Why do you live where you live?

May 2nd, 2012 | Rachel

Today’s post is more of a poll.  Please feel free to contribute your answer in the comments.

Looking back at my own brief life so far, my choices in location have almost always been inspired by external influences.  I first lived in South Carolina and Alabama (and South Carolina, again) because of my parents (who were influenced in large part by both my dad’s jobs and the locations of my grandparents).

As a somewhat autonomous high school graduate, I chose to live in Athens, Georgia to attend the University of Georgia.  That decision was more of a process of elimination.  I didn’t want to go to school in South Carolina, and I didn’t want to follow my parents’ footsteps at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, so I somewhat arbitrarily chose UGA and, consequently, Athens.

I next chose to live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.  That decision was a direct result of the influence of my high school advanced placement government teacher, Jerry Willard, who had attended UNC and often referred to it as “Chapel Hole.”  I still consider him to be one of the most influential teacher’s I’ve had, and I attribute my choice in law schools almost solely to him.

During law school, people made it seem like a big deal to do these on-campus interviews for large law firms around the country, so I followed suit and ended up with an offer to work at a firm in New York City.  I had never considered living in New York, but the prospect seemed exciting and it was a pretty good job, so that is where I moved next.

In case you haven’t been keeping track, my influences for moving so far have been: family, school, school, work.  I suspect those are by far the three most common answers to my poll.

The decision to move to California was completely different.  There were no job offers waiting, and I have enough degrees and student loans as it is.  I also don’t have any family west of Texas.

Without diving too much into the question of vocation (which will be a poll for another day), this time the considerations for my next physical home were based on factors such as: proximity to wine country, proximity to a large city, proximity to state and national parks, cultural diversity, proximity to academic community, population size, proximity to food sources, community attitude regarding the local economy, weather and general level of quirkiness.  Eventually I added proximity to water as a major consideration, mostly due to Steve’s lobbying efforts.  I should also add “long-held stereotypes about the west coast,” because I’ve always thought I would fit in on the west coast even though I had never been there.

The idea to move to California actually started off as an idea to move to France (hence the name of this blog).  France was presenting itself to be more of a logistical challenge, particularly in light of wanting to open a business, and Steve isn’t quite the Francophile that I am.  It was on a mother-daughter trip to Napa and Sonoma that I first felt this deep connection between California and everything I loved about France (minus the romance language and affinity for butter).  It was an immediate, obvious choice, and the factors I listed above were then used to pinpoint a town within this huge state.

It is funny to think about because a majority of the people I have met in Santa Cruz are there either for school or because that is where they’ve always lived.  Would they choose to live here independently?  If they truly considered the world of possibilities, where would they live?  Where would you live, and why don’t you live there now?

5 Responses to “Why do you live where you live?”

  1. Lena says:

    Firstly, I wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog even though we haven’t talked in person in a LONG time. Although the people, places, and occupations are different; the emotional journey you’ve described is familiar. Secondly, I’ve never lived outside of South Carolina. I was born in Beaufort and raised in Mt. Pleasant. I decided to go to Clemson because 3 generations of family members had gone there before me, and my grandparents offered to pay for college if I stayed in state. I then got a job in Columbia working for the Department of Veterans Affairs. My fiance got a job about 6 months ago in Atlanta, and I’m trying to get a transfer/new job in the Atlanta area. All of my moves have been decided by outside factors. It must feel incredibly freeing to be able to make that sort of choice for yourself. If I could choose to live anywhere, my top choices would be DC, Boston, or Asheville. However, I have truly enjoyed everywhere I’ve lived (minus Beaufort because I can’t remember it). Extraneous factors aside, each location has it’s own sense of personality and charm. Even Columbia. Before anyone passes judgment, they should spend some time in Shandon. It’s the oasis in the concrete desert of Columbia.

  2. Jay H. says:

    I chose the areas to live based on proximity to family. I agree with my choices. I could have gone to Madagascar to do a church mission assignment but got cold feet. I had an opportunity to work a U.S. Steel and eventually have my own franchise. (chicken clucking sound). I tried to give you kids a little bit more leash. I might have over did it.

  3. Bekah says:

    My moving as an adult has been influenced by family, landlords not messing with my expectations, complete loss and needing something, and really wanting a real bathroom. My next move is influenced by wanting to return to the area that I feel very comfortable in, has fresh, local food readily available, and is a place I want to raise my daughter in. Many different factors play into my decisions to move. But I always end up leaving people whom I love.

  4. jp says:

    Looking for a place that will survive the zombie apocalypse but still have Wi-Fi and access to locally sourced pork. Oh – and that will support a comic book shop/cafe enough to keep my baby in diapers. Any tips?

  5. […] the writer of that article mentions the lack of conscious choice as to where one lives. That is something I have explored myself and has been a recent topic of conversation with friends. I’m not suggesting that everyone […]

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