Living in a small town has lots of advantages.
I love the fact that I can be at work in four minutes, that sometimes I leave my car unlocked and I don’t have to worry about it (but the RCMP says you’re not supposed to do that, even in Burns Lake).
I also love that I can find amazing trails and lakes within 10 minutes from my house.
Another aspect of living in small towns (at least in the majority of them) is that people are friendly.
I think most people in Burns Lake would agree that people here are extremely friendly – it’s very rare for people to honk their horns, people will say hello to you even if you don’t know them and it’s common for people to engage in small talk in grocery stores, restaurants and even on the street.
But from the talks I’ve had with people who moved here from bigger cities, that same friendliness can sometimes be a challenge.
I recently spoke with a woman who said she sometimes has issues going to the local grocery store because she often has to engage in conversations with many people there (and sometimes you’re simply not in the mood).
Speaking with a couple who moved to Burns Lake from a bigger city, they told me that having to say hello to everybody on the street could sometimes be exhausting.
As for myself, sometimes I like to be at a cafe or restaurant by myself, reading a book or listening to music, being lost in my own thoughts. But often people (who probably felt sorry for me because I was there sitting by myself) will approach me to have a conversation.
This would be very unusual in most bigger cities, unless people knew you well or you were sending “signs” that you were open to a conversation (wearing headphones while reading a book definitely isn’t one of those signs).
Of course there is nothing wrong with approaching people to have a conversation, and this just goes to show that people here are friendly and caring.
But there’s no denying that small towns have a different dynamic, and if you’re not used it, it can be challenge.
Sadly, with the advance of technology, people in bigger cities seem to be engaging in real-life conversations less and less.
I don’t think this is ideal either. Sometimes you will find a cafe with a sign saying, “We have no Wi-Fi, talk to each other” (so of course people just end up looking at each other awkwardly, reluctant to make the first move).
When I was living in Toronto I didn’t like that people were so indifferent and many times rude on the street or public transportation.
One day I was holding the door for a woman and she said with surprise, “You’re not from here, are you?”
A friendly environment is one of the aspects that distinguishes small towns and makes them special.
Most of us want to feel that we are part of a community, and I am sure that living in a friendly neighbourhood contributes to your overall health and wellbeing.
But it’s funny to realize that a good aspect of living in small towns can also be inconvenient at times.