People thought I was crazy when I decided to stay in Indiana after graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. I remember nights downtown with friends drinking to “getting out of here” and “moving to the city.” Almost three years later, Indiana has become more than just the town I went to college in – it’s become my home.
Here’s some reasons why living in a small town is actually pretty great:
1. Knowing your neighbors
Some people prefer their privacy, and while I can appreciate needing space, I think it’s great to have a relationship with the people around you. Now, I’m not saying that my neighbors and I are hanging out every day, but it’s nice that they’re around for a cup of sugar (yes, I just went 1960 on you) when you need it; to grab your mail when you go on vacation and to be “that cool house” that your cat disappears to during the day.
2. Knowing, well, everyone
Indiana has about 14,000 people in it, so obviously I don’t know everyone. But when I go to the grocery store, to grab gas or just when I’m out walking the dogs, I’m likely to see someone I know, and they’re liking to strike up a conversation.
And, the town I grew up in, Susquehanna Depot, has just over 1,600 people in it. You want to talk about knowing everyone? Around there, people know when you go to pee.
3. Community-based events and activities
It’s a Sunday night and you’re sitting in your apartment doing nothing, again. Well, instead, there’s tons of events — like Concerts in the Park, wine tastings, benefits and more — that you can head on over to. And depending on where you live, you can probably walk there, too.
Oh, and if you’re looking for events – check this out.
4. Community support
Because I help manage the local newspaper’s website and social media accounts, I get to see first-hand when the community steps up to help one of their own. Whether it’s a house fire, a car accident or a sudden illness, there is always someone in the community that starts a benefit, a GoFundMe account or finds some other way to help others in need. It’s really a wonderful thing to watch.
5. The option to go elsewhere
When I was growing up in Susquehanna, my mom and I used to go over the New York border once a week, sometimes more, to Binghamton. That’s where we grocery shopped, went to the mall, and basically did all of the things that we couldn’t do in Susquehanna. When I got older and had friends in the Binghamton area, they never wanted to drive the 30 minutes to Susquehanna to hang out because it was SO far.
A benefit of a small town, I think, is that even though you don’t necessarily need to leave town to get the necessities, you sometimes have to travel further to get the things you want. And that’s not a bad thing. Getting out and exploring other places is important. But don’t get me wrong, I always support shopping local.
Plus, it’s nice to be able to go to Pittsburgh whenever I want and enjoy city life without having to live there.
Moral of the story: Living in a small town isn’t terrible, like most 20-somethings think. In fact, it’s pretty wonderful.
Will I live in Indiana forever? I couldn’t tell you. I don’t plan far enough in advance to tell you what I’m eating for breakfast tomorrow. But I can tell you that I’m loving every minute of this chapter of my life in Small Town USA.