Are you living in a small town?

two story brick building with empty 2nd story and bunting on the railing
Wyoming Iowa photo by Deb Brown

Are you living in a small town?

That’s a tricky question! According to a Reddit thread, a small town is around 10,000 people, while the U.S. Census Bureau defines small cities and towns as having populations of less than 5,000 people. However, a post on states that the average local jurisdiction population in the United States is 6,200.

We believe that your community gets to decide if you’re a small town or not.

We ask respondents to self-identify on our Survey of Rural Challenges because we believe that you know best how you feel about your town.

Why does it matter?

Many things are affected by the size of your community. People needed for the workforce, places to live, lack of volunteers, the youth are leaving and childcare were the top 5 challenges in our Survey of Rural Challenges 2023. 

Small towns have a housing problem.

abandoned school house in New Glarius WI green gass but old brick building

Old school house in New Glarius WI was converted to housing. Photo by Becky McCray

It’s a real catch-22. There are jobs, but nowhere for newcomers to live. There are solutions to this challenge and they require a different way of looking at things. That old abandoned school house? It could be converted to apartments or condos. The big 4 bedroom house that grandma still lives in? What if she could find a one level accessible house to live in?

Becky McCray and I, co founders of SaveYour.Town address this issue with stories of other small towns who are solving this challenge. Sign up for our free newsletter and receive weekly newsletters that talk about all kinds of small town challenges and solutions.

Lack of volunteers is a challenge we hear about often.

The old way of getting and keeping volunteers required that they serve on committees, and often for a number of years. Times are different and as adults we have less time to contribute to our community as a volunteer. What if we started asking people to help for just a couple of hours on one project? No long term commitment necessary. That’s just one answer we offer in our video Finding Volunteers.

There are over 30 videos at SaveYour.Town that address challenges. Each one is only $9, a small investment into your community. You can find a video that is about one of the top 5 rural challenges. Purchase it and you can share it with others who are interested in solving that challenge. Heck, host a watch party and invite several friends over to see it! The videos are under 30 minutes. That gives you time to watch it over lunch, and discuss it with folks. 

Small towns often have a harder time writing and receiving grants.

It takes someone who can write a grant and the time to do so. If city employees are expected to write grants, they may not be skilled or have the time. Many small towns can’t afford to hire a grant writer.

Small towns may lose out on some federal funding opportunities due to their size, but there are still some programs available to them. The Federal Funding Guide for Towns and Townships provides a list of popular federal programs for smaller communities. The National League of Cities has compiled a list of six federal grants for small cities. Additionally, the Main Street America organization provides information on funding opportunities for small towns.

Becky wrote an article about finding grants for small towns. There are lots of articles in that section that address small town issues. 

In conclusion,whether you’re living in a small town or not depends on who you ask.

1000 people or a town of 50,000 people can self identify as a smalltown. Whatever your small town size, we at SaveYour.Town are here to help you!