Small-town amenities attract young families

How many young people do you know personally that graduated from a local high school, went off to college, and never returned? Wouldn’t it be great if we could get more of those young adults to return to Okmulgee or to the surrounding area? Well, we can. They have to start their lives somewhere, and I believe many of them would gladly choose to live in a small town if they knew the advantages of small- town living. But it’s up to us to educate them.

Q: How can we get more young adults and young families interested in living in Okmulgee?

This is a question with many possible answers. What resonates with one young person might not resonate with another. So we need to be prepared to make the case for living in a small town like Okmulgee and be able to make our case in several different ways. Three weeks ago, we discussed the social advantages of living in a small town, and last week, we discussed the economic advantages. With this week’s column, let’s explore another possible response. Let’s talk about the “physical and emotional advantages” of living in a small town.

  1. There’s a slower pace of life that translates into a higher quality of life. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle of a bigger city and lose part of your identity to the city itself. That won’t happen in a small town where the daily tempo of life is much less hectic. The more relaxed pace of a small town can be a welcome change.
  2. Less stress in life can pay big dividends. Anxiety and stress are contributing factors to many serious medical conditions that afflict Americans today. While there’s probably no such thing as a stress-free life, the inherent simplicities of living in a small town offer many daily stress reducers that you just can’t find in the big city.  
  3. Sunday is an actual day of rest. Most stores are closed. People go to church and then eat at the home of a friend or relative. They read the paper, maybe watch a game on TV (if there’s one on), and of course there’s nap time. It’s not good for our mental wellbeing to be “on the go” all the time. We need to have some downtime on a routine basis.
  4. People aren’t chasing symbols of status. They’re not completely tied up in appearances or in the rank they might attain. Substance is more important to them than style. People in small towns are generally more concerned with community, friends, and family than prestige or looks, and this is a more “selfless” way of living.
  5. Statistically-speaking, you’ll be happier. This can be attributed to a deeper sense of community, exposure to nature, an improved quality of social life, or a less self-centered focus in life. Each of these small town benefits are profoundly important for one’s health, identity, and sanity.

Many of you provide ideas for the content of this weekly column, and I’m very grateful. I’m still looking for more questions and comments at osuit-president@okstate.edu.