Criteria: Where To Live

Thanks to the great input we received in response to Where to start a New Era, we’re able to publish a draft of the criteria of where’s a good place to live. You know how we can make the list better? By having more input on it, more critical eyes, more discussion. So please do review, suggest, comment, critique, share your opinion, add a suggestion for a resource to evaluate any criterion: it’ll forge a better list for us all (just like the sword is forged in fire).

We have two main categories of criteria: nature related and people related.

Nature-Related Criteria:

  • Relatively cool climate: when lizards seek shade and chickens lay hard-boiled eggs, you know it’s hot. We’d rather not. Cooler climates are for us, ideal temperature of 60s or 70s, but what’s important is to minimize/eliminate the 100F+ days, and the humidity that makes one wonder right out of the shower if one has showered at all.
  • Not a hotbed for natural disasters: while one can’t completely avoid natural disasters, we don’t want to live in a place where one plays Russian Roulette with the weather. If the place has a “hurricane season” or a “fire season” or a season that isn’t spring, summer, fall, or winter, it’s a place we’d view with suspicion. Countries with most natural disasters.
  • Minimal bugs: Yes, we know there’s no avoiding bugs, not even in Antarctica, and we can deal with the occasional ant, small spider, and even house centipede. But it’s hard no if the state/country’s bird is a bug, well… that’s not ideal.

People-Related Criteria:

  • Close to good medical: not for your annual physical exam, but should the worst come to be, one wants to be next to good medical. Top 200 hospitals in the world ranked.
  • Close to good food: this comes in two flavors,
    • Plentiful, high quality fresh food sources: like farmers’ markets, Costco (oh, we forgot, that’s a category of its own 🙂 ), Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc.
    • Close to restaurants: we like good food, and a variety of it
  • Close to a university: not only does that imply a vibrant community that’s unlikely to die out any time soon, in provides plenty of interesting opportunities including good libraries, cultural benefits, and plentiful food sources nearby…
  • Stable, consistent utilities: that means consistent service with very low (preferably none) downtime. This includes power, internet, cell service, etc. Ideally, a choice in all of them.
  • Sane community: sadly, that must be said. We love lively discourse and differing opinions, but emotional extremism is not for us.
  • Close to Costco. What can we say? Costco is where the heart is 🙂
  • Not too far from an Airport: meaning, not more than an hour from an airport, and no more than a couple of hours from a large airport.

Additional Resources:

House critiera: things to think about the specific house choice

  • House not too close to neighbors: comes in two flavors,
    • Distant enough from the neighbors: to not have to hear them every time they move a table or suffer their sneezes.
    • Garden-sized yard: we’re not looking for acres to maintain, nononono. But we would like to have a little garden maybe even a greenhouse where we can grow tomatoes without the fear of worm-infestations.
  • House on high ground: we have neighbors down the street that ended up building a little fountain since they are the repository for the water runoff from others.

Don’t be shy: what’s missing? What needs to be honed? What did we forget that later we’d regret?

55 thoughts on “Criteria: Where To Live

  1. Close to good transportation, local, national and international. Close to good recreation activities and opportunities for outdoor exercise in nature. Some would say close to the kids. We meet that for one but not the other. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great feedback, thank you! Made the addition. I also realized that we needed a section for the choices of specific house, so added that too.

      Yes, kids have a habit of moving every once in a while. Maybe they’re using a criteria list like this one 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I guess I should add “feeling safe” to the top of the list 🙂 Oh, and infrastructure should get a big bump up: we just went through a LONG power outage, followed by an even longer internet outage. The combo kept us well away from the blogosphere and sucked some of the joy out of us. We’re now back, trying to regain some of the joy back 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your list! I’m not sure I want the university student vibe on my list. The only thing I’d add is that I want some space around me. I don’t want to live in my neighbor’s pocket.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I get what you’re saying, and in the same way we don’t want to live NEXT to a hospital, even if it’s one of the top 10 in the world, and we even don’t want to live RIGHT next to a Costco (believe it or not 🙂 ), we’d like to be relatively close to a university to enjoy the benefits without having to deal with the … disbenefits that come with living RIGHT next to a hospital/Costco/large commercial setting/university. A couple of miles make a world of a difference!

      What we do want to be in the midst of are like-minded people, but that also includes not hearing every time they decide to move a table around 😀 How would you capture that? I’m asking because the next step is to find a way to search for those criteria, like the sites I used for natural disasters already… Useful resources abound if one just knows what to look for! We’re not looking for the work involved in maintaining many acres, though we do like a little bit of space for a garden and privacy… Where’s Goldilocks when you need her? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Along with your list for us was having an airport within an hours drive from home, as well as lots of places to hike and ride a bike safely, and staying close enough to our kids that it wouldn’t break the bank to go visit them or vise a versa.
    While living in a town with a university was not for us although they always seem to rate highly on places to retire or live. We wanted a smaller town vibe. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good call on the airport. And, yes, we saw that university thing on a list, and the justification of keeping a place alive made a lot of sense to us.

