Saturday, June 22, 2013

What Makes A Good Place To Live?

I take surveys. Sometimes they're painful, but I got sick of reading about how "surveys reported" followed by something I disagreed with. At least if I'm taking the surveys, I know my opinion is reflected in them.

Plus I can occasionally build up enough points to get stuff. I got $100 check earlier this year from taking surveys.

I just took a survey on Arlington County, Virginia. I work in Arlington County. I do not live there. I'm farther south in Prince William County, where it's a little less expensive to live. I couldn't find a spare bedroom to rent in Arlington County for under $1500.

The survey asked what I thought of Arlington County, and how I rank various attributes of places to live.

I can't say I ever gave it much thought. I've pretty much always gone where I was "ordered" in the Navy, or where the jobs are post-Navy.

My first place to live as an adult was Great Lakes Naval Training Center, north of Chicago. I didn't enjoy it that much. There wasn't much to do for young sailors under 21. It was very expensive, and I didn't feel safe, especially in the area outside the base. I never felt a desire to go back to Chicago.

Then I went to San Diego. I enjoyed it. Then Guam. Didn't enjoy it as much. Back to San Diego.

San Diego has a temperate climate and plenty of things to do. It's also drastically overcrowded and expensive. Most of my friends who stayed there had to move upwards of 100 miles north just to find an affordable house. They commute 100 miles or more each way to work. No thanks.

I moved to New Jersey a year after I got out of the Navy. I hated it. New Jersey and I just aren't a good fit for each other. I never fit in there. I didn't like Philadelphia. It's expensive, dirty, crowded, and I don't feel safe there.

Three years ago, I lost my job and ended up moving to northern Virginia as a geographical bachelor. Now my ex-wife is divorcing me, so it's permanent home. Which is good. I like Virginia. I probably won't retire here, but it's a good fit for me. Much better than New Jersey.

The survey asked about various aspects of places to live. I rated Arlington County very high as a place to work, and very low as a place to live. It's crowded and costs too much. There is plenty to do there, but I find no sense in coming back outside of work to do it. I don't care too much about the arts and music scenes, and I won't go into whether I care about the sports teams or not. I believe a good arts and music scene means there is plenty going on to get involved in and to meet people.

Based on thinking about what makes a good place to live, of all the places I've lived, I think I figured out my favorite: San Antonio. There's employment opportunities. plenty to do, low cost of living, and the Riverwalk is awesome!

The only thing about San Antonio that stopped me from going back there when I got out of the Navy is IT IS TOO DAMN HOT! Seriously, if we could get San Antonio with San Diego's climate, I would move there right now.

Post divorce, I am going to stop bouncing around like a ping pong ball in a clothes dryer and get a little more deliberate about where I live. It'll take me a few years, but I'll start exploring and find a place. For now I need to stay close to my children, but within 10 years, I should be able to go wherever I need or want to go.
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