I guess I know enough about myself to know where I find the most peace of mind, the most productivity and the most curiosity and interest in life on a day to day basis. I’ve lived in quite a few different places within Massachusetts and beyond and I have to say that the common denominators of happy day to day living were associated with what I like to call village living.
Moving from apartment to apartment thoughout Boston, I seemed to always gravitate to places that were within a few blocks of the MBTA. I went to school downtown and some of the jobs I had were downtown as well. Doing the early morning routine has never been easy for me, but I’ve also realized that in order to squeeze the most juice out of every single day, I needed to take a few hours here and there. So, getting up early to workout or get writing done was the best way for me to gain momentum in a given direction.
The MBTA isn’t a glorious public transport system by any means, but you can get pretty much anywhere within the city limits by train and bus in about an hour and a half. This sounds like a hassle to people who prefer driving, but part of my city living was being productive while on train rides. Whether it was reading a book or two a week on my commute or writing or researching jobs or grad schools, I was always able to zone out and get stuff done to and from work.
When I got my first real, full time, salaried job in Newton, I made my initial move out of the city to a semi-suburb. Newton is pretty cool and has a decent amount to do, but I opted to buy a car.
The following years, I progressively moved away from my public transportation lifestyle. I moved home to Worcester twice because of a failed relocation to Chicago and some financial difficulty. I found myself living 40 miles from work and commuting up to 4 hours a day in my car for a job that wasn’t much better paying than any of the ones I had in the city. I gravitated towards this because I thought I was making positive career choices.
In hindsight, I wouldn’t have wound up in the job I love now if I hadn’t made these steps, but I’m also realizing that to play to my natural tendency to walk places and take public transportation, that I’ll want to live in a place where my work and home are close enough for me to not have to travel and distance by car between them.
People I look up to who have things that I want for myself like a house, a dog and a back yard have told me time and time again that the more I grow up, the less that living in a city will appeal to me, especially when I decide to get married and have a family. I still wonder if I can have the things I want in life and still live my village lifestyle.
What do you value location and lifestyle wise? What kind of sacrifices have you made to have one over the other? How do you see yourself having a balance of both?