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Five Reasons Why Small Town Populations Are Seeing Growth

Our offices are headquartered about 35 minutes north of Nashville, Tennessee.

Have you driven through Nashville lately? So. Much. Traffic. Our town? Sure, we have some busy times, but nothing compares to getting stuck on I65 during rush hour near Green Hills. No smog here (unless you count the smoking tobacco barns in the fall). And when those Friday night lights go down, you can make out just about every constellation.

And it's not just us. Welcome to small towns throughout the United States.

Recently, the US Census Bureau reported that the population of small towns (10,000 people or less) saw a 10% increase between 2010 and 2019. During this same time, large cities (250,000 people or more) saw a 1% decrease.

So…what’s driving that?

We here at Small Town Starters (wink, wink; nudge, nudge) have a few ideas:

Your money goes a lot farther in a small town

Picture morning coffee on the porch as the sun rises over a pasture. Birds chirp in the distance It’s the peaceful start to your day you need. That’s possible in a small town, and one of the many reasons people are starting to make small towns their home once again.

Small towns usually aren’t a high cost of living area. You can have a house on 5 acres for what you might pay in a big city for far less. Heck, just about everything is cheaper in a small town vs. a large city: gas, groceries, utilities, restaurants, and even - small business owners pay attention - lower taxes!

Financially, moving a home or business to a small town makes a lot of sense.

Life’s more intentional in a small town

In a small town, you can take life at your own pace. Relax a little. Maybe do a little shopping at the local boutique, or take in a show at the local theater. Those looking to escape the hustle and bustle can find tranquility and room to breathe in a small town. There are no crowds here (except maybe at the annual community 4th of July celebration).

Oh and all this slowing down you’re doing? That’s because traffic isn't something you need to contend with every hour of every day. Those trying to escape a congested morning commute have found that small towns can be a great fit.

So go ahead, take a stroll through that cool, weird, vintage shop across the street (just…still look both ways, okay?).

In a small town, you can get back to basics

Friends, the Parks and Rec Departments of small towns are heroes. Some of the prettiest and safest little parks you’ve ever seen are within a five minute drive of your doorstep. Greenways, hiking trails, disc golf's a virtual smorgasbord of ways to get outdoors and enjoy yourself.

Recently, Finland was, once again, crowned “the happiest country in the world” by The World Happiness Reports’s 2022 ranking. When asked, the people of Finland say their number two reason for feeling so happy is being in a natural setting and having access to nature.

We don’t know about you, but we think the five year reigning champion of happiness might be on to something. And looking at the numbers, we’re not the only ones.

“You wanna go where everybody knows your name”

Okay, that was a bit cheesy, we admit. It’s also true. While it’s not always convenient to run to the store and see sixteen people you know, it’s…kind of nice when you stop and think about it. Don’t you love walking into your regular coffee shop and the barista knows your order? Don’t you just feel a little….seen? In a small town, not only do they likely know your order, they may also ask about your kids or your business. Because they know you, and you know them.

Small-town business owners also have a clear advantage with this phenomenon, where they can build better relationships and connections with their communities, and find the support their business needs to succeed.

In big cities, it’s so easy to get lost in the crowd - literally. To feel disconnected. In a small town, you can often walk into your local small businesses and be greeted by name. Relationships are built here. Community is built here.

Connect with the past

Small towns are awash with history. Many small towns boast buildings hundreds-of-years old and local legends that will make your spine tingle (and probably a gentleman in his overalls stepping off his tractor to give you a tour if you’d like…).

Small towns are typically proud historians of their heritage. You can attend a traditional festival, tour a local landmark, and connect with those whose families have been here for generations…and know all the good gossip.

Small towns build connections at every level. And people have taken notice. Those numbers up at the top aren’t lying. And with everything small towns have to offer, we don’t see this trend going anywhere any time soon.