Craft the Life You Want: Setting Up Shop, or The Importance of Where You Live

by Brett & Kate McKay on February 15, 2011 · 60 comments

in A Man's Life, Personal Development

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Welcome back to our three-part series on crafting a remarkable life. In this series we’ll be drawing parallels from the different aspects of a traditional craftsman’s vocation–his blueprint, shop, and tools–to the task of crafting one’s own life.

Last week we outlined how to draw up a blueprint for your life. Today we will discuss the importance of setting up shop. A craftsman’s workshop stimulates his creativity, furnishes the tools he needs to create his wares, and provides an environment that allows him to do his best work. In his shop, the craftsman feels confident and at home.

When it comes to crafting an extraordinary life, your “shop” is the place you choose to live. And just as for the traditional craftsman, this place must have the right tools, environment, and fit to unlock your full potential as a man.

The Importance of Place

When we think about crafting our lives, we tend to concentrate on two questions: “What will I do for work?” and “Whom will I marry?” These questions, the what and who questions, are certainly important. In fact, the answers to those questions constitute the two greatest determinants of our happiness.

But happiness is in fact a three legged stool, with the where question forming the third leg. This makes a great deal of sense: where we live will influence all of the other elements in our life, not just what we do and whom we marry, but the hobbies we pursue, the friends we make, the skills we learn, and how our children grow up.

For many men, where they end up is a matter of happenstance; they never leave their hometown; they take a job in a new city and settle down there; they move to follow a girlfriend and decide to stay after the break-up. But because the place we live can affect our lives in so many ways, it ought to be a decision you approach deliberately and thoughtfully. Helping you do that is the purpose of this post.

8 Factors to Consider When Choosing Where to Live

There are numerous considerations to make when thinking about relocating; these eight are among the most important to keep in mind.

Professional Opportunities

While it’s true that technology has “flattened” the world and created the possibility of being able to work anywhere, Richard Florida, foremost researcher on the importance of place and author of Who’s Your City, argues that the significance of where we live has only increased in our modern age. This is because of something he calls the “clustering force:”

When people–especially talented and creative ones–come together, ideas flow more freely, and as a result individual and aggregate talents increase exponentially: the end result amounts to more than the sum of the parts. This clustering makes each of us more productive, which in turn makes the place we inhabit even more so–and our collective creativity and economic wealth grow accordingly. This in a nutshell is the clustering force.

Florida has shown that members of the “creative class” flock together in certain locales, and he believes that moving to one of these clusters of creativity can greatly propel your career or business.

By networking and rubbing shoulders with ambitious, smart folks in a similar line of work and living in a place that is filled with innovative energy, you’ll inevitably hatch new ideas and refine your existing ones.

This is of course why musicians often move to Nashville or Austin and would-be actors head off to LA or NYC. Relocating offers opportunities to make it big and a chance to meet others with the same dreams and people who can further their career. Otherwise, one’s band might forever languish in obscurity in Pocatello, Idaho. Likewise, entrepreneurs launching a tech startup might be well served by moving near Silicon Valley, the location of not just other tech innovators but also venture capital firms, some of which will not even consider funding a company that’s headquartered more than 20 minutes away from their offices.

These creative clusters are well known, but many other professions are also concentrated in locations around the country:

Relocating to one of these places can not only further your career, but if you lost your job while living there, it would be much easier to find another opportunity without having to pick up and move.

Of course, the internet undoubtedly makes it possible to start a biz or build an audience from any locale. I launched the Art of Manliness from Tulsa, OK—a place thousands of miles from the movers and shakers on either coast. The point then is simply that moving to join together with like-minded folks could provide the energy boost needed to take your business or career to greater heights.

Aesthetics

According to Dr. Florida’s research, “The higher people rate the beauty of their community, its physical environment, and recreational offerings, the higher their overall level of community satisfaction.” The beauty of your town might not seem too important, but I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of driving around a place, seeing a cityscape, a magnificent bridge, a lovely park, or the peaks of mountains, and feeling our spirits immediately lifted. Likewise many of us have probably been in a place where there was nothing wrong with the town per se, but the ugliness of the surroundings put us in a funk. Our surroundings can affect our mood and how we feel about a place and our lives. Of course everyone has a different taste in location aesthetics; some love the sight of skyscrapers; others don’t feel at home without tree-lined streets; others feel inspired by the grittiness of reclaimed warehouses and old buildings.

Recreational Opportunities

Of course, it’s not enough for people to just gaze upon their surroundings as so much window dressing. They want their town to offer opportunities that allow them to do the kinds of things they enjoy. A cultured man will not be as happy in an old industrial city that lacks good museums and theaters. Likewise the ardent outdoorsman will not be as happy stuck in the middle of the suburbs. A man who enjoys the nightlife and good restaurants won’t be as happy in a small town where everything shuts down at 8 o’clock. If the place in which you live lacks outlets for you to pursue your recreational passions, there will inevitably be a part of yourself that feels unsatisfied. For example, as someone who loves camping and hiking, having to pack up and drive for a few hours to do so drives me kind of bonkers.

