Thoughtful Thursday: Geography

August 4, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the August Intelligentsia, the people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post in July.

#22: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#19: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#14: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#7: Ana
#6: Tara from Turkey In My Oven
#4: St. Elsewhere

Thoughtful ThursdayApproaching geography from the opposite direction of last week’s post fantasizing about other places to live…

Why do you live where you live? Is this really where you want to be?

I live in the area where I live now because I came here for a job and have since gotten stuck here. I lived in the previous city because of a job. I lived in the city before that because of grad school. And the one before that was for a job. Do you detect a theme?

There are certainly places that I eliminated from the job/school search process because I didn’t want to live there, and many of the places I’ve lived are cities that people dream of living. But ultimately, the geography of my life so far hasn’t been up to me. It’s been even less up to my husband, who has kindly followed me to each locale.

Now, all that may change. Almost a year ago, we’d made the decision to move not for work but — for the first time in my life — for family, when my mother got sick. But she died before we could move, and even though her city is a lovely place to live, where DH would be delighted to live, I can’t bring myself to live there without her. I haven’t gotten any of the jobs I’ve sought since I had to quit my last full-time job due to my pregnancy with Burrito and Tamale. I’ve been short-listed for most of them, one of two or three or four candidates but never The One, always the bridesmaid never the bride. If I’d gotten one of those jobs (each in a different city from here and from each other; some in cities where we’d want to live and some in cities that, looking back, thank goodness we didn’t have to move there), we would have moved despite the house not being sold, and either rented or taken the hit of rent plus mortgage.

No one seems to want to hire me, but DH is sick of living here. If someone comes along and finally buys this house, we’ll leave the area and go somewhere. If no one buys this house, we may go on a temporary adventure, as I discussed last week. If it takes long enough, we may just leave anyway.

But where to go? It could literally be anywhere, but we’ve narrowed down the options due to career possibilities and personal preference. DH really values nice weather; I don’t care.

Wherever we might go next, it probably wouldn’t be permanent (though if you’d asked me 5 years ago when I moved here, I would have told you I’d be out of here in 2 or 3 years tops). I can’t even imagine where I’d want to live permanently — in part because it probably won’t be up to me. Between the likely need to move at least once, probably twice more, for career reasons, plus the desire to leave our options open in case anything exciting comes along for DH, I don’t let myself get attached to any particular city or region. And so, I don’t even commit to what kind of life I want. Suburban: drive my minivan to Costco? Urban: walk to the farmers market? Live in the best public school district in a given area or spend thousand (tens of thousands?) a year on private school tuition? Look out the window and see the neighbor’s window, a thicket of trees, buildings that have been there for hundreds of years, or the ocean?

I don’t mind living here, but I do mind being underemployed. DH minds living here, but he loves our house. His closest friend and my closest friend both happen to live an hour away, but we barely know anyone around here. There are plenty of places that we’d want to go for a month, a year, a few years, but none is currently such a draw that we’d leave without first selling our house. I am trying to enjoy life here to the fullest, since this summer/fall/etc. may be our last in the area — or it may not. You know, it feels very weird to simultaneously be able to move anywhere I want but also be stuck here; to have infinite choice and no choice.

Why do you live where you live? Is this really where you want to be?


13 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Geography”

  1. a Says:

    I would prefer to live in Chicago. I love it there. But I wouldn’t be able to afford my house there (or maybe I would, but I wouldn’t have spent that kind of money for it). My husband wanted to live near his family, but he doesn’t interact with them very much any more. I have the same job, but it is much less stressful in this location. I love my gynecologist. I love my health insurance (and they better get their f’ing issues straightened out so I get to keep it after the end of next month, or I will be very angry).

    Is this where I want to be? No. I’d rather be independently wealthy, travelling the world, and drinking lots of wine. But, on balance, it’s a pretty good place to be. Plus, nothing in our neighborhood is selling, so I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

  2. Elana Kahn Says:

    I live here because this is where I went to school and met my husband. We never considered moving anywhere else, and honestly I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Actually, we did consider moving to a less expensive city, but we ultimately decided that we didn’t want to leave our friends and our amazing community here. This is really where I want to be. 🙂 Although if the Arabs stopped bombing Israel and such, then I might want to live there. But I wouldn’t move there until it’s peaceful.

  3. I love it here in LA, though I only moved here for work prospects. What’s funny is I could do what I do anywhere, but the hubby needs to be here to make his living. If we were to live anywhere else, we’d live in Hawaii, though. If we had to live somewhere temporarily, tho, I’d do a summer in either Ireland or England.

  4. strongblonde Says:

    i have always wanted to live on the water. Or at least close to it. I’m more of a pool person than a lake person, but like oceans better than lakes. so….since living on the ocean is really cost prohibitive, i’ll have to dream about it. i love the east coast and the west coast, and bigger cities (although i live in a little midwestern town), and would definitely prefer to NOT live in the country. i think mostly i just want to feel like i’m in an area where people kind of believe the way i do. i can’t imagine being in a very conservative area since where i live is so liberal. i’d like to have more friends, but have never really been much of a go-getter in that department. we moved here for school and one/both of us has been in school/job/etc since we’ve been here….so we’ve gotten stuck. i like it, but think that there are better places for sure!

  5. Ana Says:

    Came here 5 years ago for my work—-I had a few prospects, and particularly chose this city because I wanted a big change (move away from the south, try living in a real CITY where you can walk places, a blue state, close proximity to other cool cities). We really really loved the lifestyle, the weather (SEASONS!!) and were fine with the high cost of living initially. In fact at the end of our 3rd year here, we bought a townhouse in the city. Now that we have a child (and another coming), the lifestyle issue is a bit moot (we aren’t really enjoying restaurants and culture), though living car-free & commute-free is a definite major advantage. Still like the weather much better than in the south, and we are both pretty happy with our jobs. We don’t have as many friends as I would like, mostly due to my personality and life circumstances making it difficult to find the energy/motivation to do anything about it.

