How can I be at peace with my newly progressive town?
September 26, 2011 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I feel like I am turning into a crotchety old woman about newcomers in my town and I am only 25 years old. Help me get this chip off my shoulder.

I was born and raised in a rural town. Lets call it Podunk. I lived in Podunk until I was 17, went to college at the state university, poked around in the "city" and did some traveling until I was 23, and then moved in with my parents. About a year ago I moved in with my boyfriend (from one town over) into a barn on some property my dad owns about a mile away from their house, still in Podunk. My boyfriend is a carpenter and I am enrolled in a technical program about 1.5 hrs away, which I love and I'm excited to work in the field.

I've always wanted to live and raise a family here in Podunk so that I could be close to my parents and extended family, but since I was little the town has changed a lot. A lot of people from out of state has moved in (we are close to a progressive university town) in pursuit of leading a "simple" life. The culture in the town has changed a lot. Lots of Prius cars, people who are dressed to go rock climbing when they are pushing around their kids at the grocery store, and a much more progressive vibe. It's like people want all the good stuff of living in a beautiful area, but they have the money to pay other people (like my boyfriend and my brother) to do the hard stuff like plow the driveway and build them a fancy chicken coop (mindblowing what people will spend money on). Sure there were some wealthy people around when I was growing up, but the vast majority of people were very middle class and we all got our clothes at sears, were driven around in old trucks, and the town was predominately Republican/Independant (note: this is just an observation, I myself am a democrat).

As a result, its now much more expensive to buy property in town and I'm not sure if we can afford to buy land here to build a house like I've always wanted to. My parents or uncle would sell me some of their land for cheap but now I don't know if I even want to raise a family in this town.

I feel guilty and like a brat for thinking this. I know that people can move wherever they want to, and they aren't bad people just because they have a lot of money and are from out of state. In fact a lot of them are nice! It's just a different culture and I feel kind of like an outsider in my own hometown. A lot of the people I grew up with either went to college and are staying in their cities, or are moving farther into the boondocks where its cheaper. I feel like my kids would have a lot more opportunities growing up here in Podunk than I did, which is great, but I don't know if I want them to be exposed to this wealth and privilege, as if it's normal and expected to have a $3,000 chicken coop or brand new subaru every year.

Since I've moved back I've had the attitude of "LOL look at the yuppies" which a lot of my friends share. It probably doesn't help that I work in the service industry in the town and cater to these people all day. I'm sick of feeling so negative. But at the same time, I'm not going to magically turn into a wealthy progressive person overnight. Of course, there are still people in town who I identify with but the overall feeling has changed, like a power shift.

So my boyfriend and I are seriously considering moving to the part of the state where my school is. It's a lot cheaper and it reminds me of where I grew up. But I also feel like (this is so cliche) I am running from progress. I want to drive around in my town and feel OK and happy and excited at the new farmers market, rather than roll my eyes and think "yuppies". It is totally draining and I feel like a crotchety old lady. I've talked about this feeling with my parents and they agree that the town has changed, but they are resigned to living here because they dont know anything else. (The one good thing is that there is a ton of remodeling work for my boyfriend). The old timers kind of make fun of the new people, which I also am uncomfortable with (although here I wrote an entire post making fun of them, too).

How can I be at peace with this situation? (Note: Please no "go travel!" answers because all my money is invested in my education right now and my boyfriend is supporting me.) I feel like I need some perspective or some humanity.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Look at this way: things change, and you have an option to change, too. You're thinking of moving into a different community, where you might be seen as an outsider.

