Design

Where Do You Live?

My friends are dropping like flies…

Every few months, another one sits us down and breaks the news. He or she is leaving New York. They got a new job, their partner got a job, they want to be closer to their parents, they’re sick of the cold winters, they want more space, the rent is just too high (basically this).

Each time our friend group gets a little smaller, I fantasize about moving myself. I love the buzz of New York and the life I’ve made here, but the older I get, being near my family in California sounds more and more appealing. My brother and his wife are planning a move from the Bay Area to a small mountain city that neither of them are from, but where homes are much more affordable. I’ve been making up scenarios in my head where we move down the street and our kids grow up roaming the neighborhood together.

This is unlikely, though, since my fiancé‘s job doesn’t exist on the west coast. If we do ever move, his work will probably take us abroad. Since I’m a writer who can essentially work from anywhere, that would make sense for us. And living in another country is an exciting prospect — it’s just unnerving to not yet know when and where it will be. Lots of people, in New York and otherwise, seem to be in similar states of flux over where they’ll “end up.”

Wherever you choose to settle will not only affect your day-to-day life, it can also change your personality. “Studies show that character traits, like anxiety and extroversion, vary from one state to another,” reports New York Magazine. “There’s not only a New York state of mind; there’s also a Montana mentality and an Idaho id.” I certainly was never one to swear as a taxi passed me by before New York City got to me, and my friends who’ve moved to Los Angeles have all become a little softer around the edges (and drink a whole lot more kombucha).

This can prove particularly daunting for those who don’t get to choose where they live. Bryan, a Russian literature professor with a penchant for city life, is constantly nervous that his next job will take him to the middle of nowhere. Currently, he works in a Western Massachusetts college town. It’s more rural than he’d prefer, but taking on the great search for the perfect farmhouse dining table has helped him embrace country life. “I’m worried, though, that when I finally find the right table, I’ll have to move somewhere where I can’t have a farm table,” he jokes. “Now, I’m just worrying in reverse.”

Another couple, Amy and Matt, are also professors — but one got a job in Ohio, the other in Baltimore (that’s 400 miles apart!). Amy lives with their two-year-old son in Ohio; Matt visits them on the weekends; and they go to Matt on school breaks. “We both love our jobs,” Amy explains. “But balancing our careers and our personal lives has been difficult. It’s hard being a solo parent during the week, and my husband misses our son. We plan to make some hard decisions in the next few years to either change careers or change schools so that we can live in the same place.”

For others, it’s not about deciding to leave, but deciding to stay. Allison moved seven times before her sophomore year in high school, but once her family landed in Michigan, she never left. She loves that multiple generations live close by and that her kids will have the same friends throughout their childhood. Still, she sometimes dreams about living abroad (or somewhere warmer). “That’s why we make travel a priority,” she says. “We haven’t done a ton since the kids are so little, but I have a ‘Leo and Eleanor teenage trips’ fund in my budgeting app just waiting for when they can tell us places they’re interested in that we can explore together.”

Now imagine this: What if you could just look at a map and pick a place to live? Rob and Sharon — who have three kids — are outgrowing their small Manhattan apartment. (“Right now, the five of us share one bathroom,” Rob says. “We see each other naked all the time. If someone gets the flu, it’s over.”) Since he and his wife can both work remotely, they’re scouting a new city in the United States for their family. Top of the list so far: Portland and Austin. Factors are good public schools and affordability, and Sharon looks up every neighborhoods’ walk score, needing it to be 90% or higher. The kids’ wish list items are more personal: “Owen wants a dog, Oscar wants a basketball hoop and Ella wants a swimming pool,” says Rob. “We can’t tick everyone’s boxes, but we’ll try to get a few!”

All these factors are meant to contribute to our individual happiness, of course. But according to The New York Times, the general happiness of a city is not usually something people consider. If this sounds confusing (how do you compute a city’s happiness?), I feel you. Turns out, each year a Well-Being Index rates U.S. cities on the residents’ feelings of purpose and community, social and financial stability and physical health. Salinas, California, and Naples, Florida, are currently the happiest places to live in the U.S. New York City doesn’t even scratch the top 100, yet it still has such an allure.

Or does it? This weekend, I’m throwing a baby shower for another departing friend — she’ll be leaving the city for her hometown after the little guy is born. I feel the usual mix of sadness (I’ll miss you!), shock (how could you leave this amazing place!) and jealousy (I want to leave this amazing place!) about her decision. Or, maybe, I’m just jealous that she has decided. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I’m pretty certain I’ll talk about it yet again with my fiancé over dinner tonight.

Where do you live? I’d love to know how you ended up there. Are you in your hometown, where you went to college or a totally new place? Did your job dictate your location? Did you move for love? Do you think you’ll move again? Do you like it there? It’s so fun to think about these questions — do tell!

P.S. Parenting around the world.

(Photos by Lena Corwin/Instagram.)

  1. Kara says...

    I’ve lived in New York State my entire life, and Manhattan for the last 8 years. I never planned to leave, but my boyfriend got a job offer in Seattle and we’ve decided to head west! I feel both extremely excited and lucky to get the chance to try out a new city, but also terrified to leave New York. We both think we’ll eventually end up back on the east coast but who knows? Maybe we’ll love it so much we’ll never want to leave!

  2. Kara Styles says...

    I’ve lived in New York State my entire life, and Manhattan for the last 8 years. I never planned to leave, but my boyfriend got a job offer in Seattle and we’ve decided to head west! I feel both extremely excited and lucky to get the chance to try out a new city, but also terrified to leave the New York. We both think we’ll eventually end up back on the east coast but who knows? Maybe we’ll love it so much we’ll never want to leave!

  3. meredith says...

    We recently made the move from DC to Tulsa. I’m originally from OKC but had lived in DC for 13 years and never thought I would leave. My husband grew up in DC, and with the exception of college in Philly, had always lived there. We moved back to be closer to my family. My mom has early onset alzheimer’s and my dad takes care of her. I miss some things about city life, and I don’t know if Tulsa is our final destination, but I don’t regret the move for one minute. Most of mom’s language is gone, but her eyes still light up when she sees my twin 2 year olds. It feels extra special for my girls to be able to spend time with this set of grandparents right now.

  4. I’ve been threatening to leave NYC for what seems to be the past decade. Still, here I remain. One day I’ll make the move, maybe.

  5. Gigi says...

    Born and raised in LA, but I now live in Dallas which is my university’s city.

    I am a 4th generation “Angelina” and I choose to leave LA for SMU because I wanted something different (and they had an awesome study abroad program). At the time, no one in my family had ever left SoCal. I wanted to get away from my crazy family but I knew I couldn’t handle the cold of the North East (NYC/Boston/DC) so it was either Dallas, New Orleans, or Miami.

    Before graduating, I studied abroad/lived in Paris, Ireland, and South America. Upon graduation, I knew that going back to LA with a degree from a non-California/ivy school didn’t mean much in the job market and the cost of living was insane. Pair that with my student loans, I would have never been able to be financially stable/independent living in LA so I stayed in Dallas.

    After graduating, I ended up marrying my college sweetheart, starting a business, and having a family in Dallas. I go back to LA all the time and I miss it everyday, especially knowing my kids won’t get to experience the beach life I had growing up. But the reality is that if I had stayed in LA like many of my high school friends, I know I wouldn’t have the stable/comfortable life I have in Dallas. I’d still be running the rat race, struggling to make ends meet, and not have the my amazing family life that Dallas facilitates for me.

  6. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. Was born in Port Elizabeth, went to university in Grahamstown (an hour away), met my husband who was moving to Jhb and moved here too…. 24 years ago. I love it in Jhb but I would still like to spend 2 years in NZ. That’s not very likely though because we get older and more set in our ways.

