The Town we live in is very small. Unimaginably small, by most peoples' standards. No-one is quite sure of the actual population, but when asked we usually say: "About 200 people in the winter, double in the summer when the Site is in full swing."
I have passed my life so far living in a medium-sized town, a large town, a big city and here. So I know the pros and cons of the different sized city/town/village experiences.
This tiny Town is unique in that it is home to a big industry, and it is also full of artists. So it is a tiny town that often has a large city-ish sophistication. At one time, for example, our town CAO was from Boston and our mayor was from New York City. The Town is teeming with people who have had lives full of interesting experiences, and you'd be hard pressed to find an actual "hick" here. In the summers our Town plays host to a sizable arts festival. We are the nearest town to a world class heritage site, we have two professional theatres (here and at the Site) that run summer seasons, and artists and galleries a plenty. But this is still a tiny town, so we also get the tiny town traits that are both awesome and awful.
The Town does have a spectacular rumour mill. That's a tiny town given. But, to counter that we have a community that genuinely cares for one another (except for the people who are feuding, but then, they still care, they just aren't speaking to one another). People here in this tiny town run to help if anyone is in distress. Our direct neighbours are the kind of folks who do little acts of kindness for us without ever expecting a thank you or expecting us to make a big deal out of it. If we need to leave town and my mother in law will be here all alone I pop over and ask my sweet neighbour to keep an eye on her, and she does, willingly and kindly. When I am getting ready for my kids' birthday party my neighbour quietly asks her son in law to plow out the snow in front of the venue so I don't have to shovel. One day I went out to check the oil in my car. I'd barely had time to pop the hood before three different guys came over to see if I needed any help. If your car gets stuck in the snow, neighbours materialize with shovels to help dig you out. But we do have a long, long winter here and by April we are all getting sick to death of snow. And just when we are longing to see a few new faces all the seasonal workers start flowing back into town, and although we are thrilled and relieved to see them, we all feel a little pang of sadness that our tight winter community is about to fade away until October.
An interesting small town phenomenon is that once you move here many friends and relations from the city will lose all memory of you ever having been a city person. When we were recently in the biggest city in the province I asked my husband if he would do the drive back to our hotel from our relatives' house because I don't like to drive at night. Our cousin said (in a patronizing tone): "Oh, driving in the city isn't so bad... you get used to it." She completely forgot that I lived and drove in that same big city for almost 10 years.
I also find it fascinating how many people will hear about our lifestyle and say: "I could NEVER live like that." I gotta say three things to those people:
1. Don't knock it until you've tried it. The first time I came to this town was for a summer gig and I also thought I would never be able to make it here full time. But, then, as the summer gig became an annual thing for me I noticed that it took me weeks to readjust to the complexities of city life after leaving here, and mere minutes to readjust to this life after leaving the city. You don't even realize how many rules and regulations there are in a city until you've done without them for a while. Consider this: in my Town I park wherever the hell I want, for free, and my car faces whichever direction I choose.
2. Everyone in the western world seems to be on a sustainability, green, learn how to survive in time for the great economic crash/zombie apocalypse, grow and hunt your own food kick. People in our Town have been living this way for years. We don't even have to hold workshops or anything. I know someone in the city who has started a blog tracing her quest to learn basic skills that have become lost in this post-industrial age - things like making bread, sewing, chopping wood, starting a fire, hunting, fishing, etc. All you really have to do is live in a remote community for a while and sooner or later you will learn much of this by necessity, or because someone who knows how to do these things is doing them and you pick it up.
3. I'm sorry, but that is just kind of a rude. I have had people say to me: Oh my GAWD, I could NEVER live like that! What if I talked about your town and your life that way? What if I opened my mouth and made a big gasp-y face and said: YOUR LIFESTYLE HORRIFIES ME! Would you expect to NOT want to give me a bit of a verbal smack down? Because that's how I feel when you say it.
Don't get me wrong, I really like talking about the idiosyncrasies of this life (clearly, here I am, writing about it.) Having studied many angles of the living experience when it comes to populations I kind of like to think of myself as a bit of an expert on the subject. So let me say what I say whenever anyone asks nicely what the differences are between life here and life in a city: everything that sucks about living here is everything that rules about city life (movie theaters, take out food, restaurants, shopping, shopping, shopping and shopping), and everything that sucks about city life is everything that rules about here (safety, kids walking places by themselves, children who still understand the phrase: "come home when you see the streetlights go on", community, 100% nature 100% of the time, clean earth and air, slower pace and a kick ass hiding place from zombies).
I love my tiny Town. Some days I hate some things about our Town (same as the city); but let me ask you this: where will you be when the zombies come for you? Because I'll be right here.