someone else, you are persona non grata. Despite the fact that we make a good living and are college educated, my husband and I are ostracized because we are blue-collar workers and don't live in one of the homogenous subdivisions. We hate it here. We are moving as soon as humanly possible. Moral? Small-towns are as diverse as the people that populate them. Good luck and I hope you end up in a great community!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 9:06AM
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Here's my little story to share today. I'm sure there's many versions and from many cultures...

A family was traveling down a road. Loaded in their cart was all their possessions. They came across a Buddhist monk that was walking along the roadside and stopped to ask him about the town they were traveling towards. "What can you tell us about the people who live in this town for which we are heading towards?" The monk hesitated and then he asked, "What were the people like in the place you have left?"

One family member spoke up for all, "The people were small minded and cruel. They all gossiped about each other and we very unhappy living there. We couldn't wait to leave."

The monk replied, "Then I am afraid to tell you the people in this town are not much better. You will probably be unhappy here too."

Discouraged by this information, the family turned their cart around and headed back towards the direction they came from.

Another traveling family came across the same monk on the same road. "What can you tell us of this town we have traveled to? What are the people like here?"

The monk asked the same question, "What were the people like where you came from?"

One family member answered his question, "The people were good and generous. We had many dear friends and we all cried the day we left". The monk replied, "Then I have good news for you. The people here are the same way!" The family then proceeded on their way, much relieved with this information.

Good luck in your quest for the perfect place to live!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 1:25PM
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Then how would you account for my family's widely divergent experiences?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 1:52PM
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I don't know how to apply any wisdom from the story above to your personal situation.

My own thoughts, I think a town with homogenous homes will attract a certain type of individual. Not my type and apparently not yours either, but perhaps others, before you, have left for the same reasons and that was unfortunate for you (because they were not there when you were) and for the ones that remain (because your influence could make a difference for someone)and for the ones, like you, that will come after you've left (because they will undoubtedly experience the same as you).

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 3:46PM
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The town I grew up in was Cowlesville, about 10 miles from East Aurora, and was the town we did all our shopping in! Wales was at the end of the road I lived on, East Blood Rd, which ended on Rt. 20A. I lived close to the other end, 5 miles down the road. Small world!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 1:26AM
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Very small world is for sure!

Good luck on your quest ...

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 1:34PM
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My daughter graduated from the U of R last spring. We will miss our excursions to East Aurora en route to Rochester.... esp overnighting at the Roycroft Inn!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 1:43PM
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That's too bad .. the Roycroft is great. We took my mom there for Sunday Brunch on their patio this summer. It was wonderful ..

You'll have to think of another reason to come ... tons of summer festivals to visit.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 1:10PM
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My "small town" was 1,500 people. To me, Cheyenne, at population just over 50,000, is NOT a small town.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 10:24AM
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Don't be dismayed but bad small town stories, they are all different. One thing we considered for retirement is to live in a resort area, for us it's the local So Cal mountains. This is because I have everything I need at the moment, lots of restaurants and things to do because it is a resort area and if I miss the big city malls, airports, hospitals, It's just a 1/2 hour drive down the hill. Also, they have more rain and real seasons with snow, something I can't get 1/2 hour down the hill. Also, our friends, kids, family are less than an hour away. I can't imagine moving thousands of miles away from my kids and friends and I can't imagine living without the luxuries and modern conveniences and for that, the internet is my supplier for much of that now, even in So Cal suburbia, why, because as much as I like having a half dozen overly crowded stores within 5 miles, I have access to hundreds of stores online without having to even get out of bed if I don't want to. Also, it's funny, poor choice of entertainment was mentioned but the reality is I don't want to wait in line at the movies, ski lifts, golf courses in the big city so I don't go. In a small resort town you have much of this available mid week with zero competition so I think I have more to do. Also with sat HD TV, flat panel large TVs, internet, I have most of what I do now at home.

Check out Kona, HI if you like small town living without much if the inconvenience. 82F most of the year, very little rain, lots of stuff to do, lots of restaurants, shopping, etc and housing isn't that expensive (of course I'm in So Cal so elsewhere is usually cheaper) and people are very friendly. Follows the resort living model above but no snow.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 3:07PM
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Small towns and cities (I grew up in a great little small town in Iowa called Ames. This is a college town with 25K-50K people, depending on whether the university is in session. It has a very low crime rate, a stable employment base, great public transportation, nice parks, progressive attitudes, and friendly people. I left Ames and hit the world after graduating from high school and college. I am happy where I currently live, but still have fond memories of growing up in this town.