  7. Mia says...

    I left my southern Swedish village which felt too small for me to explore the world.
    I’ve lived in Ibiza, Paris, Los Angeles and London for many years until I had my son; now five at which time me and his dad decided to move to Stockholm , Sweden . It had been in the back of our minds for quite a few years to move there so it felt the time was right .It’s everything we hoped for and finally after many years we feel settled and we both know since we have lived and travelled across the globe many times that we are in the perfect spot for us. But now I’ve just found out that due to work we probably have to move to US( which I love of course as well) to Buffalo NY, a bit daunting but exciting. After many moves I’m not scared anymore. I know that change is healthy in my life. I make new friends, and learn new things and somehow I feel when I explore new places time slows down and the years feel longer so I’m just open to and embrace moving.

  8. Elsie Xiao says...

    I’m born and raised in China (a little city called Kunming in the South), went to Ottawa for university and stayed there for one year after graduation. Then I moved to Hongkong for grad school and worked there for almost 2 years. Then I moved to Beijing, where I live and work now, since last year. I moved because of my girlfriend at the time. This is probably not the last time I will move for love….. I’m not married yet so there’s still that possibility. I just started discovering some hidden spot of Beijing so maybe I will like it more this year.

  9. Gemma says...

    I live in a large town in England, called Cheltenham. It is a beautiful town. I was born here but moved around from birth till I was 10. I moved to the next town over, for 3.5 yrs, to live with an ex. As soon as it was over I moved home. ALL my family live here. But I would love to move! Not sure to how far away. My little one is 6 so I’m trying to decide when would be the best time for him. My biggest obstacle is getting my partner to move, he has lived within a 1 mile radius of where he was born his entire life!

  10. Annabelle says...

    I’m from Milwaukee, WI but live in Boulder, CO (Hey Gallup poll!) – My partner is from Boulder and wanted to move back to Colorado after university and I wanted to get out of Wisconsin. We thought we’d live here for a few years and try something else but we love it! The education, the mountains, the people from all corners makin’ it feel like adult summer camp. We love to travel but there’s something magical about driving home down into the valley and being like, “I can’t believe I live in a place so beautiful.” 6 years later and I still obsess over the Rocky Mountain view.

  11. Nat says...

    I live in Austin, TX and moved here about 7 months ago for graduate school to pursue my licensure to be a therapist! Fresh from a break-up from my long time partner the new city has had it’s ups and downs due to moving away from my friends in family. But despite the growing pains, I know this is exactly where I need to be. Taking one day at a time to acclimate and not feel a rush to force friendships and routines, exploring has its benefits!

  12. molly says...

    I was born in MA, spent a few years in NH and then my family moved to RI where most of my family lives and grew up. Spent my entire childhood in RI and then went to VA for college. After college I moved to CT, and now I am in NH.

    My dream is to live abroad one day.

  13. Liani says...

    i stay in Nairobi,Kenya-Africa.Its beautiful a lot of freedom,beautiful scenery,wild animals,free range products.Been here my whole life but my heart and head are bursting with ideas of travels and just filling my thoughts with culture,diversity,different languages.I would love to ultimately stay in a place with less sun but more with a community-feel.I love my country but opportunities are not many and i fear i will grow up to the same cycle of poverty and i dont want that for my children so i am currently looking for a chance to be an au pair or university elsewhere.

  14. Carolyn says...

    I moved to northern Virginia in 1995 for my husband’s job. We have been here ever since. I like the hustle bustle and craziness of the area. So much to see and do. Rich in history. Just a short drive to D.C. Great place to raise a family if you want to teach your children that diversity is a wonderful thing because many different cultures come together here. If we had stayed in our small southern VA community all these years our children would have missed out on so many diverse cultural experiences. I can say without hesitation that they do not see color, race, gender or any of the other “hang ups” people have about other people because they were raised here where we taught them they are no better or worse than the next person. We didn’t decide to move here initially but once we were here we never looked back.

  15. I was originally from malaysia but i live in sydney now. I came here for uni and have stayed ever since :)

  16. Audra says...

    So many posts on this site seem perfectly timed with what’s going on in my life right now :) I’m originally from the Jersey shore, but have lived in Baltimore, MD since college (12 years). 6 months ago, I started a job in DC and have been commuting close to 4 hours a day (which is a huge bummer). I thought I’d jump at the chance to move to DC and get out of my rut in Baltimore, but I can’t seem to pull the plug. Even though the commute stinks, Baltimore feels like home; my friends are there, as is the guy I recently started seeing, and it’s just…comfortable. When my apartment lease is up this summer, I’ll be forced to make a decision. But for now, I’m avoiding thinking about it. I wish change wasn’t so scary!

  17. I see that you got a lot of feed back from your questions. Our story is beginning to take shape in our blog. So if you really want to know you can check it out.
    We moved because we do volunteer work and that work brought us to our new location, but our work brings us back to our hometown. Its complicated, but life is complicated. We enjoy every moment, as we learn and grow.

  18. Natalie says...

    I am originally from Atlanta, GA, but left to go to college outside of Chicago. Spent a year there but transferred to a school in NYC and ended up staying in NYC for 13 years…starting dating my now husband there, graduated from college, went to law school, worked after law school. I just fell in love with the city–never imagined I’d stay anywhere in my 20s for so long, but I built such a wonderful community of friends in NY. My husband and I moved about a year and a half ago to Chicago for my job, and we’re really not gelling with the city, unfortunately. Figuring out where to go next…SF, LA, Seattle or maybe back to NYC? All of those options seem so expensive and far from our families in ATL, but we stronger communities of friends in those cities. Does anyone else struggle with this choice? It feels like we have to choose between being close to our families/better cost of living in ATL and living somewhere we’re really excited about which will cost more and allow us to be closer our friends in a bigger city. We like ATL but wonder about diversity and politics there…as we are on the more liberal side of the spectrum.

    • Courtney says...

      Depending on where you live in Atlanta, you’d be able to find more liberal areas. Decatur for one is known as a mix of Berkeley and Mayberry :)

      As someone from Georgia who moved away to Colorado and then back to Atlanta, I completely understand the fear. Atlanta has changed a lot over the past ten years though so it’s worth a look. It’s finally coming into its own (amazing food, music, and parks) and is made up of such an amazing group of diverse people and cultures. There really is no other place like it.

  19. sal says...

    I grew up and have always lived in the Bay Area and never ever planned or even thought about leaving, even for college. I always had a rooted sense of place far stronger than my friends, but now that I am in my late 30s after decades of cramped/noisy apt living I have realized even if I save for the next 20 years I won’t have a down payment for the price of an average house here today ($1.2 million for a 2bdrm fixer on my street). I am making plans to leave. I can’t help but feel sad about what it has become here culturally and that I am breaking 4 generations on one side and at least 6 on the other of being in the same place but I see more life honestly in other places at this point and have to make the change. Even tho I am sure my underbelly of bitterness is exposing itself in this moment, I’m actually super excited about leaving, which is a trip, a brand new feeling for me and I feel unafraid of the next step. I can’t wait to start anew and have more space and quiet! I’m taking being priced out as a sign from the universe that it’s time to literally let go of the past and move forward in unfathomable ways! The deep sentimentality around this place left me about a year ago when I started to calculate my future here and realized there is none.

    I loved reading all these posts and feeling inspired! I know I’m on my way – better late than never!

  20. After many years of “being over” NYC, I finally left a few months ago. My fiance got a job in California and we were looking for any excuse to leave NYC and finally made the jump. I miss a lot of things about NYC but it’s been fun and exciting to explore the bay area. Our families are both on the east coast though, so I’m not sure this move is permanent, perhaps just a couple of years. I feel the same way as you–not really sure where the future will take us but eager to find out. For now, I’m trying to enjoy where we are at without worrying too much abut the next step (easier said than done!).

