icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-user Skip to content
Senior Correspondent

Whether to retire in a large city or in a smaller community is a decision worthy of careful consideration. While both offer specific advantages, those advantages are quite different.

During Thanksgiving week, my wife and I were visiting family and friends in Southern California. One evening, as I drove on a freeway through Los Angeles, Wendy looked out the car window and remarked, “There’s so much of so much.” I thought about her comment for just a few seconds and replied, “Yes, that’s well said. There’s so much of so much.”

Certainly, our perspective had changed. For we were then looking at the big city in a way we weren’t able to just a few years earlier. We had lived in Orange County, some twenty-five miles from Los Angeles for four decades. But our residency in the big city ended almost six years ago.

In January of 2006, we left Southern California and have since enjoyed a seven month road trip around the U.S.A. and a year in South America (we worked voluntarily in the Peruvian Andes). Upon returning from South America, we settled just outside of a small town in Central Oregon. So while recently driving across Los Angeles, we were seeing the city with “a fresh pair of eyes.”

Wendy and I are happy to be retired in a smaller community. Though a “country boy at heart,” I had always lived either in a large city or in the suburbs of a large city. All the while, I yearned to live in a smaller community. So I’m delighted to be living eight miles outside of a town of 2,000 people. But, at the same time, I do recognize the advantages of retiring in a larger city.

Advantages of Retiring in a Larger City

For one, a larger city offers so very many choices — choices among restaurants, health clubs, live theatres, movie theatres, shopping malls, and a whole lot more. Educational opportunities at all levels in so very many subjects are also nearby. Larger cities also offer proximity to major airports with direct connections to numerous destinations. Opportunities for social interaction in clubs, discussion groups and associations are also numerous.

Advantages of Retiring in a Small Town

Smaller communities also have their advantages. For one, there’s living close to nature. From our dining room and living room windows we enjoy watching a great variety birds including quail, hawks, eagles and wild turkeys. Deer graze on the wild sage out in front of our house. From our back patio we can hear the creek down in the canyon below.

We’re close to so many outdoor activities. During the warmer months, we hike in the Cascade Mountains. We kayak in the nearby lakes and on the calmer portions of the Deschutes River. We also camp and fly fish at the nearby Metolius River. During the winter, we cross-country ski and snowshoe — at times from the front door of our house. 

At night, a zillion and a half stars light up the darkened sky. During daylight hours, the view of the mountains makes our eight mile drive into town an absolute delight. And speaking of driving, traffic, for us, is not an issue.

Small town living also offers a nice, personal touch. When I walk into our local post office, or a restaurant, or the bookstore, or the health club, the person working there greets me by name.

Yep, there are advantages to retiring in a larger city and also in a smaller town. How does that old saying go? — “You pays your money, you takes your choice.”

Stay Up to Date

Sign up for articles by Bill Birnbaum and other Senior Correspondents.

Latest Stories

Choosing Senior Living
Love Old Journalists

Our Mission

To amplify the voices of older adults for the good of society

Learn More