Choosing a place to live is one of the most significant – and baffling – decisions we make in our lifetimes.
An overabundance of possibilities (there are 40,000 cities and towns in the U.S. and Canada alone) can make it tricky to navigate your search.
The recipe for success with your search is to break your process down into easy-to-manage steps that lead you from where you are now to where you want to be.
And, since the best place to start is at the beginning, this week’s post shines the spotlight on the first step in your search.
It’s tempting to kick-off your search for possible new places to live by immediately leaping online. But, this approach has several drawbacks:
- Wading through all the information and misinformation online can leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged before you even start.
- Jumping online without a clear strategy can cost you a LOT of time and possibly money visiting places that look and sound fantastic online but aren’t in reality.
- Getting swept up in the sea of arbitrary opinions and recommendations online keeps you from focusing on what’s most important: clarifying your own vision.
So, what IS the first step in your search? The answer, you’ll be happy to hear, is fun, easy AND free.
I call the first step “Dream Time,” because there’s no time like the beginning of your search to dream big. You’ll have plenty of time to add reality into the mix later on!
Dream Time gives you space to reflect and get clear on the qualities you’re looking for in a place. What do you need or want a place to have? What’s most important to you? What can you live without? When you imagine your ideal place, what does it look like?
What do I mean by qualities? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and depend upon your particular situation, but here are a few examples:
- Population range
- Proximity to family, large city, etc.
- Quality of schools
- Strength of local economy and job market
If you like, paint or draw what’s in your mind’s eye when you envision your ideal place. Or, look for images on Pinterest or in magazines and create a vision board. (You can also skip this part if it’s not your thing!
Set aside at least two uninterrupted hours for brainstorming with your spouse or partner, or with yourself. Optional: This activity goes great with a quiet dinner, bottle of wine, picnic in the park, or whatever relaxes you and sparks your imagination.
The only supplies you need for this activity are paper and pens or a tablet. Display your artwork or vision board if you have it. Draw two columns on the paper or tablet.
Under column one, list qualities the place you live MUST HAVE. Under column two, list qualities the place you live MUST NOT HAVE.
Review and discuss your lists. Then, go back through and rank by priority your must-haves and not-haves.
Once you’ve gone through Dream Time, you’ll have a clear vision of what you’re looking for and you’ll be ready to take the next step in your search process.
How about you?
Do you have any questions about the Dream Time process? What are some ways you might adapt the activity to make it your own? Let me know in the comments below!
Ready to relocate, but not sure where to go?
Get DIY or guided tools and strategies to take the guesswork out of your search for the right place to live and create a clear road map to get there, so that you save time, money and stress and feel confident you’ll thrive in the place you choose. Learn more about Find Your Happy Place here.