Three years ago, I made a decision to move from New York City to Madison, WI based purely on research. I put economic development research together with positive psychology research. Then I combed the Internet for city statistics, and I moved. (If you want to read the research I used, I linked to it all in this post.)

I had never been to Madison in my life, and you know what? It was a good decision. Except for one thing: I ignored the data about schools. I didn’t believe that a city known for progressive social programs and university filled with genius faculty could have poorly performing public schools. But it ended up being true, and all economic development research says do not move to a place with crap schools—it’s a sign that lots of things in the city are not right.

So when you decide where to live, pay attention to the research. Ignore stuff like the geography of personality because it’s interesting, but there’s no data that says it correlates to what makes you happy. And pay attention to research that flies in the face of everything you know, like you can be a millionaire anywhere. But, then, you should probably not be looking at that research because being a millionaire won’t impact your happiness so it should not impact where you choose to live.

Here’s some research I’ve found recently that you should consider if you’re considering relocating:

Live by water.
People who live inland are not as happy as people who live near water, according to research coming out in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. And some scientists think this is because humans evolved by following the shorelines and living off water life. So, the Journal of Preventative Medicine shows that if you live in the Appalachian Mountains you are twice as likely to have mental illness than if you live in Hawaii.

Live where people have as much money as you do.
Of course, the Hawaii vs. Appalachia issue is clouded by the overwhelming evidence that people have a lot more money in Hawaii. It’s true that money does not buy happiness. But it is only true if you are not living in poverty. Poverty is pervasive in Appalachia, so that probably accounts for a lot of the mental health problems there. But don’t go move somewhere where everyone’s got a lot of money, because financial security is relative. And you need to have a little more money than your friends do in order to feel financially secure.

Move to where your friends are.
If you move within a mile of a good friend, both of you will become significantly happier, according to Nicholas Christakis, a physician and sociologist at Harvard. If you’re considering relocating away from friends and family because you believe money will buy happiness, you are sort of right. But Nattavudh Powdthavee of the University of London shows that you’d need to have a salary increase of at least $133,000 in order to have a net positive impact on your happiness from that move.

Move to an inexpensive city if you want to start a company.
Seventy percent of Gen Y wants to start a company. So a lot of people are relocating to do that. You might think you need to be in Silicon Valley since the people there never shut up about their startup culture. But in fact, most startups need to keep their burn rate low more than they need that mythic startup culture, so you should move to a city with a low cost of living.

Maybe you should stay where you are.
When one spouse relocates for another, they generally end up earning less over their career because of it. So maybe spouses should stop relocating, period. There is a widespread feeling among Generation Y that transience is exhausting, and relocating away from family and friends for a job is a nonstarter. And anyway, it used to be that you could get a company to pay for your relocation, but Microsoft is no longer doing that, and you can bet other companies will follow.

So at some point, relocation starts looking expensive, high risk, and maybe a bad idea. Unless you’re starting from New York City.

 

 

118 replies
Newer Comments »
    • Julie S.
      Julie S. says:

      I recently relocated to New Jersey and used a site called AreaVibes (http://www.areavibes.com). What I liked about the site was it had lots of useful information for people like me who had no idea where I wanted to go or which cities were better than others. With this site I could see all the good stuff like crime rates, schools, housing info and even read some reviews.

    • Howdy '04
      Howdy '04 says:

      yuck! Why in the world would anyone want to move to Austin?

      Keep your unwashed hippies and uppity bevo lovers. Austin is truly the arm pit of Texas.

      I would rather move to Lubbock and be around Tech fans than a bunch of tea sipping tu hippies. Hey bevo. . . howd you like those Aggie colored blue bonnets? That is proof right there that even God hates tu.

  1. Clare
    Clare says:

    I’ve relocated many times – to new countries and within countries. Excepting the point about schools (I don’t have children) I think pretty much all the points are spot on.

    We all have our particular deal-breakers. For me it’s decent internet connection, which for most people is automatic. But as there’s nothing reliable in the rural backwater where I live, my life is a lot more frustrating than necessary.

    • Michelle Lam
      Michelle Lam says:

      Yes, I have found this too. Each move or transition brings a new sense of loss and chaos before moving into the belonging stage. Each time I move again, I feel lost and chaotic all over again, with a little bit of left-overs from the first time round.

