Midweek @ Musings: If you Could Live Anywhere …

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.

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11 thoughts on “Midweek @ Musings: If you Could Live Anywhere …

  1. Turns out my top two are Canada and Australia too! I tried playing around with the parameters and going on a 1-5-1-5-1-5 pattern down the list still kept Canada and Australia in top 10, but Luxembourg was way out in front. Amusing.

  2. Happily, my own country, Canada, came out on top, followed by Australia and Sweden. Himself and I go through this discussion periodically too (sans the Peace Corps element, both of us having devoted our working lives to the service of others and therefore feeling that we have paid our dues to society). This particular spot on the Canadian Shield feels like the best spot in the world to be so I think we’re going to be staying right here. Perhaps in a different house, but within a 20 mile radius, surrounded by rocks, pines, water and basically good folk.

    • It sounds like you’re in a good place, Tui! Knowing a bit of your personal history, I agree you have “paid your dues”. Those of us who have spent careers are corporate drones often wonder about the road less traveled.

  3. Canada came out top for me too! New Zealand came second. I often think about moving abroad, but don’t think I could leave my family to do so. I think I just need to go on longer holidays to these countries 🙂

  4. We play this game all the time as well–especially when we travel. It is interesting to see how the game morphs and our interests change over time. I used to think a lot about living abroad, but not so much anymore. Now it tends to be about finding the perfect gardening climate for John and a nice small town for me. And I used to never be able to picture life outside a city. I think now we are focused on where we might go when we retire. John’s work will definitely keep us in DC until then.

    I just noticed your maiden name. How great to share a last name with one of my favorite fictional characters (Margaret from Howard’s End).

    • Hi Thomas! Growing up I never knew any other Schlegels, and it was constantly misspelled and mispronounced. I was happy to take a new surname when I got married. Imagine my delight when, as an adult, I first saw the film of Howard’s End! How interesting of Forster to choose that name; I’ve often wondered how & why he did so.

  5. I checked out the site, but none of the things most important to me were options (weather, diversity, extensive library system, easy to get around w/o a car, etc.)! LOL In my dreams, I’d like to live in a smaller, bicycle-friendly town near the ocean in a tiny cabin, close enough to a big city for me to get a ‘culture’ fix occasionally and airport hub for when I want to travel, with mild weather year round, access to locally grown produce, a low cost of living, and a really good library; not too much to ask, right? 😉

    • Hi Eva, it’s nice to see you here again. A lot of the things you noted as important are pretty important to me, too. I like your dream location a lot !

      • It’s nice catching up with you! Although I can’t comment as much as I’d like. I feel like my dream location is prob similar to quite a few bloggers; we could have a little book blogger enclave. hehe

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