Growing up, I live among people who grew up, lived, and died in the same city. More often than not, they would spend their entire lives in the same neighborhood. A busy street divided the area into two unequal parts. One consisted of older homes and the other was where new homes popped up. If you were from the older part but married someone from across the street, chances are you would ‘upgrade’ and move into their family home. Marriage – the golden ticket! As I write this, I laugh because it sounds like I grew up in the middle ages.
Although my parents tried their hardest to make me like the neighborhood, I never really felt at home. I often wondered if it was because my parents and I were not from there, unlike all the others, or if it was something else. I cringe when I recall feeling like I had been made for bigger and better things. It is not the other residents were not. They were just content with staying in their perfectly cozy bubble. I wanted to explore the world, meet people from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, and set my tastebuds on fire by trying different cuisines.
Even though growing up I would tell my parents that I wanted to get out of there when I became an adult, I do not think they really believed me. Or, they just thought they would convince me to stay in due time. When I moved out, they were surprised but took it calmly because they thought I would return soon enough. Well, I did not. The traveling bug that THEY infected me with proved stronger than they thought. No, I did not backpack through a third-world country. Instead, I moved to a place that I knew and felt comfortable in. I thought I would stay there forever. Well, I did not.
Fast forward some years. I like where I live currently, but I have this feeling that this is not going to be my forever home, which makes me wonder where I will find myself next and what would have to happen for me to return to the place from the first paragraph.
My partner is pretty happy with staying where we are. Most of their life is tied to this place. I think it is important to acknowledge that, for many, people are what either makes us move or keeps us from moving. And for them, people are what makes them want to stay. It might seem harsh, but I see this as a limitation of sorts. It makes me think back to the people that were born, grew up, and died/will die in that same part of town from my childhood. Do they ever regret not exploring their full potentials just because they had everyone they had known in that very area? Yes, I also think about the flip side – Do they wonder if I wasted my life searching for something that was right there and then? I will probably never know their answer and they will not get to know mine. Like with anything else, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
As of right now, I do not plan on moving. However, I would be lying if I said that I never think of that potentiality. In fact, due to some unusual circumstances of mine, I think of it probably more often than an average Joe. There are the places to where I would move out of some sort of obligation, places that would make financial sense for one reason or another, as well as those that I would like to move to just because.
While some might label me a pessimist (I maintain that I am a realist), I do like to search for silver linings in every negative situation (learning from it is a big one). While the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of bad, I believe that it also delivered some positives to us. One of them is the ‘work from anywhere’ benefit.
In January of last year (pre-pandemic), I wrote an article entitled “I don’t wanna go down to the basement about tiny living spaces that were becoming a trend in the densely populated metropolitan areas. Before the pandemic, it was “obvious” that if you were serious about your career, you would move to a big city. There, you would live in a tiny apartment, grateful for not being stuck in traffic for two hours each morning and evening. You sacrificed the suburbs, which you thought (just like me) was where dreams went to die. In the city, you were close to everything and you were going to rock it!
Recently, I read an article, from which I learned that small towns are offering monetary incentives to those that are willing to move into their neighborhoods. Apparently, a nonprofit organization in Arkansas offered $10,000 and a mountain bike to qualifying individuals if they were to move to a certain area. There are different reasons why certain parts of the country would pay people to move there.
I have to say that I am rather happy to see this happen. I felt like the cities would drain the life of many people in exchange for a promise of something that was elusive. The odds were stacked against people from poorer parts of the country that were not able to travel to and live in a big city. If there is potential talent everywhere, companies can choose to set up wherever, without worrying about bribing city officials for tax breaks, etc. To me, it seems like a win for the company (find cheaper places), for the employee (freedom to settle wherever they want), and for the towns that were mostly overlooked until now (taxes/economy).
The article lists different states as well as the perks they offer. It is not always cash. There are tax breaks for student loans, free food (limited), free activities (like zip-lining), and more.
While the countryside has never been my go-to, I am more and more aware of its benefits, compared to the concrete jungle that is the downtown of a big city. The moment we got notified of taking our work home last year, I knew that people would seize that opportunity to move to where they felt more comfortable. Many people moved out of apartments into homes to be able to accommodate their home office. Many moved into the suburbs to be able to sit in their gardens while they attend a Zoom meeting. I believe that is one of the factors that caused housing pricing/housing demand to go up. If there is no commute, there is no point to live in a tiny apartment on top of one another.
Now, of course, many people are being brought back to the office but many are putting their foot down, happy with their new living arrangements. I find it interesting that my boss would like me to be at the office as often as I could, but yet would not object to me working from a different continent if I needed to. That, of course, would be only temporary (not for more than a week or two).
- If you could pick any place, where would you choose to spend the rest of your life?
- What influences your decision to move (or not?)
- Would you be able to keep your current job if you moved to a different city/state/country/continent?
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