Another viewpoint: some places gentrified, others collapse, but few can stay the same for long periods of time. Would you prefer your town to wither, or grow into something new?
posted by filthy light thief at 1:13 PM on September 26, 2011 [7 favorites]

Also, how long has your family lived in Podunk? They moved in from somewhere. Few families can claim more than a couple generations in one location. Be excited for the chance to start a new local history in a new hometown. Don't write off Podunk, but remember the times you had there, just like your parents might wish that you were their kid forever, but that didn't last. You're an adult, and you're finding your own way.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:16 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you know any of the yuppies on a personal basis? It sounds like your town is turning from a community that you were an active part of into a community that you only interact with in the context of work or detached observation. If you make an effort to make some newcomer friends, you'll either feel at home again or you'll know for sure it's not the place for you.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:17 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also consider, when you were growing up, you weren't really thinking about property values or school taxes, or commute times. You interact with your surroundings differently as an adult than you do as a child. Maybe talk to your parents about some of the frustrations that they had with the town as they tried to build a life there. It might put your current frustrations in perspective.
posted by pickypicky at 1:17 PM on September 26, 2011 [9 favorites]

There's a lot to unpack here, but this stuck out:

I want to drive around in my town and feel OK and happy and excited at the new farmers market, rather than roll my eyes and think "yuppies".

Then don't! The second you start to feel an eyeroll coming on, think of something about that farmers market that you love. "Sweet! They have bok choy! I never had bok choy growing up, but now I can have it whenever I want. I'm lucky to live in a town where I can create a real simple life, but still offers the amenities that yuppies can bring. Like bok choy!"
posted by functionequalsform at 1:18 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

(The one good thing is that there is a ton of remodeling work for my boyfriend).

I think you should consider extending this thought to the economy of the whole town -- a lot of rural towns in the US really aren't doing well right now, and it sounds like yours has escaped via one of the few ways of dodging this (being near a college). The alternative is probably not actually very idyllic, and who knows if there'd be any work for your boyfriend otherwise.
posted by advil at 1:19 PM on September 26, 2011 [22 favorites]

(Wow, that grammar was really weird. Sorry, busy day!)
posted by functionequalsform at 1:19 PM on September 26, 2011

Well, buying land is one of the very few ways an individual can make a real difference to the economy.

However, most of the people who are moving there have probably been driven there by the margin of production being pushed further out. Many of them probably can't afford to live anywhere else. Despite whatever yoga and yogurt rhetoric they may be spouting.

They also seem to have brought opportunities for you to sell your labour, so it's possible that your wealth will increase as the population increases. If your relatives would sell their land to you for cheap, FFS BUY IT NOW. YOU'RE GOING TO NEED IT. Because you can't sell your labour if you have no space in which to exist.
posted by tel3path at 1:19 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

the vast majority of people were very middle class and we all got our clothes at sears, were driven around in old trucks

Are you sure about this? I don't mean to in any way pick apart your narrative, but this was definitely what I felt, about me, in the podunk town that I grew up in and it turns out that it wasn't really true at all. My parents were actually the people "from away" who spent a lot of time sort of fixing up the old farmhouse they bought and appearing very downwardly mobile but realistically even though everyone bought their jeans at Sears, we weren't what folks would call "townies" by any stretch. So, just using this as a starting point, and as maybe a helpful perspective-taking part.

I think you need to figure out what you're really annoyed at. Are the new people jerks? Are they making new laws and rules that are making the place suck? Do you just not like them because they have money?

As I said, I grew up in a small town. I was born there but my parents weren't. My parents were, in fact, the people that the other people complained about [not for any real reason I don't think, but I was only sort of there] but there's a flip side to it. People moving in to our small town meant that it didnt' go belly-up. It meant that there were tax dollars for the schools and involved people who pitched in at the bloodmobile and whatever other non-church community things needed to happen. More people paying taxes on fancier houses meant that the general tax burden was being met. The flip side to this of course is that if new peopel come to town and demand more services, this raises the cost of running the town and then taxes may go up across the board.