Climate and Geography

In your search after manhood go not to those delightful latitudes where “summer is blossoming all the year long,” but rather head North, to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, to the coldest and flintiest parts of New England, where men work gardens with gunpowder, blast rocks to find places to plant potatoes; where, for six months of the year, the earth is covered by snow and ice. Go to the states which Daniel Webster thought good enough to emigrate from, and there you will find the highest type of American physical and intellectual manhood. -Frederick Douglass

In the 19th century, the idea that geography determined your destiny and shaped your character was quite popular. Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis” contended that the wild frontier had created the peculiar American temperament—the open places had fostered a love for independence and freedom; the harsh land had spurred innovation and hardihood.

While it’s not something we think about very much these days, the geography of a place still plays a role in shaping our personalities. Folks who live in the Northeast and must battle through harsh winters still tend to be flinty just as Douglass said, while those who enjoy California’s balmy temps are more laid back.

In a study of how our personality traits are dispersed throughout the country, researchers found that personality types tend to cluster together in certain areas. Geography is only one of the factors contributing to this clustering effect, but it’s still an interesting phenomena to consider. Here are the five personality types, followed by a map that shows where the greatest concentrations of these types live.

Openness: Open people are curious, creative, adventure seekers.

Conscientiousness. Conscientious people are efficient, disciplined, organized, and dutiful.

Extraversion: Extroverted people are outgoing, energetic, and social.

Agreeableness: Agreeable people are friendly, kind, and compassionate.

Neuroticism. Neurotic people are nervous, sensitive, and prone to things like anger, anxiety, and depression.

Available Mates

If you’re having trouble finding someone to settle down with, the place you’re living in might be your worst enemy. Perhaps it is so small that the pool of available mates is tiny. Or perhaps the ratio of males to females is not in your favor:

Proximity to Family and Friends

Certainly it’s enticing to want to head off to a new, exciting city, to start over again in a place where you don’t know a soul. But will that really make you happier? According to a study by economist Nattavudh Powdthavee, regularly seeing friends and family is worth $135,000, or in other words, you’d have to make that much extra money in your new location to compensate for the hit your happiness would take in moving to a new place.

Environment for Child Rearing

Once you have kids, where you live isn’t just about you anymore. You want your kids to have the best possible upbringing. But the elements conducive to an ideal upbringing are naturally a matter of debate. There are folks that think raising a kid in the city, despite what can be cramped quarters and sub-par schools, is the way to go because of the exposure to diverse peoples and culture the children will receive. There’s the camp that thinks being raised out in the country is best, giving the kids a chance to roam free, breath fresh air, learn hands-on skills, and become more self-reliant. And then of course many parents choose to live in the suburbs, believing that a bigger house and backyard, along with good schools, compensate for the lack of the benefits found in either the city or the country.

The Cost of Living

The cost of living varies widely across the nation, particularly between the coasts and the middle of the country. The median household income in Fort Smith, AR is $35,726; the average price of a home there is $223,885. In NYC, the median household income is $60,964, and the average home price is an eye-popping $1.15 million.

Living in a city with a low cost of living has the very obvious advantage of everything simply being cheaper; for example, you can practically get a mansion in a place like Tulsa for what you would pay for a two bedroom in San Francisco.

On the flip side, Dr. Florida would argue that most expensive places are expensive because they are clusters for the creative class, and that, as we mentioned earlier, living in one of these locales could greatly propel your success and earnings in the long run. For example, those who work in the tech field in Silicon Valley make 75% more than those who work in tech elsewhere.

And as Uncle Buzz, who lives in Montpelier, Vermont, says, “You get what you pay for.” Places that are expensive tend to be so because they are highly desirable for a variety of reasons. Even though it takes a greater bite out of his paycheck, Buzz likes that it’s more expensive to live in Vermont, because it’s part of what keeps the place from being overrun; instead, only those who really want to be part of that community and are willing to pay the price, reside there.

The Necessary Trade-Offs of Place

It’s an unavoidable fact of life that no one will ever be able to incorporate every factor they desire into one place. If you want to live in NYC, you’ll have to pay high rent and probably be away from your family. If you want to live in the country, you’ll have to give up the conveniences of the burbs.

These trade-offs can seem agonizing to decide between. When I was in law school, Kate and I made a couple of visits to see Buzz in Vermont. And like thousands before us (especially in summer!), we positively fell in love with the place. After I graduated and before I took a corporate job, we decided, really on the spur of the moment, to go live there for six months. We had an awesome time during our stay, hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing; it was amazing to walk out the door and into the woods. And we were really impressed with the sense of community in the small town of Montpelier; residents work hard to preserve their town and support the local businesses. Folks are  unpretentious, self-reliant, and thrifty. It’s such a unique place. We both really felt like ourselves there.

