There’s No Place Like “Home”

Last week, I found round trip airfare from Orlando to Atlanta for this year’s Dragon Con for only $136.  I posted it to BookFace, saying something like, “The moment when you spot an INSANELY good rate for Dragon Con airfare, but you don’t know if this will still be your home airport. ::sob::”

To my vast surprise, several people had a “wait, what?” type of reaction, and a few messaged me privately to ask if I was moving away from Orlando.  I mentioned in my new year’s post that I was contemplating a move out of Florida, and I’ve been talking incessantly about the possibilities with a few people, so it never occurred to me that so many of my friends would be in the dark.  (Clearly, I need to get more of them reading this blog.)

To address the question more directly:  I still haven’t decided for sure if I’m leaving Florida.   Or where I’m going if I do move.

It’s really difficult to break through the inertia of staying in one place for a while.  I’ve moved twelve times in the last ten years, but I’ve been in this one place for a little while now, and it can be difficult to pick up and go for the thirteenth time.

What I have decided with certainty is that when my lease ends this summer, I don’t want to stay put.  I don’t really like my apartment, for one thing.   Also, it’s fricking hot here.  And it would be significantly hotter in South Florida.

The climate here isn’t the only thing to be considered.   It’s been years since I lived in a place that “felt like home” to me. When I came back to the US after my time abroad, no part of South Florida felt quite right; I felt like a stranger in my own home town- more than I did in Germany.

I traveled back to Germany twice after I moved back, once for work and once just to visit.  During both of those trips, I had the uncanny feeling that I had only just left a few days before.  Aside from a few familiar restaurants closing and new ones opening, and aside from Jenny and Robert’s children getting taller, everything felt the same.  It felt like I had just left, and it felt like no time had passed at all.  I was incredibly comfortable there.  Not so with my return to the US – everything here felt kind of alien to me.

I’m not suggesting that I want to return to living outside of the United States- I absolutely do not. (Although if my job wanted me to be in the London office for a while, I wouldn’t say no.).  What I am saying is that when no place feels like home, it’s difficult to feel settled.  I genuinely don’t know where I want to be.

For where to go next, I have a few main considerations:

  • Is the temperature colder than Florida for most of the year? (Not bloody difficult!)
  • Is there cool shit to do?  Especially the music;  how’s the concert scene?  Is it a constant flow of activity there or do they roll up the sidewalks at 8pm?
  • Is there decent public transportation there?
  • Do I know anyone in the area? Friends or family?
  • Can I get a decent apartment there without blowing my spleen out on rent payments?
  • Is there a variety of delicious food options?

I’ve considered a number of possible destinations.  I’ve considered eastern New Jersey, with easy access to New York.  I considered Austin for the music scene, but moving from a swamp to a desert is not my idea of cooling down.  I also thought about Portland and the Pacific Northwest, or the Raleigh-Durham area, or Atlanta.   My work is completely remote, so I can theoretically work from anywhere.  In practice, it’s best if I stick to the same time zone as the main office in New York;  I am NOT a morning person and moving west would mean working earlier.

The top contender at present is the Washington DC/Northern Virginia area.  It ticks every box I just listed, and then some.   DC has easy access to three airports and the most useful part of the US rail lines.  It has a pretty useful metro system, and a constant flow of things to see and do.  The weather is a lot closer to what I actually want.  I’ve got a few friends and a really nifty cousin there.  Despite having no firm decision to move, I already have tickets to at least four concerts there this year.  I also have a fervid desire to go to at least five more events that were announced, but until I learn to clone myself that isn’t happening.

So yes, I’m leaning that way.  Still, the decision is not fully made.

Florida is not without its advantages, and I would be remiss to ignore the things I would be leaving behind:  An established social scene with a lot of friendships that I would miss.  Easy access to the theme parks.   Having sorted out which doctors to see in the area. (Finding new doctors is just a pain in the ass.)  Tijuana Flats and Publix.   Being only about a 70 minute drive from my sister, and only a few hours away by car for most of the rest of my family.   Being able to comfortably wear shorts for eleven and a half months out of the year.