So let's look at your objections

- more expensive property, even though you say you have family ties that could help you out with this
- more people with money which makes the baseline average person wealthier and possibl with different values than when you were growing up
- more people "from away" which makes the town lose its own sense of identity [I'm projecting here, a little but that's what I feel you're saying] which means that if you identify with the place you feel like you're idenifying with New Podunk and not Old Podunk

I wound up moving to a place that was like the town I grew up in [which is nothing like it used to be and my mom lives there and still complains a blue streak about her taxes and the outsiders coming in which is pretty funny, to me]. A lot of my friends here are from out of state and we have some friends who are from the town. And I feel it's really useful, necessary even to have both sorts of people. My friend who is from the town has a sense of history there [even though her parents are from out of state] and knows the houses and the people and the good swimming holes and whatever, but she might not know about the new thing in the niehgboring town or the things outside her comfortable circuits. And I lvoe it here, but it's a little weird for me to realize that I've basically recreated my family's outsider status by moving to a place where I am the outsider, because that's a comfy place for me, I guess?

It sounds to me like you're having a tough time finding your role in New Podunk and you just want it to be OldPodunk. That said, it also sounds like New Podunk is okay but you're feeling stuck between loyalty to your family and the other old timers who snark all the time and the fact that the people in the new town really do share some of your values. And it also may be that the world is changing, people are seeming more affluent even when they're not, and it may be that the Old Podunk model doesn't really exist.

If I were giving you advice, I'd try to figure out your role in the new town. It sounds like there's a place for you and jobs for all of you and a family support network which has a lot of the parts of Old Podunk in it. Your position as someone who is from town has value and you may need to learn to value that in yourself so that others can value it in you. There is nothing inherently wrong with people spending money differently from you if that's really their only major downside. You may want to spend some time figuring out a little more if that's really what's bugging you. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 1:21 PM on September 26, 2011 [12 favorites]

I think you are worried about money, or fear you'll never make a lot of money, or you have a poor attitude generally towards money - something along those lines - and seeing people comfortably spending money directly challenges these issues in you.

Stop worrying about these people. They are none of your business, even as you service them all day long.

I do think you should spend some time thinking about money, what it means to you, how you feel about it, how it makes you feel about yourself and others. Really define. It. Get comfortable with your feelings about money, own those feelings whatever they are.

In short, this isn't about Podunk. I think this is about you and money.

Good luck sorting this out. And btw, I'm sure you'll be happy wherever you decide to live, so don't worry!
posted by jbenben at 1:23 PM on September 26, 2011 [14 favorites]

hey these people are good for you - your boyfriend is getting work, and you are in training to do the same. don't think eww yuppies, think yay customers! their money is going to enable you to lead the life you love.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think you recognize that this isn't just a question of values, or the people being bad people: it's a problem of class. It sucks to have your nose rubbed in other people's good fortune. Add to that the fact that many of these people, despite their best intentions, may choose to interpret locals who do physical jobs according to their stereotypes: dumb, subtly beneath them, hostile, "local color" but not likely to be friendship material. As someone who performs a typically blue-collar job in one of the richest regions of the country, I can tell you it's extraordinarily difficult to get past people's preconceptions. One of my friends, months after we first met, was surprised to realize I went to college; I'll wager this isn't a mistake he generally makes with the people he meets around here.

My only suggestion is to form some common bonds with some of the newcomers who share your interests or values. They may surprise you if you give them a chance. You don't have to like all of them, but forming some relationships may help defray the easy anger of disliking them as a mob.
posted by itstheclamsname at 1:30 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Speaking as someone who has lived in Austin, TX for nearly 24 years now, I can feel your pain. The only thing I can offer is that you're never going to be able to recapture the old days, no matter where you move to. Yeah, the yuppies, the out-of-towners, the smug urban dwellers with their $400 baby carriage and their designer dog. All of those things just mean that Podunk is a beautiful and desirable place to be. Try to embrace that beauty, and forget the rest of those people.
posted by Gilbert at 1:37 PM on September 26, 2011

As a result, its now much more expensive to buy property in town and I'm not sure if we can afford to buy land here to build a house like I've always wanted to. My parents or uncle would sell me some of their land for cheap but now I don't know if I even want to raise a family in this town.