We returned to Tulsa because both of our families live here in Oklahoma, and we thought it would be beneficial to have their support when we had our first kid. And we were right. It’s been unbelievably great to have them around, to have people you can trust close by to call on for help when you’ve reached your wit’s end.

And yet the Green Mountains still call to us. I can’t think of a better place than Vermont to raise our kids. But moving there would put us very far away from our families and break a few grandparents’ hearts. What to do, what to do? It’s honestly a decision I think about all the time and still haven’t totally figured out. For now, the plan is to stay here for five years, so we can save money living in a very cheap place and be close to family when Gus and his future sibling are young. And then to move to VT. We’ll see how the trade-offs feel in a few years.

Weighing the Decision of Where to Live

Everyone will have to make these kind of trade offs in life. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you weigh your choices.

First, ask yourself these questions suggested by Dr. Florida:

  • How do you like the place you’re living now?
  • Is it somewhere you really want to be?
  • Does it give you energy?
  • Do you feel like yourself there?
  • When you walk out onto the street—or the country lane—in the morning, does it fill you with inspiration, or stress?
  • Does it allow you to be the person you really want to be?
  • Are you achieving your personal goals?
  • Is it a place you would recommend to your relatives and friends?
  • Have you thought about moving?
  • If so, what are the top three places on your radar screen?
  • What do you like about them?
  • Specifically, what do you think they offer you?
  • How would your life be different in these places?

After you ponder these questions, think about the roles and goals you laid out when you created a blueprint for your life. Does the place you’re living now help or hinder your path to those goals? Would another place allow you to reach your potential to a greater degree?

Once you’ve thought through these questions, I recommend checking out this past AoM post: How to Make a Decision Like Benjamin Franklin. It provides a useful system to weigh the different factors of place that are important to you, so you can get a handle on whether moving might be the right choice.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

So that’s a cheesy maxim to be sure, but it’s a good one. You may not have the privilege of moving right now in your life. That doesn’t mean you’re destined for unhappiness or incapable of reaching your goals. When you’re happy with the “what” and “who” of your life, location becomes a lot less important. When we lived in Vermont we weren’t any happier than we were in Tulsa, our life was just different. You can choose to be happy wherever you are; no matter where you live, you can carve out a niche for yourself. Sometimes it’s even more satisfying to find like-minded people and create a niche in a place where your passion is unpopular than to be just another hipster in NYC or tech guy in San Francisco.

How did you wind up living where you do? Do you want to move somewhere else? Did you make a trade off between two desires when you moved, and how did it work out? Share your experiences and wisdom with us in the comments.

Craft the Life You Want Series:
Creating a Blueprint for Your Future
Setting Up Shop, or The Importance of Where You Live
Gathering Your Tools

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 wilsonreps February 15, 2011 at 11:34 am

I so needed this article.

2 Jordan February 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

I think for me, spiritual and worship environment is highest on the list. If I don’t have a good Church with a good pastor, good teaching and good fellowship, it’s impossible to live a healthy spiritual life. Which is the reason why I left Montreal, Quebec to live in Texas. I need to constantly be improving myself for my future wife, family and sit under good mentorship.

3 Allison February 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

There always seems to be a perfect post for what I am going through in my life. My fiance` lived San Jose and I have lived in the country of Michigan all my life. We have been discussing the implications of where we will live after we finish school. Since we have had totally different upbringings we have very different things that we desire. This post is perfect for us to sit down and decide what is important for us in location. Thank-you.

4 Peter February 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

A year ago we made the big move. After 12 years living across the country from the place I really wanted to be, it was now or never. Sure I miss a lot of friends back East but here are to top two reasons we moved:
1. closer to family (but farther from other family… always a trade-off) so our kids can know their grandparents
2. beautiful environment for outdoor activities (and general well-being): mountains and ocean, and a quiet tree-filled neighborhood

5 Rob Sharpe February 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I’m about to move to a new place and the reason is one of circumstance. My fiancée and I are marrying in May and I’ll be moving to where she lives. Her job is in Washington DC and my industry (teaching) is everywhere so I’ll be moving to Washington to find a new job.

I suppose there was a trade-off between two desires but my desire to start a family with the woman I love greatly outweighed my desire to remain in my comfortable job.

6 Tim February 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Great, timely article! I had a terrible time trying to decide what to do next because of how much my wife and I love where we live. After weeks of discussion, we were on an evening walk beneath a particularly spectacular gold-orange sunset. Our dog was romping off-leash through the open fields, and we had just learned that our close friends had a baby on the way. We realized that place (and I would add community) is more important than any other career decision. We couldn’t find what we have here anywhere else. We decided to stay, whatever that means for our careers.

7 Jay February 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Unfortunately for some of us (military in my case), we have very little say in where we live. We receive orders, and move. Your last paragraph sums up our experience well; make the best of where you are. No matter where we have lived, we’ve always found good people, pursued new hobbies, made new friends, and left with wonderful memories.