  21. Jenny says...

    I was born in Washington DC. I grew up in:
    Alexandria, VA
    Louisville, KY
    Overland Park, KS
    Upland, CA
    Lahaina, Maui, HI
    Louisville, KY
    Nashville, TN

    I went to college in Bowling Green, KY. When I graduated, I wanted to move somewhere of my own choosing, after growing up moving every 2-3 years. I chose Seattle, WA. It was the farthest I could go on the mainland US (my older brother moved to Maui). I had only been there once before. I’ve now lived in Seattle for almost 7 years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon!

  22. Monica says...

    I was born in France, raised in Canada and now live in Portugal!

  23. Susan says...

    Born: Seattle, WA and then…
    Marquette, MI
    Fort Morgan, CO
    Fond du lac, WI
    Suburbs of Chicago, IL
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Chicago, IL
    Seattle, again
    SW Michigan
    Now: Minneapolis, MN (where my mom was born and raised)
    My whole extended family lives in Missouri, but we have been here a year and plan on staying. As long as we can go someplace warm for a week to break up the winter, we’re set. The quality of life for my husband, young son and me is unbeatable.

  24. Lisa says...

    Northern California! I was born in Michigan, grew up in North Carolina, back to Michigan for college, Chicago after graduation. We lived in Chicago for 15 years and never thought we would leave, despite the brutal winters. Three years ago my husband took a job in Mountain View, California. We LOVE everything about California!!!

  25. I have always always wanted to go far away to a better place, someplace that feels like i belong. I hope that is soon :)

    Shruthi
    http://nyambura.co

  26. Emily says...

    I live in small-town, Iowa and am from small-town, Iowa. My boyfriend’s parents live on a farm just outside of town and it’s so nice being close to them. We’re out on the farm almost every weekend eating corn on the cob, riding four wheelers and fishing. I can’t imagine living anywhere. It’s so quiet and peaceful. It’s truly simple, low-stress living. Every time I travel outside of the Midwest, I miss home even after a few days.

  27. What a great topic to discuss and I feel like it’s always ‘the grass is greener on the other side”. I currently live in the suburbs close to Toronto but boy do I want to move downtown! I’ve never lived there and it’ll be nice to have everything so close by and not having to drive/take public transportation

  28. I feel overwhelmed by this question all the time… If you can work remotely, it’s almost like you have too much choice?!

  29. Shelby Savage Gibson says...

    My husband and I live in Charlottesville, Virginia. I have moved throughout the Southeast in my life starting in Texas (which technically isn’t the Southeast) and then to North Carolina, college in Georgia and South Carolina. When I graduated I decided on a whim to move to Charlottesville to live with a friend unsure of how it would pan out. My husband (then boyfriend) fortunately got a job in VA shortly after I moved here and we moved in together once he got here. We had been together for quite some time at that point so finally moving in together felt right. Charlottesville feels like home to us more and more with each passing year. We’ve been here almost 2 years now and it feels like the first place we’ve been real grown ups. Its a charming little college town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We really love it here, it takes a bit of everything we have loved about other places we have lived and puts its own spin on it.

    • Amanda says...

      Almost 2 years ago I left Charlottesville after being there for 10 years (college and then immediately after). I’m in Asheville, NC now which has a similar feel, but I still miss Cville a lot! My husband can work remotely and I was ready for a career shift, so we looked at a lot of cities. Asheville was a good fit and not too far from family (still in central Virginia). I hope you continue to love Charlottesville as much as I always have!

    • Carrington says...

      I am from Charlottesville and always love visiting home :) lived all over and still think it is the most beautiful place.

  30. Margaux says...

    I was born In Geneva Switzerland, from a Swedish mum and an French dad…
    I left the city for grad school, but not farther than 200km away!
    Now I live 10km from Geneva, in France, where I built a big family home with my hubby and my 2 kids, in the middle of the fields, cows, hens, and wild beasts! I do work in a Grad School, with great students from all over the world, they make me travelling with their origins and backgrounds, but I’m really happy I never left my lovely French/Swiss Alps ;)

  31. Sarah says...

    I live in kelligrews newfoundland canada. It’s close (0,5 to 1 hour drive) from both my and my husbands hometowns. We ended up here by chance, we met in northern Labrador and early in the relationship I got a job offer closer to home that i couldn’t pass up, I thought it was the end of us, since it we would be 2000+ km apart but i was wrong, 5 months after i moved he got a job in the region and followed me to be closer to home. We chose our house in a community that was half way between both of our work places so the daily commutes wouldn’t be too bad.

  32. Emma says...

    I live in London, UK and moved here from New Zealand via Canada. We moved overseas to travel more easily and to advance our careers. The hardest part is being so far away from family but we try to visit New Zealand every year. I do think we will eventually move back but only once we fall out of love with London.

  33. Thank you for this post. It is interesting to see how people choose where to live now a days. I guess Switzerland is a bit smaller than America but I see loads of people move to Germany. Luckily our clients still like to travel to our recording studio also if its not around the corner :-)

  34. Alex says...

    I love the comments on this post almost as much as the post itself. I grew up in Connecticut near New York City. I thought NY was the center of the world. I romanticized the west coast but it felt alien and devoid of some of the history, charm, and differentiated seasons that I loved so much in New England. In my early 20s, having been to Princeton and lived with 4 other women in a 2 bedroom apartment in Manhattan, I moved to San Francisco for a job. I was making an industry change and expected to spend 9 months in the San Francisco company’s training program before moving back. Here I am 8 years later and I expect I’ll always live in San Francisco. I met my husband here, bought an apartment, went to grad school, gave birth to my son, and founded two companies. I have as many friends here as I do in NY. Still, each time our plane lands in JFK, I feel a familiarity wash over me. Is it possible to have two homes? I think so!

  35. Am I mistaken, or did you once get told by someone that you’d end up in Cali?

    I’m in Michigan, but as a kid my family moved all the time. I’ve never lived near any relatives beyond my immediate family. I lived in Ireland for a stint, consider NYC daily, and am dating a German who eventually wants to raise his family there.
    So who knows?!

  36. Kelly says...

    I am from Chicago and moved to Dallas after I graduated from a university in Indiana. I lived in Dallas for 6 years, all while dating my boyfriend who lived in Lincoln, NE. After deciding to end the long distance part of our relationship, I left my job in Dallas to move to Lincoln for him. I was there for two years and then he was fired (college football coach). His job then took us to Youngstown, OH – and we are still here (almost a year). So if you’re keeping track, that’s three different cities for me in the past 5 years and three different jobs. I live in Youngstown and commute to Pittsburgh for work. I’ve loved every city I’ve lived in for their own reasons. I haven’t noticed me changing based on where I live, but I do miss living in a bigger city. The people in every city have been great – all very passionate about the place they live and all care to make it a better city. And although it’s a little scary, it’s also exciting and oddly comforting knowing the place I currently live will most likely not be the last (if he remains a football coach).

  37. Inge says...

    I live in Puurs, Belgium, where my husband and I both grew up. It’s situated right between Antwerp and Brussels. The great Duvel-beer is produced here ;-) We’ve lived near Antwerp a few months but we’re no city-people.

    Puurs is really centrally located in Belgium: within 30 minutes we are in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent. It’s an hour drive to the coast, two hours drive to Luxemburg and Amsterdam. From Brussels, it’s two hours by train to London and Paris. A luxury!

    For us, living close by family was the most important thing. I have 89-year old grandparents that still live in their own house, it’s so convenient that you can pass by/help out anytime without much effort. All of our family (parents, sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces,…) live within a 20min drive, that’s really the greatest luxury you can have!