If I were you, this would be my near-term plan:

-Buy the land (or get your parents and uncle to let you use it until you can afford it).
-You and your boyfriend/your brother are obviously handy, so start fixing up the land! Make it a place you'd like to live in, but keep the $3000-chicken-coop aesthetic in mind, too -- see if you can find some common ground you can embrace (everyone loves a nice big kitchen, for instance).
-Likewise, force yourself to try some new things in town -- don't fall into the trap of sitting at home suffering because you "won't like any of that yuppie stuff". You never know: if you try the farmer's market and the rock climbing and the Free Tibet 5K Fun Run, you might be surprised.
-Live there for a minimum of five years as you do the above.
-If you still don't want to live in Podunk anymore, sell the place to a yuppie at a $3000-chicken-coop price and go buy your dream house in the country.

Seriously, being in on the ground floor during gentrification is a real opportunity. If you can stand to put up with it for just a few years you could put yourself in a much better position to decide... and hey, you might just realize that you like living in New Podunk after all. Either way, keep in mind that staying in Podunk does not have to be a Permanent Irreversible Life-Changing Decision unless you make it so. You can always move next year.
posted by vorfeed at 1:47 PM on September 26, 2011 [24 favorites]

I agree this may be about money, at least in part (you yourself brought this up). But as also noted, it's not just higher prices for land, it's also income for your bf. So that cuts two ways. You need to rethink your thinking here and get to the bottom of whatever anxieties and insecurities are bugging you.

At the same time you feel disconnected culturally from these people, even though you have much in common with them compared to your non-college-attending peers. I also think it may be a feeling of a lack of control. You feel things are changing and you can't do anything about it. A way to address both these things at the same time is to get involved in some sort of activity that betters the community in a way that's important to you. Maybe you're worried about farmland preservation, so you create a group to promote sustainable development and conservation easements that will protect farmland. You'll probably -- ironically -- find allies among the people you currently resent! There are probably dozens of things you can think of, better than I can, that would help to preserve the Podunk you love while welcoming new people. Start playing that tune and see who follows.
posted by dhartung at 1:49 PM on September 26, 2011

I'm going to echo what jbenben posted. It sounds like many of these changes will positively impact you as an individual, and you as a citizen of Podunk. Boyfriend has more work? Great, he is the one supporting you. Property values are going up? Great, the land your family owns is now worth more. You made no mention of these new people being rude or otherwise unpleasant, can't see how this is bad for anyone involved.

Also, "a $3,000 chicken coop or brand new subaru every year." doesn't sound like the kind of wild wealth and privilege that you would want to shield your (future) kids from to be honest.
posted by Funky Claude at 1:52 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think it's wonderful that you love your hometown and are considering raising your family there -- you are bucking the national trend. It's also really really thoughtful of you to be asking this question instead of just descending into the negativity and knee-jerk resentment locals have had for newcomers at least since the dawn of lattes. I've been on both sides of the fence. It all comes down to mutual respect, and getting to know each other one-to-one, rather than as monolithic cliches. Good luck and I hope you can stay in town.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:56 PM on September 26, 2011

I've lived in an area reasonably similar to Podunk, where there were some people with serious money, but they tended to keep it pretty low-key in terms of attitudes and appearances; you never knew if the guy with the older pickup and old jeans had $14 to his name or $14 million... and a decent number of people moved in who made it real clear--via their attitudes and material possessions--that they had bucks.

Yeah, it grated on a fair number of us. As a friend said, "If you think you're special because you have money, you're not; you're an asshole with money."

I tried to remember, though, that there wasn't anything I could do about it, that it wasn't a huge deal in the broader scheme of things and at least some of those folks were spending money at locally owned businesses. They helped keep a beloved bookstore afloat so that was good.