As far as shopping and dining out, you make the best of what is available or you just drive to a nearby city occasionally. I haven't found a restaurant yet that makes a better medium-rare ribeye than I do on my charcoal grill.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 7:16AM
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Pam ghatten,

You'll now be able to add the *two feet* of snow in Oct. '06 to your story of the blizzard of '77, right?(!!)

I'm not familiar with your small towns, but used to use the roads between Buff. & Ithaca while attending Cornell for a year in '57-'58, and visiting family and friends around London, ON, CA. Cost less for gas for my little VW Bug than for tolls on the Thruway, back then (possibly would, still).


My ex-, a Des Moines girl, attended Iowa State in Ames (Hospital Nutrition) back in '56 and '57 - I imagine the city was quite a bit smaller then. Transferred to Cornell ... where she met me (poor girl!).

There was talk of our being married after her junior year ... but my Mom was sick from when I was about 6, and I'd seen lots of shattered families in Korea - not their fault ... it was bloody world politics that was responsible.

So - she finished her degree, followed me to Korea, and we were married there. Took us three days to get married, so you'd think that it would have stuck for longer than 11 years!

We were apart for 35 years, she became head dietitian in a substantial local hosp. for over 20 years. Took early retirement when they threatened to close hers or another nearby, had 10 years to have a ball - and was waylaid by colon cancer ... she, who'd fed a couple of million, or so. Talk about ironic situations!

Kids said that, in the ordinary course of things, she'd have retired the year before, as she died at 66 ... and I said that, yes, and she'd have been sick for most of that year.


I hope that you enjoy each day, week and year, wherever you choose to live. Life's too short to not.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 4:34PM
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I'd like to share some of my comments on small-town living. I've found this post to be extremely interesting, insightful and educational. I grew up in the midwest on a farm near a town of about 1000 and now live on an acreage near a small town of 500. That said, we've had the opportunity to travel extensively to well over half the states due to vacations and/or family living in cities such as Seattle; Houston; Chicago, Minneapolis; Columbus, OH; Nashville; Savannah, GA; Denver, Phoenix, all over NE, IA, SD, various cities in WY, etc. The only area we've missed are the northeastern states. I've also traveled to several countries in SE Asia, Canada and MX. We love to travel because cities offer far more amenities, career enrichment activities and entertainment options. I love to visit the city, but I don't know if I could live there. It would take a committment for a different type of lifestyle. That's for each person to decide.

Living outside the urban areas is not for the faint of heart. You have to be self-entertained, open-minded and forgiving of others because your pool of friends & neighbors is smaller to choose from. A lot of our entertainment involves church & school activities, or visiting in the homes of others. Small towns also need people who are willing to contribute their part to the betterment of the community through volunteer service, running for office, etc. It's a little harder to welcome people who don't try to get involved. Some small towns are very cohesive, not much diversity. If you fit the mold when you move in, you'll probably do fine. However, I'd imagine that if you don't fit that mold, it would be difficult. Other small towns are pretty diverse and people are interested and respect the differences of others, they're grateful for people moving to the area who can help it grow culturally & economically. You'll have to work hard in the smaller areas to keep a business thriving and seek out opportunities to keep on top of your chosen profession.

But small towns pull together. When a natural disaster occurs or illness or accident happens, people will pull together to support you & your family. Your worst enemy will forget the differences and stand at your side to help you. Small towns have changed though in recent years. It's harder to get to know your neighbor because people are more reluctant to "neighbor". Even the idea of accepting a home-baked pie or cookies from a well-meaning stranger brings some reservation. Newbies to the area are sometimes hesitant to participate. There are fewer coffee shops or small town businesses where people get to know each other; often times people commute to work in other areas so you never even see them. Fewer people attend church so you don't get to meet them. Some people move in and out in a flash and of those, some will fully take advantage of the situation. We've had people move to the area who we welcomed with open arms only to find they had changed their identity because they were running from the law. Those of us who are native to the area might hold back a little before getting to know others out of respect for others privacy. We don't mean to come across as unfriendly. Personally, I cherish & respect the people who move to the small towns - they have challenges ahead of them. People in a small town generally watch out for the children and elderly. But small town schools are struggling due to fewer youth & dimishing resources.

