Note: This post is a direct response to Financial Samurai’s post The NBA Finals Proves Location Matters For Success.
If you’re too lazy to link through, let me give you the gist of the post. Sam argues that anyone who wants to be successful had better move to a large metropolitan center. The opportunities are there, the jobs are there, and most importantly the big cities are where the money is. Why would somebody live in a small town when all the action is in the big city?
As someone who lives in a small town, I witnessed many of my peers speeding off to the lights of the big city as soon as they were able. Some parlayed that into an interesting journey and a successful career. Some didn’t succeed at their dreams and ended up back in town, doing whatever to make ends meet.
Apart from that group are those of us that never left the small town in the first place. Some people might say we were scared of the unknown, that we just couldn’t take a risk. We’d argue that the security and familiarity are more important to us than going off to new adventures in a faraway city. Like any major choice in life, there are pros and cons.
The small town I live in has real estate that is half the value of the nearest big city. If housing costs 25% of your budget, you can immediately make 12.5% less and own an equivalent house. If you live in the suburbs of any major city, chances are you commute 30-45 minutes to your job. I can drive clear across town in 7 minutes. I save thousands in gas and car maintenance by living where I do. There’s no arguing that the cost of living is better in a small town.
Then there’s the career options. Yes, if you want to work in upper management of a large company, the opportunities will be in the cities. Yet how about the countless teachers, nurses, accountants and postal workers? Nobody can try to argue that those people would be better off in a larger city that has a higher cost of living.
As my Dad likes to say, the amount someone spends is much more important than what they earn. It is very possible for someone with a regular job, making a regular salary to retire wealthy. I’d argue that the type of long term saving that makes that dream possible is much easier living in a small town than a big city.
If a hometown guy decides to start a business, they immediately have an advantage over a new resident starting out. Making sales is a whole lot easier if you have a prior relationship with the buyer. Relationships built up over time gain a trust, a trust that becomes important during a business transaction. If a prospective client doesn’t know the business owner, chances are they know his parents, siblings or some other relative. Don’t underestimate this advantage to the hometown boy.
Then there’s the stress of living in a large city. If you enjoy living in the city, you’ll find these arguments ridiculous. I hate the amount of traffic that I have to deal with in the city. I enjoy the relative security of my small town. I enjoy going to the grocery store and not being among throngs of strangers. There are unique opportunities in small towns, often there will be little to no competition in any given field.
Like any major choice in life, there is no choice that is correct for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who craves the prestige and salary that an upper management job can only bring, then by all means head to the city. And if you’re the type of person who wants to work a blue collar job and doesn’t much care for driving an imported car or living in a large house, then I’d argue that perhaps you’re better off living in a small town.
At the end of the day, life is much more complicated than a blog post. There are many paths toward wealth and financial independence. As long as somebody is taking the right steps towards financial success, I don’t give two craps where they live. Nobody else should care either. Wherever somebody ends up, the important part is that they’re happy.