How to Decide Where to Live
One of the hardest career decisions is where you want to live. Other career decisions are more straightforward – what are you good at? What pays enough to be worth doing? What are you passionate about?The question of where to live affects all aspects of your career, but the answer is much harder to come by. It’s harder to know the criteria to use. Here are some suggestions for starting points when you are making the decision of where to live
1. You should live near family and friends
If you are looking to have a happy life, the biggest factor in your level of happiness (at least that you have control over) is the quality and quantity of your close relationships. This is so important that, according to research from economist Nattavudh Powdthavee, that if you’re going to take a job that requires you to move really far from family and friends, it should come with a hefty raise — $180,000 a year or more, Powdthavee told me — to make it more appealing than staying put.
2. Decide what you’re willing to give up
People look at the choice of location as a smorgasbord of great things to eat. But instead, think about it as looking in the garbage can. The hardest thing about moving is not what you get – the good stuff is always good. It’s what you give up. So think about what you love, and what you’re willing to give up. Finding a location is just like finding a mate. It’s about compromise, and there’s no way around it.
3. Career flexibility is usually costly
If you want to have a wide range of choices and the ability to switch between many high-paying careers, you probably need a big city. The problem is that big cities cost a lot to live in. So when you think about protecting your earning power, consider that you do not actually need that earning power if you start limiting your career choices by living in low-cost-of-living locations.
4. The bottom line is choosing between happy and interesting
Cities filled with interesting people cost a lot of money. Cities filled with happy people are relatively cheap. This is because maximizers – people who want the best of everything and are always trading up – flock to big cities. And people who are inherently content do not want the hubbub of choice after choice after choice, so they go to smaller, slower paced cities.
This is not to say that one is better than the other. But an interesting life does not create a contented life. And a life of contentment is inherently less interesting because contented people do not look to change things. And please. Do not argue this one, because you reveal yourself when you do: People who care about interestingness don’t care if they are happy.