Recruiting new residents: help them find out they’ll love your town

Two young women are all smiles in downtown Alva, Oklahoma.

How do folks find out that your town is the perfect place that they will be happy living? Photo by Becky McCray.

Now that we have research showing that people are wanting to move to small towns, how do you let people know your doors are open? You can use these frameworks for thinking and online tools to help people find out that they will love your town.

What matters in a town? 

“What makes a community a desirable place to live? What draws people to stake their future in it? Are communities with more attached residents better off?” Those are the framing questions of the Soul of the Community site, showcasing research by Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Three main qualities attach people to place: social offerings, such as entertainment venues and places to meet, openness (how welcoming a place is) and the area’s aesthetics (its physical beauty and green spaces).”

Most small towns have the assets in place to score well on these measures. Read more about it: Soul of the Community

Help people conduct a “values audit”

You’ll be happier in a town that suits your lifestyle and values. And for people fleeing the big city, small town values are often a welcome change. Here’s a New York Times piece about conducting a values audit on a town before moving. 43 Questions to Ask Before Picking a New Town.

Taking what you learned about what matters in the Soul of the Community, and adding in more about lifestyle and values, it’s time to change everything about how you describe your town online.

Help me pick

Because many people who consider moving out of big cities don’t know where they want to go, there are a number of online tools designed to help them pick a new location. The best of them offer something of a values audit, in a short form.

You can look through these tools, and then refer people to them from your own website. Yes, they might find some other town to live in, but wouldn’t you like to attract people who really are a great match?

Find Your Spot (US)
A fun online quiz figures out what qualities and characteristics matter to you, and then serves up some potential matching places. In fact, the first question is city vs. country, with this small town option: “I like a nice small town full of good character and good people.” Right on!

I Want to Move To a Small Town (Australia)
What started as a comprehensive list of towns, is now more of a tribute to what’s great about small towns with practical information for anyone considering a move. Full of personality and fun.

dwellr from the US Census bureau
“Uses your preferences to create a list of top 25 places and gives you information about each one.”

While they promise to cover “the bright lights of the big city or wide open spaces,” small towns have to have at least 5,000 population at the last census to be included. But still, it’s pretty cool that it’s a mobile app for iPhone and Android. And you can use your current location to get local stats if your place is over 5,000.

What do you think about putting your town’s values on display?

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.
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