Once you choose a region of the country, the next step is to choose your city.
I stress the world "city" rather than small town, farm, or cabin in the woods because, in most cases, your life can be far simpler in a city. A city's density leads to efficiencies in meeting your needs. Cities serve as a site for the exchange of labor, money, entertainment, culture, and are transit hubs. You can live in a city with less stuff than in the country, more efficient use of resources, and your life can be richer through easy access to other people and culture. If you think life on a farm is simple, go spend a day or two or a week with a farmer.
TIP: Love your city.
TACTIC: List the potential cities where you'd like to live in your region.
The best choice, of course, is the city that matches your needs and dreams best.
In trying to figure out which city is your match, here are some ideas:
Once you have a list of dream cities, the next step is to gather more information--make some visits (you may have already done this while visiting the region).
TACTIC: Stay at least a week in a city where you consider moving.
Visit the specific attractions that interest you in that city as well as a variety of neighborhoods where you might live. Read the local newspapers and if possible even set up appointments with people at the schools, cultural centers, or other institutions which will be part of your life there.
Here are some ideas to consider when visiting a city:
TACTIC: After gathering information and some visits, list the pros and cons of living in the dream cities on your list.
Weigh most heavily your personal factors, but also include factors such as taxes, living expenses, and crime. Get the facts from recent almanacs or official reports. Ignore stereotypes. Due to reductions in crime over the period of the late 1990's, crime in cities is decreasing. You'd be surprised how many people have lived in New York City for decades and have never been mugged nor have mugged anyone else. But you might be surprised at the amount of gang activity in suburban midwestern cities.
TACTIC: After careful consideration, choose your dream city finalist.
Don't ignore your "gut" feeling--the whole point about choosing a dream city is that it motivates you in your life. Your dream city should drive your passion and work. Therefore, do not be afraid to state your heart's desire.
Once you've identified your dream city, if you are not already there, you need to ask: should I go there?
Well, if you've taken everything into consideration, yes. Using a free-thinking process of analysis, you have identified it as the best place for you.
But there is something to be said about familiarity. You may already be in a place where you are comfortable and have a network of family, friends, and acquaintances. Do not disregard this support.
Is such support available in your dream city or nearby? Do you have relatives, friends, and colleagues that can help you? Are you prepared for a big change? Are you ready to start a new personal network?
Your final decision will have to depend on your personal preferences and abilities. If you don't move to your dream city, there might be some way to seek your desired features where you live now. In this way, even identifying your dream city is a helpful process--it reveals something about your true interests.
TACTIC: Establish resources before moving to a new city.
If you do decide to move, here are some things to secure before going:
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