5 Things a Big City Has Over Wichita Falls
If you haven’t seen it yet, Bethany Lee recently posted “5 Reasons Why Living In Wichita Falls is Better Than the Big City”, laying out reasons why you should second guess moving away. Having lived in Wichita Falls for a third of my life, I can definitely say I have a love and fond memories for Fallstown, but having lived in bigger cities too, I can see the benefits of both. Back in April, my wife and I made the simultaneously tough and easy decision to not only leave Wichita Falls, but to leave Texas all together for the big city of Phoenix. It was difficult because we were going to miss the friends and family we’d been in the same town with for years, but easy in the respect that we felt there are things smaller towns like Wichita Falls just couldn’t offer that a bigger city could.
When I say diversity, I’m not just talking about ethnic or religious diversity. Yes, this area does have more diversity in those respects, but it is clear that a bigger city has more diversity in terms of things to do and places to go. You can do more unique things in a month than you can in a year in a smaller town. If you need an example of just how little there can be to do in Wichita Falls, I would direct your attention to the hype over the town getting something as simple as a Chick-Fil-A. Coming to a bigger city I’ve seen many a Chick-Fil-A, Panda Express, Hooters, Rainforest Café, In and Out Burger, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Red Robin, Johnny Rockets, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Dave and Busters, and many other popular chains that are part of the “Day Trips” for residents of Fallstown as mentioned in Bethany’s article. There are also beautiful and unique local places like an Irish Pub that was dismantled in Ireland and rebuilt here, and Rustler’s Roost, a taste of country style food overlooking the city. But it’s not just about the food, but entertainment and just general things to do. We’ve been to five different malls (both indoor and outdoor) that put small town malls to shame, we have a major league baseball team, there’s a major city zoo, aquarium, several IMAX theaters, local smaller theaters playing older releases and artistic films, a venue that has had two WWE pay-per-view events within the past year, museums, a space center, etc. Yes, the Day Trips to DFW are fun and you don’t have to deal with that traffic year round, but I’ll be honest with you, DFW is a traffic worst-case-scenario, being some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen bad traffic around here, but 9 times out of 10 it’s because of an accident that’s quickly cleared up and not because of general traffic.
Having a single hospital in a small town makes perfect sense. You don’t need multiple hospitals when your population is barely above a hundred thousand. But that does have a downside, especially when you or a loved one needs medical attention that your local hospital doesn’t specialize in. I’ve heard many frustrated stories of parents having to have their children airlifted or transported to DFW for medical treatment. Having your child or another loved one in a hospital two hours away from your home just adds stress to an already stressful situation. Last month, my wife and I had to take our daughter to the local hospital’s emergency room twice in two days. With the second trip the doctor was adamant about admitting our daughter, but they didn’t have a pediatric ward there and she needed to be transferred. And lucky for us, Phoenix Children’s Hospital had a room available. Yes, we had to drive 30 minutes to get there, but we were able to get our daughter prime healthcare at a world-renowned hospital close to home, and that made the whole scary situation that much easier.
Another hard fact about a smaller town is the limitations in your chosen field. I spent four years on-air in Wichita Falls, but if I didn’t work radio at Townsquare Media, where else could I do it? Yes, there are many professions that thrive in a smaller town setting, but if you find yourself not interested in or suited for those professions, your options are greatly limited. Yes, in a bigger city you have the trade-off of more people fighting for the positions, but if things don’t work out with one company, you have other places to try to help further your career. And if things don’t work out in a big city like Phoenix, you always have the option of looking for work in one of the suburbs like Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, or Tempe. It even applies to stores like Sam’s Club and Costco. In a bigger city you not only have several stores from a single company to choose from, you also have their competitor to take into consideration, something you can’t always get in Wichita Falls.
When you work in a publically viewed field like television or radio, a level of notoriety is to be expected. Honestly, I never minded being recognized for working for Townsquare Media or doing plays at Backdoor Theatre. I appreciated the recognition for my hard work and understood it to be part of the deal by placing myself in a publically known situation. However, there are many situations in a small town where you can be something like a bagger at the local grocery store and be known by people you’ve never personally met. There is so much talking amongst people in a smaller town that word travels fast, both the good and the bad. While I was still in high school, my family and I were very frustrated with the fact that many people seemed to know where we lived and didn’t respect our personal boundaries. When we first moved to Wichita Falls we never thought that having our number in the phone book would lead to sleepless nights, but that’s exactly what happened. At first we chalked it up to an isolated incident, but later found it to be common practice among some residents, instead of taking concerns and complaints at a major business to the manager on duty, to call the store manager at home, late at night with the complaints. In a bigger city, it’s a lot easier to blend in with the crowd, going about your business without worrying about word being passed around church or other social circles. There seems to be a much more accepted sense of privacy and ability to keep one’s personal life personal.
To be specific, I don’t live in Phoenix; I live in Mesa, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix and the third largest city in Arizona, with roughly half-a-million people. It is bigger than Wichita Falls, but it takes less time to drive from Mesa to Phoenix than it takes to drive from Wichita Falls to Burk. And it provides my wife and me with the smaller town feel that we’ve grown accustomed to after living in Wichita Falls. We are very lucky to live in an area of Mesa that is very quiet, very friendly, and within a 10 minute drive to everything we need, such as grocery stores, clothing stores, doctor’s office, etc. Most of the restaurants and activities I mentioned earlier are also either close in town or close enough that they can be regular date nights for us. It’s the best of both worlds, being able to live away from the hustle and bustle of a big city, but have relatively easy access to the benefits of that big city.