Small Town Living Offers Economic Advantages

Two weeks ago, I started a topic and told you it would take me more than a week to properly explore. So this week, I will continue where we left off. With the depopulation challenges faced by most small towns across the country, people who are concerned about the survival of their communities want to know, “How can we retain our young people and keep them from moving away?” or “How can we encourage young people to return to our small town and to invest in our community?”

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

I’m convinced the answer to this dilemma is “education.” We need to do a much better job of informing young people about the inherent benefits of living in a small town like Okmulgee. I want everyone who reads this weekly column to inform themselves about the advantages of living in a small town and be able to explain it to others. Okmulgee needs a sales team, and guess what—we have one…it’s you and me!

Previously, I gave you five social advantages of living in a small town, and now, I want to spell out for you the “economic advantages” of living in a small town:

  1. There’s a lower cost of living. Everything from homes to groceries is cheaper in a small town. You can get an entire house for the price of a studio apartment in a large city, and with more mom-and-pop outfits than big corporate chains, the price of consumer goods is often lower. Small towns also tend to have lower property taxes.
  2. You can afford a better quality of life. With living costs cut at least in half of what you’d be paying for your expenses in a bigger city, more opportunities naturally open for you to start a business, travel more, invest in property, or buy a home. More disposable income means more personal opportunities to explore.
  3. Starting or investing in a local business makes sense. Running your own business anywhere is not an easy thing to do, but overall, there’s less competition between businesses and more community support for local businesses in a small town. Many townspeople would rather pay a buck or two more, if it supports a locally owned business.
  4. It’s easier to get your foot in the door. While people might think there are fewer opportunities in small towns, there’s also less competition. Remember, it’s always easier to become a "big fish in a small pond." Despite size, there are still great opportunities to be found locally.
  5. You can afford to make investments that will pay out over time. You can potentially own property in your 20s or 30s. If you’re not looking to be a homeowner, you can invest in property to flip/sell, have an easier time renting a space for a start-up, or get in with a developing business while they’re still small, and you can grow with them.

Please don’t forget to send me questions or topics for future articles. You may direct them to osuit-president@okstate.edu.