Throughout the U.S., there are so many small towns worth visiting or, better yet, making your new hometown. There are small lake towns that provide incredible waterside views and plenty of quirky small towns with eccentric charm, and then there's one area in Iowa's northwestern corner that's making headlines for taking small-town pride to a new level.
In its November issue, The New Yorker took a closer look at Orange City, Iowa, and dubbed it the spot "where the small town American dream lives on." The community looks like a mini Holland and has a reputation for being an ideal place to live and raise a family.
The 6,000-person town was originally founded by Dutch immigrants back in 1870. Today, the community is packed with cute shops, restaurants, and offices, all of which display Dutch-inspired storefronts and architecture. The village also celebrates their ties to Holland every year during their annual Tulip Festival.
It's not hard to see why residents love living here. With the median income coming in around $60,000 and the median price of a three- or four-bedroom home costing around $160,000, it's an affordable place to live. What's more, the high school graduation rate is 98% and the unemployment rate is just 2%.
The county where Orange City is nestled is also known for being one of the best places for kids to grow up, research from Stanford and Harvard University professors shows, according to Daily Yonder. The professors say the town's "community effects" benefit all local children. This includes the town's school system, sense of community, church involvement (there are 16 churches in town) and diversity when it comes to race, class, and education. In fact, kids who grew up in Sioux County earned 35% more money than the national average by the time they turned 26.
So what's the small town's secret sauce? It seems to be the sense of loyalty locals feel. Many residents born there never leave, or leave and come back when they want to have children. And townspeople seem to prioritize the people in the community over their wealth and careers. "Here, you feel like you're connected — that you belong someplace," said resident Steve Roesner.
For many generations, Orange City kids have chosen to stay after graduating from high school or college, which has helped the village survive and even flourish. The strong relationships and friendships in the community also make it feel like home for many. And despite the economic and career opportunities big cities present, that's something money can't buy.
(h/t The New Yorker)