  2. Paul Peixoto
    Paul Peixoto says:

    I’ve moved several times within the US and twice to Europe. We (all five of us) have found that it takes time to feel settled in, before you call a place “home.”

    When we talk with people about their moves we find that they very often give up too early. In our experience you have to give it that first year just to settle in. Once around the seasons. It’s somewhere into that second year that you begin to call your new place home, if it’s working.

    Oddly enough we found that “settle in” period to get longer with each successive move. After 30 years of family life and about a half-dozen major moves it takes us about 2 years to settle in now.

  3. Amy
    Amy says:

    Good stuff here. I’d love to read more about Gen Y’s thoughts on NOT job hopping so much. You have told us that this generation is very transient (at least so far) in jobs/careers, but perhaps that is wearing thin?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Interesting question, Amy. I think that it’s important to look at Gen Y job hopping as a fundamentally conservative approach to life as opposed to earlier generations who had a rebellious approach to life.

      Gen Y job hops because it’s the best way to create stability in a career – you learn faster and you build a network faster. I’m sure every single person in Gen Y (and maybe in the universe) would like a great job — great people, great learning curve, great salary — that never ended. Until those jobs are here, job hopping is a best second choice to create stability that isn’t really there.

      So not wanting to move away from friends and family is very consistent with job hopping.

      And, here’s a post I wrote about why Generation Y is, in general, conservative in their choices for their life (though not politically conservative — there’s a difference).

      http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/10/17/the-real-deal-about-gen-y-theyre-inherently-conservative/

      –Penelope

      • Mickey Van Roo
        Mickey Van Roo says:

        Disagree with comments on GenY’ers. This is poppycock (as Dick Nixon use to say) as in my experience, the GenY’ers tend to lack the ability to commit to the long-term (possibly ADD related) and don’t seem to handle pressure too well.

      • Gloo
        Gloo says:

        As a 28 years old, who has job hopped a lot and cities-hopped, I will say that it’s partly ADHD related (I’m an engineer and ADHD is pretty common), but, it’s also because this is the only way for me to learn as much as possible about different fields and keep my salary as high as guys in my field. I’m a girl. I’m not one of those people who “gets by” through BSing their way through. I’m valuable to every company, but if companies keep insisting on paying me less than they pay my equal guys, then I’m going to hop over to the next company in the hopes of more pay equality.

        Same age/education/title guys in the same companies stand around and talk way more than they do actual work, while I work hard and smart.

        It has nothing to do with committment to me. I’d commit to a company that gives me a bit more than the inflation every year, for now, since the economy is bad. I’m hoping that once the economy gets much better, we’ll all be getting paid more.

  4. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    All these make sense. I even apply them to neighborhood selection within a city.

    On your last point — staying where you are would also be beneficial for network building, which is important if you want to change jobs frequently. Yes, Linkedin is wonderful, but it doesn’t fully replace more personal, face-to-face contacts.

  5. Kathy | Virtual Impax
    Kathy | Virtual Impax says:

    A hearty amen to, “do not move to a place with crap schools – it's a sign that lots of things in the city are not right.”

    I too moved to an area that was “perfect” except for the quality of the public schools. I dismissed it as not affecting me because I home school my children. Four years later, I am wallowing in my mistake.

    You couldn’t be more correct – lack of quality education IS a sign that something is not right underneath the surface.

      • Bart
        Bart says:

        They’re not, but PT’s criteria are rather different. On the other hand, what do you expect from a district with a Malcolm Shabazz Memorial High School?

  6. jenx67
    jenx67 says:

    Penelope,
    Regarding your comment above about Gen Y not being conservative politically – there was that Gallup poll last week or so in which most Americans now identify themselves as pro-life (51 percent). Gen Y was more pro-life in that poll than both Gen X and Boomers. Thus, I think they’re still establishing their footing, politically – even though they did vote liberal in the last election. (Forgive the sidebar.)

    I always look forward to reading your posts. They’re a bright spot in the day as I always walk a way with a bit more truth about the world in which I live.

    I still maintain the stance – what you’ve said all along – life is hard – everywhere. Maybe the water helps; maybe at least $133,000 more a year helps (when relocating w/out friends). But, according to research, pretty much everybody is lonely anyway. Seems like the best thing to do is just avoid the viccissitudes of life. High premium on the even keel, which may be easier to find away from places that specialize in ups and downs like Silicon Valley and NYC – all those usual suspects.