8 CarlnNJ February 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I’m glad this article included the value of remaining near family and friends. I don’t know where the numeric number came from, but I imagine it did not include the cost of regular air/car travel to be with family for the holidays.
Years ago as a young man I was offered a job far away from family and friends. It was in a fantastic area, for a prestigious company. I had worked there for a few weeks, on loan from another office. I was miserable. I realized there was more to life than work and location, so when I was offered a full time position there I declined. It created hardship for me later, but looking back now I know I made the right decision. I got to stay close to the people that made my life complete, and in the end found just as nice, if not nicer, job and area to live in.

9 Strong Man February 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Excellent thoughts. And I love how the concept of choosing a place to live is up to the man.

The challenge comes when goals conflict–where there are beautiful recreational opportunities, for example, but not very many jobs. Or where there many jobs, but limited family and friends.

Place definitely makes a difference and is an important component of a quality life.

10 Dennis February 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

This is where I live. Four years ago I moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area because my family wanted to. We had a lot of friends moving to Texas and it was supposed to be cheaper to live here, but I hate it.

In your list of question it talks about getting energy or feeling like yourself. Neither of which is true here, I don’t want to be here after 4 years still feel like I am visiting, but whenever I go back to CA I feel at home and energized.

Not as easy as picking up the family and moving, but I appreciate the great article that has given me some ideas about how to think about where I live, and how to move forward.

11 Lauren February 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Brett, this is such a great article. I wish this was required reading for both high school and college seniors. So many great points to think about–but for me, happiness isn’t a location, job or set of experiences, it is just a mindset that we choose for ourselves. One of the traits I love about my husband is that he can come home from a 30 hour shift at the hospital and, when asked if he is tired, he will say “yes, but work was fun and I got to do x, y and z.” I love that he has made the “manly” choice to look for the happiness in everday life, even in the face of 80-hour workweeks in a high-stress field. His hard work and positive attitude keep our little family running smoothly and keep what (for some) could be a steady source of angst from entering into our lives.

12 Yousuf Mamsa February 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Thank you for the great article Brett and Kate. I have been contemplating moving to a new place where I can realize my full potential. This is inspiring. The place where I live now is nice and comfortable but doesn’t offer much growth. I have been content so far but now I have this desire in me to be my best. And a location change will help for sure.
Again, thank you. YM

13 tho76 February 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Grad school is ending soon and my wife and I are having this very discussion. My wife and mine’s families are states apart and in truth we’d rather be in the state her parents are in since it’s sunnier a lot longer and ‘winter’ is something you watch on the weather channel whereas mine is pretty, but very temperamental. Plus, my wife would be extremely happy since her family is close and the children would benefit from long, nice days outside as would she.

As for me? I just want a town I can call my own, a place where my family starts it’s own identity and a place that has the opportunities brought up in the article. It’s an odd compulsion, but I’ve been wrapped up in my family and in her for so long it would be nice to be our own. Cold, hot, tree-filled, or sand, I don’t care as long as it’s somewhere new and someplace we can have a nice life.

14 Kyle Clouse February 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm

For me it’s all about the outdoors, mountains and scenery.

I do my best to keep myself in a mobile industry where my skills can be used and exploited anywhere.

I moved to Utah from AZ roughly 2 years ago and one of the major deciding factors was access to nature.

15 Jeff! February 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm

As Jay noted, sometimes you don’t have much choice! I grew up in a military family, and though I’ve lived in the same area for some years now, I feel the tug of a sort of wanderlust. I wonder what the map looks like for cities/regions easy to move in and out of?

16 Shemp February 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I moved to Biloxi many years ago because I knew it was where I wanted to live for the rest of my life. I drove down for a week, found an apartment and a temporary job, and then went up north to get my things. After getting settled, I was able to embark on a permanent career. It was difficult in the beginning, but having savings made it feasible. So, pay down that debt and make your move.

17 Rob February 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Tip: If you are from the west-coast, never ever move to Trenton, NJ. The map above mentions that area is neurotic. Hoooo-Boy, is it ever right!

18 Judson R. February 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Brett, thank you for the article. It really is spot on. I moved from the great city of Nashville to the cold and bitter backwoods of Boston. I honestly absolutely hate it here. I do have plans to move down to NYC for college and afterwards, but right now all I want is to get out of here.

By the way, your articles on resiliency have really helped me in my struggle against here, and though I don’t want to sound too whiny, it is just not a good fit for me right now.

Thanks again.

19 Jeff February 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Great article!

I grew up in Washington state. I’ve moved around quite a bit since becoming an adult, but everywhere I go I find myself drawn back to the mountains and evergreens of the Pacific Northwest.

For six years I was in the military, first living in the south, then moving to Germany, and eventually spending some time in the deserts of the middle east.

