Moving Cross Country to a Small Town: My First Year

moving to a small town house

This week is the one year anniversary of my moving from a busy city in Southern California to a rural small town in Missouri.

My intention was to live a more simple life and be close to my 3 grandchildren. After 62 years as a SoCal girl I anticipated some culture shock and knew I had a lot to learn about my new way of life.

Looking back over this first year I feel that I have done well, but am also aware that I am in a process that will take some time.

What I Love

My son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren are just a few blocks away. We spend time together every Sunday as we go to church and then out to lunch. We also enjoy bonding over the kids school concerts, frozen yogurt, and other local events. One of my favorite things to do is to spend individual time with each of my grandchildren.

  • Thomas and I love to hike or go to movies.
  • Rebecca is my shopping buddy.
  • Chris, who is in college now, and I have interesting conversations.

Another thing I enjoy here is all the critters in my yard. I put food out for the squirrels and in exchange they keep me entertained all day. There are also rabbits and several species of birds, including a pair of red cardinals that visit every afternoon. One day in my backyard I was surrounded by butterflies flying in circles around me. It was a magical moment.

My back yard view extends across several fields and seems to go on forever. I love sitting out there and watching the fireflies in the evenings.


Most of the time it is very quiet here, making it easy to feel one with nature.

I have met some pretty amazing people. Everyone told me that moving to a small town is hard and it would take a long time to be accepted where everyone has known each other their entire lives. The trick is to be willing to volunteer and get involved. I joined a group of local women who serve the community and am on the Library Board as well. I’ve also found good people to chat with at the recreation center while working out in the morning.

One of the pleasant surprises is that you can’t get bored here. There is always something going on in this small town to keep us entertained.

What I’ve Learned by Moving Here

I don’t need to buy as much as I thought to prepare for winter. There were many things I spent money on that were either not used or didn’t wear well, especially clothes. We had a mild winter so the snow shovel, window de-icer, and cleats for my shoes didn’t get used much, but I bet they will come in handy one of these days.

Decorating my house and yard won’t happen over night. My expectations may have been a little too optimistic, but I am making progress. Besides, I may not want to ever finish because I exploring flea markets and finding interesting things.

If I don’t park directly under the tree I won’t need to re-name my car, The Bird Poopmobile. It’s embarrassing that it took me almost a year to figure that out.

My small house is actually a little large for me. Two rooms are closed off almost all the time and I often forget they are there. One was supposed to be my office, but I would rather work at the kitchen table in front of a large window and watch the squirrels play. The other seems to be where I store house cleaning products and off season clothes. Maybe I should consider a tiny house if I move again.

Don’t pay attention to the weather man. There have been several severe storms, including a huge ice storm that were predicted and then never happened.

I am afraid of tornadoes. Really afraid. I don’t have a basement or shelter so when the sirens go off I end up in my bedroom closet shaking like a leaf.

And yet, I kind of love the thunder storms. They are magestic and powerful. It’s not unusual for me to sit on my back porch and watch them moving in.

There are a lot of bugs here. Some of them look pretty strange and others sing on summer evenings. And then, there is spider season. The most bothersome though are the mosquitoes because they really like me and I get big welts when they bite.

Paradigm Shifts

Pesticide is not always a bad thing. Before moving here, I was anti-pesticide for years so it took a lot for me to resort to using it. The last straw was an outbreak of fleas, probably caused by me bringing them into the house after being in the yard. Natural products weren’t working so I ended up spraying both my house and my yard. I also now spray myself with the least toxic stuff I could find when I go hiking or spend extended time outdoors. This is hard for even me to believe.

I now understand that tractors, lawn mowers, and golf carts are excellent ways to get around town.

Mother Nature is in charge. It can rain in the summer if she wants. And, if a storm comes or the power goes out, it’s no big deal. I can have some extra downtime with a good book. Anything that seemed important can be done later.

When I lived in CA I used to say I would never own a house with a lawn. But, I’ve learned that while mowing, raking, and other yard chores are work, there is a sense of satisfaction that comes when they are done.

In Conclusion

Sometimes I have moments of looking around me and feeling surprised that I am really here. Yet, when it is quiet except for the sound of birds singing or a breeze running though the trees, I know that I have come home.

I am proud of myself for having the courage to make this leap and jump into an entirely new life in what feels like a foreign land. And, I am grateful for the love, peace, and happiness that I feel here. At least, most of the time.

Related Posts:

My First Seven Months After Moving to a Small Town in Missouri

Scenes from a Small Town Morning Walk

Living the Small Town Life

My First Big Storm in Small Town Missouri

So Many Changes I’m at a Loss for Words

Road Trip Magic – Moving Cross Country

Leaving California

House image: © 2017 Linda Luke

4 thoughts on “Moving Cross Country to a Small Town: My First Year

  1. HEATHER WECK says:

    …this is so Lovely Linda !!!

    I will be moving at the end of July up to my Sister’s place, which is the 5 cities area of San Luis Obispo County. It is a No-growth County, very rural in many places still…much different than OC. Arith & her boyfriend will help me move, she has gone up there before with me….and likes it up there….she likes the miniature buffalo around the Mesa!

    • Linda Luke says:

      I hope all goes well with your move. I know you have been planning this for a long time and believe you will be happy there. That happiness is what I wish for you.

  2. Morgan says:

    This post caught my attention, as I recently (18 months ago) moved to a rural town in Colorado from El Paso. It sure is a culture shock, but a leap of faith and I, too have come to love many things about being in a rural area 🙂

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