If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
It’s a frequent discussion topic in our house, fueled by a combination of past decisions, nostalgia, and the prospect of an empty nest in a few years’ time. Or call it a mid-life crisis. Whatever the cause, my husband and I often find ourselves in conversation about the “ideal” living situation (which we acknowledge doesn’t really exist), and how we might be able to realize elements of that ideal. And we’re pretty much all over the map, with ideas ranging from:
- Move to the country and become hermits
- Join the Peace Corps and do good in the world
- Move to a very large city and have two tiny dogs, go to concerts and visit museums
- Move to a small town and live right above a bookstore/coffee shop/woodworking studio
- Stay right where we are
The truth is, we live where we do because of my job. We moved here as young adults, had children, moved away, returned, and raised teenagers here. Stability has been a good thing: I’ve had a good career, and my daughters received a decent education, surrounded by a strong social network. That’s what’s kept us here. But when the kids have moved on? And when work is no longer the central focus of my day? Then what?
I can’t answer this question and don’t expect to, at least not for a long while. It’s one of those things rattling around in the back of my head that comes to the fore every so often. Like when I came across the Better Life Initiative, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It’s a nifty data visualization tool that allows you to compare 34 OECD countries based on several criteria related to quality of life (click on the link or graphic to try it out for yourself). We’ve not seriously considered taking up permanent residence in another country, but it was fun playing with the criteria and watching countries rise and fall on the chart (for what it’s worth, on my chart Canada and Australia came out on top …)
Here’s what I know: I want to live where people care about the environment and universal healthcare and economic justice. I need to use my brain. I’d like to use it in the company of others who share some of my interests. I’d like to be able to enjoy both nature and the arts. I want to live close enough to my children to have meaningful adult relationships. Yeah, I want it all. And then some.
Where can we do that? Time will tell.