    • ms
      ms says:

      I saw that poll too, and I am very skeptical that it means Gen Y is more conservative. I think more Gen Y-ers are reluctant to identify as pro-choice, because they never lived with illegal abortion. When push comes to shove, MANY, many people who call themselves pro-life will end up supporting abortion if they or someone they know are saddled with an unplanned pregnancy. I used to work at an abortion clinic, and I saw that all the time.

      In addition, most Gen Y-ers support legal abortion and gay marriage, despite the fact that they may be more likely to label themselves pro-life.

  7. Kaneisha | The Dream Catcher
    Kaneisha | The Dream Catcher says:

    I completely agree with Sassycat’s assertion that transience is exhausting, and I’m glad you brought it up in the context of reconsidering a move, Penelope. I’m 25 and have moved apartments, cities, or countries every year since I was 18. I love to be “on the move” but there’s got to be an end to it at some point. It actually hasn’t negatively affected my relationships too much (since I love talking on the phone to my friends and family) but I definitely think that as I get closer to wanting to get married, it could become a real issue. When I finish Harvard next year, I plan to move to LA (near the water, near my friends, near my industry of choice, and I know how to live cheaply there) and I plan to STAY PUT for a few years. I’m going to send this post to one of my girl friends who always brings up wanting to move near her friends but feels guilty about it. PT and Harvard gives her permission!

  8. Lola
    Lola says:

    If you plan on traveling several times a year consider the distance from the nearest airport and if the airport offers direct flights to where your friends/family live.

  9. Mike
    Mike says:

    But if I didn’t live in NYC, how would I maintain my smug sense of superiority and ironic sense of detachment, masking a host of soul-crushing neurosis?

    ;)

    In seriousness, NYC is ludicrously expensive, socially alienating and just plain hard. But, for some people it’s a mecca of culture and a pace of life that becomes more addictive than heroin.

    You couldn’t pay me to move out.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for the comment, Mike. I think a lot of people in NYC think the same way you do. The key is to know what you are giving up wherever you live.

      There is SO much that you get by living in NYC. But NYC is not a place that attracts or retains happy people. (That’s the last link in this post.)

      The thing is that lots of people in NYC don’t care that NYC does not breed happiness. Lots of people think an interesting life is preferable to happy life.

      I am not sure what I think. I probably should have ended the post with this question. That would have been good. I wonder what you guys think about this –

      Penelope

  10. Susan
    Susan says:

    All we ever do is talk about moving. Moving to Atlanta. Moving somewhere else in Brooklyn. Moving somewhere outside NYC. Moving. I dream about it. I cry about it. I complain about it. I lurk on craigslist for it.

    Well, your post struck a chord. We’re starting to think that even if we can technically buy a house outside the city, why should we? Even if it means the overall day to day living is cheaper? Why not stay in a neighborhood we love, where our friends live, near decent public schools and let our ‘house account’ earn 3% interest every month, or re-invest it, or whatever. Instead of moving, paying an arm and a leg to do it, fix up an old house, etc. all while borrowing our money back from the bank for 5% to 6% interest a month. Oh, and starting over, struggling to see old friends, etc.

  11. Alex @ Happiness in this World
    Alex @ Happiness in this World says:

    Penolope,
    Well reasoned and researched post. The only thing I kept thinking is the adage, “Wherever you go, there you are.” People often relocate thinking if they’re not happy in one place, they will be able to find happiness in another, not realizing that we all carry the true causes of our happiness and unhappiness inside us and in one way or another tend to recreate the same life circumstances wherever we go. And as for the question you posed in your reply to Mike, I disagree with the underlying assumption that an interesting life and a happy life are mutually exclusive.

  12. Rob
    Rob says:

    Penelope- Great post. We have lived in a lot of places, some cool, some less so. I think of moving much like you describe doing lots of different jobs- it lets you know what you like and what you don’t.

    I am always surprised that you ended up in Madison and not Austin (one of the places we lived). It’s great for entrepreneurs and pretty inexpensive. And warm.