  38. Lindsay says...

    I live in Islamabad, Pakistan. I was born and raised in the same small town in Connecticut where my mom grew up, which was 20 minutes away from where my dad grew up (ancestry is Sicilian/English and French Canadian). During university I spent extensive time overseas in Bangalore, India; Rome, Italy; Auckland, New Zealand; Beijing, China; and Bangor, Wales. After university, I lived in New York City for a few years (Manhattan and Brooklyn); then moved to Cape Town, South Africa; then to Washington, DC for a few years, and then here to Islamabad where I’ve been for the past three years. Pakistan gets a lot of negative attention in the media, but Islamabad is beautiful with great hiking within the city limits (and wild monkeys!). Yes, the security environment is tense at times, but I’ve loved living here with all of its challenges and opportunities. The country itself is this incredible tapestry of cultures, with incredibly rich history. It’s normal to hear urbanites talk about going back to ‘their village’ for the weekend, even if they haven’t ever personally lived there. Some of my friends’ families/ancestors have lived (and still live) in the same village for hundreds of years! My career will probably keep me overseas in somewhat less-than-predictable environments for the foreseeable future, but as long as I can keep my dog with me and ensure she has a good quality of life, I’m open to pretty much anything! But for right now, I’m happy to call Isloo home.

  39. Kat says...

    Born and raised in San Francisco, where the weather was great but the rent wasn’t . I then moved to Sacramento for school and work. I loved it and stayed for 10 years, but after awhile a change was needed and I’m now in Boise; where the rent is great, there is lots to do, great restaurants and it reminds me of Sacramento but with better weather. I think I’ll stay until I get that “I need a change” feeling again.

  40. Sarah W says...

    San Diego. My husband and I moved here five years ago for what was supposed to be a temp job until I got my Bar results. Now we have a dog and a baby, and in the meantime got seriously priced out of our former city, San Francisco. The rent on my old apartment there has tripled! San Diego is a great town but our families are in Northern California, so we debate all the time about whether we should or can move back north.

  41. Natalie says...

    Such an interesting discussion! I’m from St. Louis, MO and have lived here since I was 3. I grew up having family all over the country (CA, VA, MI) and I loved that we always got to travel to see people. I also loved that, unlike many of the people I was in school with, my parents were from somewhere else! I never thought I would get “stuck” here, but here I am, living 2 miles from where I went to high school, 15 years later. We talk about the possibility of moving to other cities (Dallas?) but I doubt we will ever leave. My family has since moved away, so at least my kids get the same experience that I did, journeying to see Grandma.

  42. Veronica says...

    We live near Camridge, Mass right now. We’ve moved several places over the last 8 years for my husband’s PhD and after a one-year fellowship here we’re due for another move this summer. It’d be great if this is the one that sticks!

  43. Heather says...

    This is something that fascinates me, as my Grandparents were immigrants and I am always curious why they chose rural Ontario, Canada to move to from urban Belgium. After high school I was on the move for a number of years living in different cities and countries. It was never that I wanted to escape my hometown, just that I knew that I wanted to see more. In the end, I missed the rural living and my family. Accepting that I wasn’t going to end up somewhere exotic was hard, but embracing it has been the best thing. I love the slower pace, being near my family, and I still get to travel anywhere that my imagination can dream up!

  44. That is ALL we talk about here in the San Francisco Bay area. It can be great here, but it’s now a bit overrated. Too many people, too many cars, bad air, bad traffic, crazy-expensive real estate, and jobs with crummy salaries (except for high tech jobs).

  45. I live in Berkeley, CA and I love it so much I am afraid to leave! My husband is job searching now and we realize that his job may present an opportunity/imperative to move, which is mind-boggling to consider. We both ended up here a few years after college when we somewhat randomly moved to San Francisco with a group of friends. We crossed over to the East Bay because of his last new job and I fell head over heels in love with the trees and low-key but vibrant feel. I’m a little nervous about potentially moving (I work from home, so I am location independent!) but curious about new adventures.

    • P.S. Salinas, CA is my hometown, so I was surprised to see it on the list of happiest places to live :)

  46. I’m Belgian, my husband is Croatian and we moved to Sweden a year ago because of work. I still dream about “ending up” in Croatia one day, because it’s beautiful there and our family and friends would be near. But for now Sweden is good, and we’ll see what the future brings :)

  47. Anjie says...

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I grew up in Mumbai, India then moved to Manhattan when I met my husband during my mid-30s. Four years later much to my delight we were transferred to Hong Kong. After six incredible years in Asia’s adult playground we were on the move again this time to KL. Absolutely love it here & dont ever want to leave.

  48. Kate says...

    Loving all the comments from people around the world. Reading this post makes me so grateful that my hubby and I have found our home. We have both lived all over South Africa but made a conscious decision to move from the crazy materialistic life in Joburg (where we met) to Durban. The chilled coastal vibe suits us perfectly and is great to raise a family. We dont have a lot of family close by but have made our friends our family. While I didnt grow up in this city I have made my home, I’m so happy my children will grow up here.

  49. Lindsey says...

    What fun to read everyone’s stories and see that we all end up asking the same questions of life!
    I was born and raised in Alabama, and still live here, but my mom likes to joke that each year I get further away. I was born near Montgomery and moved for college to Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide, anyone?) and then to Birmingham for the best job ever. I got married there and my husband is now finishing up med school in Huntsville (near the Tennessee line.) After med school comes residency–a few years that we could literally spend anywhere in the country. Pre-baby, we thought for sure we’d go to Boston, our favorite city. But now that we have a little one, I’m not sold on going so far away from our families (though we are far enough away from them now that it’s not like they can keep the baby on a whim or anything.) I know we’d like to settle in the Southeast eventually, but we’re doing a lot of dreaming about the next few years. Really, we could go anywhere, but we could also stay.

  50. Rose says...

    I was born in Paris, France to an Ashkenazi Jewish New Englander and a Roman Catholic mother from Marseille. We moved to Cambridge, MA when I was young and it was a great privilege to grow up in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, still remaining loyal to my French roots – bilingual home, French food, everything. My siblings were all born in the U.S. and all feel very American whereas I am much more in touch with my dual nationality. I went to New York City for college and spent a year living in London studying at the London School of Economics. At the time I found London dreary, but now looking back I actually loved living there (even though I survived on bread rolls and water because I couldn’t afford to live there).

    I moved back to Cambridge, last March and am now applying to medical schools in the United States and Ireland, hoping to land somewhere new and exciting. I am very open to an international life as this is the kind my own parents had and I think it made my upbringing much richer!

    I can adapt easily to any environment so who knows where I will land!!

    Also, this post is so fascinating to me! Thank you everyone for sharing <3

  51. Leni says...

    I keep coming back to this post to read the comments, so I thought I’d add my story as well :)
    I grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany and moved to Berlin when I was 19 to attend university. I met my boyfriend at uni within the first two weeks and without him, I would have left after a few months. Berlin was too unfriendly, the sidewalks were covered in dog poo and it was hard to make new friends. Fast forward ten years, I am still in Berlin, still with the same boyfriend and a five months old baby! But I always knew that I wouldn’t want to live here for ever, so we are looking at moving back closer to Düsseldorf. I want my daughter to grow up close to her grand parents and I soneday want a house with a small backyard. I worry about finding new friends and horribly missing the ones in Berlin and all the good stuff that Berlin has to offer (operas, cafés, restaurants…). But I can always come back and visit!

