Whether your family’s been there for generations or you left city life behind for more space and better schools, small towns are an integral part of America’s fabric. In fact, while urban populations may be growing, more than one third of Americans call small towns home. And while the idea of moving to a small town may conjure images of idyllic pastoral living and a community so tight-knit it’s practically family, not everything about small town life is as charming as it seems.
Before you start dreaming of ditching your city life behind and start searching for that perfect piece of small town property, make sure you know these 30 things that annoy people in small towns. And if you want to know what really drives people nuts in major cities, don’t fret! We’ve got those, too. Just see these 30 Things That Always Annoy People in Cities.
Local celebrations backing up traffic
Those small town festivals and local carnivals may seem fun to outsiders, but ask anyone living in a small town and they’ll tell you how annoying they can be. Adding 1000 extra cars to tiny streets and postage-stamp-sized municipal parking is a recipe for some seriously bad traffic.
Tourists commenting on how “adorable” everything is
Are some small towns cute? Sure. However, when tourists descend on the place you live, work, shop, and generally do all the things people in urban areas do and dub everything in it “adorable,” it’s nothing short of patronizing. Seriously, the local gas station and that dilapidated house on the corner are not worthy of “oohs” and “aahs.” And if you want a relaxing break from small town life, try out one of the 20 Most Zen Places on Earth.
Always seeing someone you know at the store
When you live in a big city, you get to enjoy the blissful anonymity of shopping at your local 24-hour supermarket in peace. In small towns, where your local grocery store is open for limited hours (and maybe not at all on Sunday), you will always run into somebody you know when you’re in your PJs buying some embarrassing haul, like an industrial-sized jar of cheeseballs and a tabloid magazine.
Having to drive everywhere
Want to be able to walk everywhere? Good luck finding that in a small town. In much of small town America, you have two choices: take the car wherever you go or just stay in. And when you want to make those hours behind the wheel more enjoyable, head for these 40 Roads Everyone Should Drive by Age 40.
Businesses keeping whatever hours they please
In a major city, you can buy your groceries at 3 AM, indulge your craving for shawarma at midnight, or see a movie before noon. In a small town, you might be hard-pressed to even buy a beer on Sunday.
The lack of delivery options
Finding yourself hungry and running low on groceries in a small town leaves you with three options: get dressed and drive 30 minutes to the one diner that’s still open, go hungry, or order pizza again. But do you know who doesn’t seem to care? Your favorite stars. For proof, check out these 20 Celebs Who Shunned Hollywood for Small Town Life.
Gossip always getting back to the wrong people
You may not think you know everybody in your small town, but rest assured, somebody knows you—and your business. That time you made out with the drummer for that one band and didn’t tell anybody? Yeah, the local pharmacist, all of your cousins, and your high school chemistry teacher somehow all know about it anyway. And when you want to reign in those gossipy impulses, discover these 20 Ways to Be Less Mean.
New residents acting like they discovered the place
When new people move to your small town, they often act like they’re the first people to discover the place, much to the annoyance of locals. Just because you opened a coffee shop or fixed up an old house doesn’t mean you essentially wrote the town charter, too.
Having to keep your vices hidden
Want to have a few drinks in a local bar? Still haven’t quit smoking? Occasionally spend the night at your ex’s house? If you’re in a small town, you know just how hard it is to hide any of those vices.
Constant construction if your town gets popular
If your town got some recent press coverage, prepare for seemingly non-stop construction. Suddenly, your quaint town will be overloaded with people building new businesses, fixing up old houses for months at a time, and making way for condo construction, making it virtually impossible for you to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time.
Driving your kids everywhere until they get their license
If you have kids in a small town, you know that they have two choices until they have their license: either stay at home or get toted around by you. A lack of walkability means that there’s virtually nothing to do except get mom and dad to chauffeur them around until they’re old enough to drive.
Virtually mandatory parades
Did you miss your small town’s Memorial Day parade? You’re definitely going to hear about it from somebody. While they may seem voluntary, attending certain small town events is more or less mandatory if you don’t want to get some serious side-eye from your neighbors.
The hostility toward newcomers
If you’re a newcomer to a small town, you might just find that you’re not as welcome as you hoped. In fact, regardless of why you moved to a small town—even if your family has actually lived there for generations—don’t be surprised when people look at you like an outsider.
