The Right Place is Not Enough

healthy longevity place Jan 31, 2024

A simple google search of “best places to live” returns a countless list of lists of places. In the latest list for U.S. News & World Report, Green Bay, WI, Huntsville, AL, and Raleigh, NC rank as the top three places in the United States. The Economist’s Global Liveability Index lists best places to live in the world with Vienna, Austria, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Melbourne, Australia as the most desirable. While these places are surely lovely, simply choosing to live in one of them, if you are able, is not enough.


Our physical place is a composite of both macro and micro factors (Source: Right Place, Right Time)


The Right (Metropolitan) Place is Not Enough

First, the right place is not determined simply at the metropolitan level. The metropolitan level matters, but so do other macro factors, such as country and region of the world. Even more important are micro factors, such as neighborhood, block, and physical dwelling. Your physical place is a composite of both macro and micro factors.

Consider New York City, New York. To get to your right place, you need to be comfortable with North America, the United States, New York State in addition to the right borough, neighborhood, block, and four walls. You may fall in love with a brownstone in Brooklyn but be turned off by the prohibitive taxes of New York state. Or, you may want to be in the action of Manhattan but find that you can’t find an apartment big enough that fits within your budget.

To truly work for a sustained period of time, alignment of the macro and micro factors is critical in finding your right place.


If you live in an area with "third places", like sidewalk coffee shops/bars, parks and libraries, use them (Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash)


Making The Right Place Your Right Place

Second, even if you nail the macro and micro dimensions of place, selecting your place is not enough. You need to invest in making it the right place for you. In this case, physical changes are likely to play only a minor role.

Yes, it is important to decorate and furnish your home to create that feeling of home. You may even need to make significant renovations to customize your home to your current and future needs. (Note: people should consider home modifications – such as universal design features – that allow for residents or visitors of any age to safely utilize a home.)

The bigger lever is not related to physical design, however; it relates to how we make our lifestyle optimize the benefits of our place. For example, if you move to a neighborhood or apartment building where many people know each other, look to proactively engage in the community by showing up to events or inviting others into your home. An area with high marks for social connection is of little value to you unless you choose to become part of the community.  

Similarly, if you live in a place with attractive outdoor amenities, it won’t help your physical well-being to observe them from afar. You are best to engage in a lifestyle that allows you to regularly access them for walking, hiking, swimming, skiing and so on. Even better for your health if you can find a way to engage in these activities with others.

It may seem obvious, but with the distractions (and addictions) of technology in our modern era, we can be tempted to live in a virtual world that prevents us from making the most of our place even if it is, allegedly, the “right” place.


Vienna, Austria is ranked as the top place in the world, but the right place for you may be precisely where you are - assuming you make the most of it (Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash)


Investing in Your Current Place May Be Better than Moving to the “Right” Place

In some cases, your right place may be where you are, and you may not even know it. Since both people change and places change, it can be natural to feel like your current home is no longer the best fit. However, the solution may be to think of your current place differently and act accordingly.

For example, for those that have lived in one home for a long time, you may want to consider a thought experiment: what if I just moved to this home? What would I do? This exercise can promote fresh and creative thinking. It can create the spark to initiate new friendships, activities and memories and adventures tied to a place.

Given all the hassles and certainly costs of searching, finding, and moving to a new place, making sure your current home isn’t the right place for now should be step one.

“Best of” lists have value – and some places are objectively better for most people – but, in large measure, the right place is a function of what you make it.  



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