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11 Facts you should know about small town living in Canada

Do you rather live in a small country town and put up with small crap than committing to city life? I have experienced both, the anonymous lifestyle of big cities as well as the tightly knitted communities of small towns and rural communities in Canada.

No matter what country you’re in, living in a small town and in a rural community has its challenges. In a small country town, the population is spread out in all directions. What you will find in these towns is community support and lots of friendliness. If you don’t want to become an outsider be sure to show up at community events and offer your free time to do volunteer work at some of the local clubs and organizations.

There were times when I would have preferred the anonymity of living in a big city instead of dealing with the hassle of a small town and rural living. Still, If you‘re like me and you appreciate to be surrounded by trees and nature instead of apartment buildings, living in a small town is your best option. Life in a small community has its advantages. You will find a slower pace and a more relaxed way of life, less traffic and pollution, you’re close to the big outdoors and you always know your neighbours.

1. Lack of job opportunities

One major disadvantage of small town living in Canada is the lack of job opportunities. But then again, small towns are ideal for Entrepreneurs; once you start looking, you will find opportunities at every corner. I suggest starting your own business.

2. Loneliness

You may consider moving to a small country town to make friends easier and to get away from a nagging loneliness. If this is the case, remember that your life in a small community can be a great deal lonelier than in a big city. Often people in small towns have little in common except the place of residence. Once loneliness strikes you may be on your own with nowhere to go.

3. A slower pace and more relaxed

Everything in a small town takes time. People take time and keep at their own pace. Small town living teaches you patience. Getting something repaired could take forever. Locals are super friendly in small Canadian towns.

Anybody offers you their life story if you bump into them on the street or in a queue at the local supermarket till. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean much in the end.

Soon you will realize that a majority of small-town residents are just like anywhere else. Regardless of the “Nice Canadian” label that gets promoted in the media, not every single Canadian is kind, honest, helpful, laid back, not even in small communities.

Small Town Living

4. Cost of living

Cost of living depends to a great deal on the location of the town. In most southern and central parts of Canada, you will find living in a small town to be cheaper than in a city. House prices are cheaper, rents are lower, and you have fewer opportunities to spend money on entertainment.

Transportation will likely cost you more if you work out of town. Food expenses in local stores can be horrendous because of the lack of competition. In northern communities, shockingly high food prices are caused because of the harsh climate and the expensive food transport from the south.

In the end, the cost of living depends on your lifestyle, whether you live in a city or small town. Apart from the main expenses, you can choose what house you want to live in, what size of car you want to drive and what luxuries you need in life.

5. Sorry

In Canada, saying “sorry” is a nicety and not a statement of personal accountability. It doesn’t mean anything and is used much too often in any situation. Bumping into someone you say sorry, someone bumps into you, as a Canadian you say sorry, if you’re mad at someone you say sorry. The bad news is that after living in Canada for a couple of decades I catch myself doing the same thing.

I’m sorry.

6. Gossiping

Gossiping is part of social life in all small communities. Everyone knows everyone; at least everyone seems to know you. People like to gossip, especially the ones who suffer from boredom and find nothing else to do. Everyone will know when you get laid off at work, cheated on, divorced, get pulled over by a cop, or had to take their pet to the vet.

If you are a newcomer, think twice before you gossip about anyone. Remember, in tightly knitted communities everyone is related somehow.

Small Town Living

7. Crime

According to the Police-reported crime statistics, 2017 rural areas have higher crime rates than urban areas. During my decades of small town living I know of many break-ins, murders, car thefts, sexual abuse, child abuse, drug busts, all happening in an idyllic small country town.

8. Small town folks don’t like being criticized

In the land of nice, people are too nice to tell you face to face if they don’t like something about you; instead, they will discuss it when you’re not around. Sometimes your Canadian friend just disappears from your life and you will never find out why.

Be thoughtful if you offer your opinion on things. A critic is not taken lightly by the majority of folks and it might cost you friendships in the end. Be careful not to offend anyone, Canadians are overly sensitive.

9. Yes, some small towns are cliquey

Often, it’s easier to get accepted into a small rural community if you’re willing to be like everyone else and always do the right thing. In this case, you will never realize how cliquey the town really is. The newcomers who frequently hit the local pub will most likely get accepted into the community.

10. Promises don’t mean anything

Saying NO is not the Canadian way since it can be perceived as unfriendly or unkind. It’s easier to say Yes and back out of it in the end.

Ask someone to drop in on the weekend, or phone you and meet for coffee, or invite them over for Sunday brunch. You most probably will get a Yes, even if the person already knows that he will not be there.

11. Locals and newcomers

The locals who have deep roots and have settled in town a few generations ago will always have it easier than you do as a newcomer. Most of these people have extended family in the area and a deep net of friends in various professions; they always will find help when needed.

You, as a newcomer, will have to prove your status first before you begin to belong. In the process to find your way around you soon will learn whom you can trust. Get insight into how things are supposed to be done around town and get involved with the locals if they let you.


Like always, my article is based on my personal experience only.

I have met wonderful individuals living in small country towns and learned to reach out to neighbours for help. As a single woman, I find obstacles in the way which you may never encounter. No matter what town in Canada you want to move to, they are all unique in many ways.

It’s amazing to have nature and wild critters in front of your door. I choose this over city life anytime.

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If you have additional tips about small town living you would like to share, please leave a comment below.

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Yrene Dee

Yrene lives in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places. I write about things I love. Mostely.


  1. Mona

    I loved your article very precise and helpful thank you for posting such helpful and honest insights. I would like to pick your brains more on that topic if you don’t mind please.

    Hoping to hear from you

  2. Shruti

    Great article Yrene , has thrown a lot of light on the many facts of country living for many new aspiring immigrants. I have been planning to come to Canada with my family. Would love to be in touch with you. Thanks

    • Yrene Dee

      Thanks for your nice comment. To get in touch, please send me an email via the contact form on my website.

  3. James

    As a small town Canadian who has been living throughout Europe for the past 8 years, these remarks are on target. I never noticed until I left Canada how overly friendly, sensitive and apologetic I was compared to the rest of the world :p

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