Am I alone in this mentality (location dictates everything else in life?)

I value place over a lot of other lifestyle decisions in life, and it seems like I’m finding that most other people put “where they live” on the extreme low-end of deciding factors and priorities for living. I feel that place - where you choose to live on a city and neighborhood-level - actually has a major impact on the lifestyle that you live and so on.

In other words, I decide where I want to live, and everything else must fall in line with that when it comes to life decisions, for the most part. I love my neighborhood in Chicago and I chose to live here and other lifestyle decisions must accommodate it. I have a friend that was just shopping around for grad schools, and it means that he’ll be packing up and moving to either Boston, L.A., somewhere in New Mexico, etc. That mentality boggles my mind; in my sense of priorities, the #1 factor in choosing a grad school would be “is it close enough to where I live for me to take public transportation or drive to it?”

Ditto for jobs - you hear about people moving across states for new jobs all the time. My mentality is, “oh, the job isn’t within commuting distance of where I’ve chosen to live? Well, no thanks, then.”

Some friends of mine - married couple - recently moved out of the neighborhood in Chicago that they loved in order to buy a place in an exurb that’s almost an hour and a half away. Sure, it’s great that you were finally able to buy a house, but when you have to move an hour and a half away from where you actually want to be, doesn’t that kind of defeat the point? Now you life in a soulless, boring suburb that you feel absolutely no connection to - but at least you finally own!

Does anyone else feel the way that I do? I’m starting to feel like an army of one.

Sort of.

We live on the land that Mr. S grew up on. The old house is long gone, but the barn is still standing (though not for long). We had to fight to keep our phone number when the phone company wanted to change it (long story, not relevant) because this is the number that all the out-of-town relatives on his side have for contacting family in Wisconsin. So there’s a big connection, and it would take a lot for us to move.

Another reason is that we really can’t afford to move. Our house payment and taxes are pretty darn small, and one of us would have to be offered a pretty sweet job paywise to be able to afford moving expenses AND an equivalent piece of property elsewhere. We like the layout, the size (almost 9 acres), there’s room for the dogs to run and lots of privacy. If we could just pick up this parcel of land and plop it down somewhere else, that would be cool. But we’ve put a lot of work into the place and we’re pretty attached.

There aren’t many decent jobs out here in the sticks, so one or both of us has always worked in the cities about 40 miles away (I’m now self-employed and work at home). We consider the commute just a trade-off against the pleasure and relatively cheap costs of living here. A while back we were at a party in one of said cities, and mentioned that Mr. S had just gotten a new job there. Someone said, “Oh, so I guess you’ll be moving here soon, then?” No, not really. It’s only 40 miles, not worth the hassle of getting rid of our house. And suppose the job doesn’t work out? As I say, it would take a pretty bodacious job to make us rip ourselves out of here.

The weird thing is that we’re not really crazy about the rednecky culture around here; we’re pretty much square pegs in that regard. But I guess we’ve found enough like-minded friends to make it tolerable, and we can always go to Madison when we want to feel like we’re in our element.

I belong to that group that you don’t understand. To me, where you live is important, but it shouldn’t define you. It shouldn’t keep you from chasing after opportunities and breaking out of your routine.

I’m sorry, but this really isn’t what your priority should be for grad school. The top should be, “What’s the best program that I can get into and enjoy?” Nine times out of ten, that program is not offered within commuting distance. I think you can kind of get away with “pick a school, any school” mentality for undergrad, but entire careers can hinge on where you go for grad/professional school. Sad, but true.

I’ve moved around a lot in the past five years. After grad school in New Jersey, I moved down to Miami, FL. When I had enough of the job down there, I moved up to Richmond, VA. Now, I wasn’t so desperate that I would have been willing to take a job anywhere (I intentionally had my sites on the mid-Atlantic region), but it would have been foolish for me to have only look for jobs in South Florida, especially since I’m young, childfree, and unattached. Perhaps if I had been in love with South Florida, I would have tried harder to stay. But I only liked it a little bit, so when the opportunity to fly away came, I grabbed it.

I suppose I’m flexible enough to know that as much as I love one place, I’m bound to love another as much, if not more. I thought I loved Atlanta, my hometown, but when I moved away to grad school, I realized that Atlanta wasn’t all that. If I had a choice between living in South Orange, NJ and Atlanta, I’d pick the latter without blinking. Even if I’m not in love with a place, I can acclimate to it and find stuff that makes it redeemable. I didn’t really love living in Miami, but I did enjoy the weather (most days) and I liked experiencing a different vibe and culture. The experiences I had down there were valuable, even if it wasn’t daisies and lollipops all the time.

Plus, there’s that rush of excitement that comes with living in a new place and exploring new hangouts, acquiring different tastes, and learning new things. IMHO, it’s easy to become chauvinistic and boring when you stay in one place in your whole life.

