Author Topic: Hints for joining a small town  (Read 8566 times)

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Sophia

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Hints for joining a small town
« on: November 01, 2012, 02:46:35 PM »
Since I was 8 years old, I've lived in one large suburb or another.  (Suburb but themselves in the top 50 largest cities in the U.S.)   I am very much a suburb girl, not city not country.  My work is at the northeast corner of the developed area for this section of the state.  We decided to move 30 minutes east of work, which puts us in the near but rural area.  I am really looking forward to it.  We just bought a house with 2 acres on Main Street of a small town of 3000 people.  Our backyard neighbor is an onion field.  The house needs a lot of work, and my husband will do a great job with that.  I plan on being very clear when we meet people that we are settling in and are not flippers.  I would like to get along with my neighbors and be accepted into the community as much as possible.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • We plan on joining a local church, and attending.  That isn't a problem since I do anyway.  A different denomination though.
  • We plan on attending the High School Friday night games.  Since it is Texas, even football-hater me understands that.
  • Not talk about how wonderful previous home was, or complain about something locally

Any other ideas?

My dad grew up in a town almost precisely the same size.  My parents eloped and mom lived with her IL's while Dad was in Basic.  Mom said the gossip was vicious.  Ideally I would like people to be friendly, but for us to be below the radar enough to avoid gossip.  Also, we have a 2-year-old that we plan on homeschooling, so I realize as parents we have to try a little harder to be friendly so that our daughter isn't shunned.

Reading the post over, it sounds like we aren't happy about the move.  Really we are.  I've just never had what the neighbors thought affect my life.  Even in High School, I had so many non-school social circles that my classmates didn't really affect me.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2012, 02:58:59 PM »
I grew up in a smallish town.  We moved there when I was two.

Living there for 40+ years, we are finally considered 'locals'.   :)

I think your ideas are spot on.  But if one of your neighbours grew up in the town and complains about a local issue, commiserate.

Be prepared to be called 'that new family that bought the Smith place' for at least 10 years.  I would recommend doing any community things that come along for a while.  Block parties, holiday celebrations, all the church socials, so-and-so's open house, etc.  Sign your daughter up for community things, too, like Scouts, when she's old enough.  Once everyone gets to know you, then you can start opting out of a few things.  But if you opt out from the get go, you'll be 'snobs'.

Watch what your neighbours do as far as yard work and holiday decorating and aim for a middle of the road approach, at least in the beginning.  For example, if your one neighbour goes all out on the lights and the other neighbour only hangs a wreath, put out a few lights on a tree in the front yard or along the eaves and hang a wreath.  If one neighbour's lawn is immaculately manicured and another's is weed infested, keep yours neat and tidy but don't worry about immaculate.
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sourwolf

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 02:59:51 PM »
Shop locally if possible (ie Mom and Pop hardware store as opposed to Walmart)
Be enthusiastic but not over the top - it might come off as fake.
See if there is a local paper that you can subscribe to, they are usually great sources of information for events in the neighborhood as well as the "tone" of the community. (my town even has the paper online)
Is there a local library? They are also a great way to get to get more involved in the community.

WillyNilly

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2012, 03:03:49 PM »
I think you have a great plan so far.  I'd only add to be sure to smile and wave a lot (I'm a city girl, but I've noticed in more rural areas, often people wave at everyone).  And when you shop make idle chit chat - ask for a hairdresser recommendation from someone with great hair "wow, I'm sorry to be intrusive but you've got a great haircut!  I just moved to the area can you recommend a local salon?"  Stop into the local coffee shop and make conversation.  Stop in the local bar and have a few beers with the locals.  At church, after services, ask for a breakfast recommendation, etc.  Asking will clue people in that you are A) new and B) interested in getting to know the locals.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2012, 03:06:09 PM »
I think you have a great plan so far.  I'd only add to be sure to smile and wave a lot (I'm a city girl, but I've noticed in more rural areas, often people wave at everyone).  And when you shop make idle chit chat - ask for a hairdresser recommendation from someone with great hair "wow, I'm sorry to be intrusive but you've got a great haircut!  I just moved to the area can you recommend a local salon?"  Stop into the local coffee shop and make conversation.  Stop in the local bar and have a few beers with the locals.  At church, after services, ask for a breakfast recommendation, etc.  Asking will clue people in that you are A) new and B) interested in getting to know the locals.

That was one of the biggest things I noticed when I moved to the city!  I'd try to chat with people in line in the grocery store and some people would look at me like I had three heads.  So yes, that kind of thing is definitely done in small towns.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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Sharnita

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2012, 03:11:29 PM »
I agree about the library.
I also agree about how long it takes to become local.
Be cautious about giving an opinion.  Even minor things can be big issues.  Until you know the ins and outs you won't know how one little thing can impact a variety of people within the community, what the history is, etc.
In some cases there are people tied by marriage, business or blood to half the town.  This isn't always the case but it can be. 
In small towns people tend to know everybody's business.  They know who got stopped for driving 6 miles over the speed limit. They know who doesn't care for their lawn or who is obsessive about mowing.  It isn't usually mean spirited and can come in handy when you hit a crisis in your life.
And yes, they do talk.