I’m currently finishing up a year of teaching ESL in South Korea. It’s been a great year of self discovery. I’ve made wonderful friends within the expat community here, and can’t complain a bit about social life, or the money that seems thrown at me in compensation for minimal amounts of work, but place has played a huge role in my decision to move back to what has always felt like home.

20 Dan Smith February 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I’m a career Sailor myself, and I’ve lived in North Chicago (presently), San Diego (twice), Little Rock, Yokohama, rural Virginia, and rural Kansas (hometown). Because I’m in the Navy, I’ve seldom really had a choice on where to live. One must do what one has to in order to make the most of it. I currently live in North Chicago. Honestly it’s not the greatest place to be. Still, as a Christian, I believe that God has put me here because he needs me to be here and that it’s good for me, so I make the most of it. Like Jordan above, I believe that the spiritual climate is important. Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult here, but we do the best we can. We’ve found a good church with good people, and I’m making inroads and progress. I guess in the end, it’s less the location that is important as what one can do with location. Even after I retire I have no idea where we’ll live. It’s not as important to me.

21 daz February 16, 2011 at 12:31 am

Perfect timing with this article!! The US Air Force Academy’s class of 2011 finds out their first assignments and bases tomorrow, so this is extremely applicable to our class!

22 howie February 16, 2011 at 2:10 am

My wife and I have been talking about moving for several weeks. I was laid off 2 years ago, and after 11 months of unemployment I took a job overseas, my family staying behind. Now we’re all ready for me to be home again (“home” being wherever my family is) still not having luck with jobs in MN so we’re expanding our job search, but still being selective as far as trying to find some of the same things we love about MN. Only problem now is the house we’d be upside down on if we sold…

23 Mike February 16, 2011 at 2:14 am

Great article. I moved from the Canadian prairies to Vancouver nearly five years ago, and sure don’t regret it. It has stretched me immeasurably, and will likely continue to do so for some time. My wife is from rural Philippines… talk about a change for her. We’ve considered a move from Vancouver to rural Ontario, not far from Toronto, to be near my parents before we have children. The thought of leaving Vancouver tears me apart sometimes, especially to return to a rural setting. We may end up just covering expenses for my parents to visit here often, possibly even for them to move here.

24 Ann I. Ball February 16, 2011 at 3:03 am

FindYourSpot.com helped me discover the places where I’d like to live. It’s an extensive questionnaire that asks your preferences, tallies your answers and gives you a long list of specific towns that fit the information you’ve given them and the details of that town [history, average salary, weather, etc.].

25 amjad February 16, 2011 at 4:30 am

Great article Brett, really like the last part ‘Bloom Where You’re Planted’.

26 Pipp February 16, 2011 at 5:51 am

After doing a few international moves this is an excellent piece. Something that an ex-pat must always deal with, the differences. You have the choice of tossing in and ‘going native’ or hanging out with other ex-pats and looking at your new country from the outside. While ex-pat groups can be a great way to get your footing in a new place, ones where the topics always lead to ‘I hate xyz about this country’ are really of no help in the long run. If all you can see are the negatives then it really is time for you to move!

27 Rob February 16, 2011 at 6:54 am

Wow what a great article, I gotta say I’m slightly jealous though of Americans though – so much choice of where to live!
For young professionals in England, it feels like pretty much the only place to live is London (especially in the current job market where hundreds of applications are made to each position – in smaller towns and cities there just aren’t enough positions!). At least we have the right to work and live in all of Europe (the EU is a great thing!) but there is a bit of a language barrier (although overcome with a couple of years of hard study…)

28 Reverend Cowboy February 16, 2011 at 9:03 am

Anybody else having problems seeing the map of personality types?

29 RossMc February 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

Home is definitely where I hang my hat – I can make friends, find stuff to do and commute to work wherever I am. Although it is easier to do a lot of those in some places rather than others, admittedly, I see no reason why the town I live in has to dictate who I am as a person. I can totally see how this is not everyone’s attitude though.

30 Adam February 16, 2011 at 9:59 am

Thanks for the post, Brett. This gives me some good stuff to think about (as does the site at large). My wife and I are in a very similar situation to you and your family with your Oklahoma/Vermont issue, and it feels good to know that we’re not alone in that type of predicament.

We spent about a year and half living in Seattle while I did grad school and fell in love with the city and our life out there We have since moved back to the Philadelphia area (where her family is from; mine is from PA as well), and started a family with our first child this fall. We’ve visited our friends in Seattle a few times since moving back, and always rack our brains about whether or not moving back is feasible, or even a good idea. And now it’s even more complicated by the concept of broken grandparent hearts, to borrow your phrase. If you would be willing to share any of the other factors you and your wife have considered as you’ve mulled over this scenario, I know my wife and I would love to hear them. If nothing else, know that there’s at least one other couple out there (and more, I’m sure) going throught exactly what you’re going through.

Thanks for what you’re doing with this site, and stay manly.