Operationally, this probably sounds somewhere 'tween trite and stating the obvious, but these days, anything that actually boosts income-earning opportunities is good and all too rare, something to be appreciated, much as it can have its irksome aspects.
posted by ambient2 at 2:07 PM on September 26, 2011

Most of the things you mention are GOOD things for your community. More jobs for tradesmen, more opportunities and amenities, more diverse culture. Townies like to turn up their noses at these kinds of things which are conspicuously "other" but in the end their town is enriched, and so are they, by greater access to these things.

If you the entire farmer's market is ruined for you because of SOME of the people who work and shop there, then what are you rooting for, exactly? Fewer choices, less appreciation for craftsmanship? Why does it matter to you how other people dress, or how they spend their money? You can still live the way you want to, and aside from the property issue (for which a workaround is already available), what's happening now doesn't keep you from doing many of the things you like to do.

You have no idea what this town will be like in 20 years, but if you truly love it, then stay. Your knowledge of local history will be interesting to others, and you'll still appreciate lots of the small familiar things that you recognize from childhood. In the meantime, I do think you should stop being such a baby and even bring yourself to participate in the change. Teach people what's good and/or important about the area they're invading. Or sit back and fume -- your choice.
posted by hermitosis at 2:10 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

I see a market for $3000 chicken coops and if I were you, I'd get started!

On the one hand, I completely understand where you're coming from. It's weird having a new class move in and change the culture. My parents were part of one those waves of urbanites in search of the "simple life" when I was little, and when I go back to that town I cringe at how that group still treats the "natives"- they were completely incompetent at the "simple life" and yet many were (are) convinced they were the superior population, doing things like lecturing the old families on the value of compost (as though it were a new concept!) and the joy of the outdoors. Seriously cringeworthy.

And yet... it's pretty awesome to have a group of people who can afford to dump money into new technologies and who value craftsmanship, which is sounds like they do. I am convinced that without my parents annoying hipster group, a lot of off-the-grid technology would still be in its infancy. Without their self-indulgent grandstanding, much of the heirloom things would have been lost or a lot rarer. (The plus side of wanting to be the unique-est!)

So I think I would try to focus on the good parts of the newcomers (like money and the fact that on paper at least they're TRYING to be good citizens) but hang on to the parts that you value. I'm not sure what that is, but maybe not wanting to be unique or trendy? Or being connected to, and supported by your family and whatever community (you decide what that is).
posted by small_ruminant at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I feel like my kids would have a lot more opportunities growing up here in Podunk than I did, which is great, but I don't know if I want them to be exposed to this wealth and privilege, as if it's normal and expected to have a $3,000 chicken coop or brand new subaru every year.

Well, it sounds like if you stay in Podunk, your kids might have my childhood. (Blue collar family/island of blue collar culture in the middle of a lot of upper-middle class progressives.) There were definitely good and bad things about growing up that way, but on the whole, I think it was such a good thing for me. Yes, there were adults who inadvertently made me feel like an outsider or a philistine. Yes, there were adults who deliberately made me feel like an outsider or a philistine. But on the whole, most of my friends' parents really embraced me and I had so many opportunities, and was exposed to so many excellent things that I wouldn't have been otherwise. I was thoroughly immersed in a culture that was all about learning about the world, doing well in and caring about school, being a good citizen, caring about other people, caring about the environment. I think I probably would not have the life I had today if I hadn't had the friends I did growing up, and hadn't know their parents. There were absolutely hypocrites that did a lot of talking about how progressive they were, and treated people with less social standing like shit in their day to day lives, but to me that's not all that different from say, a conservative religious person who acts holy in church on Sunday and is a backstabber the rest of the time. You find that behavior everywhere.

I feel like being exposed to both cultures gave me the chance the take the parts of each that were good and leave the parts of each that were bad. There are definitely values I retained from my own parents also, particularly being frugal and not materialistic. (It helped that the people around me, even though they had money and nice things, weren't materialistic either.) Another value they had that I hope I've retained is always being very willing to help loved-ones, friends, and strangers, which is a quality I've always noticed far, far more often in people who aren't wealthy.

