Thoughts on Moving, and Looking for Home

The idea of *home* is kind of a complicated one for me. We’re not one of those families “from” anywhere, who live within driving distance of all our friends and relatives. A lot of that has to do with my own background and Mr. Asthma Mom’s. I’m half-Puerto Rican, half the typical German/English mix found in my mom’s native western Pennsylvania, and don’t really identify with either place. Mr. Asthma Mom is half Korean, one-quarter Yup’ik Eskimo, and one one-quarter white. Yes, this family is the Melting Pot, and on top of that heady mixture and all the different locations it entails, we both had military fathers and therefore live far, far from the countries of our birth.

However, we’ve lived in various parts of Florida a long time, and we’re ready to leave. For several months, Mr. Asthma Mom has been working with recruiters to find a new position, and our house goes up for sale tomorrow. Because I want to find the place that feels like home.

A conversation with an old college friend yesterday is prompting this post because she’s trying to move her family back to the Boston area, which she and her husband miss terribly. They move as often as I do, and it alternately provokes envy and baffles me, the way they’ve discovered a place to stay for a good long while, if not forever. They’ve found home, and I’m still looking.

Up until recently, I’ve been fine with the wandering. Happy even. The thought of being born and living in one place my whole life horrifies me, but then again I’m so, so intrigued by the way some people simply *belong* to a place heart and soul, and I want that for myself. Moving is easy when you’re not tied down by that attachment, but that’s the point. I’m trying to get *home,* to that place that would break my heart to leave.

Some Requirements

– Good public schools
– Strong job market
– Local culture and food scene
– Diverse population that includes open-minded, socially responsible citizens
– Four seasons, or as close as possible
– Cost of living on par with salary ranges
– Younger population (Since I live in Florida, you know this one’s important.)

Some Possibilities, Not in Order of Preference

Western North Carolina/Asheville

Probably unlikely. Resort areas don’t tend to have strong job markets, and Asheville is particularly bad. I love this area, but I like to eat also, so I’m not holding my breath.

Roanoke/Blacksburg, VA

Absolutely gorgeous and full of outdoorsy activities, but no concrete or even semi-concrete possibilities yet. Air quality isn’t the greatest.

Lexington, KY

Driven partly by climate, partly by good friends who live there, and partly by the city itself.

Nashville, TN

I can’t even find the tune with my voice much less carry it, but shockingly, AG can sing. I mean really sing. There are other factors with this city, but that’s a big one.

Denver, CO

Beautiful. Fabulous winter sports. Free babysitting from the in-laws. Definitely on the higher end of the list.

Salt Lake City, UT

Great natural beauty also, and I hear encouraging things about raising families there, even if you’re not Mormon. (which I am not)


Love the idea of West Coast openness and healthy living, but California earthquakes terrify me and Washington’s generally too pricey.

Now for the Complications

– I can work anywhere with my laptop and wi-fi, but Mr. Asthma Mom is a programmer. He makes way more money than I do, so his job drives the move and strong tech sectors = not the best pollution picture.

– While doctors say you can’t let asthma determine where you relocate, at the same time I think avoiding places with the very worst air quality is the way to go. For all of us, but especially AG and her spazzy lungs.

I like Atlanta, for example, but it doesn’t make our short list because it routinely finds its way onto so many bad lists. Even if it didn’t, I’d rather have coastal breezes, mountains, or a more northern location if I stay in the South.

Plus, if I had to drive in or around Atlanta everyday, I’d be perpetually lost. If you’ve been to Atlanta, you know what I mean:

Peachtree Road.
Peachtree Avenue.
Peachtree Lane.
Peachtree Street.
Peachtree Circle
Peachtree Boulevard.
Peachtree Way.

It’s enough to screw with a compass-impaired driver’s sense of direction (or lack thereof) even more.

The entire state of Texas is out, too, partly because nothing really draws me there despite the many–I’m sure–fine and wonderful people who live there, including my brother-in-law. But also? It only emits less CO2 than seven countries. That’s countries, not states. Yes, Texas is large, but still. I actually don’t know what repels me more–the massive emissions themselves or the lack of motivation to decrease them.

Nashville probably shouldn’t make the cut either, considering the entire state’s domination of this year’s Asthma Capitals list, but believe me–its slot on the list is anything but firm.

I use the tools you see in my sidebar to figure out pollution and emissions levels in each city or in specific areas within each city, Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) and Scorecard most often.

Today, though, I’m asking for your opinion through email or in the comments, anonymously or not.

Is there another city you think I should consider?
Would you recommend your city based on my meanderings?
What about cities you used to live in?
Where are the places you love?

Sell me on your city.

11 responses to “Thoughts on Moving, and Looking for Home”

  1. Asthmagirl says:

    I don’t know that I could sell you on my area or others, but I can provide some feedback…

    I wouldn’t live in Oregon again. I love it there, but it’s not the mover/shaker scenario that Seattle is. There are pockets of economic development and there’s a lot more pockets that are stagnent. There good culture and the prices are a little less, but comparable to Seattle although it always struck me that the wages weren’t. I worked in the computer industry in Portland for a while and knew I could’ve gotten better wages in Seattle. For sheer beauty, Oregon wins hands down.