Maybe you are. If you live where I grew up, your work choices would be limited to drug dealer or retail clerk, not much else. There are lots of places to live where you cannot fulfill all your dreams. Are you supposed to limit your educational choices to what your local school offers?

If you want to be an astronaut, you better be willing to move to Houston. If you want to be a film maker, you have a few more choices, but the odds are you can’t pursue it conveniently from anywhere but an handful of cities – so what, you just give up the idea because there’s no film making industry in the neighborhood?

Why did you end up where you live? Odds are you picked a place that would meet your criteria – and criteria changes over time.

My work dictates where I live - I’d trade living in the fantastic place I do now (Edinburgh UK) for a rank average place if it was good for my working life. Even if I didn’t place such a premium on my job, I’d be starting to think about a move. As good as Edinburgh is, and honestly, there is not a better place to live in the UK IME, I’ve been here six years and am starting to want a change of scenery.

As far as the OP goes, say your work or personal circumstances change and you have the opportunity to move to Boston, or San Diego, or London, or anywhere? If you have a lot of family and friends in Chicago then that would obviously mitigate against blithely upping sticks. But if it’s just the neighbourhood that you like then it seems like a truism to say that equally good places to live exist in cities all over the US.

I’m not remotely attached to where I live. I’d live other places without hesitation if it were worth my while, including other countries.

The older I get, the less I care about “things.” When I bought this house, I loved it. Now I would move if it made sense. Or stay if it makes sense. It’s just so minor to me.

Like the OP, I value location over many other things. My wife and I have put off buying a house, for example, because we’d rather rent in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood (where we can’t afford to buy) than buy in a far suburb. And since moving here in 1996 I have refused to consider a job where I’d have to commute by car – if I can’t get there on foot or by bus, forget it.

It’s not entirely a fondness for Seattle: an urban, pedestrian-friendly lifestyle is possible in many other places and we’d consider moving – especially to Europe, if the opportunity arose.

One of these years we may have to move back to the eastern USA for the sake of family. If that happens, we’ll try to find as liveable a neighborhood as possible, one that requires less frequent driving than the towns we grew up in.

I completely agree with you. I work across the street from where I live. There have been times when I didn’t leave a 6 block radius for moths at a time. I consider place to be vitally important and the neighborhood and it’s atmosphere to be the most important aspect of where I choose to live.

My work has dictated where I live: tenure-track faculty jobs are quite scarce and if you want a job in my field, you go where the job is.

2005-2007 was pretty rough in the Midwest and I am delighted where I am now on the East Coast. Having said what I did above, I’m hoping to stay put where I am for a loooooooong time.

I’m applying to the Peace Corps, so I’m not of this mind apparently. It sounds to me like a fear of experiencing new places. I can see wanting to live close to your job and avoiding a commute or not driving. However, taking it to the point that you will not ever move, even for something you want, that’s beyond my understanding.

I hate my hometown; there’s no way I’d let the physical place I’m from define and limit me.

I agree with the OP. I’ve lived in the same town for almost 18 years, my husband is originally from here. We’ve moved 3 times in that 18 year span, but not more than 2 miles apart.
I like running into people I know, like the feeling of belonging. I like that people know my kids, that my kids have the continuity of the same school, same teachers, same community. I live about an hour away from the Cities, if I want to go whoop it up, I’ll go there, or travel wherever. It’s nice having people help when you need it, and being able to help others as well. We are not islands.
I don’t have a fear of new things or experiences, but I do like coming home.

I agree with the OP as well. You’re certainly not the only one who feels the way you do, but the people who feel differently find your opinion just as odd as you do theirs. Different strokes, is all.

You aren’t…my husband and I are the same way. It would be more practical for us to live in a different suburb with a very different vibe, but we won’t do it. We like the diversity and the urban feel of where we are now. I think if we were going to leave it, we’d go way in the other direction, though…like out to the real country where we could have a couple acres.

While I’ll disagree with VC03 and Saraheena. I suspect the way one’s lived one’s life is a rather large factor in this, though. My family moved to the US when I was a toddler; my senior year of college, I went off to study in Japan. I then wound up living in Hawaii for several years before moving back to where I grew up. When I was a kid, I didn’t feel like I had a “hometown” in the classic American sense, and I have mixed feelings about the town I grew up in. I love my current home and the city I live in. I’ve lived in that apartment longer than I’ve lived anywhere since I was a teenager, and I own it now. On the other hand, I will stop living there sometime in the next 6 months or so because it’s not big enough for two. If my fiance or I got a wonderful job offer in another city, we’d at least it and whoever didn’t get the job would tell the other to at least consider it.

VC03, you are by no means alone, though. My sister-in-law has no intention of leaving the area she grew up in and leaving her family and friends. My brother knows that and is comfortable with it. A friend of his married a woman who also didn’t want to leave the town she grew up in. She felt so strongly about this, he gave up a good job and moved back to that city. (Don’t feel sorry for him, by the way. He’s done very well for himself indeed and remains quite successful.) A lot of my fiance’s family wouldn’t dream of leaving there city, friends, and family.

