Small Towns and Retirees

chisueNovember 14, 2012

The wonderful couple who live next to our DS and his family in Chicago are moving to a small town (pop. 3500). The lady has been child care provider for our DGS since his birth seven years ago, and for DGD since her birth 18 months ago. Once her DH retired, BOTH of them have been 'honorary grandparents' to the kids. (They have only one child, and no grandchildren.) They will be sorely missed.

I got wondering if small towns might enjoy some resurgence as Boomers retire. Usually children grow up and move away from little communities, but perhaps Baby Boomers will be moving in.

I'm a little nervous about how these lifelong 'city folks' will do in a small town -- and how the probably close-knit townspeople will welcome them.

Does anyone have experience with this situation, either as the newbies in a small town, or as 'rooted residents' with new people moving in?

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Yes, and would I do it again? Not sure, But I do have relatives here. In many small towns, unless your relatives are born and raised in the area, you are tolerated, but when a group of local people do get together they talk about who went to school with who, when, where they are etc. Yes good way to find out about people, but again you (I) do feel left out, even though my grandkids were born and raised here. Just the way it is.
But I am talking about 300 people---3500 people may be different. Hope the medical is good.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:19PM
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Marie, you live in a town with 300 people? Wow. I think there must be half that many people on my street, counting kids.

Around here a lot of Boomers are moving back to center city Philadelphia. It's been wonderful for the city and the people who have done it love it there.

I think it all depends on the town. If there are other new people there, I bet it will be fine but if it is the kind of place where people have lived for generations, it may be harder.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 7:58PM
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HMMM well I can't imagine always living in a big city and then moving to a small town. But I don't think 3500 is small. I live in a much smaller town and have lived in this area all my life. Probably the only piece of advise that I'd have for people moving from a large city to a small town is that they'd be wise to leave any sterotypes behind. I've noticed that those people that do not do well in this area are usually those that think of us as rednecks and hicks. I think they will do well if they go in with the right attitude and try to embrace some of the local culture and events. For example, believe it or not, in this area for a few years, we had a car launch. A man who owned a gravel pit put remote controls on cars, trucks, buses, etc and launched them into the gravel pit. While I admit that sounds strange and a bit redneckish, it was quite entertaining and drew about 1000 people at its peak (the event is no longer taking place.) Anway, the man that had the pit, donated all proceeds to charity. He raised thousands for make a wish and various school events. Anyway, a couple of months after this event, I met a woman who had recently moved to this area. She complained non-stop about the rednecks and stupid things we do in the area with the car launch being at the top of the list. I can't imagine that she has many friends in the area (I'm not even sure she lives here anymore.)

I can say that I have a friend who moved here from a large city. She is a true city girl but her attitude is so much better. She has never said bad things about the area. She'll try new things that are true to the area. She's made a ton of friends. Again, it's all in attitude. While she loved the city and goes back there frequently, she feels at ease here also. Again, it's all in attitude.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Hopefully they have visited the area many times and feel this is the right move for them.
I agree that small towns are very different than city living. Some are not welcoming to outsiders.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:14PM
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We did something similar. On paper, you wouldn't think so. We moved from a town to a city about 6 months ago. And DH retired one month later. But the 'town' was in the suburbs, part of a huge megalopolis. The entire area was overpopulated and very congested. The city we moved to, while the largest city in our state geographically, is a rural area. There's a little downtown area, and a mall a few miles away (still within the city limits). Our new home is 1 block from a farm. If I drive around my block I can stop at 3 different farm markets AND a supermarket, a house that sells eggs, a Hallmark store, bank and a CVS (as well as a few other places).

There were a number of reasons we chose to move here. It's still instate and not too far from my daughter. The city is an Abbott school district--that means the state picks up much of the expense, keeping our property taxes lower. It's an Urban Enterprise Zone--meaning a somewhat depressed area, so the sales tax is half what it is in the rest of the state. The city is one of the few in the state that owns it's own electric company--with lower rates there. The county is very depressed economically--we got a house for a couple hundred thousand less than a similar house would have cost us back in the suburbs. Financially, it was a good move. Of course, it's not a good place for anyone with children to move--the schools aren't great, as you can imagine.

We've owned this country house for 4 years, even though we moved here only the beginning of the summer. It's wonderful. The neighborhood is established, but the folks are SO nice here. Friendly, generous, interested and interesting. We really feel accepted and a part of the local culture already. I LOVE that there's so much less traffic here. Any more, when we go back to visit? It's so annoying to drive around the suburbs--all the cars, stop lights on every corner, so many people. Living in the country is much nicer. And we're still close enough to the big city (about an hour away) that if we do need to see a medical specialist, we can head up there.

If other seniors, who may want to stay instate, but save $$$ in their retirement look around, they certainly may see that there are bargains, if you use your head. For several years, while we were planning this move, we kept our mouths shut about that though--didn't want to run the prices on houses up--LOL!