  52. Elga says...

    I was born in a small town in Brazil, then moved to a larger city, then moved to Rio (which is super big), then moved to Baltimore, and now am living in Sweden. Every place has it’s spirit and choosing a place ends up being like picking a partner, I guess. You have to have a minimal connection with it, and then put in some hard work to make it a nice relationship. This question haunts me a little, like I don’t know if I found my “happily ever after” homeland yet. Anyway, I am very much happy that I have decided to explore.
    And this also reminds me of the Elizabeth Bishop poem Questions of Travel, that ends with: “Continent, city, country, society:
    the choice is never wide and never free.
    And here, or there… No. Should we have stayed at home,
    wherever that may be? ‘ “

  53. Elga says...

    I was born in a small town in Brazil, then moved to a larger, then moved to Rio, which is super large, then moved to Baltimore, and now am living in Sweden. Every place has it’s spirit and choosing a place end up being like picking a partner I guess. You have to have a minimal connection with it and then work to make it work. This question haunts me a little, though. Like I don’t know if I found my “happily ever after” homeland. I am very much happy that I have decided to explore, anyway.
    And it reminds me of the Elizabeth Bishop poem Questions of Travel, that ends with: “Continent, city, country, society:
    the choice is never wide and never free.
    And here, or there… No. Should we have stayed at home,
    wherever that may be? ‘ “

  54. My husband and I live right in the town we grew up in – we are crazy loyal that way. To our parents, our town, and our friends. I can’t imagine ever leaving and it’s SO incredibly cool to be sending my own boys to the same schools that we attended. We live in the suburbs of Chicago on a very private street with a double cul de sac lot that has wonderful neighbors with other kids our kids ages. My husband and I always joke we found the secret to happiness: we can send them out to roam and play while we enjoy a glass of wine alone on our patio, and not worry one single bit.

  55. Leah says...

    In 2005, I did a study abroad semester at the University of Leeds — where I met my English boyfriend! I went home for my spring term, but plans were quickly made for returning over the summer. Just for a visit. 11 years later, I’m still here. Together, we’ve lived in Stratford-upon-Avon where we soaked up all the Shakespeare we could stomach for one glorious summer. Taunton in Somerset where country pubs reign supreme. Eastleigh in Hampshire where neither of us really remember much as we were both working flat out. Winchester also in Hampshire, which is gorgeous but SO expensive. Godalming in Surrey where the pretty snowy streets scenes in The Holiday were filmed! And, finally (though doubtful ‘forever’), Grantham in Lincolnshire. We’re not very good at staying put! And, despite having bought a house here 2 years ago, we’re both feeling a new place is soon on the cards! I guess while we’ve found each other, we still haven’t found what we’re looking for…

    • Hi Leah,

      I know this is a bit late but just reading your comment and wondering— how did you manage to move to the UK after you studied abroad? I studied abroad at Oxford and would LOVE to move to England but have found the visa/work situation impossible. Do you have any tips??

      Thanks in advance!!

  56. Martha says...

    I think about this ALL the time! I was born and raised in a medium sized city in Central California. There is a wonderful sense of community there. After college, I wanted to get out and explore so I moved to rural Japan for three years, where I met my soon-to-be husband (a Brit) and now we live in England together! I would have never ever imagined this is where my life would end up, and to be honest we both don’t think we will stay here (though we love London and all it’s conveniences). We live in Greater London, but the cons of living here and in NY seem very similar. A friend back home just bought a house for the same price as our down payment on our flat! We both also think we have one or two international moves left in us before we settle down and have some kids. So who knows what the future will bring? I just feel grateful to be living this life, and when we get tired of the hustle and bustle and high costs here, I hope we are still open enough to be able to start all over somewhere else :)

  57. Claire says...

    Grew up in North East England, went to university in London where I moved five times in five years…and eventually ended up back home in the North East. At the time it felt like total failure but in hindsight it was the best thing I ever did! I met my partner, fell in love, moved in with him, nearly moved to Paris twice but it never quite ended up happening! Currently living in a gorgeous house with my dream job! But it’s not the end of the story. We already know this isn’t where we’ll end up, we just can’t decide where yet! Adventures are the best!

  58. Kristina says...

    My dad was in the military so growing up I moved quite a bit from Japan to California to NC to finally WV where I grew up mostly. I met my future husband at WVU and after I graduated we moved to Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the perfect city to live in at the time. It had that big city vibe, but it was small enough to feel like I was part of a community which helped ease this small town WV girl. Deep down though I wanted to live out West and after a year, my husband and I moved out to Olympia, WA. We planned on living out here for maybe two years since our close friends and family were back East. We’ve been living here for six years now, and we don’t have any plans of living anywhere else. I imagine raising our kids here. I’ve always romanticized when I was younger growing up in one house and having the same friends from kindergarten on. I’m not sure if I really want that for my kids because living in different places and meeting new people has impacted my life in such a positive way. Olympia has been good to me and my husband though and it is so amazing living close to the mountains. I’ve never been much of a planner so who knows what life will bring and where I’ll live.

  59. Rebecca says...

    I love reading these stories! Thank you all for sharing them. Here goes mine…

    I grew up in a small city near Toronto (Ontario, Canada) called Stratford, which is a lovely place famous for its Shakespearean theatre…and Justin Bieber.

    I went to university in Toronto (so fun) and lived there for few years after graduation. My then-husband and I were tired of living in Canada so we moved across the world to Singapore for an adventure. We lived there for more than three years and loved it: the hot weather, the amazing food, the expat life, and incredible travel opportunities.

    When we were thinking about having kids we moved back to Stratford to be closer to family. It was a big culture shock for me though.

    I still live in Stratford and it is a great place to raise my kids. I just had a third with my new partner and we split our time between Stratford and Waterloo, a bigger city nearby where he works. I’m very happy and Canada is a lovely place to live, however, some days I long to live abroad again.

  60. Hannah says...

    I live in Boise, Idaho. I moved here sight-unseen as a newlywed right out of college, because my husband had a great job offer. I’m from the Bay Area originally and attended college in S. CA. My husband is from Alaska. Boise is a sweet little city and we’ve established a great community here to raise our daughter in. But I pine for seasonless Northern CA weather and the ocean, almost everyday. Who knows if we’ll move!

  61. Danielle says...

    What an interesting conversation! I’m 31, live in Brooklyn, and have never lived in one city for more than 5 years! My number one reason for choosing and hoping to stay in NYC is that I am a black woman in an interracial marriage, and I can’t bear the looks we get (and the looks and discrimination I get alone) in every other place I’ve lived or visited (and I’m an avid traveler). I love the anonymity and impersonality of NYC. I know most people hate this, but I feel freer to exist here than anywhere else, and that counts for more than any other decision factor to me. I’m actually an avid outdoorsperson, and I would prefer to live in Burlington, VT, Portland, ME, Eugene, OR, or Durango, CO, but those places are just not options for me – I’m too affected by people to brush it off.

    I wonder if people understand what a privilege it is just to not have to factor discrimination and the (definitely not always malicious but always exhausting) “white gaze” into their decisions about where to live? I envy that freedom.

    • Rachel says...

      Thank you for this interesting comment and sharing your perspective. I’m white but Jewish and definitely feel out of place in NH sometimes. No looks but just often experience cultural unawareness and assumptions that every kid gets visited by Santa etc. It has made me feel alienated at times but I love everything else about NH and have therefore decided to just deal with that aspect of living here.

    • Move to Portland, Maine! It is a very inclusive community here, would love to have you!

    • Nicole says...

      It’s such a privilege. Even as a white woman and white man, we choose to stay here in Brooklyn for the very reason that everyone is different. It’s our own bubble, and we love it.

    • It’s so so wrong that you should have to feel that way. I’m glad NYC allows you to feel free. x x

      http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

    • Sharon in Scotland says...

      That’s interesting. I’m a black woman and have lived/worked in some of the remotest bits of Scotland. I’m usually the only black person around and it really doesn’t bother me. I’ve had comments but I’ve mostly had good experiences. Both my sisters are married to lovely white men, L is in Australia and A in the south of England. They both have a solid and loving circle of friends, which makes a real difference. I hope you find somewhere where you feel at home and safe.

  62. It’s funny to read this. Last year we moved to Exeter, NH from
    Portland, Maine for a job. It’s only an hour away, but it’s so different. After a year of trying it out, we decided to move back to Portland. It’s our home – sometimes you have to leave to realize how good you had it.