  13. Dee
    Dee says:

    For your readers who move because they want to, that’s great advice. For others who have to move, the same principles apply: DO YOUR RESEARCH! Prepare yourself for the change, the move, the new surroundings, plan how to stay in touch with friends and family you leave behind, and how to build your new social circle. Moving somewhere new is a great adventure and fabulous opportunity to reinvent and stretch yourself – and if the stress is getting to you, have you considered hiring a coach?
    :-)

  14. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    Great post, but I’m diappointed to learn that you put your kids’ educational needs so low on the list when you considered where you should be living. Elementary and middle school are the foundation for many of the skills you need later in life (hello, previous post on grammar and spelling). I’m sure there were many other issues that came into play, but knowing that the quality of education is below standard should have been a greater cause for concern.

  15. Chris
    Chris says:

    RE your situation in Madison…is the issue that every last one of the elementary schools is subpar, or just ones in certain neighborhoods? Even wealthy jurisdictions can vary in school quality depending on underlying student demographics. And in terms of quality, is the problem the test scores of every student, or just those from lower SES status where there is often (sad but true) a correlation between parent’s SES and kids’ school performance, and thus the data that schools report overall.
    I have been to Madison several times, and given the Univ. and the state govt., I have a hard time believing that the problem is systemic in such a politcally-active community.

  16. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I moved to Madison in 1977 and I know that at least 75% of the public schools here are as good or better than the schools people pay to send their kids to in New York and Chicago. I also know it’s a very neighborhood-oriented town; this is not so obvious if you’re not familiar with the place, and even the “bad” neighborhoods look relatively nice compared to those in bigger cites, so its not real hard to land somewhere you’d rather not be if you move here without visiting first and without knowing someone. But I’m guessing that last part is true of most places…

  17. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Live by water – I may be all wet on this one but I thought people who live near water are more happy due to ‘positive’ interactions of their body water (more than 50% by weight) and a body of water whether it be pond, lake, or sea. And speaking of water, while a shower may be good, a bath, whirlpool, or hot tub may be even better since you are sitting down, relaxed, and your body is totally immersed in water.

  18. Amber Warren
    Amber Warren says:

    Huh I wonder if the water thing applies to the Great Salt Lake! It’s stinky, full of salt, and home to brine and flies. Nobody really beaches-it-up out there. But I love SLC. I think the key point is that people are happier living in an area where the lifestyle suits them; and where there are people who are like them. That sort of sounds narcissistic . . . but it wraps up 2 and 3.

  19. Meg
    Meg says:

    The first 6 months I lived in Madison I wasn’t sold on it, but I love it now(aside from the months of February and March which I only tolerate). I think anyone who is moving should do as much research as possible and be prepared for a BIG change.

  20. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    I think most of these come down to “live where you fit in.” It’s been my experience that when you fit in, you’re happier.

    I’m a Michigan native who lived in Iowa for two years – and I was miserable. It wasn’t that people weren’t nice there, it was that I had grown up in a large metropolitan area in the steel belt and my personally and they way I behave and talk and what I find funny reflects that. And people in the corn belt just have a different way of looking at the world than people in the steel belt. One is not better than the other – just different.

    Although the city I live in now in northern Michigan is probably smaller than the one I lived in Iowa (and less urban, if you can believe it) I fit in good. There’s kind of this work-hard-all-week, party-all-weekend (figuratively) attitude here. And I’m kind of like that.

    So, if you can find the place where you “fit in,” you’ll be happy.

    • whitefish
      whitefish says:

      I moved out of Brookyn 7 years ago to a quieter pace, cleaner city, easier lifestyle in Rhode Island. And after 7 years I still can’t call it home. You’re right about fitting in. Most people here still hang with their former high school friends, socialize with cousins and family, live next door to their in-laws and don’t need new people in their lives. Especially if you’re not from here. I am finally coming to the conclusion that it IS about where you fit in. Where to next I wonder?

  21. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    My husband is a naval officer, so he and I discuss the merits of different locations about three times a week. We haven’t reached any life-altering conclusions yet, but your assertion about the importance of living near the water is a certainty!

    I really do not enjoy my day job working for County government, but guess what: I work 40 yards from the San Diego Bay. When I go on my lunch break to work on my graduate school classes (to get a Master’s to hopefully get out of my current job), or to blog on my laptop (another potential way upward and outward!), I get to sit on a bench next to a beautiful fountain, under a palm tree grove and with the breeze billowing over the water. It helps. A lot. If I worked anywhere else, even just a mile inland, I think I genuinely would have lost it and irrationally quit at some point!

