Live well in low-cost small town

DH and I live near (not in) a small town on the remote Olympic Peninsula of Washington State whose population is about the same as my Brooklyn high school. It’s a pretty little town that attracts lots of retirees, many of whom volunteer to maintain gardens all around town. Also a little art museum, a little theater, a little Boys and Girls Club, a YMCA (with a large swimming pool), an orchestra that plays in the band shell, and several little parks. The quiet ambience, proximity to Olympic National Park, and beautiful summer climate (cool, low humidity) attract many tourists.

With the advent of the pandemic, many people have moved out of crowded, expensive cities and to low-cost small towns all around the U.S. The low cost of living results in a higher standard of living even for those without a college degree.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/12/business/economy/small-to…

**Far From the Big City, New Economic Life**

**Incomes are low in small-town Tennessee, but so is the cost of living. That attraction could be a key to reviving many rural areas.**
**By Eduardo Porter, The New York Times, Feb. 12, 2022**

**...**
**Economists have long voiced fear that rural places are being left behind as manufacturing jobs disappear. But the newcomers are fueling a boomlet in the area, based on a simple economic proposition: It is pretty, and it is cheap. While Jackson County’s typical household makes $35,207 a year, just over half the national average, the low cost of living allows residents to punch far above their weight in economic terms....**

**An exodus of workers fleeing the cost of living in big cities. And the pandemic has only added to the trend, by encouraging workers to leave congested and expensive urban hubs and work remotely from small towns. If remote work remains widespread, their counties could benefit from a decisive price advantage... Workers without a four-year college degree earn little in the Cookeville, TN commuting zone — their income puts them among the poorest 10 percent of households in hundreds of commuting zones across the country. After adjusting for the local cost of living, however, their purchasing power rises to the top 10 percent....** [end quote]

When high-speed internet is available, Zoom and other technologies make the rest of the world seem accessible. Apart from actually traveling the world (like Jeff), I don’t feel more isolated than the average city or suburban resident on a day-to-day basis. In fact, I feel more connected since the small-town neighbors and small, do-it-yourself organizations are more personally involving.

The Macroeconomic trend of movement away from cities and toward small towns could reverse the declines that caused so much tragedy over the past 30 years. It’s certainly more relaxing to live in a small town. (Though not as exciting as a city.)

The only downside is that property values are skyrocketing due to increased demand from newcomers. That’s bad for the locals.

Wendy

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With the advent of the pandemic, many people have moved out of crowded, expensive cities and to low-cost small towns all around the U.S. The low cost of living results in a higher standard of living even for those without a college degree.

Are there that many “remote work” opportunities for those without a college degree? Most of the high-dollar, blue collar jobs like auto mechanic, plumber or electrician require hands-on work, either in a place of business or at the customer’s site.

intercst

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<Are there that many “remote work” opportunities for those without a college degree? Most of the high-dollar, blue collar jobs like auto mechanic, plumber or electrician require hands-on work, either in a place of business or at the customer’s site.>

Our area used to have logging, fishing and agricultural work which has gradually gone away for various reasons. The primary employer is the local hospital (health-care type jobs).

The point is that even low-paying jobs will stretch further in a low cost-of-living area.
Wendy

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WendyBG writes,

The point is that even low-paying jobs will stretch further in a low cost-of-living area.

That’s true. But what makes an area “low-cost of living”, is that there’s a lack of wealthy people or high-salaried workers bidding up the cost of housing, goods, and services. Mississippi is “low-cost of living” because few people with money or skills want to live there.

The beauty of “work from home” is that you can transport your “San Francisco income” to an area with a lower cost of living. Eventually, the most scenic and attractive of these WFH garden spots will have the same problems as Aspen, CO.

intercst

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Are there that many “remote work” opportunities for those without a college degree? Most of the high-dollar, blue collar jobs like auto mechanic, plumber or electrician require hands-on work, either in a place of business or at the customer’s site.

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Yes, these high-dollar blue collar workers must live in the suburbs or cities to make a living. The rural people always hope they can these blue collar workers to come out to their small towns and homes.

Jaak

(Not so small) Vila Nova de Gaia, part of Greater Porto, not densely populated, is a nice place for retirement.

The Captain
Portugal is not anal-retentive about covid mandates
Well organized optional vaccination program
Free Covid test sites open to the public
Nice balance

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Economists have long voiced fear that rural places are being left behind as manufacturing jobs disappear. But the newcomers are fueling a boomlet in the area, based on a simple economic proposition: It is pretty, and it is cheap.

30 years ago, our city used to be a sleepy little town centered around a university and teaching hospital. It was super cheap then and still considered cheap by those of us who moved from high COL in retirement. We have been here for about 5 years, and were hearing endless complaints about being priced out of where they grew up, even pre-covid. Our small city is now in the process of eliminating single family house zoning from the books to try to get multifamily home conversions that is supposed to supply more affordable housing, though IMO on a per bedroom basis the costs will go up and families will be forced out.

The post Covid work from home movement has simply spread unaffordable housing even further.

This is not a long term good thing for the small towns without good jobs.

IP

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The Macroeconomic trend of movement away from cities and toward small towns could reverse the declines that caused so much tragedy over the past 30 years. It’s certainly more relaxing to live in a small town. (Though not as exciting as a city.)

People are already moving back to cities -

https://www.businessinsider.com/urban-exodus-people-leaving-…

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