"I've got a guy for that!" Finding services in a small town
With everything you have to consider when moving to a small town or rural area — finances, a lifestyle change, new schools for the kids, driving longer distances to get what you need, the peace and quiet of country life — there may be one area you're forgetting. Finding reliable service professionals like mechanics, handymen, plumbers — even hairdressers and barbers.
When you live in an area for a while, whatever you need done, you've usually got a guy (or gal) for that. Trusted people who are skilled in whatever you need, people you know aren't going to overcharge and underdeliver. How do you go about setting up that kind of support system when you've moved to a rural area or small town?
According to moving.com[i], finding trusted service professionals like handymen, plumbers, electricians and others is one of the most frustrating and overlooked challenges of moving to a new area.
Finding service pros in your new town
Apps or the Internet
With broadband coming to even the most rural of areas in this country, small-town businesses are increasingly showing up online.[ii] That means there's a greater possibility you'll find recommendations on online sites and apps like Yelp, Angi (formerly Angie's List), Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, Houzz and more. Many of these apps allow you to plug in your project and then watch the bids from local pros roll in, along with their ratings from previous clients. Yelp is mainly a review site, but you can get great information there about the reliability of the business you're thinking of patronizing. But remember, take online reviews from strangers with a grain of salt.
The local hardware or feed store
Is there anything the owner of a small town hardware store doesn't know about life in his or her town? We're going to go with "no" on that. Hardware and feed stores can be the center of buzz and business in small towns. Ask the people who work there for recommendations. They will no doubt work with service professionals and will know who's reliable and who isn't. It's also common for hardware stores to have a collection of business cards or other contact information from service people in the area.
One lovely and even old-fashioned aspect of small-town life that city folk don't typically enjoy is a bulletin board in a prominent place that advertises all manner of things, from bake sales and car washes that benefit local sports teams, to puppies for sale, to handyman services. Common locations include grocery stores, libraries, churches, laundromats, coffeeshops, restaurants and convenience stores[iii].
Arguably, the best way to find a trusted, reliable service professional is through word of mouth. The first place to start should be with your neighbors. Who replaced their boiler or put on their new roof? Is there someone who plows driveways in the winter? Do they know anyone who can help with cutting wood on your property? If your neighbors have lived there for a while, or for a lifetime, they will know who to recommend for any job.
The person who sold you your land is an expert in the local area. It's worth a call to your Realtor to ask about reliable service professionals he or she recommends.
The Better Business Bureau
Still not sure where to turn? The BBB may have a record of any business you're thinking of patronizing. They can tell you whether the business has received any complaints, and if and when those complaints have been resolved, and its BBB rating[iv].
Ready for more space and a slower pace? Apply today!