  22. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    If you are going to compare living inland, in the hills, to living near water, then Appalachia vs. Hawaii is a lousy comparison. How about comparing Chatanooga with Savannah, or the Blue Ridge with the Outer Banks, or Honolulu with Denver? Who’s happier when you compare apples to apples?

    I happen to live in Montana, which is pretty far from the sea. Even the Missouri is only a medium-sized river this far upstream. I love it here.

    I used to live in northern California and I came to hate it there, sea or no sea. But if Montana had big, ugly, crime-ridden cities like San Francisco, I’d probably hate it here too.

    • Bart
      Bart says:

      No, it just has drunks on the state roads, militia in the woods, and illiterates everywhere else.

  23. jenx67
    jenx67 says:

    Reading through the comments – regarding – do we prefer an interesting life to a happy one? Certainly, you’ve heard of the Chinese proverb, urrr, curse. “May you live in interesting times.”

  24. Erica Ringelspaugh
    Erica Ringelspaugh says:

    If you would like to understand the schools research more fully, and discuss why Wisconsin schools may or may not “suck,” please contact me. I am a teacher in a small school about an hour and half north of Madison, Adams-Friendship High School. You’re welcome to come see my school for a day, talk to other educators, and learn more about what makes schools make the Newsweek lists, and why many, many quality schools don’t make the list. Please contact me.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Jonathan Wallace says:

      Erica,

      I’d be interested in hearing more about what makes your school great though I’m a bit too far away to visit. You can contact me by email first_name.last_name (at) gmail.

      Thanks,
      Jonathan

  25. Jan Hogle
    Jan Hogle says:

    Hmmm…. I didn’t think that Madison schools were that bad, but there are a couple private schools that are supposed to be very good. Fairfax Cty VA had a very good public school system, but then you’d have to live near DC; very bad quality of life now, to be honest. Although I left before the Current Occupant moved in. Maybe things are better. Wisconsin has 15,000 lakes, so you can live near water if you want to… relatively expensive though, but not compared to DC or NYC. Will you stay in Madison?

    • Bob Smith
      Bob Smith says:

      I will pass on the Fairfax county school system. I spent a few years in NoVa and daily had knives pulled on me and money extorted on the way to the bus stop. People in NoVa are too self absorbed and rich to admin they have any issues

  26. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    Miss PT:

    The other day I mentioned to someone that I had lived in 20 cities in 3 continents, and he asked me how I planned to celebrate my 80th birthday. :-) As transience goes, our entire life is it. The point in life is to recognise a bigger vision than the immediacy of ‘needs’ that most people create for themselves. So depending on what one’s starting assumptions are, they may or may not find moving difficult.

    Re your exchange about happiness with Mike above and Jenx67’s comment after that: I was reminded of The Atlantic’s recent article on George Vaillant’s work and Harvard’s longitudinal study of happiness. Link: http://bit.ly/wK0JB

    Re the link between happiness and where we live: I know people who are miserable in the Scottish highlands, and people who are miserable in Switzerland, both places rich in natural beauty rare elsewhere. Why, some even find London and New York depressing. You get more culture and life in one day than you may do any place else on the planet.

    Happiness does not come from outside; it comes from within. It is not a pursuit, it is a state of being. Naturally miserable people lack resilience – the core skill needed to deal with an uncertain and rapidly changing world. Some people will be unhappy no matter what; others just know how to look on the bright side of life. As the proverb goes: “I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Back to my opening point about perspective.

  27. Emily
    Emily says:

    Unfortunately, schools are a product of the environment.

    Penelope chose to to live in an area of Madison where robbery, breaking and entering, theft, assault, sexual assault, and disorder crimes all have occurred since the beginning of 2007.

    http://www.crimereports.com

    If she chose to live three miles away from that area (using her own data from Schooldigger) there are two good (four and five star) elementary schools, Nichols, or Shorewood Hills. Although she admits not doing any research on schools or school districts in her area.

    I believe the elementary school in Middleton (Elm Lawn Elementary) is a four star school, so the argument becomes, why did Penelope have to move in order to get her children a better education.

  28. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    State Income Taxes – Something else to consider when deciding where to move.

