Periodically, for various reasons, life needs a reset. We are in one of those times now, and have been for a while. We began our Alaska adventure in 2006, and through ups and downs, good and bad, it has been an adventure. But now we find ourselves ready for a new address, one that is drier, warmer, and has potential to be a long-term home for us. We started this process last year, but a slow housing market and our own indecision derailed us a bit. We’re ramping up to try again this spring.
Most people (I think) make the decision of where to live based on job, family, or some combination of likes and life needs that help to narrow the focus and direction. We did too, in the past. We moved for training and jobs, and we looked for opportunities in regions of the country that we wanted to explore. Family is important, but with family spread far and wide, from east to west and across time zones, it is difficult to use family, at this point, as a filter. We find ourselves without a lot of anchors. We certainly know what states and regions draw us, interest us, and there is temptation to re-visit the places we lived in the past that we enjoyed. But we also know that it is important to make a good decision, and that means taking time, doing our homework, and looking beyond the most obvious options.
To complicate the process, we still have a house to sell in Ketchikan, where the market in our price range is not robust. And we will likely continue to work there for the foreseeable future. We are networked, and known entities, which is important when you work like we do. We can search without the house being sold. And as we have an episodic work style, we can structure time to travel and investigate in our time off. The downside to not working is that we don’t get paid. There is no paid leave in our work structure. But the upside is that we can put together significant blocks of time for exploring our options.
There are all sorts of online tools to help you. There are lists for every type of filter you can think of…low tax rate, health care facilities, climate, population, amenities, recreation, mountains, beach, schools, organizations…choose your priorities and you can find a list of places that will accommodate your must-haves and your wish-fors. One of these is Find Your Spot. There are lists from any number of periodicals and organizations. You can also find a plethora of information on any community online by going to resources like the local Chamber of Commerce page or the website for specific cities. Information is not the problem. Filtering it appropriately is the difficulty.
Aside from doing online research, another resource we have is a Class C RV, which is large enough that we can live in it for extended periods of time without going crazy or coming to blows. Our plan is to use it to do some in-depth exploration of various regions of interest, to use it as our mobile hub. We tried this once before, and it was working quite nicely, when we sidetracked ourselves by accepting a job offer. This time, we’ve agreed: we’re not looking for full-time work, and we are choosing the location we want. We’ll make jobs work around our choice.
So, with all that said, I’d be interested in hearing ideas from anyone reading this post. We like the west, the not-too-cold mountain west, the southeast, and the mid-Atlantic. We like small to medium size communities…no big cities for us, although it is desirable to have a city within a reasonable driving distance for airports, shopping, etc. We like ocean, mountains, and lakes, but realistically, would probably not choose to pay for an ocean front view. This choice needs to be sustainable in every way. So ultimately, we are looking for a place that offers a variety of amenities, a cost of living that is not extreme, and a place that feels like home. Any ideas out there? We’re open to suggestion!