Arguments in favor of small town living

Carnegie Library across from my office

I lived in Chicago for 30 years.  I’ve read about reasons why people live in big cities.  The five most common reasons I found are:

  1. Transportation service
  2. Better chance of getting a job
  3. Cultural opportunities
  4. Better living standards (hospitals and health care)
  5. Diversity in schools, work force and personal lives

Because my elderly parents needed me, I moved back to Geneva, Iowa.  Our entire county has about 10,000 people in it.  Compared to 21 million in New York City – we’re about one city block in size. I think I get the better end of the deal!  Let’s debate the top 5.

Transportation service

I can walk to work.  I live in Hampton, as do about 40% of our county’s populations.  I can walk to work, the grocery store, and my friends’ houses.  If I drive, it’s less than a mile from one side of town to the other.  If I were a senior, I could call the Senior Center and arrange for a ride with their bus system.  They’d help me on, stay and help if I needed it, and help get me home safely.  Many people car pool to work as well.

Better chance of getting a job
Actually, our work force is growing.  We have 4.9% unemployment rate in the state of Iowa.  We’re seeing the brain gain in our location.  That’s the phenomenon when 18 year olds go away to school and/or the big city, get married, have kids and realize they want to raise their kids in a safer environment.  They return educated, with work experience and a willingness to be a part of the community.  Many create their own opportunities, are entrepreneurs and bring a new flavor to our town.

Simon Estes

Cultural opportunities
There are many community theatre groups within driving distance of where I live, one in my home town! We have the 2nd oldest Municipal Band in the state and our Chamber provides many live events throughout the year.  Simon Estes, world renowned opera singer, has created the Simon Estes Educational Foundation and every year we have two interns of his that perform a live concert.  There are many local opportunities to experience culture and we live close enough to drive to Des Moines for an event as well.  Our local restaurants are improving.  We have several Mexican restaurants and the margaritas at El  Paisita are scrumptious.  Could we use more diversity here?  Yes, I think so.  However, its not a big deal to go to Gusto Pizza in Des Moines have a gluten free pizza with ham and goats cheese.  Plus, many of my friends are fantastic cooks and we experiment with recipes and getting together for amazing congregation of food and friends.

Better living standards
I have no complaint with our local hospital and nursing home system.  ABCM has 30 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, 19 independent and assisted living programs, 10 outpatient therapy centers and a separate related durable medical supply corporation, and various other entities. They have chosen to keep their home office and several facilities here in Hampton.  A total of nine ABCM homes have now received the Governor’s Quality Care Award since it was first established in 2001.

Franklin General Hospital states (and I agree) Franklin General Hospital is dedicated to serving and benefiting our community, whether we are providing care for those who cannot afford it, or supporting programs to address identified community needs. And the community, in turn, supports FGH through serving on our boards, volunteering in our hospital, and providing generous philanthropy. Together we are continuing to serve the FGH mission by living the values of compassion, respect, concern for those who are poor, excellence, and stewardship.

Our cost of living is lower than any city could hope to be.  I rent a two bed room house with an attached garage and garden in the back for $425 a month.  There are 27% of the population who rent, the rest own.

Food shopping is available at 3 different grocery stores, the farmers market, and local farmers.  I can buy free range meat, and my local grocery store will gladly cut my meat exactly as I want.  In fact, they will call me when something special comes in!

In our county the Latino community comprises about 13% of the people.  We are a county of immigrants – Danish, German, Swedish are in the top 10.  Our story from 100 years ago when many Danes came here closely resembles the immigrants of today’s story.  Could we have more diversity?  Of course we could, and we actively search for people who want to move to a smaller community with many opportunities!


I think about the community I lived in when I lived in Chicago.  Lawrence Avenue area in Uptown – I knew a couple of neighbors, shopped at one or two local stores and spent a lot of time riding the train to work in Evanston.  I had shopping choices, but ended up usually shopping for groceries at the Jewel chain store.  There were many more tourism opportunities – but I didn’t hear as many stories there as I do here.  Fortunately I had great friends and we did many wonderful things together.  I am still that blessed here in Hampton!  In fact, the opportunity to volunteer and be involved in my community is much greater here.


All in all, I prefer living in a small town.  I do travel, and visit large cities often – and they are great to visit.  But it’s always a joy to come home. 




Posted in