When I first moved away to Uni, I quickly realised that not everyone understood what it was like to grow up in a town as small as mine. In fact, most people hadn’t heard of where I’m from and were shocked to learn that there were only around five hundred students in my entire secondary school. I’ve found that people who spent their childhood living in large towns and cities, had a completely different upbringing to me and different concerns to consider. While there are pros and cons to each, if you’ve never experienced rural living and are wondering what it’s like, here are some of the realities of growing up in a small town:
1. Having to drive everywhere
If you’re from a small town, you’ll understand what it’s like to have very limited public transport at obscure times of day and know that you’ll have to travel out of town often. You’ll therefore understand the need to be able to drive and will having probably learnt to drive as soon as you turned 17, so that you could gain some freedom. After all, having to drive eight miles to the nearest Tesco is just one of the realities of growing up in a small town. Another reality of growing up and learning to drive in a small town, is that you’ll probably struggle with parallel parking, as you won’t often have to do it in such a rural area!
2. Everyone knows everyone
Another reality of growing up or living in a small town, is that everyone knows everyone. Your parents will probably still be friends with the people they went to school with, local residents will all know each other on a first name basis and you’ll have known most people your age your whole life. You’ll probably have been born in the same hospital! There could be three or four generations of the same family who have lived in the same place their entire lives and even people who don’t have an obvious connection could well be related to each other!
3. Feeling safer there than anywhere else
If you grew up in a small town, you’ll no doubt feel safer there than anywhere else. In rural locations, there are close communities and everyone knows everyone. Unlike people who were brought up in large towns and cities, you’ll have been allowed to walk to your friend’s house unsupervised as a child and you won’t have needed to carry a house key, as your back door will have always been unlocked. Rural towns tend to have low crime rates and there’s always a neighbour to call on if you need help. Because of this, one of the realities of growing up in a small town, is that you’ll feel safe there and big cities will always seem overwhelming.
4. Being able to name everyone in your year at school
If you were raised in a small town, you’ll probably be able to name everyone in your year at school. With only 550 students in my entire secondary school and around 80 in my year group (many of whom I also went to primary school with), I can still name everyone from school by their first and second name. While this will seem strange or even impossible to those from cities, this is just one of the realities of growing up in a small town. Linked to this, another quirk of living in a rural setting, is that some of your teachers may have even taught your parents!
5. Often getting stuck behind a tractor
Getting stuck behind a tractor on your commute to work or school, is a common and unfortunate reality of living in a small town. It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter this slow-moving vehicle on the windy country roads around the local area and it’ll no doubt be when you’re in a hurry! However, if you grew up in a small town you’ll understand that tractors are a necessary annoyance, as you’ll be used to seeing farmers working in the fields or clearing snowy roads in them in winter! If you live in a rural beauty spot, you’re also liable to get stuck behind caravans and slow-moving motorhomes as your hometown will appeal to tourists!
6. News travels fast
In small towns, nothing stays secret for long and one of the realities of living there is that everyone seems to know everything that happens. With residents living and working in close proximity, many of whom have know each other their entire lives, gossip is rife and news travels fast. Be it good or bad news, if you want something to be known, word of mouth is the best form of advertising in a small town. However, it is quite nice to return to your hometown and be congratulated on your achievements since moving away, even by people you’ve not spoken to in a while, who have heard about what you’re doing through the grapevine!
7. Never any traffic unless there’s an event on
One of the realities of growing up in a small town, is that you won’t have been familiar with rush hour traffic until you moved away. In rural areas, you are unlikely to experience anything resembling a traffic jam unless there is an event on in town, like an annual show or festival. If you nowlive in a city or large town with numerous traffic lights, roundabouts and queueing traffic when you start and finish work, you’ll no doubt miss commuting home along quiet, wide open country roads. You’ll also probably lack patience for heavy traffic and while I’m not saying that everyone from a small town has road rage, I think a lot of us do! You will also have experienced some testing driving conditions if you’re from a rural area, whether it be ice, snow, flash flooding or cows in the middle of the road!
8. You’ll always call it home
If you grew up in a small town, you probably couldn’t wait to leave when you finished school. Many people from my hometown, including myself, moved away to larger towns and cities to go to University or to find work. We all wanted to be independent and felt claustrophobic living in the same tiny place we had our whole lives, knowing that there was so much more out there. However, while people from rural areas are drawn to the ‘big city lights’ and are often quick to leave their seemingly mundane hometowns, they’ll actually appreciate their small town more once they’ve moved away. One of the inescapable realities of growing up in a small town, is that you’ll be proud of where you’re from, even if no-one else has heard of it and there’ll only ever be one place that you call home!
These are just some of the realities of growing up in a small town like Leyburn. Can you think of any others? Leave them in the comments below…
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An English graduate from Yorkshire, currently living in Teesside. A lover of TV & film, music, tattoos and travelling!