  63. Shauna says...

    I grew up in the Bay Area (San Jose). Every year the population grows and the prices go up and up. I don’t really want to move away from my family, but there is no way to purchase a home within a 50-mile radius if you aren’t a millionaire! My fiance and I are planning on moving out of the area, and closer to Sacramento where it is more affordable and has more space. I will be sad to leave my beloved Bay though! :(

  64. Natalie says...

    Super fun comments. :)

    I’m from the desert in Southern California. I initially moved to San Diego for college then to Northern California to finish my degree. After getting married I joined my husband (also from Southern California) in Kentucky for his job before we were relocated to Huntsville, Alabama where we lived for two years. We decided that we wanted to live closer to family before starting a family of our own so we headed west again! We now live in Tucson, Arizona and I’m happy as a clam. It’s sunny and beautiful so frequently and the surrounding mountains are stunning to look at. The cost of living is reasonable and it’s not too far to drive to family in California. :)

  65. Rachael says...

    We moved to Colorado from the midwest where both my husband and I were raised. We absolutely LOVE it out here!

  66. Rose Hastings Keith says...

    I grew up in Japan (though I’m American) and after high school I lived in Boston, Austin, NYC, Tokyo, Oslo, then back to NYC (from age 18-33). When I met my husband, I knew I would probably end up living somewhere else because he was applying to faculty positions across the country. We ended up in Pittsburgh after he got a professorship here, and we love it here. I found a great job, we’ve had two boys (2 y.o. and 6 months), and we’ve bought a house. We don’t think we’all necessarily live here forever, but for now it’s working very well!

  67. Martha says...

    I live on the Gold Coast, Queensland Australia
    I tried to move a few times but seriously spoilt by ‘all year round’ summers. I did try to move to New Jersey, NYC, Melbourne and a place called newcastle but when they ‘didnt work i decided to dive into this city of mine.
    I work a block away from the beach so i go everyday, the coffee around here is amazing and sometimes when i see photos of NYC and get a little envious of ‘the greener grass’ I dive in a little deeper into whats around me and remember I’m lucky to be here too

  68. Elizabeth says...

    I hopped around all the major East Coast cities after college and decided to try Nashville (thinking I’d just move again in a year or so). But then I met a boy with roots, and now I’m celebrating my fifth anniversary with Nashville this upcoming summer. While I still would love to pack up all my possessions, move across the country, and start again, I’m so happy with him. We’re getting married this summer, and while he’s open to moving in the future, we’re staying put in Nashville for now.

  69. Georgie says...

    This is a fascinating article and comments section! I’ve been born and raised in the U.K. but have lived in four counties (I’m 27) and my parents live in two different countries – I’ve spent a lot of time on trains visiting friends and family! One weird thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I need where I live to have beautiful architecture and some greenery otherwise it genuinely makes me sad! I’m currently living in Oxford and every day on my walk to work I’m so happy to go past the old pretty buildings and the river! Xx

  70. Don’t worry, life has a way of revealing itself at the right time. And nothing is ever really permanent if you don’t want it to be. While I share your frustration with not having it all figured out, the anticipation is almost fun, right?

  71. I am from Ohio, but I moved to Washington, DC after grad school in 2004. The city changed so much and became so much less affordable in the almost decade I spent there. My husband (from Idaho) and I are now in a close-in neighborhood in Alexandria, VA. Cost of living here is still through the roof, but its like Mayberry over here. Its super safe, our children play with neighbors, and we can do many of our errands on foot. We dream of going somewhere with a lower cost of living but we’ve built such a network here, we haven’t committed yet to starting over. Everyone we know talks about it constantly too and we had a big exodus of friends as well- leaving for lower cost of living and more space. Part of the reason we stay is for the community, but we worry everyone will leave us in the dust!

  72. claire says...

    This is really interesting! I grew up in Traverse City, MI and as soon as I was able, I escaped to school in Chicago. I finished up at Michigan State, then nannied/freelanced for a year (including 6 weeks in Paris xoxox). I dove into the wine industry and spent most of my 20’s doing harvest in the opposite hemispheres ( New Zealand, California, Australia, California). The next thing I knew I was married, had a child and had spent 10 years in Sonoma County. The cost of living got to be overwhelming; while miss those magical golden hours and vineyards and our friends and San Francisco, I moved back to TC late 2015! We bought a house! I have my parents over for Sunday dinner! I’m in the worlds worst book club! I drink bubbles on my porch with my oldest and dearest ladies! My 18 year old self would never believe it. We’re lucky to still travel, but I know all my adventuring in my 20’s helps ease my heart when I feel a little static.

  73. Christina says...

    I’m from Halifax, Canada (small-ish city, about 400,000) I’ve lived in Toronto (about 4 million) and have now lived in London, UK (about 8 million)for two years – so the places keep getting busier and busier! I love the history, the diversity, pubs on every corner and there’s just SO much to see and do! Best part is proximity to Europe, and you can fly so cheap!

    The hardest part about living in London is that people aren’t openly friendly (many are lovely when you get to know them). They don’t often talk to strangers (unless they’re mutually complaining, usually about trains!) we never know our neighbours, rarely even make eye contact on public transport. My Aussie husband and I will be moving near Brisbane, Australia later this year, and I’m excited for sunny days and hopefully happier, friendlier people!

  74. Love this article and reading all the comments. I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and also attended UCSB. The day after I graduated I moved to Sun Valley, ID to be a ski bum for several years and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. That was one of the best decisions I’ve made in that I didn’t jump into a job/ career path I didn’t really love. This led me to LA to work in the “industry” and I’ve been here for seventeen years now. The great thing about LA are all the different neighborhoods, each of them are so unique to each other. I ended up on the west side — from Venice to Santa Monica and now Playa Vista and absolutely love it. That said, I also dream of moving to Europe one day – Barcelona or somewhere in Italy. And the West Village in NYC has always really appealed to me too. Sometimes it’s fun to daydream about what life would be like in said places…

    • Christina says...

      Go Gauchos!! I went to UCSB too and have lived in SB for a total of 10 years now :) I also dream of living in the West Village… but, what is winter??

  75. Amy says...

    I grew up in Utah and was always desperate to live somewhere different, bigger, more exciting and diverse! I moved to NYC the day after I graduated from college and only planned on staying a few years and then moving back to Utah or the PNW…..and then I met the love of my life and stayed in NYC for much longer than I expected, 15 years and counting! After the birth of our two cute kids, we moved a little north to Westchester so we could have more space, but I’m still commuting into the city every day for work and feeling like I get the best of both worlds. A little city, a little country. Repeat.

  76. Amy says...

    I grew up in Dallas, moved to the Bay Area (San Francisco) for three years and now my husband and I are in Cape Town South Africa. We’ve been here for one year. It’s amazing to hear how many places people who read this blog are from! My family is in Dallas, my husband’s family is here in Cape Town. He is currently studying, and the earning potential is much higher in the US than here in Cape Town. So, we’re thinking to move back to the States but not sure exactly where. The Bay Area was super fun – really loved it, except for the political/religious mind-set. Plus, it’s too expensive to live there unless you and your spouse earn a bucket-load;) Cape Town is beautiful and relaxing. It took me about a year to not feel home-sick, but there’s a lot to love about this place, wine-farms, beaches, mountains – just miss my family in the States… and Amazon! haha

  77. Ana says...

    Very interesting topic! I am Slovenian, my home town is Maribor (where the oldest wine in the world grows heh), I was studying there and right after my diploma I left my city for job in our capitol Ljubljana. In the se time I met the love of my life. I miss my home town sooo much, and i know I will never ever feel domestic in our main city… Anyway I can not imagine living in my hometown since it lacks cultural, social life and job defiscit is soo high. I love urban life, crowds, happennings, but it cost us sooo much. Buying flat – it is mission impossible.. Still… Anyway Ljubljana is maybe one of the sweetest little metropols in the world – u should visit it :-)

    • Christine says...

