Zoom Town

By Robert Goldman

October 22, 2020 5 min read

Oh, how exciting it was.

You were moving to the big city! Maybe you grew up in a sleepy suburb or a rural oasis where your nearest neighbor was a cow, or maybe you were already living in the big city, but with your parents as roomies, and now you were on your own.

No matter how, why or when you got there, you instantly became a different person — a very cosmopolitan, highly urbanized, totally sophisticated city person.

Well, that is then, and this is now.

Now the hustle and bustle you so enjoyed has become the traffic snarls you just can't stand. The cost of your home, expensive but well worth it, no longer is. And as for all the charms of the city — the concerts, the restaurants, the museums, the theater, everything that made all the pain and expense of living in the city worthwhile — COVID-19 has closed them down.

As result, even the most devoted city slickers are packing their Filson duffels and heading for the sticks.

It's not like the country is drawing you in; the city is kicking you out.

One person who has noticed this phenomenon is Lilly Smith, whose recent post for Fast Company is titled, "'Zoom Towns' Are Exploding in the West."

"The coronavirus pandemic is leading to a new phenomenon," Smith writes, "a migration to 'gateway communities,' or small towns near major public lands and ski resorts as people's jobs increasingly become remote-friendly."

Makes perfect sense. Working remotely allows you to live remotely, somewhere cheaper, calmer and closer to all that wonderful hiking and skiing you are always claiming to love, even if you somehow seem to love nature best from a $700-a-night hotel suite.

Doesn't matter. If you want to leave the big city and head for the hillbillies, here are five Western towns that you and your mortgage broker are guaranteed to love. I've never been to any of them myself, but I can imagine what you would find there.

ZigZag, Oregon: a woodsy, West Coast hippy hidey-hole. The locals claim their town is named for a crooked mountain trail, but we know it was named for a brand of rolling paper popular in the '60s. There's lots of things in ZigZag that were popular in the '60s, like tie-dye bell bottoms and a wood-carved statue of Donovan in the town square. After a few years in ZigZag, you'll not only forget the big city, but you'll also forget your name.

Jiggs, Nevada: There isn't much to do or see in Jiggs, Nevada, which makes the town perfect for the overstimulated former city dweller. With a population of two, you'll easily find a neighbor to love and a neighbor to hate. This should keep you busy while your brain slowly melts.

Slickpoo, Idaho: No one quite knows why this tiny town is called Slickpoo, and no one really seems to care. Just think how much fun it will be to tell your city friends that for the cost of rent on your 750-square foot studio apartment, you'll be living in a five-bedroom, 10,000-square foot McMansion in Slickpoo, and they're always welcome to visit, assuming they can find it, that is.

No Name, Colorado: When the Colorado highway department couldn't think up a name for this bustling town of 200, the citizens decided to call it "No Name." When you arrive with your bursting, high-tech bank account, they'll not only sell you the biggest house in town but also name the place for you.

Pray, Montana: This mountain getaway offers a number of attractions, including its own ZIP code. The name does represent a religious posture, but it is in honor of Rep. Charles Nelson Pray, a terrific fellow, I'm sure you'll agree. Despite its secular posture, you'll be free to pray all you want, which will be plenty when you realize you've got to get out of town.

You would think small-town folks would appreciate the dynamism and savoir fare of big-spending, big-city types, their AmEx cards set to stun, but the sudden acceleration of home prices has made it impossible for many rural residents to afford to live in their own towns.

As a result, the locals will have to start looking for new places to live — somewhere with few people, quiet streets and reasonable housing costs. For this displaced rural population, there is only one perfect destination.

Now that everyone has gone, leaving empty streets and drooping home prices, they'll simply have to move to the city.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: 12019 at Pixabay

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