What It’s Really Like Moving to a Small City

Anthropologie Dotted Off the Shoulder Dress - What It's Really Like Moving to a Small City by popular Virginia life and style blogger, Alicia Tenise
Warby Parker Cleo Glasses - What It's Really Like Moving to a Small City by popular Virginia life and style blogger, Alicia Tenise
Death and Taxes Mural Raleigh - What It's Really Like Moving to a Small City by popular Virginia life and style blogger, Alicia Tenise
Best Murals in Raleigh - What It's Really Like Moving to a Small City by popular Virginia life and style blogger, Alicia Tenise
Polka Dot Dress for Summer and Fall - What It's Really Like Moving to a Small City by popular Virginia life and style blogger, Alicia Tenise

Small City Outfit Details:

Dress: Anthropologie | Bag: Similar | Shoes: Dolce Vita (also here) | Sunglasses: ℅ Warby Parker
If you’re new here, I moved from Philly to Charlottesville about three weeks ago. The main reason? Some dude. (I kid, Tom is a lot more than some guy!)
My background? I was born in Baltimore, and I relocated to the D.C. ‘burbs when I was five years old. My suburb alone had over 100,000 people living in it, even though I grew up 25 miles south of the District. I hated living in the suburbs though, and when I was ready to go off to college, I knew I wanted to go to school in a city rather than being out in the middle of nowhere. I went to Drexel for 2.5 years in Philadelphia, spent six months in New York City interning at a few fashion houses, then finished up my degree at VCU in Richmond (Drexel was expensive AF, so we had to opt for state school). I moved back to D.C. after graduation and lived there for four years, spent a year in Philly, and now I’m here in C’Ville.
Charlottesville is hands down the smallest city I’ve ever lived in, so it’s already been quite the transition for me so far. There are a lot of pros and cons with moving to a small city, and I wanted to get real and share some of them in today’s post.
Pro: The Traffic (Or Lack Thereof)
When I moved to Charlottesville, some natives warned me about the traffic in town. I had to refrain from laughing everytime someone complained about the traffic here — the worst traffic I’ve had to sit through in Charlottesville doesn’t even begin to compare to what I went through in D.C. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to make a 4-mile drive in about 10 minutes, and guys, it is WILD. I don’t know what to do with all this extra time now!
Con: Needing a Car Again
I was car-free while I was in Philly, mainly because my car got totaled ten days before the big move. It turns out I didn’t need a car in Philly, at all. Parking in my old neighborhood was pretty miserable, and I lived within walking distance of great restaurants, bars, and the grocery store. I miss being a 5-minute walk from pretty much everything and saving by not needing car insurance or not having car payments! On the upside, there is Uber/Lyft in Charlottesville, but unfortunately, I do not live within walking distance of anything at my new residence.
Pro: People are Friendly
This is probably because I technically live in the South now, but wow — people here are SO NICE. I’m not used to this, at all. Most of the time, people in D.C. were only nice to you if they thought you were someone they could network with (and use to get ahead, ahem!) People here are just down to earth and super friendly and very genuine.
Con: You Can’t Burn Any Bridges
The downside of moving to a small city? The smaller the population, the more likely it is that you’ll run into someone you know. I haven’t burned any bridges yet (knock on wood), but I’ve heard some pretty funny stories from my friends of when they’ve had a falling out with someone in town, and still had to see them almost everywhere.
Pro: The Cost of Living
Guys. My rent here is the lowest it’s ever been in my entire life (with the exception of living in Richmond), and I technically live in a "luxury" apartment building. I don’t want to get into the numbers too much, but the cost of rent for a 2 Bed/2 Bath apartment is equivalent to the cost of rent for a 1 Bed/1 Bath in Arlington, VA. Not even D.C. My bank account is very happy with this decision!
Con: The Lack of Shopping & Other Amenities
Charlottesville has pretty decent shops and boutiques, but there are still some things I can’t experience here. For example: Sephora, Nordstrom, Soulcycle, etc. Also, the airport here. It’s small, you guys. I either need to suck it up and deal with connecting in larger airports like Atlanta or Charlotte or book flights out of D.C. and make the drive. Luckily, my mom still lives in Northern Virginia, so if I ever need to experience these shops/retailers in the future, I can pay her a visit and get it all out of my system.
Pro: I’m More Relaxed and Happier
Listen: I love D.C. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to not return to the District, but overall, I’m a happier person here so far. I’m not sitting in tons of traffic; I’m not worried about every little blog event that pops up in town (though I will travel for any worthwhile events I get invited to!). Financially, I feel a lot more comfortable and am able to start saving for my future for once. It’s definitely an adjustment, but worth it in the long run!