Things I’ve Learned Not to Panic About Living in a Not-Town

I live in Angwin. When I tell most people this, they think I’m saying “England”, which I’m not sure says more about my speech or more about their hearing.

It’s technically a town. It has a post office, a grocery store, a tiny hardware store, bookstore for the college, a credit union, and a gas station. There’s a multitude of neighborhoods down rutted, long ago paved roads and hairpin turns, houses in the midst of quiet, green scenery. But, it does not have any stoplights. There are no sidewalks once you get past where the college and aforementioned businesses are located. Verizon claims most of the residents’ cell phone service, and sometimes that is a little sketchy. The rent is cheaper.

I grew up in Stockton, which is by any means a city, if not now a large city. Most things are within a ten to fifteen minute drive, if that. There are restaurants, shopping, several banks, two shopping malls (across the street from each other, don’t ask) and okay-paved roads—people pass through and since the road gets bad they realize they’re in Stockton—but you get the picture. City vs. small town. Probably a large difference.

Therefore, I’ve had to slowly learn some things not to panic about living here. Here are just a few of my observations.

1. If the air smells strongly like something burning, don’t worry. It’s just a pile of wood and brush your neighbor is burning on their land. No big deal.

2. If there’s a couple of deer on the lawn when you get to your house, it’s okay. They’ll either run away when your headlights shine on them or stare at you while you go to your door.

3. I used to wonder why people backed into their driveways. Less than a week after I moved into my apartment, I nearly got hit when a car came around the blind corner and slammed on their brakes, while I frantically tried to punch my transmission from reverse to drive.

I always back into my driveway now.

4. My mailbox is relatively far from my apartment. I have to cross the street and walk down about twenty feet to get to it (I could be completely off-base on twenty feet, be warned).  This panicked me a little at first, if you might remember the aforementioned blind corner, and I leave my house when the sun is just coming up and get home when it’s dark. Flashlight on iPhone, jogging across and running in the shoulder is my solution. Or just not checking it until it’s convenient. One of the two.

5. Because of the aforementioned lack of sidewalks, a lot of people walk a little closer to the center of the road than I feel comfortable with (especially because of the also aforementioned blind corners). When I come upon people walking on the wrong side of the road, walking their dog when it’s dark and they are wearing dark clothing and the only thing I can see is blonde hair, it’s going to cause a slight bout of “OH NO!” and slamming my brakes although I’m only driving about 30 mph.

There are probably more than these. But ultimately, I enjoy living in Angwin. It’s quiet, it’s quirky, it’s unique, it’s a place you tell stories to other people about and a place you exchange stories about with people who either do or have lived there. It’s the place I spent my college career. It’s where I live.

Do you live in a small town or a big city? What pros and cons do you notice? Do you like where you live? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned Not to Panic About Living in a Not-Town

  1. Charleen says:

    I currently live in Dubuque, IA, which is technically a city, but since I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, I still can’t really call it that with a straight face. It honestly has a very similar feel to the suburbs; the difference is once you leave. Back home, if your town doesn’t have a particular store or food chain, you just drive 10-15 minutes until you find one that does. Not to mention having the city right there (not that I took advantage of that as much as I should have). Here, if Dubuque doesn’t have what you’re looking for… you either do without, or drive a lot longer than 15 minutes. It really does have pretty much anything you NEED… just maybe not all that you WANT, especially when you’ve been spoiled from living in a major metropolitan area your entire life.


    • Samantha says:

      Haha, I completely understand the being spoiled by living in a metropolitan area. Although I’m usually not the one going, “We have to drive 45 minutes to reach the nearest In-N-Out?! *gasp*” because at this point, I’m pretty used to it. For Angwin, for anything remotely close to “everything you need,” it’s still a 15-20 minute drive down the mountain to St. Helena, which has more, but the best option is heading to Napa or Santa Rosa (which actually have a Target or a Wal-Mart, or a shopping mall, or more than one hardware store….

      Thanks for stopping by! 😀


  2. loving family says:

    Hi! Small town it is, or village maybe. Close to less small towns and a university about 20 minutes ride away makes it cheaper to live here too. A lot of academics move here for the peace and quiet, but also lots of craftsmen, oldschool farmers families and a few stray Hillbillys live here.
    We have no traffic lights either, but two grocery stores, a hardware store and a library actually, but not much more. Except for beautiful surrounding, and that’s what I love most about this place. I just came back from some sled riding with my kids – we have a field and a small hill just at the end of our small street. There were 3 deer yesterday, munching away on a neighbors old apples. A wolf have been spotted last week, just outside the village.
    We know our neighbors pretty well,the kids play and the rest of us hang out, help each shop groceries when ill or pick up kids sometimes, we co-travel, and exchange craftsmen. The men rebuild each others houses. I can I knock on the door and leave a spare plant, then get invited for coffee, and leave with a kid or two, sometimes my own.
    It’s a good community, really – if you’re okay with a lack of anonymity. It’s not like we have open doors or no secrets, we’re not that close, but friendly enough and I like that. It’s a kind of safety in case of any emergency.


    • Samantha says:

      Your community sounds like a nice place to live. I’m not usually one to show up at my neighbor’s front door to introduce myself, plus if it wasn’t for living in an apartment complex, most of my neighbors are fairly far away. It’s good to know that there are still communities like yours where neighbors know each other, it seems in a lot of places that is no longer the case.

      Thank you for stopping by my blog 🙂


  3. Andreas Heinakroon says:

    I grew up in Stockholm, Sweden which is not a very big city, but it feels bigger than its 1.4 million inhabitants would suggest.

    And now I live out in the sticks, but it’s not the first time I lived in the countryside so I’m quite used to it. And I do enjoy the abundant space and wildlife out here.

    I still sometimes miss the busy hustle and anonymity of a big city, and like to go to Stockholm as often as I can (which, to be fair, isn’t very often at all).


    • Samantha says:

      I like the busy hustle of the city too, I’d love to live in San Francisco, or New York, Chicago, etc. at some point in my life. But at the moment I don’t mind the isolation, peace and quiet and scenery that I enjoy. It’s just difficult being so far away from everything 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Andreas! 🙂


  4. coyotero2112 says:

    Small towns untie – I mean, unite. I live at the end of the line on the beach in Costa Rica. No addresses…no pavement…cows roam freely (not long ago I watched two lock horns in the middle of the road in front of my place…there was no traffic jam). I walk in the center or roads…a great experience that everyone should have stored away.


So...what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s