Life in a Small Town

We haven’t really lived here in Riverton, Wyoming long enough to talk about life in a small town. Not really. But there are a few things I have learned. And not just here and now.

prescott, arizona... i love this town! (With images) | Prescott arizona, Prescott  az, Prescott
(pinterest.es) Downtown Prescott, AZ. Gurley Street looking toward Thumb Butte.

When we first moved to the Prescott area of Arizona in 1993, compared to where we had previously lived (Walnut/Diamond Bar area of southern California), it was a small town. Even so, 28 years ago the city of Prescott and the town of Prescott Valley combined had maybe five times more people living there than Riverton does today. But it contrasted so greatly with the greater SoCal experience (you know, how one city sort of blends into the next one with little definition and so you feel like you are living squished in with several million other people) that it felt like a small town.

10 for 10: Prescott, AZ - True West Magazine
(truewestmagazine.com) Whiskey Row (Montezuma) in downtown Prescott, jammed with people. Couldn’t find any photos from the 1990s. Sorry. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

In 1993, you could walk down the main street of Prescott and expect to see maybe a couple of other people doing the same. More often than not, pleasantries would be exchanged and might turn into a full-fledged conversation over a cup of coffee.

It took all of about 15 to 20 minutes to get from our house in Dewey to downtown Prescott. There was one traffic signal in Prescott Valley and only a couple in Prescott. When we left the area, it took a full 45 minutes or more to travel the same distance. I lost count of the traffic signals. There were just too many.

I remember that just before we left Walnut in California to move to Arizona, I worked at a shop in a mall that was six miles from our condo. It took me half an hour to make that drive and it would have been longer if I had gotten on the freeway. Morning rush hour in southern California was brutal. I can’t imagine what it must be like now.

SENIORS TRAVEL TO RIVERTON, WYOMING | Senior Citizen Travel
(seniorcitizentravel.com) Main Street in Riverton, WY.

So here we are now, in Riverton in Wyoming. The population tops out at about 11,000. The speed limit on the two main streets is 30 miles per hour. And even at that it only takes about five minutes to get to Wal-Mart from our house and maybe ten minutes to get to the far western end of Main Street where the Smith’s grocery store is.

May 5th meeting agenda for the Riverton City Council | County 10™
(county10.com) Riverton is in Fremont County and the number for Fremont County is 10. It’s on the license plates too. City Hall is in a small strip mall along with a Murdock’s Ranch and Home store. On one of the walks that we take with our dog, Maddie, we can look down the street and see Murdock’s.

We can walk to City Hall if we want to. There are a number of shops within walking distance. It’s like another world. Shoot, we could even walk to Wal-Mart if we had the need (it does snow here and the roads can be a bit icy sometimes). It’s not that far.

All the people we have met in our neighborhood and in professional capacities have been kind, friendly and very helpful. It was like that in the Prescott area in 1993 as well. But as the population boomed there, it became less and less so.

I’ve stayed in touch (well golly, we’ve only been gone for about a month) with friends in Arizona. Several of them have said how unhappy they are with the way things are going. The influx of people from California is changing the whole esthetic. It’s not a new complaint.

When we first moved to Arizona, you didn’t really want to tell people where you had come from if you came from California. Even back then, the locals were not happy with the changes that we brought with us. What they didn’t realize was that not all of us who relocated wanted to bring California with us. Some, like us, wanted to leave it far behind. We didn’t move there for the beneficial difference in house values. We moved there for the difference in life values.

While it’s true that part of our motivation for moving to Riverton, Wyoming was financial, it wasn’t the only reason. We were once again looking for those life values we lost with the burgeoning population of the Quad Cities (Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Dewey-Humboldt). We are pretty sure we have found them once again.

But we are not the only people to have discovered Riverton. There are others moving here as well. Some of them from California.

My hope is that they are also looking for a better way of living.

Small town life isn’t for everyone. Living within city limits is taking some getting used to (more traffic driving by our house all day long, street lights lighting up the night sky making it hard to see the stars). And there’s no Costco. There isn’t a Costco anywhere in Wyoming. But for sure, we’ve found what we were looking for. A quieter life. Friendly people. Great weather. Ease. I can do without Costco for all that.

I don’t know if all small cities are great, but this one sure is.

Published by Dianne Lehmann

I'm a writer. But I'm also a wife and a mom to a couple of fur babies. You could call me a cook (but never a chef, I'm not that good) and provisioner as well. Laundress? Yeah. Probably. I design jewelry and I crochet. But mostly I love to write. I love words and how they sound. I love their meanings and origins. I love stringing them together. And of course, I love to read. Thinking about it just now, I realize that what I love most is life and the people around me with a special place set aside for my wonderful husband, our adorable dog and our inscrutable cat. It's the world and the people in it that fuels my writing. So thanks to you all for being the amazing beings that you are.

3 thoughts on “Life in a Small Town

  1. We left So Cal for Arizona less than one month ago. We aren’t bringing CA with us but wanted to escape what it has become. Good luck in Wyoming in your small town. I grew up in a town of 5,000 in Washington state. Looking back, it was a great experience but as a teenager I didn’t appreciate it.

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    1. I think it will always be hard for a teenager to be happy in a small town. I would have to guess that the SoCal of today still contrasts just as sharply with the AZ of today as it did in 1993. Before we left, we met a number of our new neighbors who just came from SoCal. They were very happy to be in AZ.
      So what part of AZ did you move to?
      My sister moved a little over a year ago. She was still living in the San Bernardino area. He company moved to TN and she went with. Her new hometown is Murfreesboro and she really likes it.
      I feel sad for California. There was a time when everyone wanted to live there and moved there from all over the country. My mom grew up in Ohio and my dad grew up in Iowa. Other relatives followed both of them to California. I feel that the state has sort of lost its way. Hopefully, it will find it again.
      Thanks so much for reading and for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We moved from Palm Springs to Carefree. Palm Springs was a beautiful place to live, but it’s turned into a hot spot for tourists and our house was downtown. We were getting noise from local hotels, bars and restaurants. All during COVID, the place is swarming with tourists Los Angeles. We have friends in Prescott who moved there from Palm Desert. My husband was third generation Californian with his grandmother in the first class that allowed women at UCLA. They have quite a family history and it took a lot for us to move and leave it all behind. But in reality, CA left us and our values years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

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