      No, we’re not looking to live within the student community. We value peace and quiet too much for that… Yes, the small-town vibe, but within driving distance to “amenities” (20–30 minutes? Maybe like the distance of Scottsdale to ASU?). Ideally no more than 15 minutes to Costco, though, that’s too important 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, Costco and the stores we shop at being nearby was also a consideration and why we picked the northern end of town rather than more downtown. We’re 8 miles from Costco and most of the stores we frequent. The hospital is farther out, and the airport farther still, but it suits us.

        I agree that the distance and stores you want to shop at being nearby are important too. However, there was a another house we loved too, but then we felt it was too far out in the country and we thought too much of a haul to and from the grocery store and Costco, but now that we’re here and settled in we think we should have bought that house; it would have been very doable for a decade or more. So think about that too.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. First, my apologies for the delayed response: we experienced our first LONG power outage, and it was long enough to suck some of the joy out of my bones, followed by an even longer internet outage. It turns out that infrastructure… matters 🙂

          May I ask why you would have preferred the house farther out? I get what you’re saying: we used to believe that an airport had to be very close, and then realized that driving an hour+ out every once in a while is inconvenient, but not detrimental. It’s nice to be relatively close to a hospital, but it’s not detrimental to have a good one a little father out. Having Costco be 45 minutes out is more impactful 🙂

          I’m very curious about what you’ve learned that made you feel that the farther house would have been a better choice? A friend recently pointed out that distance from neighbors is worth the extra distance. Was it something similar to that?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. No actually we love our neighbors but our HOA doesn’t allow recreation vehicles in the driveway or street which I like, but I would love to have a side by side and trailer to pull it but, we don’t have the space here the other house had an acre plus a huge garage and shop we could have easily had all the toys there. Here we’d have to find a storage unit and pay rent every month and I’m just not ready to do that yet.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Ah! We’re quite familiar with strict HOA rules and regulations… I was just talking to a friend in Oregon who has a property of more than an acre. He says he’s never going smaller than that, for pretty much the same reasons as yours. He has a shop/huge garage where he can keep all sorts of vehicles.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. What we didn’t know before our first year living here is we’d want to have all the toys! We were downsizing mode and still are, but our toy wants are quite different. If we had more land and/or a 3 car garage we’d be golden. 😂
                So, there’s that to consider. You’re likes and activities can change a lot depending on where you move to.

                Like

  4. I think you’ve created a pretty great list and, reading it, I think where we live checks off most of the boxes. We can get wildfires, although not close to the coast where we live and, unfortunately, our summer temps are rising (but we have very low humidity). I wish our city was smaller but, because of our wonderful climate, lots of people want to live here. I guess maybe we’ll stay put. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If nothing else, I’m glad you’re now feeling better about where you are 🙂 May I ask generally whereabouts that is since checking off most of the boxes is what we’re looking for?

      Sadly, summer temperatures are rising, and with them, the risk for more fires and bad air quality. But if it’s a relatively low risk, unless we want to (and we don’t!) live in the middle of the desert, like the Australian desert (Australia does sound interesting, though!) or the Sahara desert, there are natural disasters everywhere…

      What we did do is add another section for criteria for the specific house once we land on a neighborhood!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. My sincere apologies for the belated reply, it’s no reflection on the interest in a place to be or in San Diego, it’s entirely due to our first loooooong power outage of the season, followed by an even longer internet outage. The two combined managed to keep us away from the blogsphere and push some joy out of our hearts. Infrastructure… matters!

