Why do we live where we live?

While chatting over dessert in Omaha’s Old Market this past weekend, my uncle asked “Why do any of us live where we live?”

This came up as I talked about possibly moving back to Nebraska, to the middle of the state, to the city of Grand Island where my parents live. It has some pros, and some cons, when compared to our little Siloam Springs — or any other community we might relocate to. Grand Island is a less than interesting prospect in term of location for my wife and I in and of itself.

My uncle owns a condo in Orange County, California. He’d much rather be there than in Nebraska, but was forced to move back in the early ’90s when the California economy tanked. The only reason my wife and I moved to Arkansas was for the work, the ministry we’re a part of.

It’s hard for us to say where exactly we’d live if we could live anywhere; it’s easier, though, so say where we wouldn’t live. Western Nebraska, for instance, is too desolate for our taste. It’s extraordinarily difficult for us to imagine living in, say, North Platte (which is where I grew up).

Given the reality of pros and cons to every location a person might choose to settle in for any length of time, it’s interesting to consider what factors draw or repel people from living here or living there. Family can be either a large draw or repellant, depending on the person. Climate, size of a town, nearby amenities, job opportunities — all of these play off of each other in any number of combinations when we make a decision about where to plant ourselves and for how long.

I’ve known of people who’s goal in life was to live in a certain place. New York City is an obvious target. Growing up in western Nebraska, many of my friends wanted to move west to Denver and the mountains. Some people will do this regardless of the opportunities. The culture, the climate (California anyone? Seattle for those who like to be depressed . . . ) and possible jobs don’t factor into a decision. In a sense this seems like people pursuing an ideal, forsaking the practical and realistic.

I can’t see myself moving to a place just because of the place. Then again, I suppose I’m enough of a realist to realize that nowhere is perfect, even as much as we’d like somewhere to be so.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

2 Responses to Why do we live where we live?

  1. What are you talking about? North Platte would be a great place to move back too. You have such wonderful friends there… okay just one friend. But he’s wonderful and he might even let you live in his garage til you find a place.

  2. TAE says:

    Actually, I think Hannah H is a friend too, but she wants to move to California *wink*

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