Living and working in a small town is more than just repeatedly running into your friends at the local grocery store.
It’s a lifestyle.
Here in Golden, B.C., it's a lifestyle many people choose. People relocate to Golden for a vast number of reasons, and of course, locals love it here, so they don't leave.
But as tourism grows and continues to be a main industry in this town, people also do it for another reason: to blend work with play.
Whether its kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, rafting, running or any of the other vast activities that this area offers, the opportunities to be a little kid in this giant playground are endless.
Aside from the obvious physical appeal of the scene here, so many people decide to stay after one season - even if they didn't think they would.
Some of the best reasons small town living is so appealing is because it's so vastly different from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
“I like living in a small town for the simplicity,” says our guide Darren. Darren grew up in a city so he has experience living in both environments.
“So much time is wasted sitting in traffic in the city where as in Golden you can get anywhere in town in less than five minutes. And, if you have to do a longer drive you're at least surrounded by spectacular scenery.”
Well… the scenery is DEFINITELY a plus.
Plus, he adds, it's so easy to get around and he enjoys seeing familiar faces wherever he goes.
Our most seasoned raft guide has been in the industry since she was a little girl. Her parents owned Glacier Raft Company from 1990 to 2007, giving her tons of experience in both rafting the Kicking Horse River, and small town living.
Her favourite thing about living here?
“Everything is close together so there's very little time wasted commuting to do fun stuff,” she explains. “We can be skiing or on the water 15 min after leaving the house!”
That might explain why she decided to raise a family here too, and it brings up another point Liz wanted to mention. She loves raising her three small children in a small town. She thinks it's important for them to be introduced to as many outdoor activities as possible, and kids need to of space to run around and explore.
Golden has that in spades.
3. always friendly faces around
Although Golden may be a bit of a rarity in the amount of activities it offers, living in this small town means you can usually find someone to join you on whatever adventure you can dream up. Or, if you set out on your own chances are you'll bump into a familiar face.
We feel like people in small towns are friendlier. People say hi to you on the street, and it seems like people genuinely want to help each other out. Golden's local classifieds site is always filled with questions or people needing help of some sort and the list of comments is always amazing.
Everyone you meet is a friend of a friend of someone, so it doesn't take long to make connections and friendships.
“I once ran into a woman on a trail who was wearing a top I had just dropped off at a thrift store the day before,” says Laura Kluz.
“It brightened my day to have this conversation with her,” she explains. “And this moment reminded me of how intertwined we all really are here.”
4. sense of community
Although it can get a bit annoying spending countless minutes making small talk in the supermarket, it is wonderful at times to run into people who you rarely get to see (or people you see all the time who just happen to brighten your day).
“What I enjoy about living in a small town is that sometimes it takes me a few hours to go grocery shopping,” says river manager Mike Reeder.
“Not because of how far away the store is, or how long I have to wait in line, but because I run into about 10 people I know on the way. Because Golden is so small I end up running into friends pretty much any time I leave the house.”
He adds that it is this sense of community that is one of the best parts about living in a small town.
5. being surrounded by nature
It's easy to take where you live for granted, and we're definitely guilty of this from time to time. When we catch ourselves, and take the time to stop, take a deep breath and look around, somehow things always seem to feel a bit better.
Being outside and connected to nature is such an important part of healthy living. It provides perspective and comfort, and we wouldn't want to give that up.
We're reminded of this almost daily, by guests who've spent the day with us rafting the Kicking Horse River. People always say how lucky we are to live where we do, or that they wish they could spend more time in the mountains, or that being on vacation and spending time in Golden has made them realize changes they want to make in their own life.
Some of our crew were chatting about our day to day lives, and how fortunate we are to live where we do. There's no traffic or congestion, poor air quality or constant noise, being closed up inside all day or long commutes.
By choosing to live in a small town, surrounded by wilderness, this is often our day:
Floating down the Kicking Horse River surrounded by mountains and forests.
Warm sun on our face and sandaled feet.
Perched in a raft. Comfy and relaxed as we wind downstream.
Seeing and exploring new places, and re-discovering those that have changed.
Riverside natural hot springs. The air is cool but your body is warm.
Sitting around a campfire with your best friends or family. The sky is filled with stars.
Snuggling in a sleeping bag and falling asleep to the sound of the river rushing by.
The chance to disconnect from the busy-ness of day to day life - whether it's a run on the trails, a bike through the forest, a paddle down the river or a walk in the woods, small town, mountain living allows you to walk out your door and instantly connect to the nature that surrounds us.
As with anything, living in a small town does have its downsides too. After all, it is a three-hour drive to get to the airport, or to pick up products that are only available in a big city (but at the same time we aren't tempted to be shopping all the time, or have planes constantly flying overhead).
The perks far outweigh the downsides, though, which is why we all love this town so much, and strongly believe in the benefits of small town living.
Live an adventure!
Cheers, from the Glacier crew.