          Ah. Indeed. A friend who retired a few years back said that he felt he could only move to a place where he could buy a house outright. Having to deal with mortgage when not working, he said, would have been too stressful. He looked at San Diego, where most of his family is, and ended up looking elsewhere for two reasons:
          (1) The $$$ 🙂
          (2) He called San Diego “mini-LA.” Do you feel that way, too?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m sorry that you had to deal with those outages. To answer your questions: 1) Absolutely, the prices of homes here are crazy right now (as they are just about everywhere people want to live but we started at an already high level). We were lucky to buy 30 years ago when prices were trending down. 2) While I don’t think we are a “mini-LA,” our city has grown much to much as far as I am concerned. I was born and raised here so I am well aware of the changes over the years. If I could find somewhere with many fewer people and lovely weather, I’d move. Unfortunately, our great weather makes people want to live here… at least until we run out of water.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Great list, EW. I went through your list and I have to say, where I live pretty much meets your criteria. OK, I live in Troy, MI but Rochester Hills or Bloomfield Hills, MI are neighboring towns and meet the criteria as well. We have a relatively cool climate. Now, it does get cold in the winter but summers are wonderful. Today is the first day we’ve turned on the AC and will probably turn it off tomorrow. MI rarely has natural disasters. No hurricanes, very few tornados. no earthquakes, no mud slides… We do flood on occasion but in the 30+ years I have lived here, that has never been a personal issue. Bugs, well, we have bugs but I am not bothered much by them. Medical: U of M hospital is on your list but Ann Arbor is a 45 minute drive. (You might look into Ann Arbor, MI because of the university and the medical. It’s a lovely city.) We do have wonderful hospitals nearby. There is a mostly-commuter university in Rochester but they have a lovely theatre and do plays, concerts and dance performances often. The utilities here are good. We did get a gas-powered generator about ten years ago and it has only turned on a dozen times and for only a few minutes. Sane community? Well, we are pretty polite and suburban here. I have found a group of artists here that I have bonded with. Also, there are volunteer opportunities here because we live very near to Detroit and to Pontiac, both of which have significant marginalized folks. There are lots of restaurants around, however not as many small business kind of places. (But I don’t eat out much.) And yes, Costco! We live in the middle of two about seven miles away each. So look into, MI. I love it here and it is not where I am from. But also look into Ann Arbor where the University of Michigan is located. Lots of art there. And the homes are quaint and lovely. Good luck on your search.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, LuAnne, for the great and detailed comment, and my apologies for the delayed response: as if it to nudge us into action, we’ve had our first long power outage, followed by an even longer internet outage which kept us from the blogsphere…

      Really appreciate the suggestions, and if I may, a couple of follow-up questions:
      1) What’s the bug situation like? I found no real site that gives data on that, one must ask the locals! 🙂
      2) Do you feel “safe”? I’m asking because in our community, more than once, we’ve gone to our mailbox (it’s on a stand shared with a dozen or so neighbors) only to find a key stuck in one of the mailboxes, with house/car keys included. A few years back, when we returned it such a key to the neighbor, they sheepishly confessed to having left it there a couple of days ago. That makes me feel… safe.
      3) You mentioned that the community is “pretty polite and suburban.” Might you be able to expand on it? Do you rely on your artist community or do you feel that you have a shared sense with the community at large?

      Again: thank you so much for the pointers!

      Like

  6. What a great list! I think you have really covered so many things that would be important to me. I’m wondering if traffic should make your list? I suppose if you are retired and picking the house, neighborhood well, you could probably avoid most traffic even in a metro area that was congested. So perhaps it isn’t that important but worth a mention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed! I’m adding the current year’s Livability Index of cities (it’s international, and none of the top 10 cities are in the US). That absolutely matters. In fact, my delayed response is due to double infrastructure failure… We had a LONG power outage followed by an even longer internet outage. Infrastructure matters, and as population rises, it matters… more! You had the foresight to point it out before the suffering 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. it’s almost like you were a consultant on these topics in a previous life 🙂 ALL great points, thank you so much, and apologies for the delayed response. We experienced a very long power outage, followed by an even longer internet outage. Let me tell you, either one, but especially both one after the other, suck some of the joy out of one’s bones… Infrastructure, like you said, matters!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It seems pretty clear to me that you need to move to San Diego. Great weather, few bugs, no humidity, universities, airport, THREE Costcos in easy distance, same with Trader Joes, me… The list goes on and on. And, though yards aren’t easy to come by here, we do have a full garden and TWO chicken coops, plus fruit trees… Just saying. And did I mention, me??

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You had me at “me (Ilsa, of course, Lund, Faust, or ParentingIsFunny!)” ❤ ❤ ❤ And my sincere apologies for the belated response. We had a LONG power outage this last week, followed by an even LONGER internet outage. They sucked a little of my soul out, I’m still looking for it 🙂

      San Diego is an interesting proposition! May I ask if it feels like a “mini-LA” or still retain its character? I’m jealous of the fruit trees already. We can only boast a lemon tree. And, yes, I heard housing prices are nothing to sneeze at in SD… May I ask if you feel “safe” crime-wise?

      And did I say you had me at “Ilsa is there”? ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Heehee! And I was away for several days, so I apologize for my late response. Sorry about your power and ‘net troubles. Eesh!

