About me Early Retirement Journey Sabbatical 2020 Summer 2018

Using Scenes From My Childhood To Figure Out Where To Live Next

I have made quite a few lists over the past five years or so of what I wanted out of life and where I wanted to live. Often inspired by a pithy movie quote or reality TV confessional, even the occasional TedTalk or sermon, my quest for self-improvement is long-standing. With this blog though, I’m getting better at compiling all my thoughts in a centralized place so where better to document this part of my journey.

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I even found this list I made in May 2013.

A place to live [requirements]
I can afford
Is nice
Near a college-town
Not racist
New ideas, dynamic
Good take out 

I’m looking for a new place to live for several reasons. First, my biggest hope is to find a community to which I can belong. Secondly, I’d like to find something more FIRE-budget friendly. Thirdly, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of a fresh start. I want a new beginning. Lastly, just today, I received a lease renewal notice from my apartment building and the rent is going up by $44/mon. Hrmph. That all being said, I’m not quite ready to move. Not yet, not without knowing exactly where to go. I’m giving myself two years to find my next best place. In pursuit of that place, I used memorable scenes from my childhood to create criteria to quantify just what I was seeking. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

0 – Hard no
1 – Doable
3 – Satisfactory/ Neutral/ Yes
5- Desirable
Calibration 1: Palo Alto (Desirable) Calibration 2: Washington DC (Neutral) Calibration 3: Decatur, IL (Not Desirable) Calibration 4:
RTP, NC (Current)
*score to beat
Manageable Weather
FIVE OR LESS months with avg hi > 70*F: (0 = NO; 5 = YES)
0 5 5 0
Mild Summer
NO MORE THAN ONE month with hi > 80*F: (0 = NO; 5 = YES)
5 0 0 0
Mild Winter
THREE OR LESS months with avg low </= 32*F: (0 = NO; 5 = YES)
5 5 0 5
Culture/Diversity 3 5 1 3
Backyard Without Buildings 3 0 0 0
Seasonal Activities I can Walk To 3 0 0 0
1 to 3 hour drive to major airport 5 5 1 5
Walking distance to Nature 3 1 0 0
Campus Town 5 1 1 1

Church 1 5 1 1
Affordable Rent ($500/mon) 0 1 1 0
Potential for nice solo apartment at current budget ($910/mon) 0 0 5 5
Potential for desirable housing options (new, nice, modern or country/renovated chic) 5 5 1 5
Potential for fresh start (0 = bad/negative history; 5 = fresh hope) 1 1 1 0
Slower pace ( 0 = no; 5 = bucolic) 0 0 3 3
Desire to live there pre-FIRE 5 3 1 0
Desire to live there post-FIRE 5 0 0 0

Total (highest = desirable) 49 37 21 28

A run-on sentence explaining just how this chart came to be.
It started with lots of different scratch notes over the last 2 years trying to figure out where to go next; this list is still just a start; I did similar sheets when applying to graduate school twice; but in finding my next place, I had an idea of how I wanted to feel, but I couldn’t find a way to measure that or properly identify it; Frugalwoods mentioned using a spreadsheet to find their forever home and it taking years, that let me know it I was on the right track; a couple weeks ago I stumbled on a travel blogger who used a number system but what inspired me was how they accounted for how they would feel or how it would affect the other person…in a way, my partner is future and past me…

… so then I started writing down some of my memories and turned that into quantifiable data i.e… I loved being able to walk to celebrations in my small town, didn’t have to get in a car or worry about parking; I liked watching softball games from my front porch… that turned into no buildings in my backyard… well that’s just really any yard…but you get the idea… and I couldn’t find a way to quantify, how sometimes you just want to try somewhere new…like I have no desire to go to deep south Mississippi even if it ticked all the boxes; I know in an unspoken way that’s not the life for me, or maybe it’s just too many reasons to list…

…but sometimes it’s not so clear… so I added two more lines about ‘desire’ to account for unexplained feelings or the psychological impact of a place; there were about 9 other things that I spit-balled that didn’t end up making the cut right now…some because they cancelled each other out…like not a red state or more liberal; weather got three lines because I couldn’t find a way to capture all I want out of weather in one line item; that actually took me 30 minutes to an hour to calibrate the criteria to get the result I wanted… and looking up the actual data; for example North Carolina was designated too hot, and Decatur, IL was designated too cold, I remember California being pretty hot, but I don’t remember it being as miserable; but when I looked at avg hi vs avg lo… the differences weren’t notable, so I actually ended up comparing 7 aspects of weather before I could find a noticeable difference that could be quantified and compared.

As for the cities chosen, these are places I have lived in the past that had identifiable characteristics. There’s no real accounting for the fact that I was in different stages of my life in each city, so what may or may not have worked then may or may not work now.  Still, there are consistent themes that have persisted over my 30 years of life such as my feelings on weather, tribe potential/ diversity/community, commuting (for work or recreation), and in one way or another potential for adventure (captured as access to nature or community events or airports).

Moving forward.
I know from this chart wherever I decide to go has to be at least as good as where I am now. If I’m honest, where I live now meets 80% of my needs. It’s close to work and for the most part I’m left alone. I just think if I’m not getting any fulfillment from work it would be beneficial to enjoy my life outside of work more.  Life and I are too beautiful to be wasted going from one cube (work) to another cube (home) without enjoying the space between (cue Dave Matthews Band). If that place is here, my mind is closed to it because of all the undesirable things that have happened. Sometimes a new beginning provides enough momentum to get things going again (sometimes not). I know also from the chart, whatever score the next place gets has to be not just as good as my current place, but more than my neutral place and closer to my desirable place. After all these years, this is a good start. I’m happy with it.   How did you find your current home?

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    1. Palo Alto is looking good. Shame it scores worst on affordable, low rent and some parts of your weather concerns. It does pretty well elsewhere though. Would you be able to work the same job or would a fresh start include a new job? Maybe something to utilise your September leave, checking things out on the ground (unless you've booked somewhere unbeknownst to me!)

    2. Hey you! The rent is too high in Palo Alto, by about $2,000… I'd love to get back there if I could. Um… my September sabbatical is for 2019 (next year!), so no nothing on that front so far…

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