Best,

Adam

31 Red February 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Personally, I think the writer of this article is selfishly making the decision to move to Vermont in the future. Yes, it is a selfish desire. You and your wife love the open spaces and wildlife there, but what is to say your children will? You already had the chance to live there and you did. If you wanted to raise a family in that state you should have stayed and made your life there. Take it from someone who’s parents did the same thing to me when I was around 7 yrs old (I am in my 30s now) … Your kids will be deprived of something that is worth more than any location on the earth, and that is the love of their grandparents, and all the memories they could be building with their relatives. The strongest unit is family. I believe the most successful people in this world are those who have a strong network of family and friends, but friends come and go, though some stick around longer (but even friends will choose family over you.)

32 Eric February 16, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I’m a country boy at heart, and always thought of living in “the city” as a sort of pennance I had to pay in order to find a career and a spouse. As soon as I had learned enough to start my own business, find a wife, and start having children, we moved back to my hometown, buying my grandparents old farmhouse and 20 acres of land from my cousin. It took about 10 years to get to that point.

We’ve lived here now for about 7 years, and as I have watched how my lifestyle has diverged from my old ‘city’ friends, I can say the following:

- Cultural events aren’t something you miss out on much by living outise a metro area. Small towns have their own culture to some degree, and we still make as many trips to the natural history musuem and to music concerts as we ever did. We just have to drive a little longer, maybe sometimes spending the night at a hotel, which makes the whole event a “bigger deal”.
- Restaraunts and movie theatres are probably the two things I miss most, but the flip side to this is that my wife has become an expert at cooking incredibly good food out of basic ingredients. Mascarpone cheese and shiitake mushrooms are hard to come by in a small town grocery store, but this is made up for by the fact that the beef we eat comes from our pasture, fresh fish is readily available if somebody wants to hike down to the pond with a pole and a worm, the pork in our freezer was raised by my daughter’s science teacher, and we get our eggs from our neighbor. I’ll take those trade-offs every time. And as much as I miss going to the movies or the bowling alley, I wouldn’t trade either one for the view I have of the Milky Way at night, and the hours I’ve spent laying with my wife and daughter on a blanket in the pasture looking at constellations or watching meteor showers.
-One thing I do miss is the intellectual stimulation of some of my more academic friends from the city and the conversations we used to have, but I can still get a lot of that via electronic communication and internet chats, and when we do get together with those old friends, it is usually for an overnight stay or even a weekend as opposed to a few hour for dinner, which has really allowed a few of these friendships to blossom.
- As far as raising kids goes, there are tradeoffs, most of which I like, but one I really like is the fact that in a small town school, your kid is likely to graduate with most of the same people they started Kindergarten with. Typical class size here is around 70 or 80 kids, and because everybody knows everybody it is much less cliquish than what you see at the larger schools… not to say it is perfect, but just to say that it isn’t unusual for the same kid to be in the ag program, on the football team, in the chess club, on the academic bowl team, and to often switch comfortably between jeans/t-shirt/cowboy boots and slack/jacket/tie without feeling out of character.

33 Eric February 16, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Also, I’d say that the decision to live clost to family is an important one. As much as I’d hate to break my parent’s hearts by moving far away with their grandkids, I’d feel even worse about robbing our kids of the expereince of living close to their grandparents and enjoying the benefits of their love and wisdom. It would take a lot more than $130,000.

34 Nathan Proctor February 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I would like to say how much I enjoy reading your articles. I currently live in the Green Mountain State, and I love it. Go Cadets! Your website and your article inspire me and help me grow as a young man. I wish you the best and hope that someday I can help influence young men like you are doing for me.
Nathan

35 Michael Dykes February 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Superb article. I am graduating from college soon and although I don’t know where my job will take me, this article solidified my thoughts on moving back in with my folks while I look. I definitely will not be moving back.

36 Mike S February 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I want to be a smart, driven, efficient, tough man like my grandfather was. Any ideas on how to start?

37 Jacob February 17, 2011 at 3:31 am

I used to live in the mountains… and I chose to move back to the suburbs because that’s where my family was, and they continually reminded me that they missed me, and would like me to come back. Ever since, I have missed the mountains as though I left a part of my soul in them, and would not be complete again until I was reunited with them for good. Since then, I have met and chosen to love a women whose heart is not in the mountains but rather in the suburbs, near cities and beaches… I will be moving to be near her…… but the mountains will be calling all the more loudly to me the farther I wander from them. Love an professional opportunity may keep me in cities for the time at hand, but I swear that some day will return to the land that bore my heart.

38 Gabe Keway February 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Great series of articles so far. After reading these and being given the chance to enter the Dockers “Wear the Pants” contest really made me re-evaluate the difference between where I am compared to where I want to be in my life.

Check out my Dockers entry to see what I mean….
http://apps.facebook.com/dockerswearthepants/entries/8431

Thanks Brett.

