Career

5 Reasons Why Moving From A Big City To A Small Town Is A Great Idea

The thought of small town life may sound undesirable for some – what do you mean there’s only one pub in town? – but there are benefits to small-town living which may just have you packing up to leave the bright lights quicker than you can ask: ‘How’s the serenity?’

I have always been a Big City person. My favourite cities around the world are a running reel of thriving metropolises: Tokyo, New York, Berlin, Istanbul. So I was more surprised than anyone when I packed up my bags to swap the vibrant, cultured laneways of Melbourne for the sleepy suburbs of Perth.

So how does a Big City lover adapt to smaller city living? It’s been easier than I thought, because it’s very easy to focus on the things that make smaller city living awesome.

Here are the benefits that smaller city living can afford a Big City individual.

#1 There’s more time to work on your passion project

We all have that passion project that we’ve been meaning to work on if only we had the time.

Big city living runs on a jam-packed schedule and before you know it, your week has been booked up with the array of things to do on offer: art exhibition opening night on Monday; indie gig on Tuesday; wine, cheese and trivia night on Wednesday; aerial yoga on Thursday – you get the gist.

Having less to do in a smaller city means that you’re less likely to be distracted by flashy-sounding events and outings and more likely to have time to work on your passion projects and hobbies because there isn’t a reason to keep putting it off. No more excuses.

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Personally, the travel blog I’ve always had floating around in my mind has finally eventuated now I finally have the time to sit down and dedicate my attention to making it a reality.

#2 It’s easier to de-clutter your mind 

De-cluttering’ and ‘minimalism’ are the buzzwords doing the rounds at the moment. Basically: less is more, people.

We are the product of our environment and living among clutter doesn’t only have a physical impact, it also has a mental one. Living in a large city can add to our mental clutter with urbanisation and less access to nature, the constant noise and chatter, and the default setting of go-go-go. We inevitably get caught up in the daily grind of work and life and become weighed down with worries, with less of an opportunity to step back and evaluate.

Smaller cities enable you to slow down and smell the proverbial roses, reflect and to focus on the things that matter most. Removing the white noise allows you to hear your thoughts clearly and to recharge without the constant distractions, and can equate to a higher quality of life.

#3 You can be a big fish in a small pond

You might think job opportunities will be limited in small towns, but smaller cities can actually offer more support channels as well as less competition. You can be a big fish in a small pond as opposed to a small fish in a big pond.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, he suggests that attending a prestigious university such as Harvard could actually be demoralising as it is harder to be the best when you’re competing with the best, and that it is generally better to choose a non-elite institution in order to have a greater chance of standing out.

Moving to a smaller city has been extremely beneficial in getting my freelance editing and writing business off the ground, despite my initial concerns. It has been relatively easy to develop relationships with people in the industry and, in fact, the local industry has been welcoming and supportive because it is considerably smaller and extremely close-knit. There have also been instances where I’ve been able to get work only due to the basis that I am based on the west coast.

Location can be a key differentiator as you can offer a different perspective, which may be difficult to do if you’re one of many small fish in a very big pond.

#4 Saving your hard-earned dollars is a breeze

Big City living is expensive. Sky rocketing housing and rental prices combined with lavish nights out on the town make for some very difficult – and, at times, regrettable ­– budgeting decisions.

Living in a smaller city is healthier for the wallet for two main reasons: the cost of living isn’t generally as high as big cities (so even a trip to the supermarket is cheaper); and there is often less temptation to go out to places where your hard-earned dollars will disappear quicker than you can say ‘Mojito’ (refer to point #1).

In fact, the rural town of Kaitangata in New Zealand, with a population of 800 residents, has launched a scheme offering discounted house and land packages for an affordable $220,300 (NZD$230,000) due to the surplus of jobs.

#5 Everybody will probably know your name, and it feels great

You can often feel like a faceless person in a mass of people in a metropolis, but in a smaller city or town, people tend to know and remember you. I love going to my local coffee haunt and occasionally scoring a freebie because they recognise me, I love chatting to my neighbour about his life when he lived in South Africa, and I love the fact that I’m on first-name terms with the owner of my favourite bookshop. 

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In the big smoke, your defences are always up and the automatic response is not to talk to strangers; however, this innate reaction to close ourselves off from others may be preventing us from developing valuable relationships. Smaller town living offers more intimacy and a close-knit community that you can feel a part of, which in turn is another way to foster your mental wellbeing.

So, are you ready to be a big fish in a small pond?


Camha is a freelance editor and writer currently based in Perth. She is a wannabe word nerd, travel-addict and coffee enthusiast, and thinks that life is just one big Seinfeld episode (where Elaine is her BFF). She has written for Broadsheet, AWOL, The Big Bus and the Huffington Post Australia, and tweets at @curatedbycammi