So yeah. I'm not afraid for your kids. I think on your part, if you're afraid of your kids growing up to be materialistic from hanging around with people who have money - be a little bit more judicious. If someone has money and spends money, what are they spending it on? A new Subaru every few years or even every year doesn't sound bad to me. I think wanting a solid family car in great condition is not a super materialistic reason to be spending money. Same for a chicken coop. Wanting a really good quality coop so you can raise your own chickens -- that doesn't sound too materialistic either. However, if this family is buying flat screen TV's for every room of the house or getting a Coach purse for their 4 year old daughter -- I can't really think of a non-materialistic reason for that.

I have, in my life, also run into (and been related to) wealthy people with bad values, who were totally materialistic and did condescend to me, and acted really awful. I generally find that super materialistic wealthy people run into money problems eventually, so that makes them a lot easier to tolerate. One man who was my boss when I was in college would brag to me about his net worth and how he bought a house for his son who was a few years younger than me, while at the same time he regularly tried to cheat me out of overtime while I was making less than $8 an hour. When the economy crashed a few years ago, I heard that guy ended up losing both his businesses and filing for bankruptcy. What goes around comes around, I think, so just remember that.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

You say that you yourself are a democrat, so I assume you have relatively liberal/progressive attitudes towards immigration. I assume that when you hear republicans talking about building walls or 'keeping america for americans' or racist nutbars decrying all the nonwhites coming in, you think to yourself "how backwards! diversity makes us better! this is a country built on immigration and difference!"

I encourage you to simply adopt that line of thinking and apply it to the changes occurring in your own home town.
posted by modernnomad at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2011 [6 favorites]

It's hard if not impossible to break out of the sense of loyalty and expectations of your own class. One of the irritating things about what you're going through is no doubt the feeling that you now have to compete with these new neighbors, economically and socially, whereas before you had settled into a routine that you were familiar with, used to, and able to navigate.

I'm sad to say I don't have a real answer for you. This is mostly about how you see your expectations for your children. You're in a bind-- they might grow up feeling like they're always going to be on the bottom of the totem pole and that they'll always be like that staying in working class service industries, or you might raise them to compete academically and socially with their new peers, which will cause a fair amount of social and financial stress on you guys.

I think the best you can hope for is to raise your kids to be in a very tight-knit environment with your family and your friends, so they identify with your family and your values, and they'll turn out the better for that. Value systems are chosen ones, and you can choose to raise your children in a social milieu that validates your own value system rather than that of the ones who are moving in.
posted by deanc at 2:21 PM on September 26, 2011

I grew up on a cattle ranch in the West and moved to "town" when I was in middle school. I felt like a complete hick--all my clothes came from catalogs! And then I grew up, moved away and whenever I've been back, I notice that the place has citizens who aren't white, aren't just ranchers and oil refinery workers, has more movie theaters, coffee shops, and branch libraries than it did 40 years ago. Any kid coming out of my high school today is far more sophisticated and better exposed to the real world than I ever was.

Not all your new neighbors will stay there. Some might move again, but those that do will have an effect on your town, and your town upon them. No place is a bubble, no man is an island, etc.

Class consciousness is sort of good, but I think that class is very fluid.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:28 PM on September 26, 2011

It's like people want all the good stuff of living in a beautiful area, but they have the money to pay other people (like my boyfriend and my brother) to do the hard stuff like plow the driveway and build them a fancy chicken coop (mindblowing what people will spend money on).

Also, as to this, it might be perspective-shifting to think about someone with less money than you have looking at your life and the things you spend money on. Those rich people, they want to eat meat, but they don't want to do the slaughtering themselves! Those rich people, they want cheap clothes but they want 12 year olds to make them. They spend money for someone else to fix their plumbing! They spend money to drive places instead of walking! etc.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:30 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

A few stray thoughts:

- emotions aside, if you have an opportunity to buy land reasonably priced from your family and can afford it, DO IT. Push comes to shove, selling it to some yuppies later on for a big increase might be some heart balm as you find another country town to live in.