    I know I couldn’t live in Denver. I have challenges being athletic in high altitudes. I’ve had several issues hiking on Mt. Rainier. Even Crater lake made me very tired. I don’t know that living in Denver would be my ideal just because of how altittude affects my asthma.

    My brother lived in Salt Lake for several years (he left in ‘06). He had issues not with the family thing although folks were forever trying to marry him off. His difficulty was that it was very conservative overall. He said if you stayed right in Park City, you’d find diversity of opinion, but in and around salt lake, he felt that views were quite monochromatic.

    Aside from Seattle itself, there’s quite a tech community on the east side and northeast. Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah, Woodenville (wineries). There wouldn’t neccessarily be a need to commute to Seattle. The Sammamish Plateau is a little spendy, but you could get out toward Northbend and be at the foothills of the cascade mountains. Great air. Great seasons. Close to a metropolis. 2 hours to an actual sandy beach. Proximity to the San Juan Islands and Canada. Proximity to hiking and skiing. We got 14 feet of snow over the main pass this winter. And definite seasons. Particulary on the east side where they’re further above sea level than I am. They get more bursts of snow in the winter and things can get warm over there in the summer. Warm is like 80-85 with 70% humidity. The only time things get really humid here is when we get the pineapple express air stream from Hawaii every couple years.

    I hope you find something that feels like home to you all soon!

  2. wendy says:

    Hawaii, Hawaii, Hawaii!!!
    I live in Montreal, Canada, where we are presently freezing our buns off and buried under tons of snow.

    A couple of years ago, I followed my dream and visited Hawaii for the first time.
    As the plane touched down, I had this strange feeling that I was coming home. I’d never been there.

    Once outside, I took a deep breath of fresh, soft, fragrant air, felt the warm sun on my face and knew I was in heaven.

    I would make Hawaii my home in a heartbeat if I could.
    Good luck on finding your new home.

  3. Amy says:

    AG, THANK YOU. That’s very helpful, especially since you’re in the tech field, too. And the tip about Utah is GOLDEN–I’m really not wanting to move from one conservative area to another. This helps so much. 🙂

    HI Wendy,
    I love your suggestion, but then again I’m not sure anyone would pay to relocate us to Hawaii, lol. That’s a much bigger expense than moving across several states. 🙂 I’ve never been, but I’ve known several people who say exactly the same thing!

  4. Blessedmomof4 says:

    Hey Amy,
    How about Va Beach, VA?! You’d already have built in playmates and friends to help you get settled it :)!

    The air quality here is good, I think b/c of the sea breezes we get. There are definitely four seasons. People are VERY active in the community and very involved in taking care of the homeless, poor, soup kitchens…..very nice people here…..maybe some conservative, but you can find anytype of “group” you are looking for :)! It is BEAUTIFUL here, and it is definitely a buyers market here!!! Va Beach schools are some of the best in the Hampton Roads area, I’ve heard. Now, as far as a job for you dh……..well, Chris said they probably arent as plentiful as in Roanoke, but they still exist……….Just wanted to put in a VOTE for our community!!! 🙂 Here’s hoping your dh can get a job here, so we can be neighbors. We have finally put down roots after 11 yrs. of moving every couple of yrs. We have been here for 6 yrs. and feel like we are home. I hope you find your new “home” soon! 🙂

  5. Amy says:

    LOL….I would write “And I’m used to the roads and the tunnels in that area already” except I moved away from VA when I was 9 and I hear traffic is way worse. But actually, we’re pretty much looking at the whole state, including VA Beach. Who knows? It could happen, and then virtual soup would turn into, um, well just soup.

  6. AndieBeck says:

    Hm! I’d love to convince you to move NOrth of the border to Canada, where I live 🙂 but I get the impression that the continental US is where it’s at for you. (Though there may be interesting opportunities abroad, ie. Europe, Canada, etc.) THough that may not feel so much like home … I’ve enjoyed living in several different places but home is a wonderful feeling.

    So, failing a move to my fair country, have you considered Vermont? My brother lived in Burlington for a couple of years and really enjoyed it – he found it pretty open-minded, easy-going, etc. I don’t know alot else about it but it sounded like a really nice place.

    Best of luck to you in your home search!


  7. lpnmon says:

    Tucson, AZ-while there aren’t 4 seasons, per se, in town, there are mountains within an hour’s drive that have winter and spring whenever you want them. Nice and dry, good air quality.

    Kansas City Metro (KS and MO)-fits all of your requirements, though some parts of the metro have better schools than others. Within driving range (under a day’s drive IIRC) from Denver, so you’d see your inlaws. At least 2 (that I’ve heard of/experienced) very good pediatric allergy/asthma specialists; probably more, as there’s a children’s hospital network here that is tops in the country (Children’s Mercy Hospitals).

    Good luck in your search! It’s hard picking up and moving across the country, but at the same time a fun adventure!

  8. Amy says:

    Andie, I love Canada actually–I’d totally consider moving there, but I doubt any company would pay our relocation from Florida, lol. Burlington IS on the list, sort of–it’s not on the short list only b/c we tried moving there before and there don’t seem to be many jobs in Mr. Asthma Mom’s field.

    I do love the moving adventure, too, although it is TIME-consuming. Thanks for your suggestions! I don’t know if I’d enjoy Arizona b/c of the dryness, but I appreciate the KC tip. That’s not an area I’ve looked into or even know much about. I’ll read up on it for sure. 🙂

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