Small-town folk often get a bad rap. They are labeled “boring,” “backward,” “close-minded,” and “unambitious.”
Sure, people who grow up (and stay their whole life) in a small town may possess some negative traits. But growing up in a rural environment can bless you with many beautiful values.
What’s interesting about this is that you don’t tend to realize these positive attributes are down to your upbringing until you leave your hometown and enter the “real world.”
You’ll surely relate to the following nine traits if you’ve recently moved from your small hometown to a city. And if you grew up in an urban environment, you’ll likely see these attributes in your small-town friends!
1) Smiling at strangers
When I moved from my small town to London, one of the first things that shocked me was how unfriendly everyone seemed.
I was used to:
- Thanking the bus driver as I got off
- Engaging in small talk with shop assistants
- Smiling at the elderly
So it was a culture shock to learn these things don’t happen much in cities.
In fact, London has an unspoken rule that smiling and talking to strangers on the underground is unacceptable.
Sure, you can go against the grain and smile at people, but most will not return the warmth, and many will look at you like you are from another planet… which sometimes you’ll feel like you are.
Along with politeness, growing up in a small town molds you into being generous and giving.
This is because community spirit in rural environments is typically higher than in urban ones.
People in small towns tend to have deeper relationships with their neighbors and community members, sometimes to the extent of seeing them as family.
That’s why, in villages and small towns worldwide, people like to help each other out. You’ll see this in various ways, like:
- Sharing ingredients with neighbors – “Oh no, we have no milk. No worries, I’ll ask Jill next door.”
- Taking home-cooked meals to neighbors who are going through difficult times
- Taking extra care of the elders in the town, such as regular check-ins or bringing them groceries
Like politeness, generosity is sometimes lost in city living, as everyone is always rushing around, focused on themselves.
But I’m not just saying that…
Several research studies tested this hypothesis by setting up situations that gave passersby an opportunity to help a stranger. All studies concluded that the people in cities were significantly less willing to help than those in small towns.
3) Enjoying a slow pace of life
Generally, in small towns, people are not in a rush.
There are fewer traffic jams to make you late, less need to impress your boss at work, and generally a more relaxed pace of life.
However, if you grow up in this environment, you assume it is normal. So, when you first encounter large cities, you are in for a surprise!
While your hometown may be labeled “sleepy” or “dull,” the ability to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life is a beautiful trait to have, especially in this day and age!
Sure, you might not save lives, build new technology, or make 6-figures.
You know how to be present, mindful, and still, which research shows are all qualities that contribute to good mental health and well-being.
4) Appreciating nature
The ability to slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures extends to having a deep appreciation for nature.
Unlike city people, you didn’t look out your window every morning to see high rises and traffic jams.
Instead, you were greeted with lush greenery and wildlife.
While you may not have fully appreciated this blessing as a child (I sure didn’t), you probably missed it once you grew up and moved out of the sticks.
As a teenager, I found the countryside in my hometown boring. I even wished the council would build over them so there would be more things to do.
But now, when I go home, I fully appreciate those sights and sounds of nature. And taking long walks with my parent’s dog is one of my favorite things to do when I’m there.
5) Being a ‘Jack of all trades’
This is one of the lesser-known traits of small-town people and one you only realize when you start hanging out with lots of city peeps.
Let me explain.
In a small town, people are pretty self-sufficient.
There aren’t convenience stores on every corner, so families are more likely to grow their own produce.
Trades and services are few and far between, too. So, if you grew up in a small town, your parents probably learned how to fix problems themselves, and if they were like mine – they passed these skills down to you.
As a result, you probably have a pretty impressive toolbox under your belt. Maybe you know how to:
- Change a tire
- Sew up holes in your clothes
- Bake cakes
- Build furniture
- Fix leaky pipes
You likely also possess very creative problem-solving skills. This is because you lacked the resources needed but somehow would always find a way to make things work.
6) Supporting local businesses
While small-town folk are more likely to fix house problems themselves instead of calling a local tradesperson, they still support small businesses.
Even today, many small towns are free of large chain stores and big corporations. So people are more used to buying from a local grocer than a big supermarket.
And while they shop at family-run businesses because there are few other options, most small-town people understand the value of keeping the money in their local economy.
That’s why when the council proposes to build a McDonald’s or Starbucks in a small town, it is common to see a lot of pushback from the community.
7) Being family oriented
It is common knowledge that people in small towns highly value family life.
Let me explain why.
You’re exposed to far fewer people in a small town than in a city.
Growing up, you likely had no choice but to hang out with your siblings and cousins because there was only a small pool of kids to choose friends from.
Moreover, because there are fewer people and resources in your community, you often see the same people around.
This is very different from city living, where you are exposed to a high number of new people every single day.
As a result, friendship circles in small towns are smaller but deeper. You’ll see your friends out and about often, not just when you arrange to meet up with them.
The lack of people in rural environments is also why people see their friends as family.
Think about it…
Growing up, your parents most likely knew who ALL of your friends were and had close relationships with their parents.
While it may have seemed normal to you as a kid, this is not really the case for children growing up in urban environments.
This tight-knit community feeling is also what causes the following trait…
8) Trusting people immediately
While there are many wonderful traits of growing up in a small town, your upbringing can make it difficult to adjust to urban settings.
Because everyone in your town knew each other, you likely grew up with a high sense of trust within your community, as the Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin found.
- Leave their front door unlocked
- Not bother to lock their car when popping into the grocery store
- Feel completely safe walking down the street on their own
While this environment gave you a very healthy ability to trust others, you likely felt shocked and overwhelmed when you started visiting or living in cities.
In fact, when small-town people move to a big city, they may become an easy target for criminals. Their carelessness around safety may cause them to leave a door unlocked, leading to a theft or burglary.
9) Disliking change
Another negative trait of growing up in a small town is being too uncomfortable with change.
In small towns, nothing ever changes.
So, you don’t grow up in an environment where you naturally learn to embrace new things and developments.
Moreover, in many small towns, you don’t get new technology until months or years after the city peeps do.
However, those who grow up in a city are constantly exposed to new buildings popping up, businesses changing, and technology emerging.
So, they naturally get accustomed to change and are much more likely to accept and embrace it.
But for small-town folk, you might feel resistance to new things and have a closed-minded attitude when it comes to something unfamiliar.
This is part of the commonly talked about ‘small-town syndrome,’ which Urban Dictionary describes as “having trouble adjusting to life in the real world.”
Small-town people certainly possess some unique attributes.
So, if, like me, you grew up in a rural area, knowing which traits to embrace and which to let go of will help you adjust to and stand out (in a good way) in the big city.