39 Aaron February 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Hey Reverend Cowboy, I am with you, I’ve tried two different browsers and I cannot see any map.

40 Jeff J. February 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Excellent write up!

41 Austin February 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I’ve lived in Tulsa, Houston, Colorado, Missouri, and recently, San Francisco for the past 4 years. You can be in the most amazing place in the world, but without friends and community it’s empty. I get bored in the Midwest, but I have the greatest friends there. You can’t have it all. Not to mention the girls in the Bay Area are not as nice and not as good looking as the South and Midwest! However, you can’t beat this area for: outdoors, food, and culture. Again, you give up one thing for another.

42 Mark Jacobsen February 19, 2011 at 1:58 am

@Reverend Cowboy and Aaron, about the maps… I noticed in my browser the maps have a horizontal scroll bar. Hope that helps.

Thanks for the article. Plus this is a nice site that I just discovered. I”ll be back.

43 Wesley Hawkins February 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

Moving to a different part of the country is an awesome thing. Just be aware of the following, and your experience will be that much more rewarding:
1) Be prepared for months of planning, especially logistics. Have other people take a look at your travel plans, something that’s doubly important if you plan to drive yourself and your belongings across multiple states. A fresh pair of eyes can often see a better way or point out mistakes you didn’t realize you made.
2) If you move to a different part of the country where you’ve never lived, be prepared for cultural differences that only become apparent once you settle in to live there. It can be a bit of a shock if you aren’t mindful of and open to experiencing an affective learning curve. But then again, you’re moving to experience a shift in perspective, right? Be open to the changes.
3) Know that a shift in location of only a few degrees of latitude north or south can make quite a difference in the amount and intensity of sunlight, particularly during the late autumn and winter. For example, when I moved from Chicago to Seattle, I knew all about the rain, but I wasn’t prepared for the darkness of winter. To be sure, it isn’t nearly as cold here, but I found the lack of sunlight far worse than the drizzle. I had no idea it would be such a factor until I got here. In the depths of winter, the sun, even on clear days, shines fewer than 8 hours in 24. So, consider all the weather trends for your destination–not just the stereotypical ones.

44 Sean Mathena February 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I would also add that you should look at the state tax structure and government. It is always good to have extra cash in your pocket!

45 The Mrs. February 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I found this article lying around the house and read it with intrigue. While I think you have made some great points for those “making a decision,” I would love to see your thoughts on those that “can’t decide.” If we had moved everytime “the Mr.” was inspired, we would have no roots and piles of debt. Our children wouldn’t have the close relationships they have with both sets of grandparents. And, frankly, I would be miserable. We live in a location that is desired by many for vacations, destination weddings and recreation. Our state parks are excellent. Our children’s school is superior. Unfortunately, there is always a better place, better school, more recreation… somewhere else (usually not the same place twice). Please, please for the Mr.’s sake, will you expand your last paragraph to a full article on how to be happy where you are?

46 Corinne March 2, 2011 at 11:27 am

I’m in a similar situation. My husband and I live in central Indiana we do not feel like we belong here at all. Cornfields depress me, and we love the outdoors and hiking and would like to not have to drive for hours for a decent hike. We plan on moving to Maine in the future, but it will be hard to leave both sides of our family behind. In the end though, we will be happier.

47 Jaime Anderson March 3, 2011 at 1:44 am

I moved from my hometown in Virginia to northern California as a single mom with two young children. I left my extended family and network of friends behind to start over in a new place because Virginia was never a good fit for me and I wanted to raise my children in a diverse, inclusive community. You have to match your location with your current life stage. That is, I don’t see myself staying here once my kids are grown. By then I’ll be ready for a log cabin in the Southwest. Great article!

48 aj March 3, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I love the thought of living somewhere else…the country is full of wonderful places that are brimming with possible adventures…new people to meet, experiences to experience…but I Love, love, love living in our small hometown.

Before my husband & I bought our house, we sat down and discussed whether we wanted to move somewhere else. I had just recently graduated with my BSBA in Accounting, and hadn’t gotten a “good” job yet. He hadn’t really started down his career path either. It would have been the perfect time to relocate.

But when we sat down & had a true heart to heart conversation about what meant the most to us in the end it was staying close to family. And raising our children in a rural area does have its advantages. It is a little annoying sometimes when everyone knows everyone else’s business, but it helpful when dealing with teens :) It is much easier to know all about their friends, and their teachers, and all the people & things that they are exposed to.

It is hard enough just getting enough quality family time when we live within a 3 mile radius, let alone if we lived hours away. I think the trade off is well worth it.
We may have been able to make more money elsewhere, but it is not all about money.

49 Christina March 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I had to laugh at the Pocatello, Idaho remark as that is where I grew up. Being away from family has been a very big sacrifice. I have missed and will miss lots of important thins. On the other hand I know that I would not have been able to become the person I am had I stayed in my hometown. I’ve been blessed with opportunities and experiences that just wouldn’t have come my way in Pocatello. I love where I live and I’m happy. When I go back to visit I have no desire to stay or move back. Missing family life is just something I’ve had to make peace with.

