Essay Small Town Living In North

This campaign season has brought many divisions this country faces to the forefront. But beyond the liberal-conservative, black and white, and male and female divides, essayist J.F. Riordan says there is another division that has become a regular part of life in America:

A writer in a national magazine recently theorized that small town voters who are worried about the deterioration of American culture are “insular”, and unenlightened, stuck in the past, resistant to progress.

Having grown up in a small town, and also having taught at a high school in the inner city of Milwaukee, I can say that most of my students and their families were also living in their hometown, and the hometown of their families. Does that make them insular? Or does it make them normal?

City life is fine. It is filled with cultural and social and employment opportunities that may not exist elsewhere. You can choose how and whether to connect with other people. But bustle is not for everyone, nor is anonymity.

Some of us choose to live in a different way. But it would be a mistake to believe that small town life is a bucolic and peaceful existence. Living in a small community is not for the faint of heart.

Small towns are a microcosm of the human experience, but with more intensity. You live shoulder to shoulder with your oldest friends, and your fiercest enemies. You daily encounter the person who cheated you; who stood you up; who broke your heart; and the people who know your complete history: every bad decision, every embarrassment, every moment of kindness (if any). In cities, there can be the relief of some anonymity, but not in a small town. Living in a small town is a psychologically raw way to live.

But small town life also requires a deep connection to community that city people may not acquire. It generally means that you go to church because that is what is expected, and how decent people behave. It means you are surrounded by people who know you. In the city it’s called networking. In a small town, the network is your neighbors, and you are expected to participate. Your neighbors are the ones who gather around you to celebrate births and mourn deaths. They plow your driveway when you have the flu. They raise money to help in a tragedy. They put an arm around your shoulder. They make casseroles. And you, in turn, celebrate, and mourn, and plow, and comfort, and bake. This sharing and mutual support is as old as human beings. And it is good.

We live in a society in which the elites make a continuing push against the values of faith and decency and commonsense. The cultural gatekeepers promulgate the notion that someone who doesn’t live in your community can decide what’s wrong with you, and what you need. It’s an insult, and a barely veiled one. We are flyover country: insular, irrelevant bumpkins filled with prejudices, unable to participate in the enlightened progressivism of the cities, destined never to be famous. Living in a small town means that you are aware of the scorn heaped upon you by city dwellers who think they are better, and you shrug your shoulders and get on with it.

Maybe resisting progress isn’t all bad. In an age of celebrity and reality television, of Instagram and Twitter, most small town people live out quiet, uncelebrated lives of dignity and depth. They work; they care for their families and their friends; they mow their lawns and mop their floors. They may not be famous or trend-setting. But they have lives worth living.

And that is something worth standing for.

J. F. Riordan is the award-winning author of two novels about small town life: North of the Tension Line, andThe Audacity of Goats.

J.F. Riordan reading her essay, "In Praise of Small Towns."


If you’re North Carolina best places to live is a relatively quiet affordable place then you have to check out small town living in .

By small town living in North Carolina I mean generally anyplace with a population upwards of 30,000 people and less.

In fact many of the cities and towns we consider the North Carolina best places to live, relocate or retire iare small towns.

For instance, small town living in North Carolina like

All on our list of North Carolina best places to live.

When you start looking at small towns as a place to retire or relocate in North Carolina, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind.  The appeals of small towns are many.

For instance most small towns in North Carolina are generally quieter, have a good sense of community and community involvement.

Small town living in North Carolina best places to live also usually means less traffic, lower property and sales taxes and the housing costs are much more affordable.

It’s advantageous to look for small towns just outside larger metropolitan areas, small college towns or areas where there are clusters of smaller communities.

Other advantages of choosing your North Carolina best places to live in a small town is that it includes less traffic, more affordable housing and usually lower taxes. 

You might also find some great old houses just waiting for you to restore them.

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Small town living in North Carolina near larger urban areas or in a college town assure that you are a short distance from big town style goods and services.  As well as ensuring intellectual stimulation and a more cosmopolitan local population.

Clusters of smaller communities don’t quite have the same advantages, but proximity tends to enhance the high points of each community and provide some local variety for those newly relocated.

There are some drawbacks to small town living in North Carolina.  Some of the North Carolina best places to live you may pick are not very diverse. Nor are they looking to outsiders to run everything.

Some smaller communities are located quite a ways from good shopping, interesting cultural events and a number of key services that you may consider essential.

Whatever your thoughts about small town living in North Carolina, here are some of our favorite North Carolina best places to live.

  • Coastal New Bern ~ New Bern is one of North Carolina’s oldest towns offering a quaint small town atmosphere.  It has local history and access to great shopping, restaurants and the beach.
  • NC Mountain Boone ~ Home to Appalachian State University, Boone has a lot going for it.  An agreeable climate, beautiful mountain scenery, and a diverse population.   Small town living in North Carolina Boone has a lot of things to do events around the university including outdoor recreation make Boone a great place to live.
  • Piedmont Lenoir ~ Lenoir has a wonderful downtown showing a lot of small town appeal.  And a commitment to community development.  Lenoir is also in a good place to access local cities and towns from Boone to Asheville.
  • Piedmont Salisbury ~ Salisbury has a nice combination of affordable housing, a vibrant social and cultural life, and a location near not only a number of colleges but large metropolitan areas like Charlotte, NC and Winston-Salem, NC.
  • Mountain Town of Bryson City ~ Located in the Smokies, Bryson City offers beautiful views, affordable housing and access to not only a lot of other small local communities but state highways and interstates to go wherever you want.

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About The Author

Robert Bencivenga is a professional site locator and location analyst for major corporations. Robert researches the growth of NC and SC to find the Best Places to Retire or Relocate that are still affordable.

Robert Does Not Sell Real Estate!
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Robert Bencivenga
November 7, 2009

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