Bottom line, though, is that this city is much more friendly and welcoming than the place we left. Here, complete strangers will start up a conversation with you in the supermarket--I always have to tack on at least an extra 20 minutes for that when I go grocery shopping. Back in the old neighborhood, it was very rushed, talking to strangers was frown upon--even rude. I just love this area and am so glad we found it. Naturally, that's just what we've found in our little pocket here. I'm sure all towns have their own character and culture and the experience could be very different for others.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:37PM
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dh's ideal retirement home is a rv...not mine! i want my 3 different bedrooms to sleep in, my cat, and being fairly close to the kids and grands...the problem will be when he realizes we are here and tied to quarterly dr appts, target pharmacy, and (lol) costco and sam's club! while i can't stand our home's location, too busy a street, business encroaching, it is a central location...

i'd go nuts in tiny town away from family...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:22PM
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That is an excellent question. I can't really see a resurgence of the small towns but it's certainly possible. I see a few hindrances to that possibility. First of all, older people are often adverse to change, especially big change and moving from a big town to small is a big change and yes, I know the firestorm that might come from saying this. Secondly, there's advantages and disadvantages to living in large or small communities. I think it takes a certain type to live in a smaller area. Personally I'm sure I'd love it and have wanted to move for decades but hesitated because of employment situations plus the economy up and down especially the past 10-12 years has been devastating at times to the possibility.

It could be a good thing for people and for the communities. I can see the ads tho, Come to Retirement City and die! Housing openings often!

Some areas are cliquish. A friend moved to a small rural area and didn't fit in. He fancied himself as another Oliver Wendell Douglas and I think they sensed it and rejected him. He moved again and it took a long time to be accepted.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:07AM
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A small town is well suited for a retiree couple provided it is not too small. I am a retiree and speak from experience. Population of 3500 is a bit too small for me. I like villages in the range of 8000 to 20,000. These villages are small enough to have many goods and services within walking distance and yet large enough to support sewer and water systems.

A retiree must look to the day when his car may be garaged for most of the year, or he can no longer drive, or he'd rather not start the car. Things that are within a 10 block radius of his house becomes important.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 2:43AM
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In greater Chicago, at least according to local real estate agents, the reason that new condos keep coming to market is that older folks are moving back into the big city after the kids are gone. I'd take Michigan Avenue over a small town any day!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:17AM
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I live in a small town that in past years had the reputation of being cliquish but I don't think that is as true today. I think scissors in right. The new people have to accept us the same as we need to accept them. Getting involved in community or church activities will help both sides in knowing each other as neighbors and friends.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:04AM
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I've always lived in small towns and I think the people are very friendly. Probably more so than in cities. The only drawback I have to where I live....between two small towns, out in the that I am so far from the supermarket, etc. The nearest town to me is 21,000. I think that is just about the right size. The town I live in is so small there isn't even a stop light in town. Just a post office, a couple of churches and a volunteer fire department. There is a convenience store on two of the roads leading out of town...about two miles away.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:46PM
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Thanks for all the input!

These are very nice people -- more 'givers' than 'takers'. I'm a little afraid this may not be quite what they've envisioned. They took a beating on their house; I'd guess some other retirement spots were more expensive. They have been anxiously awaiting the day they can leave the 'mean streets' of the city. I'm wondering if this won't be a whole 'nuther challenge.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:47PM
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I expect it will be a bit of a challenge for them, BUT that's good--learning a new place, meeting new people, finding a niche for themselves are all GOOD things, and those pursuits will keep them active and on the move.

We are far more active now--we were starting to stagnate just a little at the other place. We had it all fixed the way we wanted it, we had established friendships that didn't require much work--here, we've had to get out of ourselves just a bit to make this work.

It will be a good move for them--they'll do fine, and will no doubt love the new place once they have settled in.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 4:52PM
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I moved from Metro Atlanta (pop. about 5.2 million in the metro area) to WV which has a state population of just over 1 million. Our city as about 13,000- at its peak there were 50,000 here. We love it and hope we never have to leave. Not sure what I would do with a town of 300 though!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:52PM
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I love small towns. I grew up in small towns and always wanted to retire to the country or a small town. And if our kids move away one day we may retire in a small town to be near them.

But now that I am in my fifties I realize that although I love small towns, I'd prefer to retire here in the metro area where I've lived most of my life and there is excellent health care. Even if I love the small town lifestyle, I don't want to retire to a small town unless excellent healthcare is pretty close.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 8:38PM
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i grew up on a farm. Then I moved to a town of almost 50,000 people. Now I live in a town of 50 give or take a few. I belong to a friendship club and to a CFEL club. I go to church every week and I belong to the American Legion Auxilliary. I still work about 35 hours a week. I like living here. It is just like living on a farm. In our town we have a body shop and snowmobile delership combined, a overhead door company, a gas station with 2 fulltime mechanics there, post office, rural fire department, and a cafe-bar that is open everyday 365 days a year and one church.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:12PM
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We live in a small town, but when we chose it we were very specific's in what we wanted. I didn't care about the size, but it had to be within 20 minutes of medical/dental care, 5-10 min for some services. The folk's we have known that made this kind of move all enjoyed it, but the one's that left did so because they ended up with too much property to maintain. Many want the rural life and think they want to have gardens and large flower beds, but didn't have a clue what it requires.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:22PM
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