By Jim Bruckbauer
Many people say that the two biggest decisions a person makes in a lifetime are choosing a career and a life partner. Deciding what you would like to do for 40-plus hours a week is critical and can be directly proportional to your fulfillment in life. While occupation is certainly important, deciding who might unconditionally love and support you for the rest of your life is arguably a more critical decision.
I’d like to throw in another decision that should rank high on the priority list – place. Deciding where to live is arguably just as important, if not more important, than finding the dream job or perfect life-mate. The reason for its importance may be so obvious that it is overlooked. It’s important because of how much “where you are” influences “what you do” and what or who you have available to choose from. Take this excerpt from Richard Florida:
It’s always terrible to lose a job, even worse to suffer a breakup with a significant other. As bad as those are, however, they are substantially worse if you also happen to live somewhere with few options in the job market or the mating market. It’s exponentially easier to get back on your feet when your location has a vibrant economy with lots of jobs to choose from, or a lot of single people in your age range to date.
Obviously, you have a greater chance of meeting your life goals when you live in a place that has the available resources to help you meet those goals. Place can provide you with more than just job and soul-mate; it can also determine income, friends, and other options for yourself or family. Different life stages may give you different values, and those values will be a reflection of where you choose to live.
This may be contrary to what you might expect as technology further flattens the world, making “where you are” not as important. Some argue that the products of the new globalized economy have freed us from geographical barriers. They say cities no longer need to be confined to the natural resources and raw materials they produce. Place, according to this view, is irrelevant.
While that may sound logical, it has its shortcomings when you look at where the great concentrations of talent, innovation, and creativity cluster. They are not spread evenly across the country, but concentrate in specific regions and locations. The generation of new ideas and productivity increases where these clusters happen.
Knowing that 90% of all economic output is produced in metropolitan regions, with the largest 5 metro regions accounting for 23% of it, what’s your take? Does place matter?
How does this different approach to looking at where you live affect your sense of community and place? And what does it say about your place? How can you show that your place is the place to be?