Small town vs. Big city – 5 Benefits of Each Place

(Feature photo: Ajax Waterfront)

Little did I know just 4 years of living 40 minutes away from the big city of Toronto could change my worldview so much.

I am ever so grateful for the 4 years I spent living in a smaller town. I’ve moved back to a busier part of the Greater Toronto Area (Markham) – 3 times more people and somehow I feel there’s 10 times more traffic! Here I share the benefits of living in a small town and benefits in a big city.

Benefits of living in a Smaller Town:

1. There is ALOT less traffic.
I can easily get to the grocery stores that are within a block or two within 5-10 minutes drive. If I am in the city, I have to expect 15-20 minutes drive each way. In a smaller town, I don’t really need to “plan” my commute because other than the busy highways during rush hour, I can get anywhere fast. I find I am not as drained from driving. In a big city, I am always mentally preparing the shortest route everyday before I head out, and often with the help of Google maps & updated traffic reports. There’s also a lot less aggressive drivers because the pace of life is slower.

How could you not slow down if you were driving along the waterfront? 🙂

2. You really get to know the owners of shops/restaurants.
I’ve known at least 2-3 owners of shops/restaurants living in a small town on a first name basis, by simply being a customer. They know me and my orders too. When there aren’t a lot of options, you get to chat up with the owner and ask how the business is going and chat up about sports/news/pretty much anything. It’s a real community feeling.

Today, I was at a smaller cafe in the city and the barista was frightened when I asked if the owner was around. She thought I was making a complaint. Rather, I just wanted to say hello and say how impressed I am by the food and tea. I do miss the interactions with local business owners, but perhaps, I just need to put myself out there more and chat up more!

3. There’s NO wait for a table (except maybe The Keg)
There are no lineups for anything – movie theatres, car wash, gas (unless it’s Costco or something really cheap) & no wait for a table. Unless you go to a large chain restaurant like The Keg and it’s the only one in the area – then there might be a wait. The convenience of going out for dinner between 6-8pm and getting a table right away on weekends without a second thought is so awesome!

No lineups even for this delicious Italian meal in Ajax!

4. Your neighbours mow your lawn/shovel snow & vice versa
Yes, my neighbours mowed my front lawn mowed for me free of charge. In return, I helped shovel the snow off their driveway in the winter. I borrowed several tools from my neighbours. Sometimes, they helped me watch my dog. All for nothing. Not a dime. Not all neighbourhoods do this in smaller towns, but because there’s a lot less people, there’s a sense of helping each other out without any monetary gain. Just the fact that we were neighbours and that’s what neighbours do.

5. People actually sit in their porch
When the weather is just warm enough in Spring, throughout the summer and into Fall, I find my neighbours sitting in their porch or in their opened garage, just enjoying a beer or the scenery. People in the big cities are often working long hours and rushing home to take care of children or to cook dinner, so I don’t see as many people sitting outside. Yes, just sitting. I rarely go more than a few days without seeing my neighbours – If I don’t see them, they would have informed me they are away on vacation or something major happened in their lives. I do that ALOT now – just sit in the front porch. Sometimes I read, listen to music, but mainly I just want to soak up the sun outside & see my neighbours come and go.

Benefits of the Big City

1. So many food options
The first thing that comes to mind is food options! There are so many diverse food options from all cultural backgrounds – Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Congolese (which I learned from viewing Serge Ibaka’s YouTube channel!), fusion of all sorts, and the list goes on. In a small town, there’s only a handful of restaurants to choose from. Sometimes, the quality isn’t the greatest in a small town. In the Big City, it’s more expensive but the quality is much better.

2. Everything seems closer (even though there’s traffic)
There seems to be more banks, more hardware stores, more grocery stores per square kilometre in the city. Even though there’s more traffic, things seem to be able more accessible if you can get to them. In a smaller town, there isn’t traffic but distance wise, you might need to drive a little further to get the shopping or parts that you need. An exception to this rule is farm-fresh produce: I found I was able to get a lot more straight-from-the-farm produce in a small town than in the city. I loved buying corn from the side of the road on the way home!!

3. Bigger Festivals
There’s more events and bigger festivals in the city, naturally because there’s more people. You’ll often find bigger, more extravagant floats, food festivals and parades in the city.

Raptors 2019 NBA Championship Parade – What a historic moment!

4. More Transit, More People
Even though our transit is not the best in the world, there are more transit options in the city than in a smaller town. There’s more people commuting as well. Although, I have to say, getting downtown was ironically much easier from Ajax than from Markham and I always got a seat! So, it just depends where you want to go!

5. More employment
Unless you are a business owner who’s more concerned about rent and retaining local customers, there is much more employment in the city than in a smaller town. I think that’s one main reason many people choose to live and stay in the city.

The above is just based on my own personal experience. Comment below if you’ve experienced any lifestyle changes from moving from small town to big city, or vice versa!


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Jennifer M. | Founder of Simply Mindful ( | INFJ personality type | Proud owner of 2 guinea pigs

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