We talked in an earlier post about how the first step to figuring out where to move is about taking time to reflect, dream and define the qualities of your ideal place, so that you have a clear vision of what you’re looking for.
The focus of this week’s post is Step 2 in your search process, which involves taking the written (and visual if you have it) portrayals you created of your ideal place in Step 1 and putting them to the “Is it real – or is it Memorex?” test.
What I mean by this is that you want to make sure the desirable place qualities you dreamt about in Step 1 are grounded in reality, not romance, before charging ahead with your moving plans.
I know from my own experience that stopping to run a reality check at this point in your search process can save you a lot of grief further on down the road.
I’ve been a city girl most of my life; I was born in New York City, raised in San Francisco and lived for 22 years in Austin and 3 years in Lubbock, Texas. But, for as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt about living in the countryside or a small town.
When I was about 20, one of my favorite TV shows was a British sit-com about a suburban couple who tries to adopt a self-sufficient lifestyle. I became fascinated by the idea of self-sufficiency and imagined living on a farm and growing my own food.
The closest I ever got to farm life was in my early 20s when I rented a place that was part of a former dairy farm outside San Francisco. I had a small vegetable garden there, and it didn’t take me long to realize that farming and self-sufficiency were not for me.
As a freelance grant writer/researcher and consultant, I worked on community projects in small towns that included restoring historic movie theaters and building a senior activity center. I loved working on small town projects and wondered often over the years I lived in Austin what it would be like to live in one.
After my daughter graduated from high school, I did move to a small town – and it was a disaster, because it was this dusty, depressing West Texas town where my ex-husband took a job. I lasted two years there and then fled to the closest city (Lubbock).
One disastrous small-town experience was not enough to deter me though and, a few years later, my current husband and I moved to a small town in Iowa. While it’s an okay little town, we learned fairly quickly that we’re better suited to city living.
It’s one thing to love driving back roads and exploring small towns along the way, to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the countryside after the frenetic energy of the city. But, actually living in a small town or the countryside is another thing entirely.
The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you need to be happy where you live. A lifestyle that, in the abstract, seems like it would be right up your alley may, in reality, drive you batshit crazy.
Running a reality check before launching into your search will help you save time, money and hassle later on, as well as increase your likelihood of finding a new place to live that you’ll truly love.
Another tool you can use as part of your Step 2 reality check is the Place Personality Type Quiz. Your quiz results will give you additional insight into the type of place you’d be happiest living: the countryside, a small town, the suburbs or a city.
When I took the quiz – which I developed after moving to a small town – I scored 76 on a scale from 0 (very rural) to 100 (very urban), indicating that I’m best suited to living in a small city.
Based on what I know now, those results seem pretty spot on!
How about you?
What type of place are you most interested in moving to: off-the-grid, on-the-grid countryside, small town, suburb, small city, medium-sized city? What appeals to you most when you think about living in this type of place? If you took the Place Personality Type Quiz, did your results confirm or deny you’d be happy living in the type of place you’re interested in? Please share in the comments below!