Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ten things I love about my tiny town

This is soon to be followed by a post entitled "ten things I hate about my tiny town", but for the moment, bask in the love.

Our tiny little university (c. 1500 students) is in a tiny little town (c. 3500 people), two hours from nowhere. (Seriously, the closest town of 10,000 is an hour away). There are some definite drawbacks, but here are some of the things I love:

1) Walking - no part of this town is too far to walk. I live five blocks from campus, three blocks from the grocery store, two blocks from the main (OK, only) shopping street, and across the street from the public library. My kids are half a block from their school, two blocks from their daycare...OK, you get the idea.

2) Safe - people can - and frequently do - leave their cars in the parking lot with the engines running. Nobody locks up their bikes, although students have been known to take unlocked bikes for joy rides. You usually find the bike again, down at the grocery store or somewhere else on campus. Nobody locks their house doors. In fact, half the townsfolk don't even have keys to their doors. We rented a house from a faculty member on sabbatical. They had to search for the keys, since the last time they'd used them is when they left them for the last sabbatical renters, 9 years earlier.

3) Families - there are wonderful families here, and I love the little friends my kids have made. Unlike a big research university, this small U is very family friendly, and we know a lot of faculty members in other departments with young kids.

4) Fitness facility - I love, love, love our local fitness center. It's a jointly owned operation of the town and the university. There are usually lots of students there, but also lots of kids and elderly people, and plenty of faculty members. My kids love the pool and the special toys in the gym, and it provides a track and plenty of machines for the adults. (Downside: having your students see you naked in the locker room.)

5) Community - it's easier to make friends here than any other place I've lived, post-graduate school. I've made friends in the neighborhood, at church, through daycare, and through the university. It's a very welcoming community, at least to us.

6) Cheap - it's rural, it's small, it's in the middle of frickin' nowhere. Land is cheap, houses are cheap, and we don't have any high-end stores, so everything you can buy here is cheap. Honestly, our house cost less than our combined incomes. Cheap.

7) Kid stuff - great parks, lots of toys for kids at the gym, it's safe to let your kids run around on their own. It's a cliche, but this really is a great place to raise a young family.

8) Internet - OK, this isn't really an attribute of the town itself, but it makes life here far more livable. If it weren't for on-line shopping, e-mail, social networking sites, etc., this place would be much too isolated. As it is, you have to drive an hour to buy a flippin' bath mat. Being connected gives you many of the advantages of a big town, while enjoying all the advantages of a small town.

9) Outdoors - we're close to old Mother Nature out here in the boondocks. We don't take advantage of it, but we could.

10) Politics - We're in a conservative part of a liberal state. That's still better than the last few places we've lived, which were vaguely liberal parts of conservative states. There's a lot more support for education here.

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