How Do I Find a Town to Move to?

After living in many major cities in the United States, I’ve had enough of the rat race. I want to move to a small town, run a diner and build a small home. However, I’ve no idea how to go about identifying my future hometown.

There are a few preferences I have:

  1. I’m looking for a town with a population between 5,000 and 7,500.
  2. Someplace warm and dry, like the American southwest, would be ideal.
  3. There needs to be a diner (or other small business) for sale.
  4. I’d like to take up sailing again, so it’d be great if the town were within an hour’s drive of a racing fleet.

How do I go about locating a town that fits my criteria?

Also, how would I get high-speed internet access in my hypothetical Xanadu?

How about Julian, California?

It is a minor tourist destination in the summer and fall, known for its apple pies. There are many small cafes, I’m sure one comes up for sale from time to time. Broadband internet access should be no problem.

The question was “how do I find…”

I’d like to see an answer for this too.

I would start by searching for diners for sale and then research the towns themselves.

You didn’t mention your financial condition. Is it important that the diner provide a living for you? If so, you’ll need to be careful. There’s probably a reason those diners have gone out of business/are up for sale in the small towns.

Living in a small town I can testify that having great food and awesome ambience isn’t enough to keep a family-owned resturant alive if there’s an Applebees down the street. In the last ten years, at least a dozen new family-owned resturants have opened locally. Several of them were simply wonderful places to dine which Hubby and I loved and patronized frequently, but they never managed to stay in business for more than a year or two. The chains slurped up all of their business.

I, on the other hand, would start by identifying acceptable racing fleets in the South West, determining what small towns are with an hour or two of those racing fleets, and then start looking for diners for sale.

My basic rationale for doing this is that there are many, many small towns our there. Many of those small towns have diners for sale. Racing fleets are probably a lot rarer than small towns with diners for sale. So, take the most difficult criteria, even if it isn’t the most important, and start looking there.

You might be ahead to travel out to the location with the racing fleet, and just start driving around, see if you can find what you are looking for, then stop, go home, and evaluate your options further.

Or maybe not. I’m certainly no expert on this.

Oh, while you are pondering things, spend some time looking at Google Earth or one of it’s competitors. The images are not always up to date, but as long as the option is there, it can help you get the information you need to get started on this quest for the perfect small town.

Not to sound completely helpless, but I’m not even sure where I’d start researching either of these.

I would need to earn a living off the diner. I have a healthy savings account, but not enough to live out the rest of my life on. Ideally, I could buy the diner (or other small business) with a portion of my savings and a bank loan that I could easily cover with the revenue from the business. Another chunk of my savings would go towards buying a home (although I have some ideas about the small dream home I’d like to build), with the business covering the cost of any mortgage. Other than that I’d just need some food money, and a little spending cash. I just want to get by. Of course, before I bought any business, I’d look at the books and make sure it’s solvent. I’d rather buy from someone who’s retiring rather than bailing.

I’d look up cities below 10,000 population.
Then I’d look for ones in the correct climate.
Then I’d narrow those to those below 7,500.
Then I’d look for realtors in that area regarding the diner.
Then I’d see if they have high speed internet.

I can’t help with the sailing, but a couple of possible places to search for diners for sale would be LoopNet and maybe their affiliate BizBuySell. I can’t vouch for the second one, I’ve never ever used it. LoopNet, however, is basically a large national multi-list for commercial properties. Niether of these services are restaurant specific, there may be other websites that specialize in listings for restaurants, but they’re a start at least. LoopNet is primarily for sales of buildings, as opposed to “businesses” per se, which is apparently what BizBuySell is for. I don’t know if you want to buy a “business” here, or just the real estate.

LoopNet is by no means a comprehensive database of commercial properties available for sale, and it’s also pretty likely that a lot of small town realtors (that probably mainly sell houses and mobile homes and farms) offering such a building wouldn’t even know it existed.

Someone else may have some much better ideas for this, but at least it’s a start.

How to identify a racing fleet:

Warning! I know absolutely nothing about sailing, or racing fleets. Any advice given in this post should be taken with an appropriately large grain of salt.

  1. Go to Google ( If you have a different search engine that you like using, use it instead.

  2. Try some key words, sailing, racing fleet, Arizona

  3. The first result, when I did this, was Their website says "Established in 1980, Fleet 42 is the only open-class multihull sailing club in Arizona and the Soutwestern states region. We are open to all makes and size catamarans. We also have a Laser Fleet and welcome any other small monohull sailboat. "
    This club is based in Phoenix, Arizona.

  4. Write Phoenix, Arizona down as a place that has a racing fleet. (Unless, of course, in your infinite wisdom, you decide that this fleet is not appropriate for your needs.)

  5. Look around the website for some links–probably a page labeled links, see if they have links to other websites for racing fleets.

  6. Check each website for suitability and location.

  7. Once you have a list of locations, go to or Google Earth or your favorite mapping program, and start trying to figure out what towns are about an hour from these locations and are about the right size.

  8. I’m not sure what the best way to figure out whether there is a diner for sale in any particular small town is. Especially if that small town doesn’t have much of an internet presence, which it may not.

  9. Good Luck! Happy Searching!

Don’t all those small-town folk give outsiders the stink-eye when they come in and change things and try to take the place of Mabel, the owner/waitress with the heart o’ gold? :wink:

Oops. Missed my editing window.

I forget which site I was on when I was sniffin’ out retirement destinations, but some of them give demographics links. You can find out how many men or women are in a town, ages, how many own cars, how many own their home vs rent, how many work from home, how far they travel for work, etc. I found it fascinating. A lot of this information might be useful in determining what kind of business you would generate in a rural area.

Well, just by Googling “United States best small towns,” I found the following “take a quiz” site, which I thoughut was pretty cool and would be a good strating point: Find Your Spot. I took the quiz and the most highly recommended place for me to move to was my home town, that I left ten years ago. I thought that was pretty funny. :slight_smile: And I would like to move back, not to that town but to that state and to a similar town, so I think that’s pretty accurate. And I’m sure there are other similar sites, if your googlefu is sharp.

I know there are also a number of books out there on “best small towns” and “best places to live” or whatever, so you might try searching at Amazon or B&N or similar sites as well.

Are there any sites that provide more than just statistical descriptions of different counties? I’m interested in learning more about political affiliation, religious beliefs and such, but raw numbers don’t necessarily paint an accurate picture. Rather than knowing how many people, for example, attend church services regularly, I’m interested in how important a role religion plays in the community.

I always thought Hurricane, Utah was nice. Isolated enough but still near enough to Zion National Park, Grand Canyons north rim, Las Vegas, and Lake Mead for sailing.

I’ve found this site useful many times: Though it won’t help you find a town if you have no starting point, it can give you interesting statistical info on US cities with population over 6000, towns under 6000, and towns under 1000. It also gives you satellite photos and user submitted photos if available.

Warning: If you’re a bit of a geek like me, you can waste more than a couple of minutes at this site.