I think the biggest factor in selecting where you choose to live is determining they type of atmosphere and amenities you're looking for and studying and asking lots of questions before committing.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 1:45PM
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Interesting comments from everyone and interesting question, too.

I have grown up in this small town of approx. 2500. DH and I bought a house here last year and love it. Some things mentioned above are true; it can be difficult to find something if the options are limited, etc. and you need to consider what your priorities are.

We are 10 minutes from a college town with a population of approx. 35,000 in the summer. We have many shopping options, great health care, tons of churches, etc. We are also only 1 1/2 hours away from the two major cities of the state, both with malls, large hospitals, etc. I feel we have the best of both worlds. We live in a small town with its lower crime, quiet atmosphere, friendly people, etc., but have access to everything we could need or want only 10 minutes or 1 1/2 hours away. It's a great set up and works well for us.

I have friends that have moved from other parts of the country here and they have all said the same thing: they love this area. The people have accepted them with open arms and been completely welcoming. They have enjoyed living here.

If we were to move cross-country, I would look for a similar set up: a small town located near a college town or metropolitan area. It's been wonderful for us and we love it.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 6:39PM
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I moved to a small town in Iowa, twice. I grew up in Southern California, and then moved home to be near my family in Northern California and back again to Iowa.

The disadvantages of small town living?

1.) The commute. 20-25 miles to get a decent price on anything. I'm not really into the entire $4.29 oreos deal available in this small town.

2.) The commute. There aren't any jobs worth having in town. My husband and I both commute 28 miles one way to work.

3.) If you want anything like say, a pair of shoes or a jacket... see numbers 1 and 2. Not available for 28 miles.

The advantages?

1.) Great school system. Also small communities give you an opportunity to see your children's friends families and make appropriate recommendations.

2.) Cost of living. We bought a first home for 37k and the house next door for 18k. We got killer deals on both of them, although but we'd have paid 20 times that in Northern California. Our first and last months rent was our down here.

3.) The sense of community. It's just not there when you don't know your neighbors.

4.) The funky little small town parades and carnivals.

5.) Room to breathe and fresh air to breathe it in.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2006 at 2:29PM
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I live about 110 East of Cheyenne, Wy in a town of 6000 people. Cheyenne is our big town that we shop in. They don't have all the stores I like but they do have enough. If you truly want to shop, you go to Fort Collins, CO. They have everything you need.

As for the winters, personaly, I think they are very mild and the summers are beautiful. No humidity, no mosquitos. The roads do get closed during the winter but not that often.

Cheyenne is not a small enough town to worry about small town living. You have all walks of life in Cheyenne.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 2:30AM
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I love living in small towns. I'm from Iowa and have lived in several states and ended up back in Iowa due to the fact that my now-husband has a great job here. For the most part, I have found small towns to be great places to live if you: 1.) are accustomed to living in them; 2.) If you lived elsewhere, you'll be fine if you did your homework and research before moving, and 3.) accept that there are some tradeoffs to the freedom from big-city living.

I personally find the biggest problems with small towns (as a young couple) are:

1.) Lack of 'things to do' if you can't make your own entertainment.

2.) Some folks can be very closed-minded and set in their ways about certain issues.

3.) There aren't always a lot of choices on things like cell phone providers, salons, vet clinics, physicians, school districts, etc.

Also, be aware that religion is very important in many rural areas. Some towns are almost entirely one faith. For example, our area is predominantly Catholic. A town near where I grew up was almost entirely Christian Reformed and shunned other faiths, etc. In many areas EVERYONE goes to church on Sunday and the whole town may be closed down on Sunday. If you don't attend church regularly, you may find yourself looked upon with suspicion.

From my experience, most 'small town folks' aren't rude or unfriendly, they just need to get to know you before accepting you outright. Many are suspicious of 'outsiders' or 'big city folks' and may look to you with the same types of stereotyped ideas as you may assign to them.

I personally cannot stand living in cities, nor would I label Cheyenne as a 'small town!' The town I live in now is quite large by most standards around here and has about 10,000 people. I grew up in a town of 5,000 people. In spite of its problems, I love the rural areas. People are friendly, helpful, unhurried, and enjoy working with and on the land. Families are important and cherished, and I couldn't ever live anywhere I couldn't keep my horses at home or have a large yard for my dogs to run when we're all outdoors.

