Skip To Content

    People Are Sharing The Culture Shock They Experienced When They Moved From A Major City To A Rural Area (Or Vice Versa)

    "The way of life is drastically different. I'm having my first child at 31 and most of my old classmates who stayed in Farmville have 10 to 16-year-olds. I would have been considered a barren spinster if I stayed in Farmville."

    If you've ever moved from a major city to a small town (or the other way around), you know that culture shock is real. Whether you've relocated across the country, or simply miles away, these communities live extremely different lifestyles.

    I asked the BuzzFeed community to share their experiences moving from city to country, or country to city, and people had some wild things to say about the adjustment:

    1. "It's so weird having a grocery store five minutes away. The small town I grew up in was 30 minutes from a supermarket, McDonald's, Blockbuster, K-Mart, etc. You planned out trips to 'go to town'. When I moved to a city and the Walmart was almost within walking distance, my shopping habits changed to only buying what I needed and getting away from the huge shopping trips where my family would buy groceries for the month and freeze perishables until they were needed."

    2. "I moved to the middle of nowhere in Massachusetts from Los Angeles and before that Austin. I moved for a job in DEI and am the only person of color in senior leadership and one of about eight total BIPOC. The place is so small that the cafe and the post office are the same building. No delivery of anything but Amazon. The grocery store is about 25 minutes away. I get told that because I’m light-skinned and sound 'white', I get by here as long as I don’t say my name with the accent."


    3. "I've acclimated to a small mountain town after growing up in the city, and revisiting [the city] brings me anxiety. These days, I never lock my doors and often keep my car running for quick errands. The moment I drive into a city, I struggle to go through the motions of locking my door. Just the sheer amount of people puts me on high alert. I used to live in a downtown area and would hear ambulances, firetrucks, police cars, or helicopters and never miss a beat of sleep. Now, when I hear a siren, I instantly worry. They sound louder than ever because I’m not used to hearing them anymore."


    4. "[The biggest shock of moving from a small town to the city is] everything being so close yet so far away. Two miles in my hometown meant a 5- to 10-minute drive. One mile in Chicago can mean a 30- to 45-minute drive. Another shock is the lack of parking lots. Parking is definitely one of the biggest stressors of living in the city, along with traffic and high cost of living."

    5. "I moved from a suburb just outside of Minneapolis to the country and while it's nice and quiet, it stinks that the local grocery stores don't carry much. If there's something you want that they don't currently carry, you have to make a request and it may be fulfilled in a few weeks. Also, everything closes super early. Have a midnight craving? Too bad, there's food at home."


    6. "We moved from a moderate-sized city outside of Philly to literally the sticks outside of Lynchburg, Virginia. The culture shock was wild: people shooting off guns in the morning, roosters crowing, and the neighbor’s dogs roaming up to our property. [It would be a] 25-minute drive into Lynchburg to get to Target, Starbucks, or the mall, which felt like a strip mall compared to what I’m used to."


    7. "I was born and raised in a big city but ended up living outside a small town in rural Michigan. Honestly, it hasn't been bad. I miss the food, but not the traffic. I have woods outside my back door that actually change with the seasons, and even though it's definitely a conservative area, there are enough people who push against that agenda, and so I've also found a resilient progressive community here."


    8. "I moved from a suburb of a big city to a small town several towns over. [The biggest culture shock was how] everyone knows everyone else and their business. One time my roommate got sick, and I didn’t mention it to anyone. I had a coworker ask if I’d gotten sick too because they knew someone who knew someone who knew that my roommate was sick."

    9. "When I was seven, I moved from a small rural community in Northern Ontario to Ottawa. The whole experience left me pretty much traumatized. I could not speak a lick of English at the time, had to take a school bus on my own, [and was overwhelmed] by the sheer amount of kids at school, the size of the grocery store, the length of time it took to go places around the city, etc. We moved in the dead of winter and I got made fun of for wearing fur boots and mittens. I had never been teased by kids before. I retreated into myself and didn't make any friends until high school. Not that it was her fault, but my mom still feels terrible about it to this day."


    10. "I grew up in a town that had 6,000 people according to the town's sign, but my family used to swear that count included cattle. The most common field trips were to dairy farms and most of my classmates lived on a farm. I've since laid down roots in L.A. and am constantly reminded that the air may smell, but it doesn't smell like cow shit. Now, I have a choice of at least five different supermarkets within a mile of my home (not even including the ethnic markets) instead of one. The way of life is drastically different. I'm having my first child at 31 and most of my old classmates who stayed in Farmville have 10 to 16-year-olds. I would have been considered a barren spinster if I stayed in Farmville."

    —Claire, Los Angeles

    11. "I grew up in a diverse environment where if you had to get something done, you did it. When I moved after the pandemic to the Catskills, it felt like I was trapped in a time loop. Everyone seems to be stuck in molasses up here. You need a key copy made? It'll be done in two weeks. Need two gallons of paint? They need the weekend to make it for you. Need groceries on a budget? The closest major retailers are a 30-minute drive away. The grocery store in town can jack up their prices because it's the only one locally. All these little things add up, which is why I'm thankful for moving soon."

    —Raven, from the city to the Catskills

    12. "I moved from Washington, D.C. to Alabama for work. In my industry, the opportunity was a big deal. I could not get over how confused people would get when I told them I moved by myself (just me and my cat) for my career and not because of a husband or boyfriend. I was only 23 at the time. The upside was a much shorter, less stressful commute to the office, and while it was strange at first, it was nice to have strangers say 'hello' while passing in public."

    13. "I grew up in a rural southern farm community. In my 20s (I’m now in my 40s), I moved to a major west coast city and have lived in major metropolitan areas ever since. The two biggest culture shocks were having access to 'stuff', and being able to walk places. Growing up, we had to plan an overnight weekend trip to go shopping for clothes at a mall because the closest midscale retail mall was hours away. I grew up with one grocery store and one gas station and one high school for the whole town. To say I was shocked and delighted is an understatement. Also, the only place I could walk growing up was to my grandmother's house on the other side of the property. Driving to school took half an hour. Moving to a walkable neighborhood was incredible! I live in the suburbs now, but a very walkable one because I have grown to value that foot-based freedom so much!"


    14. "Moved from San Francisco to rural upstate New York in 2015. I had no idea there were so many stars in the sky!! But also I couldn’t hold hands with my girlfriend because they still didn’t accept gays there…"


    15. "Moved from Columbus, Ohio to a small town in the Florida Panhandle in 2004. Want to go see a movie? You have to drive 30 to 45 minutes to the theater. Looking for a Walmart? It’s only about 20 miles away. No food delivery, no mass transit/taxis/Uber/Lyft. Perhaps the biggest shock is that you are no longer anonymous. You can't go anywhere without bumping into someone who knows you. People are incredibly friendly, but everyone in town knows when your 7-year-old has head lice, or when your teenager says a grown-up word in church, or when your debit card is declined at the local grocery store. It’s a big adjustment!"


    16. "I moved from Los Angeles to farmland in Idaho. The biggest shock was how nice people were. Neighbors helped neighbors, not honking car horns was an unspoken rule, and random people would just start up a conversation like you were old friends. Some negatives were how much they don’t like outsiders and that they can be very political."

    Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

    Do you prefer city living or rural living? Tell us in the comments below!