Tourists taking pictures of everything
Think big city congestion is bad? The streets of small towns aren’t exactly equipped to have a dozen people stopping to Instagram every cute house or impressive Christmas lights display, and the resulting traffic can seriously slow things down.
Having nothing to do on a Friday night
Making plans on a Friday night in a small town often means one of three things: go to a friend’s house, go to a restaurant, or drive a ridiculously long time to do something actually fun in the closest city.
Everybody knowing your parents
“Aren’t you Jim and Cathy’s daughter?” Yes. Even if everyone in your small town doesn’t know you by your name, they probably know your parents. If your parents have lived in town for some time, you’ll forever be “so-and-so’s kid” to older generations.
Limited options for housing
You might be thrilled to have landed a great job in a small town, but that doesn’t mean moving there is going to be easy, necessarily. Small towns generally have limited rental stock, and finding anything even remotely comparable to what you had in the city, whether that’s an open-concept space or just a kitchen with granite counters, is often nearly impossible.
Finding a place to park
Parking in a city may be tough, but parking in a small town is often next-to-impossible. Not only is parking limited in most small towns as it is, if your town happens to have a weekender or tourist population, it might be virtually impossible to find anywhere to park your car, even at the supermarket.
Job hunting is never an easy process, but in a small town, it’s virtually torture. In addition to limited employment prospects, wages tend to be significantly lower than they’d be in a big city, and you may even have to suffer the indignity of interviewing with that kid who always pushed you into lockers in high school.
Always having to chat with somebody when you go out
In a massive apartment building in Manhattan, you might not even know your next-door neighbor’s name. In a small town, you not only know their name, their family history, and their kids’ soccer schedule, but you’re supposed to make small talk every time you see them.
Seeing your exes all the time
Knowing that your exes continue to exist post-breakup is annoying enough. However, living in the same small town as them means that you run into them constantly, whether you’re at bars, shops, or your cousin’s Christmas party.
Overzealous law enforcement
Small town cops don’t always have a lot on their plates in terms of local crime. Unfortunately, that means that someone’s definitely watching—and eager to ticket you—when you accidentally go 35 in a 30.
Having virtually no options for date night
Tinder doesn’t help you much when there aren’t very many people around. Also, if you’re trying to impress a date in a small town, your options are often woefully limited. There’s that one fancy restaurant, the diner, or that Chili’s 30 minutes away.
If a tree branch hits your power line in a small town, you’d better hope you had a backup generator at the ready. In many small towns, even a seemingly minor storm can mean the power’s out for a week.
Sometimes, you just want to tell off a rude shopkeeper or honk your horn at someone driving like a fool. Unfortunately, in a small town, the person you do that to might just be the mayor, your boss’s spouse, or your next door neighbor’s kid, meaning you have virtually no choice but to always err on the side of extreme politeness.
Kids loitering everywhere
A lack of things for teenagers to do means one seriously annoying problem: kids loitering everywhere. Leave your car in a parking lot for 20 minutes and by the time you get back, there are some teenagers making out on the hood and a bunch of others blowing cotton candy-scented vape smoke in your face.
Incompetent local government
Small town politics often bear little resemblance to bigger government. When only two people are running, you’re sometimes left choosing the lesser of two evils. And sometimes, that person is still an unqualified idiot.
Running into your elementary school teachers
If you still live in the small town you grew up in, you know the distinctly displeasure of running into your teachers everywhere you go. That date you’re on with someone new? Buckle up for having to introduce them to your elementary school teacher.
Having to spent two hours in the car to get to the nearest cultural attraction
If you live in the city, the nearest museum or opera is probably just a hop, skip, and a jump away. If you want to enjoy similar cultural activities when you live in most small towns, prepare to spend a couple of hours in travel time getting to any major attraction.
Leaving feels impossible
While there may be many downfalls to living in a small town, it can sometimes feel virtually impossible to leave your humble little hometown behind, too. Just when you think you’d be eager to go anywhere else, you realize all the people, places, and things about small town life you’re going to miss when you go. And if you do decide to depart for greener pastures, check out The 100 Happiest Cities in America.
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