I have job skills which are quite portable. I also have interests and belong or have belonged to organizations which I think will give me connections anywhere I wind up living. I suspect even being a Doper helps in this regard. I also like adventures and trying new things and don’t like the idea of getting too settled or stagnating too much. On the other hand, there are people who like a nice settled routine and going places where they know and recognize you. Familiarity is comfortable.

I used to think one of the reasons I was an odd duck is because I couldn’t put down roots. It’s funny to read someone else wondering if he’s odd because he has. I suppose we’re all odd ducks. Quack!

I’m in the process (might be a year or two) now of moving back to a city and neighborhood that I know I will enjoy waaay more than the town I’m in now. The way I figure, if I’m going to have a job that I do not enjoy (let’s be real, how many people really, really enjoy their jobs) I might as well be in a city and neighborhood where I’m very comfortable.

I’ve rented in the big city, I’ve owned in a bad neighborhood in small town and I’ve owned in a better neighborhood in small town. All in all, I’d rather rent and enjoy the culture. I can work anywhere.

We’ve lived in a lot of places over the years, and being in the Navy before marrying, I moved around for training and assignments as well. I’ve experienced big cities, small towns, US and European, east coast and west. When we chose southern Maryland, it was because of proximity to the Chesapeake Bay (we love to sail) and we were fortunate enough to find jobs within not-to-unreasonable commuting distance. And since we’re just a few years from retirement, the commutes are tolerated as a short-term inconvenience.

I can’t say that location dictates everything else, but it was one of the biggest factors in our decision-making process. But once we decided on this general area, other considerations took over. We chose our house because it had the features we wanted (it was as perfect a match as I can imagine) despite being 6 miles from the nearest grocery/pharmacy/hardware/shopping center. It’s farther from where we keep our boat than we originally wanted, but after looking at neighborhoods there, we determined we either couldn’t possible afford or couldn’t possibly be happy (stoopit HOAs) in those areas. On one level, I worry about the distances, especially when the day comes that we can’t drive safely any longer. Then again, if we can’t drive, we probably can’t care for the property, so that’ll be the cue to move in with our daughter. :smiley:

Yeah, location matters, but it’s just one of many factors for us. Always has been.

I agree with you that location is an essential factor. We moved to a small town several hundred miles away for my husband’s first post-graduation job, and HATED it. Hated the size of the town, its location, the local culture, etc.

Two years later his employer wanted us to move again, to a larger city even further east. Our trips there to find an apartment were dismal, we did NOT feel comfortable. We wanted to live in Chicago.

So, we took our savings and his severance and moved there. With no jobs. Turned out great. I had wonderful adventures.

However, when our twins were born it was time to leave. City living is hard work - long lines, crowds, planning ahead to do things, stuff’s expensive. We used to go out a lot at night, but that was no longer an option anyway. Now it was time to nest - we wanted some property of our own, more safety, slower pace, quiet. Most of our energy is focused on our kids, we didn’t want all the other distractions.

So we moved again. With savings, but without jobs. It’s turned out REALLY great (so far), although it was scary and awful until things settled down.

I’m really torn about this–on one hand, I am part of a community and I love that. It’s not where I live, but it’s the school I teach at, and I feel much the same–I love the continuity, the knowing I have a place, I love seeing people grow up, teaching younger siblings, running into parents in the neighborhood. This is my place, and I love that I’ve taken a stand–when other people talk about changing jobs, there’s this thing in the back of my head where I listen to them but it’s something other people worry about–staying where I am is the fixed point in my life that everything else rotates around.

On the other hand, I moved a lot growing up and I think moving’s awesome. I think it’s so important to reinvent yourself periodically, to really get out of your comfort zone. It’s the only way to escape the subtle pressure of expectation. My parents have owned, I think 12, 14 houses in succession in a 35 year marriage, and they’ve liked the wandering–to them, the fixed point is each other, and everything else is negotiable. There is something really special and admirable in that, as well.


I can understand wanting to live in a nice place, but there are lots of nice places. The Op seems to suggest, hoeever, that you want to find one place and never leave, which strikes meas small minded and kind of chicken.

I’m happy wherever my family is. I can adapt to living in many different places, because so many places have great things to offer.

I’m one of the ones who doesn’t mind the idea of moving. I moved for school, because it was an important opportunity that wasn’t available locally (and no regrets about that), then I moved back after the schoool thing was over for the sake of my family. If anything, having spent some time away helped me appreciate the things that are good about my hometown - because I had a chance to miss them. :slight_smile:

Having spent my entire life in the midwest, to me it would seem really exciting to be able to move to an “exotic” location like LA or even Boston. :slight_smile: I’ve always enjoyed seeing new places and seeing how things are done differently in other areas.