Rural Imperial County has a population of more than 182,000 people. That may sound like a lot — until you realize the sleepy coastal town of Oceanside boasts 176,000 residents.

Living in a small, rural community can be a wonderful experience. There is a sense of freedom and reconnection to nature, a slower pace of life and respite from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan living. It allows for the creation of strong, close-knit communities. But there are also some drawbacks. Cities are spread apart, public transportation can be sparse and vulnerable communities — especially LGBTQ residents — can feel nearly invisible due to lack of services that are in abundance in other larger counties.

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