      Slovenia is on the top of my international travel list! A close friend keeps telling me how amazing the people are – I look forward to visiting Ljubljana someday.

  78. J says...

    I’m a Seattle native – born and raise and how I LONG to live in NYC. Maybe someday, maybe not, but for now this city treats me well. I have had many, many friend leave over the years and I tend to react the same way…WHAT? WHY? YOU’RE LEAVING THE PNW? And then, I’m jealous.

  79. i just love this post! it is so interesting to think about and read about! it is so strange how you can be born somewhere and grow up in one place your one your whole life but it never feels like home. i grew up in utah but i moved to los angeles a month ago. i lived in LA for a semester in college and completely fell in love with it. i knew i had found my home. it took a long to get back here but i finally have! i have never felt so happy, relaxed and at home than here in LA. it is where i belong and i never ever felt that way in utah, even though its where i grew up and lived for 26 years.

    • Christine says...

      I’m considering a move to LA soon! I have always felt called to Southern California from a young age; ended up on the East Coast for 5 years (loved my experience) and now back in Dallas… but ready for a change! It’s great to hear your positive experience about moving! Has it been easy meeting other people?

  80. Lily says...

    I lived my entire life in Los Angeles until I was 18 and I went to school in Chicago. I left Chicago for New York, hated New York and am now back in Los Angeles trying desperately to move back to Chicago. Time is a circle.

  81. I’m a Midwestern girl through and through. I was born in Denver, but moved to St. Louis – where my parents are from – shortly after. Raised in STL, college in Indiana, moved to Iowa for my husband’s job, then to Kentucky for his job and this past summer, we moved back to STL.

    His job (a meteorologist!) will take us to a few more cities, but right now we love being in my hometown (he’s from Cincinnati). I always dream of living in Denver or Austin – two of my favorite cities around. When we lived in Louisville, though, we adored it. I’d go back there!

  82. I am originally from Southern CA & after marriage we mutually agreed to start our life in Northern CA. We live in Fair Oaks. Even though I love our home, I dream of living somewhere I can walk more. We’ve contemplated on moving to Davis, Ca, Portland & now we’ve been checking out lofts in midtown/downtown Sacramento. I read somewhere that many people miss the mark on moving to up & coming communities and instead Sell. Now that midtown & downtown Sacramento is revamping itself–A loft is sounding nice! I feel like it would be City life without the big city feel. These look amazing http://www.moderns-tbd.com/Moderns-on-Eames-Walk/

    Who knows where we’ll end up next! I’m excited for whatever is to come. I feel like an adult now so purchasing a 2nd home I will definitely have many more questions & must-haves.

    Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  83. TC says...

    I moved to San Francisco to live with my boyfriend (now husband) and stayed for 7 years, which was longer than I expected. There were a lot of little things about our life there that were not fun, though in general I realized that it was a special place and I was lucky to get to experience it. When we realized we had maxed out the lifestyle we were going to have in a very expensive city, we decided to move to Washington state, to be near my family, and now we live in a much smaller city, but we own a home with a yard that allows us to garden, and we have a dog and a cat which we couldn’t have in our SF apartment, but we’ve been here for 2 years and still don’t have any local friends. That has been very hard and has made it feel very isolating. The truth is, it’s all about trade-offs, and the way we feel now we likely wouldn’t move again unless we had a really good reason and jobs for both of us. Moving is just hard.

    • There’s a lot to be said for a garden and some family pets. It’s amazing how much happiness those (simple) things bring. It sounds like you’re focussing on the right priorities. Local friendships will happen in time – and just one good friend will make all the difference in the world. I wish it happened faster too :-)

      http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

  84. Lane says...

    I live in Grand Rapids, MI.
    It’s the perfect size – big enough to have diversity, interest, attract musicians/artists/travel, but small enough that I still have all the friends I made in high school.
    I moved (briefly) for a relationship to Lansing, and I hated it. I moved back to GR and am currently in the process of house hunting.
    I want to note that I truly considered leaving the state for college, but ultimately found the perfect fit for me on the same street as my high school.
    I emphasize travel – I’ve been throughout Italy, Poland, France, Switzerland, and to many states. It adds the excitement but keeps the comfort of having a solid home base. I love where I live.

    • Sara says...

      I live in Grand Rapids, too! :)

  85. We just bought a school bus and are taking it on the road in June 2018. My husband will play music, I will work in grass roots organizing, and our daughter will experience the world.

  86. Greta says...

    A great topic for discussion! My husband and I ask ourselves the same question – do we stay where we are or we move to a different country? To clarify – we currently live in Brussels, Belgium which is not our home country. We have been here 10 years now and we have a comfortable life in many respects but we are a bit tired of the Brussels mentality, the same conversations, the same type of people. Plus, we are fed up with the rain and the cloudy skies. Not an easy decision to make!

  87. Kirsten says...

    I grew up in Denver Colorado, and it was so much a part of my identity that I never imagined that I would end up somewhere other than there. I went to college in Chicago, and I spent two years just miserable and missing the mountains. Then I grew to really love Chicago, and after that I actually lived in New York for a couple of years before moving to Ann Arbor, MI for graduate school. Now I am a total Midwesterner! I love the vibe, I love the small towns and the farms and the food and the lakes and forests. We’ll have to go back to the East Coast in a couple of years for my husband to do his residency, but we both are really bummed and either want to come back here or to some other Midwestern city for our ‘forever home.’

    As a side note, it was also really surprising to me how that feeling of “home” can change. Colorado felt like it was a part of my soul, but I’ve visited a handful of times in these past 5 years and each time I’ve been it has felt like less and less of my place. It helps, I suppose, that my family no longer lives there, and Denver has also developed so much since the marijuana bill passed and the tech scene started moving in that it’s actually largely unrecognizable to me. I still love the openness of the sky there, and I still love those sparse pine forests, but I’m okay with the fact that now that space of my soul is filled up with Michigan rainstorms and old red barns.

  88. Anne says...

    I love this post Joanna.

    I have had that very questions for years: Where to settle down? No idea why I have been obsessing over this questions for so many years, but I guess I just really love the feeling of beloning – if that makes sense?

    I grew up in the suburbs of Denmark and while I for sure loved it as a kid, I could not wait to get away when I graduated high school. At the age of 20 I moved to Melbourne, Australia to work and live as an au pair for a year.

    After living in Melbourne I moved back home to Denmark to start at university, in a town though far away from where I grew up. I loved the university but the town never felt like home. However I did meet my current fiance at university, and because he was in the big city I grew up close to, I ended up moving there.

    While I never imagined being here in Aarhus, the name of the city, for several years, for some reason I always wanted to move overseas after have lived in Melbourne, this is wanted has happened.

    Living in Aarhus really just feels like home. I have been living here for nearly 4 years now, and I have invested so much time and effort into the city and the people here. I think that is really what defines “home” – a place where you have your friends and family close by, know the streets, the shops, the parks. All those small things that makes a place feel speciel and where you feel a part of a community.

    Everyone call Aarhus the world tinniets big city. Population wise the city only has 350.000 habitants, but the city really has the feeling of a big city: Bustling city streets, world regonized museums, hip coffee shops, highclass restaurants, one of Europe’s best universities, unique nature, famous festivals etc. The average age in Aarhus is very young because of the many students at the university and other higher educational institutions. I think that really creates a special vibe and energy. However though, Aarhus is also a great place to have kids – good schools, many kids/family activities, safety, ocean/nature etc.

    The funny thing is though, while I never imagined Aarhus would be the place, I would call home, this is what has happened over the years and for that I am forever grateful.

    You really should come to Aarhus Joanna – I think you would like it here, haha :-)

  89. Deborah says...

    Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. My hubby is a petroleum engineer and we moved here for his job (and the substantial expat package). He’s from Oklahoma, and we just bought land five miles away from his parents. Hoping that there are job options in the next year or so. If not, my parents are in Denver, another place with petroleum!

