Thinking about moving to the country?
You don’t have to be a retiree. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made high-density cities less appealing for people of all ages, demographics experts say Millennials are embracing small town life, too, migrating from urban cores for more affordable housing and an easier place to raise a family.
Ben Winchester, who collects data nationally as a rural sociologist with the University of Minnesota Extension, is not surprised to see Brenham, a city of about 17,000 halfway between Houston and Austin, growing. Daily, about 6,000 people come into the area for work, about 8,000 commute out and more than 5,000 live and work in the area, he noted. “It’s not the middle of nowhere. It really is the middle of everywhere.” That has become Winchester’s rallying cry; his beat on the pulse has even sparked a Kentucky-based podcast called “Middle of Everywhere.”
Brenham officials expect their city to grow by more than 17 percent by 2040, driven primarily by an influx of young families. “It was happening before the pandemic, but it has definitely accelerated,” said Susan Cates, director of Brenham Washington County Economic Development. “It’s a very positive change for our community and schools, and one we welcome.”
For some, small towns also are easier places to start businesses. We asked five entrepreneurial couples who are influencing the area’s food, beverage, retail and lodging scenes what brought them here and how they’re faring, pro and con. In their 30s and 40s, with enterprises that range from fashion design to salt-of-the-earth food production, they’re partners in business and life who thrive on each others’ individual strengths. And they are not looking back.