5 signs you’re in small town America

When we’ve been house sitting thoughout the US, we’ve mostly been staying in rural areas.

And when I say rural, I mean that in every sense of the word.

Think remote and tiny towns.

Dave hiking in a remote area in Michigan Double-Barrelled Travel

One again, Dave found himself lost in the wilderness…

The current place we are staying in is a 10 minute drive outside of Neshkoro – a town in Wisconsin with a population of just over 400 people.

Obviously, being in country America is a lot different from staying on one of the USA’s big cities. And it’s these rural places that tourists don’t often get to see.

So how do you know you’ve driven into a somewhat remote and rural place in the USA?

5 signs you’re in small town America

1. The locals tell you it’s the first time they’ve heard an Aussie accent.

We were at the checkout of the local supermarket a couple of evenings ago when the girl at the checkout said: “I LOVE your accent. It’s so cute!”

“Thanks, it’s Australian,” I said in reply.

“I’ve never heard the Australian accent in the flesh before!” she exclaimed.

Carmen at Sleeping Bear Dunes Double-Barrelled Travel

Americans in country towns get this excited when they hear an Aussie accent

She then went on to explain how much she loves the accent and that when she was young her and her friends pretended to put on an Aussie accent when they were playing.

Whenever we said anything in response, she interrupted by saying “Your accent is so cute!” in an excited voice.

I left the supermarket feeling as though we’d made her evening.

I’m pretty sure she went home and told her husband about meeting us that night.

2. A local tells you something is “just down the road” when it’s actually miles away.

When we were house sitting in New Hampshire, we arrived the afternoon before the home owners were due to set off on their holiday (or ‘vacation’ as they call it here). They spent the afternoon showing us the ropes before they left and by dinnertime we said we’d go into town and find ourselves a bite to eat.

We asked them where was the best place to get food and they said “Oh, just down the road in the town.”

We headed off in the direction they’d pointed and drove.

And drove… and drove… after nearly half an hour, I was sure we must’ve taken a wrong turn.

Driving somewhere remote Double-Barrelled Travel

Are we there yet? If a country bumpkin tells you it’s just down the road, it could be miles and miles away

But no, 30 minutes after we’d left we arrived in the town, our stomachs grumbling.

The land of the USA is so vast and the towns so spread out (kind of like in Australia) that a 30 minute drive for country folk really is “just down the road” for them.

It’s just Dave and I, being from biggish cities, weren’t used to it.

3. People randomly come up to you and ask where you’re from.

Because we bought our minivan in Canada, she has Ontario license plates.

So everyone thinks we’re Canadian.

Some of these rural areas rarely see license plates from other states, let alone from Canada.

So when locals ask where in Ontario we’re from and we tell them that actually we’re Australian but we bought our van in Canada because we’re driving around the US for six months, it blows. their. minds.

Dave in New York City Double-Barrelled Travel

You’re not in cosmopolitan New York City any more Dave… you’re in a remote part of the world

4. People notice any unusual activity.

When we house sat in the small town in New Hampshire, the home owners requested they take photocopies of our visas to the cop shop to let them know we’ll be in their house for two weeks.

They also registered our minivan license plates down at the local police station and told their neighbours we’d be around.


Because if anyone drove past, noticed a strange car parked outside, and then called the police, they would be told not to worry.

Unfortunately, I accidently photocopied the wrong page of Dave’s passport – his US visa from four years ago, instead of his current one.

The home owner called us all panicky that we might be illegal immigrants, until I could assure her that there’d been a simple mistake.


Dave overlooking the Sleeping Bear Dunes area Double-Barrelled Travel

The country locals are on the lookout for any unusual happenings in the area

5. Everyone you talk to is friendly.

It goes without saying that the smaller the town, the friendlier the people. (Apparently the more nosey they are too, according to some.)

When out hiking, we met a family who told us they’d been to Perth, just because they happened to start talking to us on the trail.

Everyone takes the time to say hi to you in a small town, which is one of the things I love about driving through these remote places in the USA.

And when people hear about our travels they get very excited and want to know more.

In fact some locals suggest interesting places to visit that we wouldn’t have found out about otherwise.

For example, someone suggested we visit the Badlands when we drive through South Dakota. So that’s where we’re headed next.

Let’s find out how badass the Badlands really are.

How do you know you’re in small town America?

Or any small town, for that matter?



About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

2 comments on “5 signs you’re in small town America”

  1. Tui Snider @mentalmosaic Reply

    I’m from the northwest part of the US but living in Texas, and someone remarked on *my* accent last week, going, “You sound sooooo northern! Wow!” Made me feel a bit exotic all of a sudden.

    Fun post! 🙂


    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      Yes, it’s amazing how different the accents are all around the USA! Although we’re in the northwest at the moment and it’s strange because there doesn’t seem to be a strong accent at all.
      Glad you enjoyed the post,

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