Just do your research and know what you are getting into. Can you arrange to live in Cheyenne for a few weeks before committing to the move to see if you enjoy it?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 12:22AM
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I've lived in very small towns and quite large ones. Today, I live in a town of 20,000 that is on the outskirts of a metropolitan area that is ~3 million people. If I drive 3 miles from my house, I'm in farmland, and I have a 20 mile commute to work in the city.

Small towns don't necessarily imply poor educations or dumb people. I went to kindergarten in a town with a posted population of less than 1000. I only know what's happened to 5-6 of the 20 or so kids that were in my kindergarten class, but that number includes 2 PhD's, an MD, an occupational therapist, a nurse, and a Winston Cup champion.

Small towns can be great. They can be rotten too, but you have to find something that works for you and not just select it for romantic, non-fact-based reasons.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 1:45PM
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No matter where a person lives,there are ups/downs. I am 3rd generation CA, with my granddaughters 5th.. I like Calif, but prefer No Ca. So Cal too much traffic at my age, but we have adapted to ND. Do miss those veggies and fruit and good Mexican food and good Chinese. But then there are other foods here that are good. Just the matter of adjusting. Yes, people are more set in their ways, but listening to what many of the midwest went thru in the 20' and 30' and even more recently farming we are learning so much. Seeing the crops wiped out in one storm, helping out those who have lost their farms thru wind/rain/snow damage makes a difference. What I have learned??? Yes I come from CA and yes I do take lots of kiding and sometimes not kiding and yes people do get resentful of different ideas--but lately I just come right back with--Hey-I'm for Calif and we are different! And laugh. Crime?? No matter where a person goes it is there. Basically when we did lots of RV traveling all over, there were many places I felt--Yes I could live here or No I could not and many times it was just a feeling.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 9:45PM
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I have read so many different posts throughout this site and found this one very interesting. I wanted to pipe in. I great up in a small town 30 minutes outside of Milwaukee, it was a great place to grow up....I grew up, got my degree, married and we had some great opportunities to live in Seattle (loved it) and Minneapolis (also, liked it). Now we find ourselves living in a small town again in WI (neenah/appleton area.) I have been so pleasantly surprised, I did not want to go to a small town again, as we got so used to the conviences and big city living. Plus our careers options are much better in a big city. We had wonderful experiences in the big cities, from friendships to cultural, recreation activities, and we again are having them in our current WI town. I think their are several factors, one is that we are open to the change of scale, we are reaching out for friendships, I think it also helps that our town has a lot of transplants from just about everywhere. We also have a family and that has slowed our pace a bit too. Plus we have family within a couple hours, the biggest reason we made the move. It is much more affordable, crime is low and it's decent for shopping, otherwise we have Milwaukee 1.5 hours away or Chicago 2-3 hours. Winter isn't great, but I do love the 4 seasons, really has a way of teaching respect for nature and an appreciation for the perfect days.

Small towns, big cities all have their positives and negatives and their definition alone can vary a bit on your own personal background. Do your homework, talk to locals, go to Church, real estate agents, look at the jobs, spend some time there. See if it feels right...don't rule out small towns, there is a lot of beauty there and can be financial freedom as well. But every persons needs, desires are different, find what is right for you. But in the same respect, be open, you might just be surprised at what is right for you and your family, big or small.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 2:42PM
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tjppnw, I had lived in Appleton, WI about 10 years ago. I found it to be very closed-minded because my religion was not the norm. My children took the brunt of it at school. My politics also were different than many of the people there. So, this just shows that although one small town fits for one person, it doesn't necessariy fit for someone else.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 7:40PM
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Funny a town with 25,000 to 50,000 is small to some ppl it's HUGE to me.

I grew up half way between a couple of very small towns of less than 150 ppl each. We didn't even have a dail telephone till the day man walked on the moon. Moved to a town of about 30,000 HATED it way to much traffic and noise.

Moved 30 miles to a small town of 3,000 ppl 21 yrs ago LOVED it till the town grew got Walfart and McDonalds and many other fast foods, hotels, motels this that something else.

It really gets my goat when city ppl move to the country then gripes because nothing is there! Some of us like there being nothing here we don't mind driving to the mall.

As far as ppl being unfriendly there are unfriendly ppl everywhere where I live doesn't effect who I like and I don't like chances are if I don't like someone I'm not gonna like them in any part of the world.