    There’s a very good recent opinion article in the Wall Street Journal by Arthur Laffer and Steven Moore titled ‘Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich’ about how people are moving from states with high income taxes to those with little or no income taxes. The URL is http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124260067214828295.html .
    A quote from the article – “Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.”
    Another quote from the article regarding schools – “Those who disapprove of tax competition complain that lower state taxes only create a zero-sum competition where states “race to the bottom” and cut services to the poor as taxes fall to zero. They say that tax cutting inevitably means lower quality schools and police protection as lower tax rates mean starvation of public services. They’re wrong, and New Hampshire is our favorite illustration. The Live Free or Die State has no income or sales tax, yet it has high-quality schools and excellent public services. Students in New Hampshire public schools achieve the fourth-highest test scores in the nation — even though the state spends about $1,000 a year less per resident on state and local government than the average state and, incredibly, $5,000 less per person than New York. And on the other side of the ledger, California in 2007 had the highest-paid classroom teachers in the nation, and yet the Golden State had the second-lowest test scores.”

  29. Tom
    Tom says:

    Really? The Wall Street Journal had an article saying that rich people’s taxes should be cut?

  30. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    We moved to Madison 6 years ago from D.C. After moving here, I was flabbergasted to hear more than one resident say it will take 7-8 years before you become “accepted” within the Madison community. I’ve certainly found this to be true (at least for men), much to my dismay. In my first 6 months living in D.C., I made far more friends than I’ve made in 6 years living in Madison. (And I even grew up in Wisconsin and went to grad school at UW-Madison.)

    What’s really important is how the culture of the new place “fits” with your personal values and living style. For example, I tend to be a smiley, upbeat person who values manners, personal interaction and original thinking. Obviously, I’m out of sync with the culture here. We’ve come to describe Wisconsin as the “land of the frumpy-grumps” where men openly spit in public and too often don’t treat women as well as they should, and residents hold things very close to the vest “because you’re an outsider.”

    Regarding the water proximity idea, pretty much bunk. Although I love water, I lived 4 years in Denver and still think fondly of how friendly, happy and healthy Coloradans are–especially compared to northern midwesterners and east-coasters (all of whom have lots of water).

    • FrumpyGrump Prime
      FrumpyGrump Prime says:

      “I tend to be a smiley, upbeat person who values manners, personal interaction and original thinking.”

      Ha, you haven’t displayed any of these values in your comment here. If you couldn’t make friends, that says more about you than the place you live, or at least the depth of the friendships you’re pursuing.

  31. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I work in London, i’ve always been fascinated with New York City. The trouble is i’ve recently become self employed and American law make it near enough impossible to get a visa with an employer let alone being self employed.

  32. online bingo sites
    online bingo sites says:

    i did live by the sea in Cyprus for 5 years, probably not enough to do though, laying the fish nets at night and then eating the fish for lunch the next day was a pleasure. Going there in 4 weeks for another visit, i can’t stay away

  33. Deadhedge
    Deadhedge says:

    Post college or grad school is a great time to factor in the move. You’re more transient, alumni are used to being contacted by recent grads, and you have less stuff to move.

    Post-grad school, I picked Oregon and never looked back. Affordable, no sales tax, had family here and a good friend from college, wanted the mountains, and had the quirky spirit. Also the type of health care work that I wanted to do is very prevelant here.

    Personally, I look at the weekly alternative newspaper to get a feel for fit (like the Chicago Reader, Willamette Week, or whatever every city has). For example, while I was in Dallas, TX for a summer, their weekly newspaper confirmed that there is nothing going on there. The fact that the Taste of Dallas included all chain restaurants and a Quizno’s was the nail in the coffine.

  34. le
    le says:

    I love a good move. Having moved a fair bit around Australia and New Zealand I can honestly say each moved has added to my wealth of experience and given me a greater understanding of self and people in general.

    I long to give my boys (4 and 6) a true outback rural Australian experience and am working on that right now job wise.

    My big fear would to be ‘told’ I was staying put anywhere for the next 20 years … ick.

    My best advice for moving with work is to embrace the experience 100% and become a touirst in your new town or city – a working holiday in fact I like to think of it as .. I have been places with ‘work’ that most people can only experience in a ‘passing thru’ manner. To be paid to experience a different slice of life is a great thing – le

  35. McCormick
    McCormick says:

    Live in an area where you will do stuff. I row, I need to live by a river. You hike, live near trails. You sit and drink a lot of coffee, live in Seattle. You knit….I don’t know, then live near sheep.