- Nthing - there's a lot of nostalgia thinking going on here, along with a top-dressing of resentment for people you probably think are more wealthy than you and you therefore assume are snooty and weird without necessarily knowing them all that well. Playing in an orchestra, I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of people who fit that yuppie aesthetic, both in performers and in wealthy patrons. People are people. There are poor/middle class assholes, and there are wealthy people who are cool. There are also people, regardless of income, who are good neighbors even if they do seem like they're not from around here, for whatever reason. Don't give up on your community just because it's changing. I agree that if traffic's getting bad, prices are getting ridiculous, etc. those things may become deal-breakers, but it sounds like you're more concerned about their personalities.

- finally, nothing stays the same forever. I'm hoping to buy another house soon, and counting the one I grew up in with my parents it'll only be the 3rd place I've lived for any length of time, but all of those places are in the same town, which is small but growing. And we're not growing with yuppies. We're growing with middle america Ford-driving tea partier football fans. Just like the yuppies, they're not all the same, and some are great while others are idiots. I've expressed to my wife the hope that (quite a long time from now) they can carry me out of this house feet first, but while that's my hope, I'm not making plans as if that's the only option. The neighborhood may get ragged. The school the neighborhood is built around may close, which may or may not result in problems. The problem with the future is it's too soon to tell. Live more year by year. But buy some land, 'cause it sounds like a good investment.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:40 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I went through this when my art district got gentrified. I lost my 'home'. Sucks, but there is nothing you can do about it.

What helped me was looking at the biology of the reaction. When I looked at it that way, I realized I was feeling territorial because my security was threatened. Would I be able to afford it? Would they try to take over my space and change my home? It really brought up my possessiveness. For me, the change was too much, what I valued was gone. I had to move away.

I love the idea. mentioned above, of getting involved with them to support something you value about the town. That will help with feeling that you have no control about what is happening to your home. You will feel more empowered, and therefore less threatened, and angry.
posted by Vaike at 3:15 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think there are some excellent answers as to why you feel this way and suggestions as to how to reframe your feelings. However, if you want to get over the feelings/thoughts it is equally, if not more. important you start behaving as if this is your "new" home. That means forming stable ongoing relationships with the likeable (shared values) newcomers, invest in the community (real estate/career/finances/etc), do not primarily depend on long time residents/family for basic social support. While we are inclined to think that if we modify our thinking/beliefs our behavior will come along--it is much more expeditious to change behavior and experience the values/beliefs beginingnew to shape around the behavior. If you want to get over these feeling live fully in the "new" podunk and pretty soon you will feel you are home--which you will be.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:22 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

When you find yourself preoccupied with disdain for Others, it might be time to step back for a little self-assessment. You never know what's going on in other people's lives -- that Prius driver might be a newly widowed and seeking the comfort of a smaller community, or might be the person who will one day sew your kid's head back together in the emergency room, or might be the funniest person you ever met -- you honestly never know who you're sneering at.

Also, hunkering down somewhere and seething at inevitable change is a guaranteed route to misery. I've seen that in action before, and it's not pretty.
posted by bunji at 3:36 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

I really, really, think we live in the same town. Really. You could not have better described my town.

I have lived in two communities as an adult, including the one I am in now, where a formerly small, rural area has transitioned into a growing community to which people want to move, replete with the changes in culture and increases in property costs.

I am a pastor, and people tend to tell me what they think about things, especially stuff regarding the local area, and in both of these communities, people would often tell me:

1. "I am against all this growth!"

