Buying a House in a Small Town Wasn’t What I Expected — It Was Better

published Oct 18, 2023
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Aerial view of road in beautiful autumn forest at sunny day. Beautiful landscape with empty rural road, trees with green, red and orange leaves. Highway through the park. countryside.
Credit: Nik Waller Productions / Shutterstock

It feels monumental to say this: We finally did it! After living in a mobile home for 10 years, saving for a down payment, working with a mortgage company who could accommodate the fact that we didn’t have a credit score, and searching listings for longer than I care to admit, my family and I bought our first home.

And it wasn’t exactly what I expected — it was better. 

We now live in a small town in rural Wisconsin where the saying “everybody knows everybody” holds true. (And if they don’t know you, they probably know someone you’re related to.) As a transplant who grew up in a much larger area where most people had relative anonymity, it’s taken me a while to get used to people knowing who I am or telling me they went to school with my husband. 

But buying a house in this small town still surprised me. Here are some of the comfy, cozy perks I enjoyed during the process.

My friend was our real estate agent.

My good friend was our real estate agent, and that made the process so much fun. We went to showings and talked about reality TV in between the serious business of deciding whether or not the house would be our home. After the first showing of the house we ended up buying, she said she just knew it was ours. Still, she listened to all my qualms and questions while pointing out how well it would work for our family. And it really does.

We got lots of well wishes from the community.

A few days after we signed our contract to purchase, I was walking up our driveway from the bus stop when I heard someone holler, “Hey! Congratulations on the house!”

One of my husband’s friends had slowed down on the highway we used to live on to yell his congratulations. The great thing was, when I told my husband, he said he hadn’t even told him! I felt like I was congratulated everywhere I went — the store, the pep rally, the park, even the road. It made everything feel even more exciting.

I went to a (touching) yard sale at my future home.

Before she moved, the seller of our home had a garage sale. I stopped by my future house and ended up buying a carpet shampooer — and just left it there for when we moved in. But the best part was when she asked if she could give me a hug (I’m not crying, you’re crying). We hugged, and I told her how excited we were to move in and raise our kids here. She told me how happy she was that we were able to buy it.

We scored a bit of free food.

A few weeks into the closing period, my agent emailed me saying that the seller wanted to know if we wanted her canned goods that she didn’t want to move. We did. So we ended up with lots of canned vegetables, quite a few boxes of Jell-O, a few pot pies, and a frozen pizza.

There was a bull in the pasture at one point.

No, this is not a metaphor. The day before we closed, I drove by the house and saw a bull in the pasture beside the house. I called the seller, and she said that it had been there for a few days. The owner had tried to move the bull with no luck — he was pretty ornery. They ended up being able to get him after about a week. (At which point, we could finally walk around the property!)