    Finding like people and activities also makes you happy.

  36. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    If you do decide to move wait at least 6 months to a year before you buy a house – even if you can afford to buy right away. Getting to know the community is really important before investing in real estate. Some neighborhoods have better schools than others – and even if you don’t have kids in public school, it is a sign that other things are wrong in a neighborhood with underperforming public schools.

  37. Jobs in Ireland
    Jobs in Ireland says:

    Very interesting comments about gen Y wanting to start their own company(s). It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t so long ago most people worked for themselves either farming the land or trading what they could. During the industrial age getting a job and staying with it for life was a great option but now people are scared to put their future in other peoples hands and want to be in control of their own lives. Maybe gen are looking at us older ones thinking ‘I don’t want that’

  38. Chris
    Chris says:

    I’m surprised by the comments about the schools in Madison. It seems not responsible to write off a district as flippantly as you’ve done here. I teach in the district, and have 3 children of my own in the schools here, and I am overall impressed with what I see.

    I suspect your method of assessing the schools is not as sound as you might think. You are welcome to contact me and come visit my school. I’m sure other schools would be happy to show you around as well. I believe that looking more closely, and digging more deeply into better data, would give you a more accurate picture.

    Chris

    • Dr. Kane
      Dr. Kane says:

      I agree! Madison has great schools. So does Middleton. The education I got there in elementary, middle, and high school was excellent. I was lucky to have caring, dedicated and extraordinarily passionate teachers. In fact, my parents (who have PhD’s in education) specifically picked Middleton for its excellent schools.

      After leaving Middleton, I attended a competitive college (with an academic scholarship), finished my PhD, and now teach and do research at Princeton. Could I have done all of this without great teachers (and a terrifically supportive family)? Absolutely not.

      There are amazing educational opportunities in the Madison area. Like Chris, I’d be happy to suggest some schools and educational programs.

      Enjoy WI!

  39. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I’m surprised that you mention living closer to a good friend but not to family, especially with children. Several friends have moved out of NYC (one as far as London) so their children could grow up near family and they could rely on the support of family members. What does the research say about living near family, assuming the family gets along?

  40. Dan
    Dan says:

    Penelope,

    I warned you BEFORE you moved that Madison, WI would be extremely cold and disappointing. You moved to a declining state with painfully cold weather, a low standard of living, and a state/local government that is running jobs right out of the state.

    Get over your liberal fantasy land and move to Tennessee where I live where we actually WELCOME entrepeneurs and small business people and venture funding will be much EASIER to find as we have no state income tax. We live SOOOO much better here than we did in Wisconsin.

    Last night at our local BBQ there were five of us, I represented the days of WI past, two others were from Long Island, another was a fleeing (former) Michigan resident, and the other left Kentucky. You can point out by this BBQ all the states where people should NOT want to ever move to.

    I am proud to call Tennessee “home.”

  41. John
    John says:

    This is what makes the USA great.

    I have been to 47 of the states. They all have something to offer. If you don’t fit in where you are, there are other places to go.

    But let’s not tell others that “My place is better than yours!”

  42. KB
    KB says:

    I think about this all the time. I live in NYC. My job is stressful. My living situation (tiny apartment, 2 roommates, my room is half of the living room) is stressful. My financial situation is stressful. And so, I’m hoping to move back to Ohio. I’m also really scared. When you live in New York, it’s really hard to imagine living somewhere else. But, I’ve watched a lot of friends do it. As someone stated earlier, it’s taken each of them abut a year to adjust. My family and some friends are there. I’d also be leaving a lot of friends behind. But, who knows how long any of them will stay in New York? People move here and leave all the time – it’s the way it is.

  43. Jake
    Jake says:

    I think the best thing to consider is if you are comfortablewith the house you have chosen. Secondly, if it’s near to the supermarket, hospital, school and work. Locationis also important ‘coz I hate traveling from a far houseso I wanted my house to be near from my work. Know also the history of the house if it’s inhabitedby other people before.

  44. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    Have you had the chance to read Richard Florida’s “Who’s Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life”? You mentioned Florida in a previous post that predates this book. I really enjoyed this book, it’s in the same vein as “The Rise of the Creative Class”, and delves deeper into how to choose where to live. It’s a good read. The book led me to decided that I should stay put, in Vancouver, BC, which makes thing easy.

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