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How to Live the Small-Town Lifestyle

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Learn out Eva's tips for living the small-town lifestyle in Julian, CA on the Mountain Made Blog
This photo is copyright of Jennifer Gutierrez. © 2019 - 2022 by Jennifer Gutierrez.

Photo Location: Crooked Pine Farmhouse

Living the small-town lifestyle is so much more than your zip code. It is a true way of life with its own cultures and customs. No two towns are the same. Where you live in Julian or another community, I’m sure your hometown will share similar cultural costumes as my hometown.


Volunteerism is at the heart of our community. It literally is what keeps the greater Julian community alive. In small communities like ours, most local groups depend solely upon teams of volunteers to help them do their work. Our locally run organizations provide essential services, offer help to worthy causes, help people in need, and support the community as a whole. Without donations and volunteer hours, this wouldn’t be possible.


Shopping local is so important for the long-term survival of our community. By remaining loyal to local businesses, you help en­sure a healthy and balanced economy, and happy residents, employers, and employees. Local businesses are owned and operated by our neighbors who care about and are invested in the well-being of the community and its future. Supporting them is a great way to show you care about the town. Regular shopping with local businesses is a sign of respect towards the efforts of business owners who work every day to make an honest living. The more we shop local, the more of a variety of unique products business owners will be able to carry. By buying local goods we can help secure our neighbors’ jobs and ensure that Julian’s small-town charm is preserved for the people to enjoy for generations. Without local business on (and off) Main Street, the Julian we all know and love couldn’t survive.


The general rule of thumb is that when you pass by a car in the non-touristy areas like neighborhoods, you wave. When you're outside and you cross paths with someone else, you greet them in a friendly way. If you see someone you know, you are expected to greet them in a friendly way, every single time. Whether that’s waving to them as you pass on the road, or having a small talk conversation when you see them face to face, be overly friendly! Why are we so overly kind? Because it’s what small-town neighbors do. Don’t be a grinch! Our neighbors are what make up our community and the glue that holds us all together.


Being neighborly is expected. Good neighbors are friendly, trustworthy, respectful, and helpful. Kindness doesn’t cost you anything, so pass it around generously. A huge weight is lifted off of your shoulders knowing your package will be on your porch when you get home. When you run out of milk, sometimes you can’t just run to the store, so you ask a neighbor without hesitation. Look out for your neighbor and they will look out for you. Don’t be the bad apple on the street. Maintain your yard. Keep the noise down. If you see trash on the ground, pick it up. Interneighborly dependence is a real thing. In small towns, there’s not always the government there to help out a friend. Small favors go a long way in this neck of the woods.


In small towns, we have a looser interpretation of rules...within reason of course. In the city, there are overly nosy tattletale neighbors who call all shorts of bureaucrats and have them make sure you’re in line. In small towns, we do not turn people in for every little thing. The deal is kinda like as long as no one is disturbing the peace, I won’t turn you in so don’t turn me in. A word from the wise: tattletales usually don’t stay long in these parts.


We do not turn a blind eye to our neighbors. We lend a hand. When you see a need, fill it or help find someone who can. The individuals who live here hold the community up.


There is no such thing as a quick trip to “bank.” Every errand takes time. Yes, we all have to drive an hour to the store only to find out we forgot something when we get home. The only way to preserve your time is to plan ahead. Use a calendar to stay on top of community events and to plan city errands. Keep a running grocery list. You’ll get the hang of it.


In sleepy little towns, things move at a slower pace. That includes the merchandise on store shelves. Independent store owners have a tough task of trying to keep a large variety of fresh options on their shelves. Out of date items often fall through the cracks. (I’ve received out of date items from big box stores.) It’s best to get in the habit of checking dates before you buy items. For some newcomers, it’s a bit of a cultural shock, but in the big scheme of things, it’s only a minor inconvenience.


When you make the move from the city to a small town, you will be flooded with culture shocks. We do things differently around here. Just because something is an inconvenience doesn’t mean it’s worth complaining about it on the local Facebook group—that probably won’t solve the problem. I highly recommend respectfully confronting a business or individual about a problem. It’s a mature way to handle a situation. Just be fully aware that nothing may change. Life is different in small-towns. Buttercup, somethings you just have to suck up and live with.

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