2. (Sometimes, literally, in the same conversation as #1) "Have you met Bob and his family? They just moved to the farm across the road from you. They are the nicest people. I met him when I helped install his generator. I'm hoping he comes with me to the Ruritans with me on Tuesday."

I'm really not making this up.

My point is that what I have found, time and time again, is that often local people tend to be against the come-heres in the abstract, but get along fine once they get to know each other. It is uncanny to me how people are able to sign petitions to limit development in their community, yet bake a pie and carry it to their new neighbor.

The people who are moving to your community are probably nice people who really want to get to know their new home, town, and the people in it, and they often love having the locals reach out to them. It makes the town better for everyone, and it is a great way to make friends with people who may have different perspectives or experiences than you.
posted by 4ster at 4:08 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

fauxscot's rule of attractive places: They attract people until they are not attractive anymore.

Been there, done that in Asheville, NC. Grew up there and watched it become a victim of its own success. We used to ask "What happened to last year's #1 best place?"

I moved away to a place where I am that problem now: rural Vermont. It's protected by sub-zero weather at least from old Floridians and refugees from LA, SF, etc. Our invaders are for the most part itinerant... they come in fall during leaf season and leave their money behind and then they come in winter for skiing and leave their money behind. The nice thing is that they leave. If they buy second homes here, they get the sh!t taxed out of them. All in all, a good deal.

It's very hard not to be resentful.

It might help to recall that your predecessors displaced an entire culture of native Americans who weren't made just uncomfortable, they had their babies bayoneted and their old people slaughtered. Few of us here in Podunk go back more than a generation or two.

You do have the advantage of being there first. You are connected in a way that they won't be. Enjoy and exploit it. Find out how to profit from their intrusion. Live well as a form of revenge, if that helps.
posted by FauxScot at 4:26 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I wish I had a better answer for you than just learn to accept it; I suspect the problem isn't so much the new people themselves, as the comparision between how Podunk is now and the idealized picture of your childhood that we all carry around. (Ever see Andy Griffith's 'Mayberry'? Looks like a wonderful place to live, doesn't it: a warm & nurturing small town.... well, except for the old-fashioned paternalism & sexism, total lack of anyone not white, and viewing drunks and bootleggers and 'hillbillies' as comedy.....)

I grew up as a military brat: I was always the new kid, and ran up against this attitude in every single new school I went to: 'this is MY school, all these new people have no business here!' I guess it's just a normal human reaction to any kind of changes.
posted by easily confused at 5:10 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Small towns don't stay the same. They change in one of two ways. Either they die because the young people leave, or they change because people move in. Sounds like yours is one of the latter. Why do people move there? Yes, partly because of (relatively) cheap property - but also because they want that sense of community - they value what you have already. And as long as they're willing to participate in that (as opposed to being ex-pats), then they should be welcomed.

It can be difficult for people moving in if they try to engage with the local community and are rebuffed with the "you're not a local" attitude. If that happens they either move on, or develop their own little enclaves. Neither is good for your town. It doesn't have to be "us vs them". Work with the new residents and you'll change your town for the better - together.
posted by finding.perdita at 5:32 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you can buy land cheap from a relative and build your own house in a town which is seeing rapidly rising property values you're going to do well. If your boyfriend is a carpenter in a town where lots of wealthy people want carpentry work done he's going to do well. You, him and your prospective children need opportunities much more than "protection" from wealth and privilege.
posted by joannemullen at 8:59 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Working in the service business can be soul-sucking and is likely clouding your opinion of these people. I have a generally positive outlook on humanity and the world but turned murderous after working too long in retail. Will you be working in the same sort of capacity once you're done with technical school and in your career line of work? I suggest sticking it out at least until you can disengage from your current proximity to the newer residents (who, bear in mind, are all just looking for better lives themselves) and settle in to being neighbors with these people, instead of servers to them.
posted by therewolf at 12:35 AM on September 27, 2011

Wow. Good point on the working retail thing. That'll make you hate everyone.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:15 AM on September 27, 2011

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