    I do fantasize sometimes about moving out to the burbs and having a big yard and a car—running errands could be so QUICK, and no need to actually walk the dog somewhere at night! Also, we happen to have bought in a not-so-good school zone, which will be an issue 4 years from now, so the burbs are looking quite likely. At that point, it seems that it wouldn’t matter what city we are in, because in my experience, suburbs don’t differ as much as urban areas do from city to city. So we’ll see what is going on with our jobs; if its time to look for a change, we would consider moving back down south so we are at least near family and tons of old friends, instead of having to start over new again.

  6. niobe Says:

    I grew up here and went to school here.

    Then I moved far away.

    Then my husband got a job here and we moved back. At this point, I can’t really imagine living anywhere else.

  7. Gil Says:

    I live in the capital of Canada. But I am here for the work, not because I particularly WANT to be. I’m from the extreme east coast (an island in fact) and save for my sister, EVERYONE else lives at home. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the ocean terribly. I miss the lifestyle. And yes, I miss the crappy weather sometimes too. But I came here for work/education 16 years ago and I’m still here. I’ve been trying to move home for about 3-4 years now, but the rospects are slim and none. So I stick it out here in the hopes of eventually finding the right job at home. (See, I still call it “home” too.)

  8. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    We live where we live because the Air Force tells us. We like Virginia and being back on the East Coast. We’re both from New England and that’s where our families still are living. We like being within driving distance from them. But we don’t love Virginia. It doesn’t feel like home and we never would have chosen this area if the military didn’t send us here.

    We’re pretty sure of our next location (about 1-year away for a 3-year tour) and I’m not too fond of going there but Nav is super excited and is pushing (as best as he can) to get an assignment there. I’d prefer the second option but it’s looking less likely. The first option is a better fit for a job and family (more desk work, less chance of deploying) but the area doesn’t hold much appeal to me.

    Our 6-year plan (when Nav is eligible to retire from the AF) is to go back home. I’m not looking forward to the snow but miss the scenery and it feels like the right decision.

  9. celia Says:

    We are trapped here. A. Our house is worth 35 K less than we bought it for, though we thought we were as low as the market could go. B. We are in Pennsylvania because we could not afford to live in New Jersey and have me be a stay at home Mom, let alone the fact that in PA we have a four bedroom 2 bath for the same price of a one bedroom condo in Jersey. When we bought this house, we HOPED for children but did not actually believe we would have any. So I did not really take the school system into consideration. But there is no way any child of ours is going to this school. So we are looking at paying out the ass for tuition if the market does not improve enough for us to sell in the next three years. On the plus side, our town is charming and our neighbors are super friendly. And there are kids running around and nobody feels the need to lock their doors during the day. And living here allows me to stay home with our son. Which is amazing. But we are over an hour away from all our friends and family. Which is not fun. My block looks like Sesame Street with all brick row homes.

  10. St. Elsewhere Says:

    – the locality: The area we live in allows atleast one of us, walking distance to office. Hubby’s office is very close by and he just walks down to the office. I love the home, but I wish we lived in a home where there was some bit of land (for some gardening), or a good park nearby.

    – the city: DH is anti-big city living. He hates to be stuck in crowded areas, and long commutes or anything of that sort, he prefers living in small/medium places where life is little more laid-back and people know each other. I have tasted big city life and kind of like it, even with the hassles. So, I am not really gaga about the city where we are (and we are there because of our jobs), but I am hoping that we would shift to a better place someday.

  11. coffeegrljp Says:

    I love Seattle and don’t ever want to leave. Even when we leave to go to Osaka as we sometimes do, I’m not as happy there. Before coming to Seattle I was hesitant to live in an urban area as I thought I was heading more toward a more rural lifestyle preference. But DH wanted to live in NYC. I told him “Nope, too big.” So we compromised on a coastal city of moderate size located between the East Coast (and my family) and Japan (his family). Additionally, we figured it wouldn’t be hard for him to find work as a computer programmer (and we were totally right). I love that this is a city full of bookstores, libraries and readers. I love that we’re moments from lakes and Puget Sound. I love that we’re a short drive from mountains for hiking. I love that we have a nice public transportation system and only need one car for our family. I love that there are easily 8 parks within walking distance for me and my girls. I love that there are lots of different kinds of people living in our neighborhood and we can get all kinds of different ethnic foods and our girls can go to a Japanese preschool here. It really suits the needs of our family perfectly and I hate to leave. I feel so fortunate that our circumstances led us here.

  12. BB Says:

    We live where we live because of work. There can’t be any more job opportunities than the place (geographic area) where we live in (or I would like to hope so – with the ever wobbly economy!) To me practicality outwieghs emotions in this case (at least at this point of time). There are options for schools/ethnic-cultural aspect/nature… the decisions are ours to make, as to how we can afford and choose to use them!

  13. Heather Says:

    Funny you ask this. We live where we do for work, but also for family. DH’s family is not that far from here (about an hour) and we both work in the area, although DH works from home when he’s not traveling. We do talk about moving away from here, but we are somewhat happy with where we are. We used to live in Delaware because of work and then found out a few years ago that we could move over the border into Pennsylvania and I have a much prettier commute than I ever did. I also like the location of our house, although I wish we didn’t have a homeowner’s association, LOL.

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