If You Could Live Anywhere…

If you could choose anywhere to live, where would you end up? MoneySense recently released a list of the best places to live in Canada, and it really had me thinking what causes us to live where we do. And I started asking questions, thinking about the different factors involved.*

  • Would you keep close to your roots at all costs?
  • Would you move across the country for greater opportunities?
  • Would you move half-way across the world for a cheaper cost-of-living?
  • Would you move to the big city with a higher cost-of-living, but easy access to everything?

These are questions I have been thinking about a lot lately, for a multitude of reasons. Part of it is because I have my eyes on the job boards, and part of it is about trying to decide whether I am staying put… no matter what. It’s a decision that has been heavy on my mind, and something that has been crossed many of my friends minds as well.

Canada is a proud nation as a whole. But there is something about the East Coast that seems to have a teensy bit more pride than the norm. Perhaps it’s the salt water in our blood, but many people radiate Atlantic Canada and their love for this area of the country. I’m no different; I’m a pretty big fan of this area of the world, and have a lot of regional pride.

I’ve spent time in big cities all across Canada, some more than others. I’ve been to many cities across the US as well. Tack on a few European destinations, and while I don’t have the whole world covered by a long shot, I feel like I am beginning to answer this list of questions for myself.

There are so many factors that I didn’t list above in those first few questions. Many are related to finances such as taxes, cost-of-living, employment opportunities, housing affordability (both for renting and buying), etc.

Then there are factors such as the proximity to friends and family – depending on your relationship with your family, being farther away might actually be the favourable situation. I will put the disclaimer in here that I do not yet have children, and therefore do not have that variable of trying to bring multiple generations together so my parents can see my children grow up.

A big factor I’ve realized since I moved roughly a year ago is the size of the town, and with that also comes things to do, and places to eat – or just wrap that all into culture. I want more than one decent restaurant to eat at that isn’t Canadiana!

Then there is things such as climate (will Spring get here before it’s technically Summer!?), health care access, how safe it is (crime rate), and commute. Having recently moved somewhere that didn’t have a single family physician accepting new patients made me question my move when I needed a simple prescription refill, let alone continued medical care.

Now some things might be more important on your list than mine, and vice versa. But I’m curious how people decide where to live, and where the weight was placed. Was it on friends and family, career growth and opportunities, or being part of a cultural hot-spot?

*Honestly, I started asking these questions before I read the most recent edition of MoneySense, but the topics intersect so nicely I thought I’d throw in the link if any one is interested in how their home stacks up.

avatarAuthor Bio ~ Alicia (37 Posts)

Alicia is a late twenty-something scientist living in Atlantic Canada, navigating her new career as a solitary female in a male-dominated field. After completing graduate school, she found herself owing over $30,000 in debt from severe consumer-related financial missteps. To keep herself accountable, Alicia chronicles her debt dig-out on her personal finance blog, Financial Diffraction. She is a fair-weather runner, a spreadsheet enthusiast, a reformed music snob, and admittedly on the verge of becoming a crazy cat lady.


15 Responses to “If You Could Live Anywhere…”

  1. Ultimately for me it came down to where my husband had to live. He’s in business with 3 other men and while I could have asked him to move to live with me, I couldn’t have asked 3 other families to uproot themselves as well. So I moved to be with him. I don’t regret it 13 years later but if ever the chance did present itself I would strongly consider going home. I love his family but I would definitely prefer to be closer to my own especially now that my parents’ health is starting to decline.

    • That is a very generous compromise. I am sure it is very difficult being farther away now that your parents are getting older. Hopefully you can visit frequently, or find a way to move closer.

  2. I am retired and could physical live anywhere in the world subject to the cost of living. Fortunately I am content to live where I am and do not see myself moving. As a senior things like health care, driving distances etc play a bigger part than they did in my youth. Sometimes I get the wanderlust but when I visit other places I am more that content to return to my home and people that I know.

    • That’s something I have found as well. Sometimes I yearn for other places, and then I get there and want to be back. The grass is always greener, or only in small doses.

  3. I ended up getting a job over 5000km away from ‘home’. My boyfriend moved with me. It was a tough transition, tougher for him.

    I am used to the idea of family living far away (I have close family in 3 countries. Canada, US and the UK). I miss being near my young nieces and nephews the most and seeing them grow up. For me it was a reasonable expectation to at some point live far away.

    I have friends that refuse to even move out of the same town they grew up in. That is something I cannot understand. The quality of living my home town area is not that great, and job prospects are dim. The only good thing about it is the cheap housing.

