The Amish are one of the most well-known yet enigmatic subcultures in the United States.
They’re known for their refusal of modern luxuries in pursuit of a simple, modest life in the service of their god.
There are thousands of Amish in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and more.
But if there are so many, where are they? Where are the Amish towns?
In this blog, we’ll talk about Amish towns and everything you need to know about them.
Let’s start with the most important point — Amish towns don’t exist.
1. Amish Towns Don’t Exist
In the simplest terms, there’s no such thing as an Amish town.
Despite possessing an insular, archaic ideology, the Amish are geographically interspersed among other people — what the Amish call “English.”
Generally speaking, this means that the Amish don’t always live “in town” for an area, and they certainly don’t live in cities.
But at the same time, they don’t have “towns” of their own.
Instead, what you have is a loose affiliation if various Amish congregations with no solid church or meeting place.
These communities include like-minded individuals who may have contact with other Amish groups in an area.
Regardless, it’s important to bite that all Amish generally believe the same things.
But this also begs another question. If the Amish are so similar, why don’t they all live together?
2. Why Amish Towns Don’t Exist
Amish towns don’t exist for a number of reasons.
First Reason: Amish Homes Require Space
First, many Amish are farmers or craftsmen. This means they need a lot of land or workshop space to perform their daily work.
As a result, the basic necessity of space will make the Amish set themselves further apart from their neighbors than, say, a common suburb.
Second Reason: The Amish Don’t Have Modern Transportation
Second, the Amish don’t have personal access to modern transportation.
Some Amish may be able to get rides with English people who are willing to drive them places. But this requires cost, and its availability is always subject to change.
This means the Amish are spread further apart from one another with few convenient means of travelling to each other.
The Amish don’t have the speed to close long distances in short times, so they commune less frequently that way.
Generally, you’ll find the Amish using horse-drawn carriages (also called “buggies”), scooters, or rollerblades. You’ll never see an Amish person riding a bike because the pedal mechanisms, as far as their ideology is concerned, is too much of a luxury to be essential.
But what about public transportation?
Overall, many Amish live in areas where public transportation isn’t available because the area is so rural. However, some areas — like Lancaster — are prioritizing public transportation, and it’s allowing the Amish to travel more broadly.
Even so, this is more seen as an avenue to fulfill appointments for doctors, dentists, and other practical trips. Public transportation is rarely used in Amish communities as a method of socializing or creating a closer-knit “town” structure.
Third Reason: There’s No Central Amish Meeting Space
Finally, the Amish don’t have a central meeting space in their ideology.
For many towns and cities, there are squares, parks, and other areas that function as the communal center.
But the Amish don’t have that center. In fact, they don’t even have churches. Instead, they use one another’s homes as the meeting places for their communities.
As a result, an Amish town — if it existed — wouldn’t have a structure to it that others would recognize as a “town.”
But this leads us to another question again. If the Amish don’t live in towns, where do they live?
3. Where the Amish Live Instead
Overall, Amish “communities” are connected by the geographic area in which they reside. There are no hard-and-fast borders among communities, and certain communities may be more lenient with those who choose to leave or even join others.
However, this doesn’t necessarily change where they live.
This is important to note because Amish rarely move once they’ve set down roots on a property. In fact, some local banks in areas like Lancaster will lend ultra-high mortgages — in excess of a million dollars — to Amish families on a 100-year payback schedule.
Because it makes the loan affordable, the Amish can purchase new farmland, and the bank can make an extraordinary profit on the interest.
This means that once the Amish make a home, it stays in that family for generations. It’s common for the mortgage to go to the inheritor of the property after the original owner’s death.
As a result, there’s very little movement or rearranging when it comes to an Amish family’s location. A single family may have multiple children that yield other families, and those families will then find their own homesteads as well.
But rarely will these families sell off their homes.
They may sell off a portion of the land, as is becoming more common in Lancaster with the outrageously high cost of real estate in 2021.
But they’ll still maintain a primary residence on the original property.
So once an Amish family has a home, they stay there. They’re a part of that geographic area and, for the reasons mentioned above, they become a part of their local Amish “network.”
They don’t live in a town — but they’ll know and be in contact with the other Amish families within a certain distance.
And that will be their community.
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One thought on “Where Are the Amish Towns?”
They do create their own kind of towns…amongst family around here (Berne, Indiana). It is extremely common for families to either add on to existing buildings for the next generation or continue to build additional living spaces on the same farmstead. Sometimes there are many homes and multiple generations all together. And almost every house that goes up for sale in the countryside around here is purchased by the Amish and their own little family system takes over.