How to Choose Where to Live | Help & Advice
Do you ever wish you lived somewhere else? I used to, all the time. Most of the time, I wanted to live anywhere but where I lived until now. How did I finally choose a place where I was finally happy? In this article, I will share with you how I chose and will help guide you in how to choose a place that is well-suited for you.
I have lived in a lot of places and none of them seemed to quite fit. Some were okay and I didn't outright hate them, but I knew I didn't belong, while others made me so unhappy I wished every single day I lived somewhere else. I used to think that maybe there was no place for me, that you either just feel okay about living somewhere and try to learn to like it, or you just hate places and move somewhere you don't outright hate.
I lived all over the United States, in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Iowa, Kansas and Florida. I have also lived in Germany for a couple of years. I have visited most of the United States and seen a good portion of Europe, so I thought that I would have figured out at some point what I liked and what I didn't like, but I don't think it works like that. I think traveling and living in different states gives you more of an idea what you don't like, but figuring out what you do like is more of an internal process.
How I Started Figuring Out Where to Live
When I was a young adult, I thought I wanted to live somewhere between a city and the suburbs, have a lot of things to do nearby and have all four seasons. I really love fall and I was dead-set against moving anywhere that didn't have a fall season.
I didn't put any thought into figuring out if I liked living around people or not and didn't put serious thought into what kinds of things I liked to do on the weekends.
About two years ago, I finally took the time to think about what would really make me happy versus what I thought I wanted. Going by what I thought I wanted wasn't making me happy. Every place my husband and I moved to seemed to get worse and worse and I sat down and thought about what all those places had in common.
What Kind of Weather Do You Like? What Does the Weather Afford You to Do Outside?
One thing those states had in common was the terrible weather in the winter and summer. Some states had more ice than snow in the winter and I never went out because I was scared of slipping on the ice. The summers were so hot and muggy I never went out until it was dark, so about half the year was wasted being inside.
I had to be honest with myself and say, is having a fall season worth this? I realized I'd be happier living somewhere that, even if the summers were hot, I could spend more time outside most of the year.
You really have to think about what you like to do during the year. Do you mind being inside when the weather is bad or tough to navigate on foot or in a vehicle?
Every place I've lived has some kind of bad weather to deal with. It depends what you like to do, what you can deal with and what you find yourself not liking at all. Do you mind tornados (I do), hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flooding, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, high elevation, low elevation, tropical climates, cold climates, all four seasons or only a couple, etc.? It's important to think of how weather affects your life and activities you enjoy.
What Do You Really Do on the Weekends?
Another thing to consider is what you really do on the weekends versus what you think that you would do if you had the option. We've mostly lived near major cities and I realized that while we like to watch movies and go to plays and concerts, we really like having the option to go do things outdoors.
In the Midwest, we really had very little time during the year to go do anything outdoors and honestly, we ran out of things to see because everything is so far apart in the Midwest. We ran into the same problem in New Mexico. Yeah, there are really cool things all over the southwest and the Midwest, but we didn't like having to drive eight hours round-trip to go see them.
Where we live, there are a ton of different beaches, national and state parks, and outdoor activities to do year-round. It's nice to live near a city and it can be nice to live in a suburb. We go and see more outdoor attractions than indoor attractions in a city, so living in a warm climate that has a lot of outdoor attractions made more sense for us.
Do You Like People or Are You a Hermit, Like Me?
Another thing to consider is, do you like to be around people or do you like to be more isolated?
I grew up in Maryland and it wasn't nearly as populated as it is now. I grew up going to Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Annapolis and it wasn't until a few years ago I realized just how populated it had gotten and how much I really didn't enjoy being around that many people. It's something I had to realize about myself and know that I couldn't live anywhere that populated, no matter how much I liked it.
Is heavy traffic a deal breaker for you? Do you find it draining to travel and go somewhere only to find it packed with people or do you find it energizing?
Where Do You Want Your House to Be?
My husband and I like our privacy, but we like to be within an hour of any city. We prefer to be closer to a beach than a city, since we go to the beach more often, so we decided to look for a house half an hour from beach and an hour from the big city near us.
We also decided a house that was near people, but had more land would be a good fit. We both can deal with living closer to people than we'd like if it means we can be close to the beach and somewhat close to a major city.
Do you mind sharing a backyard or living in an apartment building? Do you need more space? What is more important to you- living closer to a city (less space, more money, more people) or having more space and privacy? Do you like being near people or does being around people drain you? Do you like to look outside and see neighbors or do you like to look outside and just see your yard?
What About Your Supporting Cast?
Something you should think about very seriously is moving or staying in a place that makes you unhappy for family. Some people stay or move because they can't bear to move away from their family or be away from their family. They find that their family provides them with support, love, money, childcare etc., and they need that support to survive.
My husband and I are both very independent people and met in the military. We have gotten used to living away from our families, even though we miss them. You have to figure out if you need the support of your family more than you need to be happy.
Here's Some Advice:
My advice is if you live somewhere you really hate, move. It doesn't get better, it gets worse. You'll just hate it more every day. When I finally moved to a place that I knew had most of the things that really fit what I needed versus what I wanted, I was actually happy. My anxiety lessened, my depression went away and I looked forward to my days instead of knowing I was stuck in some place I didn't want to live.
When we first got to Florida, I finally felt at peace. Despite all the things that people complain about, like how hot it gets (it does get hot, but all the other places we lived do too, so it's not that big of a deal to me), the drivers (the drivers are insane here, it's true), the hurricanes (every state I've lived in has something- ice, lots of snow, tornadoes), or how all that's here is Disney (not true), but I understand that no place is absolutely perfect for everyone. All that matters is that it is a perfect place for you.
What is important to me is that I finally feel like we belong somewhere. I felt it immediately. Since we've been here, I've never felt like I needed to be anywhere else. In most of the other places I lived, I felt an everyday panic, a desperation to get out and be anywhere else. I learned that what I believed in the past isn't true; you don't have settle and live in a place that you are okay with or absolutely hate. You can find a place that makes you happy and is a perfect fit for you.
You, of course, have to consider all the other factors that go into moving, like where you will work, cost of living, schools (if you have children), your health and healthcare, and how much it costs to move, but I will tell you it can be done. If you really want it to happen, you will figure out a way to make it happen and it will all work out. You can be happy if you take the time to figure out what you need and what makes you happy. There is a place for you.
Did this article help you? Do you have any tips to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!