    I love living in the province I live in now. I love the quality of life, the activities, the people, the way of life, the view. For me it was the right decision to move. However it is more expensive to live and my wage is the lowest in the country, if I move back in the future my wage would increase by a lot, expenses would be cheaper but I would lose my current way of life.

    • I think it’s much more common in some areas of the world than others. I have friends whose family is spread all over the country/world, and so they’re more accustomed to not being so close to family than those of us whose family are more densely-located.

      That’s great that you found a province you love, even with a lower wage. Those are the sort of trade-offs that I’ve started to try to add to my inner formula. :)

  4. avatar Samantha Says:
    May 28, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Proximity to family (or lack thereof) has to be factored into a budget.

    If you are living with a partner and close to one set of family, you know you will have to pay to take at least one trip to the other family once a year. If both families live in different countries and you are living in a third country… the costs really start to rise and vacation time starts to diminish.

    • Absolutely. I have friends who live across the country with 2-3 weeks of vacation per year, and it basically limits them to be able to come home at Christmas, or perhaps in the summer. Their funds get funnelled into trekking home instead of discovering new places.

  5. We have talked about this before… I’m very much tied to NL and can’t see myself living anywhere else but where I am now. I’m only an hour and a half from my family. I’ve got a decent job but the cost of living is high for me on a single income. But it would be high for me most places with no one to share costs with. My commute to work is short and relaxing for the most part. The weather sucks. So far I think we’ve got 3-4 spring days mixed in with the snow before and now heavy rains. But when I look at the places already hitting 25+ I’m glad that I live here as I don’t like the heat.

    There has been a few times I contemplated moving for love. But my stable public service job and my proximity to family has generally kept me here. I’d have to be completely and utterly head over heels for someone to move. But I’m generally too jaded to think a relationship would be worth giving up my job for. But that’s a whole other issue. Ha ha.

    • I’m right there with you Trista. Which is why I am trying so hard to reconcile this in my heart and head. I know where the opportunities are, and where I can easily and quickly further my career… but it doesn’t line up with where I want to be. So I either have to settle on being farther away and getting the career growth I want, or stay local and potentially not have the career I expect (something I have difficulty with because I’m rather driven when it comes to getting to the next big milestone, etc).

      It’s a huge decision to move for a relationship. My fiancé did for me and put himself in the position of the trailing spouse, which I feel bad about… but it’s hard to find the compromise each time. It might be more of a trade-off or rotation.

  6. @Samantha

    She makes a very good point in regards to travelling to visit family.
    My boyfriend will be making the trip back home twice, I will be going once for his brothers wedding.
    I will be visiting my family in the US once this year, but coinciding that trip with a visit from the family in the UK.

    It does take a toll on vacation time, and your budget. We refuse to fly over holidays since it doubles the cost of the flight. Christmas is done through Skype. Or in my family, whenever you can get everyone together. It was May of last year when we had a Christmas present exchange.

    • It is definitely something to take into account for sure.

      I think it’s wise to do your holidays whenever it works for you. We’ve started doing that as well, rather than going with the calendar.

  7. This has really been on my mind lately as well. We’re in a highly desireable area of the country…so, leaving here doesn’t make much sense. Health issues (Parkinson’s) yanks our chain (we’ll need help as the years go by…and they go by quite quickly!). Then there’s the “mom’s”…they’re widows and they’re 80 and almost 90 respectively…who are independent and don’t trust caregivers outside of family…but burdens are increasing for everyone…)

    At the end of the day, life will inform us of what steps love would have us travel. “Enough to the day, is the evil thereof.” Thankfulness builds strength into life…and it’s continually surprising how MUCH there is around us to be thankful for.

    Life has it’s seasons and its lessons.

    • That’s a big concern for moving… health of you and your parents. My grandmother is 85 and is finally resigning herself to the fact that she needs more help than can be easily given. Thankfully she is willing to accept VON care as well as family.

      There is always so much good if we look for it. I’ve been working on changing my perspective to a more positive outlook. I wish you well, Rose, with your coming years.

  8. I have lived in big cities such as Vancouver, Calgary and Edmontong. I am a maritimer. I yearned to see what western Canada looked like so I moved out west. Now that I am back home, I realized I took home for granted. I don’t think I could move again even though the pay here is not that great but the cost of living is lower and the crime of rate is low. Plus my family and good friends are here. So if I ever got a great job offer out west, I would not move again. It is the quality of life that is important. It is more relaxing here where I found it stressful to live out west as it was busier. I think I will stay here forever till I am retired and move to Florida – haha.

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