But then there are the parts of living here that are less thrilling.  For example, the great social scene I just mentioned is largely centered around a bar scene, which means lots of beer intake.  (Some people would call that a plus, now that I think about it.)  Also, having to wear shorts for eleven and a half months out of the year to remain comfortable while still sweating is miserable and uncomfortable and kind of sticky.

And Orlando doesn’t feel like home either.

I don’t know if a new city will be any better, but I do think a fresh start would be really good for me.   I’m not worried about making friends in my new location, because I’ve moved to a new city sight-unseen a few times now, and I was able to find a tribe there each time.   For an introvert, I’m really quite friendly and sociable.

And hey, at least I won’t be sweating in January.

When is the last time you moved?  Was it a difficult change?

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10 thoughts on “There’s No Place Like “Home”

  1. Lorrie

    I moved from Royal Palm Beach to west Boynton Beach five years ago because Royal Palm became an inconvenient place to live. I hope my next move is to the New England area after I retire. I need seasons!

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  2. I understand your desire to move. When you don’t feel settled, the feet tend to wander. So far, I’ve lived in the Midwest, Florida, Mississippi, California, Seattle, New York City (twice) and New England. We purchased our current home with plans to stay for five years and then move to Scotland. Then Brexit happened and now we’re not sure if that’s going to be an option. Canada is also appealing, particularly Nova Scotia, however, immigration requirements are tough. Still, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to become expats sooner rather than later. Preferably before we hit our 50s.

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  3. Feeling unsettled with an impending lease renewal is at least decent timing? Also good that you’ve been able to check out so many places around the States over the years and can make a more informed decision (or at least have fun in the process). I’ve only been to DC once but it’s a place I’d like to spend more time in, preferably once there’s been a return to sanity. 🙂

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    1. I’ve been feeling this way for longer than the lease has been active, to be honest. The things that kept me here before now are not as strong of a tether as they used to be.

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  4. A year ago this month, I moved from a houseshare in Cambridge to a flat for myself in a town called Saffron Walden. It was a complete fluke; I’d never visited before the day I saw the flat. I wouldn’t move from here now. The flat is just a studio and it’s always got some patch of mould growing, and I can hear every thing my upstairs neighbours say and do, but this is a gorgeous place to live in, it has a lovely community (you can always find a seat in the Starbucks because we don’t care for chains here – we queue for 40 minutes to buy bread from the baker that’s open just two days a week. I buy my fish from the same place as Jamie Oliver.) I knew no one here when I moved and I still don’t really have any friends here. But it’s a slice of the globe just for me.

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    1. I’m very curious what about aspects of living in Saffron Walden are superior for you specifically than living in Cambridge or Bury St. Edmunds… is it just that the village itself turned out to be your true home? Or is there something more specific?

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      1. There are fewer people complaining about stuff – in Bury the highstreet is dying, lots of empty units, but when coffee shops open people complain OH NO NOT ANOTHER even though all the existing ones are well-used, so there is space for more. In Saffron Walden every Saturday the town is full of people using the local market, shopping local, sharing ideas. There was an eco stall last week and lots of people were chatting with them. It’s not to say that Saffron Walden is more left than Bury St Edmunds; during the election I hated doing market stall activities because the abuse was more than I could take. But it’s more of a community.
        With regards to Cambridge, it’s well over-priced for rent, very over-touristed. You can’t get anything done due to the snakes of 40-people-deep walking tours piling off of coaches. I also think that Cambridge people live in an echo chamber and forget that real people aren’t all PhD completing, high earning, and able bodied. You get loads of abuse for not cycling, for example.

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  5. Pingback: State of the Steven – Sunshine. Whimsy. Tacos.

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