50 Mr Rui March 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Hi, we teach english as foreign language here in Portugal.
I’m in my former bedroom, a tube trip away from my bachelor condo, wich I haven’t paid for and can’t sell without parents’ permition.
If I move to any place exiting, I’m still alone and fragile. It seems that married men can get into trouble, in familys and neighbourwoods new to them, but women don’t.
It’s a trade for some time alone, private entertaining, but I’m no widow, I’m no pervert and I’m sick of this experience.
I try to respect places with fame, mind my own buisness, with my family, enlarge it maybe.

51 Donna November 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Please explain how to see the locations on a map for different personality traits.
I’m interested in coastal areas- I crave the openness of expansive water.

Thank you.

52 Julie in Hilliard December 2, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi Brett and Kate,

Thank you for the added perspective on making what feels like such an important and challenging decision on where to move, particularly when you are not only deciding for you and your spouse, but children as well.

My family and I are outgrowing our 2-bedroom condo and dream daily of where we would like to move. This article has really helped me to realize what is important to me and adds stability to our decision.

We currently live in the suburbs. I would like to remain near our families, even though we are in the middle of Ohio in Columbus and my family is 1 hour north with my husband’s family being 2.5 hours east. We both have good jobs here and feel that there is great opportunity for our children. I continually dream of allowing the boys some room to breathe outside the confines of the city though.

This has been a real part of the difficulty of our decision is whether we would be happy to live in the suburbs and be a bit closer to work or to break free of the city and have to invest more driving time in getting to work. It seems the commute would be worth it.

Thanks again.

53 jamie January 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

This was so incredibly helpful. I have been agonizing over this. A job offer in my Native, MN has me torn up because of deep closeness to my family, but I moved to N.Cali 2 years ago and love the environment so much here. I struggle w/feeling slefish for enjoying the sunny days, the mountains, ocean and flowers I have such close access to. The only thing missing has been finding Mr. Right to make it feel like home. I kept thinking, reading your blog that anything feels like home if you have your heart at home with someone.

54 JamieL February 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I’ve been moving cities every 4 years since I was 18 and loving that feeling of “adventure.” But all of a sudden, this year I got tired of moving my stuff, keeping track of storage lockers and traveling to see family and friends all over the map. So I picked a city. Now looking into buying a place. Feels strange but sort of like a new kind of adventure. This article confirms my decisions so found it to be a great read.

55 Lola May 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Thank you for this article. I am one of those that can’t decide. Here is my current dilemma:

I work in City 1, live in City 2 and my family (elderly parent and siblings) and friends live in City 3.

City 1 is urban but in a very pretty region, surrounded by beautiful and accessible countryside. The cost of living is not too bad and the quality of life okay for shopping and eating, arts and entertainment. My job is also great with opportunities for growth and development. However, I find it a bit lonely here.

City 2 is a small and very pretty provincial place, friendly, intimate, with a decent cost and standard of living but very little to do in terms of leisure without family or friends. I love my home there but find the city boring after a while.

City 3 is a capital city and has all of the diversity and dynamism, expense and noise that goes with that…I love it!

To summarise: I love my job in City 1, but I also love my home in City 2 and of course my family in City 3.

The question is: where shall I live? I now need to make a decision for the medium to long term.

Do I stay in my beautiful home in a pretty but boring city – I don’t think this is an option;
do I move to where I work and have a good standard of living but might perhaps be lonely – this will be good for me financially but not so good emotionally if I am lonely

do I move back to where my family is and have a lower standard of living and a have a weekly commute to work? This will be good for me spiritually and emotionally but given the cost of living and travel potentially disastrous financially!

Any suggestions/ thoughts on how to decide will be gratefully received! Thanks :)

56 Agnes July 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I have been moving since I was 6 from place to place and country to country. I hate moving but always try to make the best of it. I am not from the same country as my husband and I have a yearning (no matter how impractical) to live there again if only for a short time. My husband want to retire to a small town hours from a major urban centre. I don’t want to start over again and yet where we live now (for work) is in the total middle of nowhere.

57 LimaCharlie August 17, 2013 at 6:51 am

Here’s the article / map of personality types & where they tend to cluster:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122211987961064719.html#project%3DPERSONALITY08%26articleTabs%3Darticle

58 sean October 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

i am now 41 and i live in the back of my shop so i can save money! sometimes i stay at my gf house i have a business but no property

59 Bruce December 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Is there a company that can help you choose your next destination. There are so many choices.

60 Cannon Hyche March 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

This was a great article. As an 18 year old preparing for college and my entire life, this has been something on my mind every day. I may think too far into the future, as all the adults say, but many articles from The Art of Manliness have certainly helped to put my mind at ease.

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