What to Expect When Moving from a Small Town to a Big City

By Samuel Brooks on July 6, 2018

If you are like me, moving to a big city, such as Grand Rapids, from a small town can be overwhelming at times—the increased amount of traffic, not knowing anyone, or only a few people, figuring out the culture and where you need to go—and also exciting as you begin a new adventure in your life.

I grew up in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Located west of Lansing, Grand Ledge consists of approximately 7,000 residents and its neighboring town to the west consists of approximately 500 residents. Even though I lived near Lansing, I stayed within the smaller communities and only traveled into the city when it was absolutely necessary.

In Grand Ledge, everyone knew each other. If a person did not know me personally, more than likely, they knew my family or close friends and vice versa. With that said, the connections tend to be closer in smaller towns, based on what I have experienced.

Prior to moving to Grand Rapids, I already had a few friends from high school residing in the metro area and my father lived near downtown. It is not like I did not know anyone in Grand Rapids before moving up here to finish my bachelor's degree, however, to move from an area of 7,000 residents to about 200,000 residents was stressful and overwhelming at first. Before transferring to Cornerstone University, I did not know anyone currently attending, so I was a "new fish in a big pond," so to speak. Uncertain. Overwhelmed. Anxious. And excited. I had a lot of mixed emotions!

To further break it down, I am going to list some other key differences, based on my personal experience.

  1. A city offers a full calendar of events. There's always something happening in the city—street performances, construction, protesting and concerts to name a few. Having grown up in a small town, I never experienced public protests, street performances, concerts or even construction (outside of annual road repairs).

    Prior to coming to Grand Rapids, I'd never seen a street performance where an individual was playing guitar and singing or hip-hop dancing for money. And I'd never seen a group stage a public protest in the streets until I traveled to the city.
  1. A city has plenty of public transportation options. Based on my experience, you can find a variety of ways to get around from point A to point B, whether it's by bus, taxi, subway or train.
  1. A city provides endless choices. The city offers a ton of choices when it comes to finding a job, shopping, eating out, entertainment and other activities.

    For example, when it comes to finding a place to eat out, Grand Rapids offers a wide variety. From fast food to Italian to Asian to classy and everything in between, with some more interesting than others, Grand Rapids, as opposed to being in a small town, has plenty of options.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are some major differences between living in the city versus in the country or a small town . . . personally, the air in the country is fresher compared to the city, since traffic volumes are light.

Based on my move from a small town to the city, I recommend finding things (e.g. school, community, church) that remind you of home to help you slowly ease into the transition. Getting connected with a church made a huge difference in helping ease my transition to life in Grand Rapids.

And be sure to take the opportunity to get out and explore the city; you never know what you may find!

Category: Student Perspectives