Where to Plant Your Roots: Small Town Living vs. City Living

You’ve been living in the city for years, but crave something smaller or more humble, a place where everyone knows your name, with a patch of land that doesn’t cost the price of your right kidney (plus the left kidney of everyone that you know), and a picket fence the keeps the stragglers out but doesn’t cut into your view of the sunset and the neighbors strolling by, and maybe a dog and a pygmy goat that frolic across your yard in the morning dew.

Sounds dreamy. Why can’t that be yours?

Or perhaps you’ve been living in the small town an hour or two from the city for half your life and would appreciate a change of scenery, something more vibrant and upbeat to keep up with your varied interests. You want upscale dining, Broadway, fusion eateries, tapas and wine bars, museums, and the bright lights of an electric night life. Could a move to the city be right for you? You’ve never done it but you’re ready to try.

We’ve all been there—stuck between a rock and the hard indecision of what’s next. Well, we’re pumped to give you the beta on the pros and cons and what you can expect from buying a new place in your dream location. If you’re not certain you’ve considered all the angles, take a gander at our list and explore your options.

Cost of living and Home Values

The Skinny on Small Town

Smaller towns generally cost less. It’s true—from real estate and land to groceries and utilities. In some small towns, the average cost of a home is $63,000.

That’s quite a perk. The damage to your bank account is significantly less draining and demoralizing. However, without a great job, that may not matter. Does this small town offer a way to earn a living? Many smaller cities often have a cornerstone company or industry that offers income.

Maybe it’s tourism on a small coastal city, or a factory where cars or exercise equipment are built. Factoring in the job market may dissuade you entirely from small town living. But there are certainly ways to work around employment opportunities. Telecommuting makes living anywhere a possibility, as does running a contracting business where the work is done at home and sent to clients.

Big City: Loads of Options

Now for the big city. The outlook is good, if you’re ready to trade the quiet of the smaller town for the bustle and constant buzz created by a higher population density.

Large corporations plant their stakes in big cities, and the city reaps the benefits by building up all the surrounding industries that people need—fun things like entertainment and dining, as well as service-oriented businesses like hospitals, grocery stores, and barber shops. Finding a niche that makes living in a city plausible and easy… however, well, let’s just say that comes with a cost.

The average price of a home in San Francisco just hit over one and a half million dollars. To translate that, this means the cost of living is higher. But don’t let that change your mind immediately: high real estate values also generally mean higher wages for workers. You’ll be making more money, so the price tags on all the amenities shouldn’t give you sticker shock.

Job Opportunities

In the City

Before we break into song about the city—because there’s no shortage of phenomenal songs about them—let’s just say that cities are the land of plenty when it comes to opportunities. If one job falls through, there’s bound to be another business offering you a job five streets over. In terms of safety nets, that’s a comforting bet. Networking goes much further, and there are ample opportunities to rub shoulders with people who can open doors for you.

Small Towns

Job opportunities aside, living in a small town provides other benefits. While it may not be a job market that provides endless options, with the larger yard, you might consider a garden and growing your own goodness. Maybe that’s what you want from the small town in the first place—the chance to DIY.

Many things like this aren’t impossible in a city where land comes at a higher price—there are community gardens and farmers markets if growing your own isn’t what you want—but the small town was built for this sort of endeavor.

Schools, Parks, and Family

City Life

Cities may not be super attractive to someone who wants a family at first glance… however, one advantage they have over small towns is the variety of schools. While smaller towns tend to be limited with their options, a city often offers a plethora of variations on schools. Charter schools, private schools, and religious-based schools are just some of the possibilities that can be found in a city within very short distances from each other.

Cities also tend to build into their structure things that attract families, such as allotting specific spaces just for parks and museums designed for children, as well as beaches and malls.

Small Towns

But maybe a lot of options isn’t what you want. A small town will have standard public schools just like anywhere else. Not only that, today many schools are based online, and kids aren’t required to be in the classroom to get instruction. Besides, with all that extra space, a small town offers many more advantages for the growing family—parks, access to open land, and places to run wild and explore. 

Whatever you choose, we think it’s a great idea to spend a few days getting to know the small town or big city you’ve decided might be your dream location. Get to know the place, and check out the costs of transportation into the city if you’ve identified a small town you’d like to buy a house in.

Or if you’ve chosen the big city, zero in on an area that offers the features you’ll need, such as proximity to schools and community gardens and museums before committing.


At Academy Mortgage, we create life-changing experiences through lending. CONTACT US today to explore your financing options.