Small Communities and Quality of Service

If you’re from a small community you may have heard people saying things like:

  • If you want a really nice meal you have to go to the city. This place is alright for diner fare but nothing fancy.
  • I always get work done on my vehicle in the city because these local guys don’t really know what they’re doing.
  • If you need to see a doctor for anything important, you better go to the city. If the people here were good enough they’d already be there.
  • We’re thinking of moving to the city so my kid can get a good coach and play at a higher level.
  • I’m not sending my kids to the community college so they can have some overpriced piece of paper no one recognizes. Then they’ll end up stuck here like we are.
  • All the good teachers just use this place as a stepping stone until a position opens up in the city.
Photo credit: US Army Africa / / CC BY

Does the quality of this doctor’s services depend on where he lives?
Photo credit: US Army Africa / / CC BY

Now imagine:

  • You own the local restaurant or the local garage.
  • You’re the doctor who chose to practice medicine in the small town.
  • You’re the local coach who volunteers your time.
  • You’re the local college instructor.
  • You’re the teacher who couldn’t get a job in the city or could but chose not to go.


Can the quality of this chef's food be determined by the community in which it was cooked? Photo credit: liber / / CC BY-SA

Can the quality of this chef’s food be determined by the community in which it was cooked?
Photo credit: liber / / CC BY-SA

How does a professional or a business owner in a small community overcome (or live with) the mentality that the quality of services is often better in the city?



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  1. Shawn says:

    I live in a small town, and work in the city (MSP). I drive 45-65 minutes each way to get to my clients, because this is where the work is for the type of work I do (Information Technology).. Sure, there are great restaurants in MSP that I can’t find in my small town, but there are some gems out near me as well.

    I trust the mechanic in the small town, because I see him at the kids soccer games and he’s willing to lend a hand any time. I go to church with my kid’s pediatrician, and he’ll make house calls to check on the kids, and save me a trip to the clinic.

    Some of the new teachers at our kid’s school went to school in that town, they do an excellent job, and they are there to stay. There’s a very personal connection that I see in our schools that I don’t see in Minneapolis. Yes, the teachers in Minneapolis are concerned and care about the students, but looking to the graduation rates of Minneapolis or St Paul versus my community is night and day. There’s a higher level of parental involvement in our community as well, which I believe is tied to those rates.

    There’s a smaller, more personal connection in the small town, I think. That draws me there.

  2. Brad the Dad says:

    Being a small town guy growing up, and living in the suburbs now, I’m totally behind the local guys in all but one category – doctors. And not even talking about the routine family practice stuff, but rather the “holy sh*t” situations. We had a scare with our little guy when he was about 1 and a half and I just had a weird feeling the whole time we were dealing with our local practice. They were scaring the hell out of us with their assessment, but something never felt right to me. Eventually they said, “We are sending you into Boston,” and aside from the worst 30 minute drive of my life into the city, Boston Children’s Hospital diagnosed and called off the panic alarm in under 2 hours. Their advanced level of expertise, professionalism, and bedside manner was apparent from the minute we walked into the building. Children’s will always have a special place in my heart for this, and going forward if there is ever situation that I feel is beyond my local practice, I’m taking us into Boston.

    • Shawn says:

      Brad, you’re spot on with the “holy shit” situation. When my K had been sick at the beginning of June (which fizzed our summer trip plans), the first trip was to urgent care at the next small town over. The next day,when I needed the ER, I went the other way to a larger city. I didn’t even consider the ER in the first small town. I didn’t come to Minneapolis to Children’s Hospital, but went to St Cloud instead. I felt confident in their ability to diagnose and it was spot on.

      In terms of the fear, I too was out of my mind until we got the diagnosis. I wondered how parents with chronically ill kids do it, but I guess you gird up for that battle mentally if it happens.

      • Brad the Dad says:

        I truly wondered the same thing to, about how those parents do it. As we were driving into Boston, and aside from thinking about the health of my son, that was my other prevailing thought – is this our life now? Am I strong enough to deal with this? How do others, like the ones you hear on the radio/tv during fundraisers with the upbeat/positive/strong attitude, even wake up in the morning? I’m still daunted by the fact that I simply had to face these thoughts, and can’t even image facing them as a reality. Crazy stuff to ponder. Crazy, crazy stuff.

        Glad all turned out well for your family and thoughts and well wishes for those families in which it was otherwise.

  3. Growing up in a number of small towns way up North in the middle of nowhere , these phrases were said a lot. One town had a nurse, but the doctor only visited once a week. This caused lots of issues as my little brother had extremely bad asthma and allergies which meant lots of flying out to the nearest city when he was a baby.
    I spent most of my time in a little city of 18000 people (Yellowknife, NT). The closest place of any size was a 2 hour flight or 18 hour drive, so we couldn’t really do much with the apparent shortfalls that folks would complain about. We had a couple of great restaurants, the mechanics were always good, and the doctors were decent. B/c it was so small there was a definite lack of specialists so everyone had to fly to Edmonton for anything specialized.

    I would say that there was a definite lack of higher level things as kids got older. We didn’t have the advanced classes in high school and we didn’t have the high caliber coaching or teams to support athletes who were able/wanted to compete at the higher levels. When you don’t have the population to draw from, or to draw those who can offer those services, there is a gap. I think that’s the only drawback, at least in my experience growing up.

    As such, it is also what is stopping uafrom moving out into the country or to a small town now. They just don’t have the programs (particularly educational) in the rural school divisions that they offer in the city. Now I understand that doesn’t really matter until high school or so, but still a consideration that keeps us from moving out there (despite my wanting to, but that’s just b/c I hate living in the city. I’m a small town boy. lol)

This is what I think...


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