Bijou

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2012, 03:15:41 PM »
I grew up in a small town.  I still live there.  Not really knowing anything else the only advise I can give is to be a nice person.  I think you have some good ideas as do other posters, but what I really look for is whether or not you are a nice and trustworthy person.
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JeanFromBNA

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2012, 03:20:38 PM »
Find out what everybody in town likes to complain about, and complain about it, too.

Learned this from my MIL.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2012, 03:20:49 PM »
This is something I've learned as a result of knowing someone from a small town, and might save you from getting teased by the locals.  If big box stores such as Walmart, Target and home improvement stores are a bit of a drive away, it's best to build a list of things and when it gets to a point where you have a lot of stuff, or find you need something else soon, take the list with you rather than making several trips back and forth.

We have Walmart and Target in town but my friend doesn't and has teased me that I'd have a hard time living in her town, which is 30-45 minutes from any big store or mall, because I'll go in sometimes without a list and then remember once I got home what I actually went for.

Also there were times when I would say "Hey, can't you get such and such at the grocery store or the store where you work?" (I think we were discussing dry erase markers) I was thinking of Weis, or Martins, which does have such things in their stationary section.  She kind of laughed at me, but hey, at that point I'd never really been to a small town other than my grandparents' and for them there was a Food Lion about 5-10 minutes down the road so it was kind of different.

When I did visit her town about 3 years ago I loved it, and from what I've heard, they can also be very helpful and are testament to the part of "Iowa Stubborn" when they say "We'll give you our shirts, and a back to go with it".  So there is a benefit to knowing who is who in town.  But I think what Bijou said is good.  Be a nice person and when people reach out to help you, do what you can to help them when needed.
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Julian

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2012, 03:39:01 PM »
I moved to my teeny tiny village about 3 years ago.  It is right smack bang on the edge of SmallTown, where the main shopping is.  (we barely have a corner store here.)

POD to the other posters that suggested talking.  Everyone here wants to stop and chat for a bit.  I occasionally walk my two (small, cute and very friendly) dogs in town, everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to stop, pet the doggies and talk.  So if you have the time, go for it.  Cute toddlers are probably even more effective.   :D

Patronise local shops, regularly.  If there is somewhere local to dine, such as the local pub, go there to eat regularly. 

Talk with your direct neighbours when you see them. 

There's a surprisingly large number of local events on - trivia nights, plays, parades, car boot sales and markets.  Go to those you can - they mightn't be big flashy events, but lots of low-key fun.  There was a Christmas panto on here last year, it was an absolute riot of laughter, everyone had a wonderful time - big, small, old and young.

If the town is old, there's probably a historical society or something similar, if you're interested and have the time, get involved with that too.

When people know you're renovating the 'old Smith place', be prepared for a few who might be interested to come and see what you've done with it. 

And understand that everyone knows or is related to everyone else.  You'll find people know your name when you don't know their name, it's because you're the 'new kids on the block', so you'll stand out a bit for a while.  I still get 'oh, you're new here, are you up at the xx place?'. 

Good luck OP - I've found it's a wonderful change of pace, and I'm loving it.

EMuir

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2012, 03:44:09 PM »
I grew up in a small town.  Sounds like you have great ideas and suggestions.  About the gossip? Don't worry about it.  Someone will gossip about you, but others gossip about how that person is just the town gossip and don't pay attention.  I found that there were rarely nasty, unfounded rumors.  However, if you tell any news to one person, be prepared for the whole town to know it after coffeetime the next morning. ;)

TootsNYC

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2012, 03:47:42 PM »
I might also say, go a little slow in terms of forming close friendships--give yourself a chance to get to know people. Sometimes the friendliest and most outgoing people are not actually the ones that you're most in sync with, so you want to give yourself some time to suss out the social arena.


It's good to be Queen

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2012, 03:52:57 PM »
I grew up in one small town and now live in another.  Your child will be a great way to get to know other parents.  Check to see if the library has a story hour or other children's activities.  It seems that most people tend to make friends through their kids and school activities or church.  I am childless, so most of my friends are through work and the community organizationt hat I belong to.

PS Gossip is not that bad!

Oh Joy

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2012, 04:04:59 PM »
(Assuming this is relevant in your part of the country as well)

Learn and master the 'steering wheel wave.'  It usually consists of a smile, a nod, and lifting a few fingers off the wheel.  Used when passing friends and neighbors - whether they're on foot or in their vehicle - both near home and 'in town.'  Just be sure not to use it when you should have stopped to say hello or chat!   ;)

Best wishes,

MindsEye

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Re: Hints for joining a small town
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2012, 04:31:09 PM »
The only things that I can add are to advise you against forcing yourself to get involved in something that you don't enjoy, just for the sake of "fitting in".

If you are a football-hater, please don't force yourself to attend the Friday night high school games just because "that's what everyone does".  I am not sure what the football culture is like in Texas vs. small-town Ohio (where I am) but here people won't think less of you if you don't go to the games.  However, they will think less of you if you go to the games and are visibly not enthusiastic about it.

Don't spread yourself too thin.  If you try to do everything, you run the risk of people thinking that you are either fake, or trying to take over with your "big city ways".

Pick just a few things that you can really enjoy (the library, the rotary club, the garden club, the bridge society, etc... small towns often have a LOT of stuff going on) and get involved with your new town that way.