It’s a decision that many people face at some point in their lives. On one hand, you have the charm and simplicity that are typically found within small towns. Life just seems easier when you live in a town with a small population. On the other hand, you have the hustle and bustle of the big city. You’re more likely to be on the cutting edge of things when you live in a major metropolitan area.
Ultimately, which is the better place to live? To work? To raise a family? Let’s break it down into six different areas.
Arts, Entertainment, and Culture
When you live in a big city, you have much greater access to a variety of entertainment venues and you are exposed to all sorts of different cultures. Taking Vancouver as an example, you’ll find that this city always has some sort of festival going on, whether it be related to St. Patrick’s Day or Chinese New Year. We also get all sorts of music festivals, comedy festivals, and other events that happen on a fairly regular basis. By contrast, small towns generally don’t get nearly as much variety. In this respect, the big city wins.
Networking and Community
This is sort of a mixed bag. In the big city, it’s much easier to get lost in the mix, blending into the background with a relative sense of anonymity. By contrast, there is usually a better sense of community in small towns, because everyone knows your name and what you do. At the same time, if you plan on doing any sort of business networking — like dot com pho — a big city is the place to go. If I lived in a small town, I would have never met John Chow, Gary Jones, Stephen Fung, or any of the other dot com moguls with whom I associate.
Transportation and Traffic
Public transportation in the big city is surely more efficient, but you also have to put up with big city traffic. One of the biggest things that I hate about Vancouver is that no one knows how to drive in the snow, so when you add the white stuff in with gridiron traffic, you’ve got a fender-bender waiting to happen. Small town wins here for sure.
This is probably the biggest advantage to living in a nice, large multicultural city. From fine seafood to $60 burgers, I love eating a huge variety of food. I also like having options, so being able to choose between countless sushi restaurants is a definite plus. In a small town, you might have just one restaurant with any Asian food whatsoever; Good luck trying to find a place that specializes in Cambodian cuisine.
Much like the note about food above, the big city will offer you more variety and more options when it comes to any sort of modern conveniences. There are more postal outlets, more supermarkets, more electronics shops, and so on. In a small town, you may only have one of each… and you probably don’t have a Wal-Mart or Best Buy either.
Cost of Living
Vancouver’s booming housing market has yet to burst, so when you consider how much it costs to buy a modest apartment, furnish it, and then pay all the associated taxes and fees, living in the big city is considerably more expensive than in a small town. If you want to save money, especially if you make money online (which makes you more immune to the local economy), a small town is the way to go.
The Best of Both Worlds
Choosing between life in a big city and life in a small town will ultimately come down to personal preference. You’ll have to weigh all the pros and cons associated with each kind of lifestyle, but I think the best choice for most people would probably be the middle ground. Living in Downtown Vancouver can be very pricey, but you can enjoy much of the same advantages by living in a neighboring suburb. Living costs are lower there too.