Empowered by remote work, some Americans find themselves asking, ‘Wait, I can work from anywhere?!’
In response, it’s easy to find yourself imagining the same salary in a lower-cost-of-living area. Moving to a small town could help you reach your individual financial goals at a faster clip.
In the context of our times, moving to a less densely populated area isn’t just a money move, either. It’s a move some are considering for their family’s health and safety.
Before you move.
If you’re considering small town living as an alternative to your normally dense, urban life in light of the pandemic, there are some things you’re going to want to consider before immediately acting upon your flight response.
Quarantine and ethics.
Many states have enacted quarantines for anyone crossing state lines. In all of the states where the featured small towns are located, travel restrictions are in place. Some still require you to quarantine for 14 days upon crossing the state line or entering specific localities.
The restrictions are there for good reason. If you are fleeing a place with a high rate of infection, you must be conscious that you are potentially endangering those who live in these small towns. If you’re going to relocate, make sure you’re following all local laws. Go above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of your new neighbors.
Access to quality healthcare.
Another thing to bear in mind is that small towns often have less resources. When you move there, you will be adding a burden to an already limited supply. This is especially true of healthcare resources, which tend to be concentrated around large cities.
Moving to a small town does not give you immunity from future outbreaks. You may need to rely on the local healthcare system yourself in the near future. That remains especially true until we have a vaccine. Make sure you’re okay with the burden your family would put on these smaller healthcare systems, and that you’d be okay relying on them yourself if you did fall ill.
Update Your Documents
If you do decide to move, it will be important to update all of your estate planning documents -- especially if you’re moving to a new state. Your will, living will, trust and power of attorney will all have to be updated to work in accordance with your new state’s laws.
If you have an account with Tomorrow, we make it easy to make these updates. You’ve already made all the hard decisions; updating your documents in our app for your new zip code is simple.
Best Small Towns for Families
To find the best small towns for families, we evaluated accessibility to the outdoors during times of social distancing, access to healthcare, cost of living and other lifestyle factors.
With less than 45,000 residents, Burlington is a small town. However, it’s one of the biggest in the state of Vermont, and its residents enjoy access to healthcare that isn’t necessarily available in the rest of the state.
Burlington has been hit harder by the virus than the rest of Vermont. There have been 39 deaths in the county as of June 8, 2020. The infection rate may be higher here than in the rest of the state in part because people travel to the area specifically to access healthcare.
Burlington is an artsy community that provides lots for families to engage with during normal times. It also provides lots of access to outdoor recreation year-round.
Burlington is known for its active efforts to be an inclusive community. While the town is predominantly white, its population has become increasingly more diverse over the past three decades.
This may not be the best place for you if you’re moving to save money. The cost of living in Burlington, Vermont is higher than the national average.
Pittsfield, Massachusetts is a town in Berkshire County that’s about the same size as Burlington. While the African-American population is at its highest today at 3.2%, Berkshire County has a long history of producing great abolitionists, writers and thinkers, including Elizabeth Freeman and W.E.B. DuBois.
The healthcare system in Pittsfield isn’t as robust as it is on the other side of the state closer to Boston. In fact, Pittsfield is closer to Albany, New York or Hartford, Connecticut than the Boston metro area. There is a local healthcare system though: Berkshire Healthcare Systems.
In normal times, the Boston Symphony Orchestra makes many Pittsfield appearances in the summer. The area also provides plentiful opportunities for engaging with the outdoors. The cost of housing is significantly lower than it is in the rest of the state.
Bozeman, Montana is roughly the same size as Pittsfield and Burlington. Set in a Rocky Mountain valley, it is a college town that increases in size when Montana State University is in session.
Hosting a university campus, Bozeman does have cultural opportunities for families in normal times. Located just north of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, there are plenty of opportunities for families to get outdoors.
Bozeman’s healthcare system isn’t particularly robust when compared to what you might find in a larger city. But it did start preparing for coronavirus earlier than most places in the nation.
There have been five hospitalizations in the county and one death as of June 8, 2020. These low numbers are still higher than what anyone would want to see, but the fact that they were not higher may in part be because of the local healthcare system’s willingness to take things seriously early. However, the local healthcare system can’t necessarily handle a boom in population in context of the corona virus even with preparation.
Housing is more expensive in Bozeman than Montana at large, but other expenses such as utilities and transportation run below the state average.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Morgantown, West Virginia is a slightly smaller town with a population just over 30,000. Being home to West Virginia University, there are plentiful medical specialists, and access to healthcare is notably better than it is in the rest of the state. The county has not recorded any coronavirus deaths as of June 8, 2020, and has only logged seven confirmed and potential cases. But that does not mean the area cannot be further impacted in the future.
Morgantown is nestled in the Appalachian mountains, with plenty of opportunities to venture into the wilderness. While it is not the cheapest town in West Virginia, its housing market is extremely affordable when compared to the rest of the country.
This is not an exhaustive list of great places to live and hopefully it cut a little bit off your research time.