  90. Karen says...

    I grew up in Northern Norway. At 19 I decided to study psychology in the UK. During the Easter holiday halfway through my second year at university I visited a friend in Oslo (the capital of Norway) and there I met the man who is now my husband. He is from the west coast of Norway and had just moved to Oslo because he got an exciting new job there, and once I had finished my degree I moved in with him. We lived in Oslo for 7 years and eventually we decided we wanted a big house with a garden and not an apartment in the city so we moved just outside Oslo. We now have three children (two boys, 6 and 8, and a girl, 4) and two cats and have lived here for 10 years. We’re looking for a bigger house, but we want to stay in the area. It’s not always easy living so far away from both our families, especially when raising three children, but neither of us can imagine living in our home towns. We love it here, the area is lovely, it’s only a 20 minute train ride from the center of Oslo, the school is great and we have made so many nice friends here.

  91. Emily says...

    We’ve moved around a lot (lived in 4 cities in 5 years), and recently moved to Toronto. I thought I’d hate it, but it’s a great city! Tons of green space, wild animals, forests, and lots of diversity. It’s normal to hear about 5 different languages at the park and see all different skin colors and cultural dress. Lots of good food, too. That said, I long to live near the ocean, somewhere where I can have a little home and a large garden. I hear you on the city personality thing – I feel like a different person from when I lived in Montreal, which was a very stressful place for me, even if it WAS fascinating.

  92. I was born and raised in Austin, moved to New York for college, and I’m currently spending a semester abroad in Prague. My current plan is to do the new york hustle for a few years after college and then move back home to buy a house and be a real person. I’d love to do a stunt on the west coast sometime in-between just for kicks though.

  93. Meg says...

    Barcelona. Went from Upstate New York to Manhattan/Brooklyn to Spain. Wouldn’t change a thing. Though being closer to friends and family (either in NY or Paris) will one day be a priority for my boyfriend and I. Right now, the sun, the city, the sea, and the lifestyle are enough for us.

  94. For the first 23 years of my life, I lived in or near the same small town in Georgia. My biggest dream, as a kid, was that my dad would come home from work and announce that we were moving–anywhere! Even Ohio sounded exotic to me. Now I’m married to a diplomat, and we’re living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia–the first of what will be many international postings. I have this feeling that, if we have children, they might one day have the opposite dream I had–not to move, but to stay.

  95. alice says...

    I live in a small city in Germany. It was a compromise since here, my boyfriend can drive to work in 20 mins and I can go to university.
    Anyway, we want to move as soon as possible. We both grew up in the countryside, and have lived in bigger cities (for me: Paris and Dresden) after school. Now, we live in a quite religious and conservative area where mostly older people live. Finding an appartment was difficult – I don’t earn enough money, we’re a young couple (nobody chooses tenants who could have children, sometimes the appartements are for rent only to single women aged 50+) and we own pets. We’ve found a nice apartement, there are a lot of parks in the city and it has a beautiful old town, but we don’t like the atmosphere. I’m afraid that in other cities, it will be the same, even when I’ll have finished university.
    The apartment deficient really scares me – landlords limit their apartments to wealthier people without children or pets, nobody wants to have young couples or students as tenants and rents are rising.
    But we’ll move after I finished university. We’re looking for a more relaxed place to live and an appartment with a balcony :) I’m hoping it will be near the seaside.

  96. Klaraa says...

    I grew up in Prague (Czech republic) and came to Sydney (Australia) to study english when I was 18. Loved the lifestyle and never left. A few years later met my husband (Canadian/Australian) and we are still in Sydney – although talking about moving to a smaller town due to affordability.

  97. Ange says...

    Bangkok. We are from Portland, Oregon and moved here three years ago to shake things up in our family. Now the prospect of returning to the USA full time (we go back two months a year) is unsettling. We are really happy here. Plus, Thailand and Asia in general is very safe and people are incredibly respectful. We love that our two children are growing up in this culture.

    • This might sound weird, but did you live in Laurelhurst and sell off all your stuff in 2014 at the neighborhood garage sale that year? If so, I briefly met you when my friend bought a table from you. We talked a bit about teaching English overseas (I’d taught in Korea 20+ years ago). If it wasn’t you, then it was another young PDX family also moving to Thailand in 2014. (I described that year’s Laurelhurst sale on my blog in this post, including an interaction with a family selling up and moving to Thailand to teach English: http://secondhand-goods.blogspot.com/2014/06/laurelhurst-neighborhood-garage-sale.html). Either way, I’m glad you’ve been having a good adventure.

  98. Jessica says...

    I have lived in a smaller city, Saginaw, MI, my entire life. I am 23 years old. It has been an amazing experience to develop lasting relationships with my family and friends, not to mention the amazing mentors that have entered into my life here. It turns out though that this year will be a year of big changes! In April, I am traveling to Spain where I will live by myself for a month to take an intensive Spanish fluency course. I graduate in May. Then, I am moving across the state to start medical school and move in with my long term boyfriend. I am excited and obviously terrified, but when I see the inspiring women that write, read, and are featured on this blog I feel inspired to embrace the changes ahead of me.

  99. I am from NJ and first moved out after high school to spend a year in Monterrey, Mexico. I returned to NJ for college, then moved to Lebanon to earn my Masters in Beirut. I flew back home and moved to NYC for work, and began long-distance dating my (now) Lebanese husband. I moved back to Lebanon, and now we’re living in Southern Turkey with our baby girl. These comments are fascinating.

  100. I’m from the North of England, went to university in Edinburgh then travelled solo through Japan and Australia before meeting my now-husband in Queenstown, New Zealand. He’s from Buenos Aires. Four years ago we settled in Auckland, NZ and are expecting our first child in April :)

  101. Libby says...

    We relocated from seacoast New Hampshire to Hong Kong- we thought we would do a two year stint and return but ten years and two children later we’re still here!

  102. RBC says...

    I keep reading these comments thinking I’m going to recognize a story and realize it’s someone I know! haha! So. Many. Comments. :) I grew up in the neighbourhood Joanna lives in now and went to the same school Toby goes to (I think). I feel lucky to have grown up in such an amazing place…and that my parents bought a house with a large front and back yard back when it was actually affordable (1981 I think). So I feel like I got the best of both worlds. I went to university in Montreal (which I still think is just the best city to go to for uni – it’s so much fun – and affordable!), spent a year in Edinburgh, and landed in Calgary nearly 8 years ago for my husband’s schooling. We had a deal that we’d be out after the 3 years of med school (I had culture shock when I moved here as I’d never lived in anything but a super urban environment)…well, here we are! I’ve come to really appreciate it here. People always ask if I miss NY – I certainly miss the food and the diversity is not the same here – but I don’t think I could ever move back to the states now. And life is so easy here that it’s hard to imagine schlepping my (soon to be) 4 kids through the city. (Though my mom did it with 5 of us!! My awe and respect for her grows by the day!). NY is so expensive now that we could never afford the same lifestyle I had growing up – which is really sad.

  103. KylieO says...

    I live in the same suburb I grew up in, and my own children go to the same primary school I went to, with all their cousins in various grades. My two sisters and my parents all live within a 5 minute drive. Sometimes I feel so boring for staying put, like I should be giving my children the challenge of living in new places. Other days I’m so grateful for family that lives close by to pick my kids up from school if I need to, and so lucky to be around the people I love. I have been trying to convince my husband to consider a move to Tasmania because I absolutely HATE the humidity up here in Brisbane, but he doesn’t think I’ll be happy without my family nearby. We plan to fill our kids with lots of travel experiences instead, and always have home to come back to. Unfortunately Australia is ages away from pretty much everywhere, so it’s going to be costly!