        Not a mini LA, by any means. I live in the country, sort of. I have chickens, after all. I do feel safe crime-wise. I’ve never had an issue. The stupid cost of living here is a problem, however. :/

        But, again, I’m here!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You have high standards and I don’t blame you. I’m not sure I’d like to be too close to a college (think Frat boys!) and I’d never want to be THAT close to neighbors either. For me, I’d like a walkable area which I don’t have right now.
    I wish I had the perfect place in mind for you. Have you ever been to Boulder Colorado? I’ve been there a few times and that is the only place that pops in my mind…although they will have a real winter there, I think summer is a dream compared to my current hell fire.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First things first, apologies for the belated reply. Remember how we mentioned stable utilities? Well, over the last week we experienced a LONG power outage followed by a LONG internet outage. Coupled with heat it lights up a sense of urgency around the search 🙂

      I hear you on the Frat Boys. Don’t need the noise late at night or early in the morning or any time of day, really… 🙂 We read this on a livability index (I’ll add the results of the 2022 one to the criteria) that it’s smart to live not too FAR AWAY from a university. Why? Because it serves as an anchor. It means there’s a vibrant center of employment (which means the place won’t die), of young’uns, of restaurants, of culture, of opportunities. We were thinking more of like a distance between Scottsdale, AZ and ASU. Living in Scottsdale you’d never guess a college town was nearby, but it’s “there.” Yes, I know Scottsdale doesn’t necessarily need a separate anchor, but that’s where that came from 🙂

      I’ve never been to Boulder, CO, but I’ve only hear good things about it, and forgot all about it, I’ll start looking it up. Do you know how harsh of a winter is likely to be there?

      My heartfelt sympathies for the fires-from-hell you’re experiencing. Our fire season hasn’t started in earnest yet, meaning, the outdoor air is still breathable, but I know how bad it can be 😦 Whereabout is your hell fire?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The power and internet outage’s are terrible; we are so reliant on both and I’m sorry that happened to you guys.

        I’ve not been in Boulder during the winter but I can imagine it’s not-so-pleasant.

        We are in SW Florida and I melt outside on a daily basis. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You and me both! I have a feeling my next blog will end up oozing some of that experience 😛

          May I ask you what the bug situation is like in Florida? Is it as scary as I think it is?…

          Like

  9. My Mom always used to say no perfect house exists. You just have to decide which disadvantages bother you the least. Same would apply to what area you want to live in, I guess. Instead of a growing list of every possible requirement, you probably need a list of absolute deal breakers and then you have more opportunities to find a place you fall in love with. you will know it when you see it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your mother is a very wise woman. No perfect house. No perfect location. I get that, and I understand the wisdom of the deal-breakers, too. We have established in this neck of the woods because of work, and in this specific house because we fell in love with it 🙂 But now that work isn’t a deciding factor, how does one decide on where to explore without a list of criteria? A couple of outages later (power & internet separately in the last week), infrastructure is creeping up to be a deal breaker

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So, something to consider: in Texas, February 2021, it got so cold that too many people in numerous neighborhoods lost power, some for over a week! The electric grid throughout the state was very close to shutting down because our power plants didn’t have the resources to meet the high demand. Our street, however, never lost power. We found out afterward that we are on the same power grid/line (not sure what it’s called) that the nearby hospital and Firehouse is on, so that made all the difference. Other neighborhoods were experiencing rolling blackouts, but we never did. Might want to ask whether your new place is protected in the same way! Peace and happiness to you wherever you move! Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mona, I’m glad you mentioned that! We used to be in an “outage block” that, too, was part of an emergency building (we were never quite sure which one 🙂 ), and for YEARS we were protected. Sadly, a few years back, they “redrew” the blocks and now we’re offered no such protection. In fact, we already had our first LONG power outage of the season. I feel for you in the dead of winter, not having power. In the summer, with triple-degree weather, a power outage is a different kind of no fun…

      The reason I’m so glad you mentioned it is that it’s really important for the specific house placement. It’s funny how much of a difference a single mile can make?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. BTW, I tried to comment on your extremely amusing (to an outsider…) post on the Bug Zapper, and even with your instructions, I got: “ERROR: Your comment appears to be spam.

      Please go back and check all parts of your comment submission (including name, email, website, and comment content).”

      😦

      Like

      1. EW,
        Ugh. So sorry you encountered that. I have looked for your comment in spam and, frankly, throughout the different areas where it might be…just waiting for me to press a button and release it from its holding place. Unfortunately, I haven’t found ANYTHING, which makes it even that more frustrating!

        I saw that you “liked” my post, thank you for that, I truly appreciate it! For whatever reason, I think my blog was being a diva or maybe it just sneezed when you tried to comment and…I have no idea. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, though, and I hope you try again. I’d hate that the glitch in the system would keep you from visiting in the future. Also, thank you for letting me know. I’ll continue to be vigilant to see if anyone else is having issues. In the past, I’ve found that if one is having an issue, there are others that encounter the same thing. Fingers crossed this isn’t becoming a “thing.” Mona

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You know what they say, if you don’t first succeed, take a nap and then try again! Turns out the nap did the trick. And it looks like it’s my website, which is this blog site’s address, that your spam filter objects to. But my second try worked!

          Liked by 1 person

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