Methodologies for deciding where to live

When last I posted about choosing where you live I promised some methodologies. Left brain/right brain? Subjective/objective? Let’s not go there for now. Starting from the purely rational or practical approach, my recommendation is to do a simple self assessment of what is important to you (and any significant others involved–spouse, family, intimate friend, etc.). Are recreational opportunities important? What kind? Do you like four seasons? Do you like it dry or humid–or what is better for your particular physical condition? What about scenery–mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, etc. How about the economy–including job opportunities in specific sectors? I already mentioned on or off the beaten path; do you like the restaurants, entertainment and shopping of an urban environment or do you care more about open spaces (and less traffic, crime, etc.)? Air quality, commuting time, taxes and any thing else you can think of. Write them all down, all those things that are important to you. Cross out any that are essentially duplicates. Then begin matching them up, one against another, to determine their relative importance. After establishing your preferences, begin checking the facts–what locations match up with your rankings. There are a variety of printed and online sources that already do this for you; the problem is that they have their own criteria in mind and not yours when they identify one locale or another as “the best small town in America,” the  “best place to live,” etc. Still, you can use them as a shortcut starting point before doing your own geographical search on maps or the internet. More on this later.