About a 100 yrs ago my Great grandfather told my grandfather who was moving on the next farm over from him that they could live there and be neighbors or they could live there as if they lived 1000's of miles apart and it didn't mean diddly squat to him one way or the other.

Guess what I feel the same way about my neighbors I can live beside them be neighborly or pretend they not there.

OH the closest thing I get to city driving is the local Walfart lot once a month or so and I can get there without going thru any traffic lights.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 7:20AM
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I am thrilled at all the responses! You've all been so helpful! Thank you so much!

I have to laugh, because I've realized that in the big scheme of things, Cheyenne isn't really a small town, but the smallest of MSA'a (Metro Statistical Areas). I think 50K is the cut off for that. Even though I grew up in a very small town of about 250 people, and loved it, I was only a kid, and adults don't necessarily love what kids love, lol! We thought that moving from Phoenix Metro to Cheyenne would be a nice step, especially with Fort Collins and Denver so close.

We spent Thanksgiving week in Cheyenne to visit, check out the area, see some houses, experience the weather, etc. We enjoyed the area, and were pleasantly surprised at how friendly people were to us. Our goal was to eat only at local places, no chains. We checked out the grocery stores and compared prices to here, went to several parks, bowled, and toured the mall (very adequate for us, we're not really mall shopper). Everyone took the time to talk to us, tell us about living there, welcome us. We never felt like they were rushed or didn't want to talk to us.
We did attend a small church and it was nice.
We spent a day touring with a realtor, and saw several homes in our price range that would be suitable. We liked that we could drive 5 minutes in any direction and be completely in the country. Our route back and forth the Phoenix takes us down RT 25, through Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, etc. In just over 2 hours from Cheyenne, we were just north Colorado Springs, so everything we could possible need or want is within a reasonable drive.
We drove West and visited Laramie, further west to the Snowy Range (had show the kids snow).
Our only disappointment was that we didn't get to experience normal weather because it was unseasonally warm, in the high 60's and low 70's all week with very little wind. The last day were were there it was cold and windy, but we were on our way out of town.

We are getting our house ready to sell and hope to move over the summer.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 12:14PM
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I kept expecting someone like me to chime in but seems like i'm alone in the scheme of things.
I live on top of a mtn in the Ozark National Forest 28 mi from a very small town. Eight mi away is a small community.
I have a good volunteer fire dept that can be here in 5 min. A great first responder team the same. The small town has one of the best small hospitals, would'nt go anywhere else. Hate to go to larger hospitals for major things. Have city type water.
Someone mentioned phone amenities not available in small towns. There is a deputy sheriff 8 mi away. I have everything available in any city.
I can count on anyone (except a couple of former city people) in a 15 mile area to come help me out if i needed it.
I moved here from TX and have fitted right in.
We have a small rural school that has one of the best stats in the state as to percentage of students graduating,tests scores,going on to college etc..
Kids here fish,hunt,hike,play basketball,have computers.
It's not paradise. We have mosquitos,ticks,snakes but they are not as dangerous as the human snakes etc.. from the city.
you wont make much money here. What can money buy thats really worthwile if you get all you want to eat,shelter and clothes.
I have a new car,i do'nt have the high utility bills or taxes that you have in town.
I guess its all in what you want. I love my mtn. If you love your city than thats where you'll be happy.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 2:37PM
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I've been all over Europe/Asia and Central and North America. I got see all 50 States years ago when cities, towns, hamlets, villes & burgs had more autonomy...away of life that often times was very different,even from neighboring communities. "Progress" has brought many conveniences and diversity to communities, which is a good thing. However, many communities usually the smaller more personal type, are also losing their identity and the people, business, leaders, values, customs,...etc that made them what they were/are. Don't let your religion, politics, ethics be your a new comer that wants to integrate and contribute to the community. I learned from the military that when you reside in foreign lands that you do so subtley, with reservation of freely expressing your customs and ideas, and take an interest in the established culture of your new home. If you are not willing to take this approach than it may be best not to willingly move to location. I've loved living in the big cities, the small towns, and the sticks, My life has gone through phases...each type of living was appropriate for the time. Evaluate what you want right now in life and choose what is you, but please don't move some where and expect the community to change for you....Americans often come across this way.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 9:58AM
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Congratulations cathycdk. It looks like you will be enjoying this new chapter in your life with your move.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 6:53PM
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