Paradise puts me in charity with the world

We’re both living in our own paradises this year.  #1 has to go back in not so long from now.  #2 has no end date in sight.

But we’ve both noted that paradise seems to make us happier and more mellow.

Part of that I am sure is the weather.   It’s hard to be sad when the sun is shining and your toes are neither too hot nor too cold.  And #2’s Bad Place really did seem to be trying to kill her.  Like literally, with allergies and pneumonia and stuff.

And the food is always good.  And the libraries are awesome so there’s always something to read.  And there are lots of cool people around to socialize with if we want to socialize.  And nobody is talking about how awesome Donald Trump is.  It’s really easy to think that all is right with the world.

It’s not that bad stuff doesn’t happen.  Papers and grants still get rejected.  But that somehow doesn’t seem like such a big deal.*

#1 wishes there were a job for her in paradise.  But it isn’t like I was unhappy where we normally live.  It’s just so much easier to be happy here.  It’s like that nothing really matters feeling you get with middle age coming even faster.  It’s easier to focus on the important stuff– comes automatically instead of with effort.  I think we would live longer if we lived out here.

Does where you live affect how you view the world?  Are you happier living in different places?

*Personal tragedies are still just as tragic as they were when we were living elsewhere.  But the stuff that can be not sweated, well, why sweat?

24 Responses to “Paradise puts me in charity with the world”

  1. Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial Says:

    My quality of life is much better in current city than it has been in my hometown or other places I’ve traveled. I’m reminded of this anytime I go back home or visit friends in other locales. I wouldn’t say everything is better here– certainly weather can be a kick in the pants– but most people here are college-educated and liberal, which makes election season at least a bit more tolerable.

  2. becca Says:

    Overall, where I live doesn’t have a high impact on how happy I am. But I haven’t lived anywhere dreadful either (Chicago suburbs, and college towns of one flavor or another).
    *Better social support network is a pretty big factor. I like people from all kinds of places, though I freely admit finding the subset of people I can talk comfortably with about political/social issues is harder in some places.
    *Commuting long distances in the snow/ice/sleet/hellscape tanks my QOL
    *I would not consider living in Phoenix in August. You just can’t pay me enough to do 120 degree heat and that kind of sun.
    *I likely need a certain minimal set of most-commonly-used amenities. Like I’d be happy living near Trader Joe’s, OR a Wegman’s. OR be able to walk to an awesome farmer’s market. Having to do 100% of my grocery shopping at a Walmart would tank my QOL. I need access to a library and a pool. And I really appreciate access to outdoor activities (either bike paths, or a kayakable river would do- something for day trips on weekends).
    *To a degree, my QOL depends on Carebear. So we need a few trees around. There are far harder partner constraints to manage. :-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh man, you would hate where #1 normally lives and where #2 used to live. No wonder people in red states are so unhappy.

      • Debbie M Says:

        I’m happy in my red state, but then I hate cold so much that the unrelenting heat actually helps me to look forward to summer ending (which I never would do elsewhere). Also, I’m in a liberal oasis college town (though the suburbs are still bad). Also, Trader Joe’s has come to Texas.

        A friend of mine moved to Dallas for a while and the work culture strongly encouraged her to dress up (heels and make-up) and eat out every day and pay a percentage of the bill even if she ate just a bowl of soup, so she found it much more difficult to save money than when she had a smaller income in Austin.

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        We have a Walmart AND a Kroger! But you know what, the internet is an amazing thing. Also my parents live near the state capital, which is a proper city with Asian groceries and TJ’s and all. And there is a lot of nature to enjoy which brings the spouse joy.

        (There is a library and four pools, though two belong to the universities.)

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        P.S. My state is now reliably blue which I would NEVER have predicted when I lived here before. Amazing.

  3. middle_class Says:

    For me, the high cost of living is worth it for the weather, access to good food year-round, diverse population, and lack of Trump supporters.

  4. Leah Says:

    My main QOL issue is commuting. Specifically, a lack thereof. I have a “commute” now since I drop my kid off at daycare, and it’s about as far as I’m willing to do (20 minutes all combined, since I go there and come back). When I was commuting 45 minutes to an hour, I definitely was not as happy when I got home. That said, I would consider commuting that far via public transit so I could read or do other stuff.

    • Rosa Says:

      Not having to drive the car is the best thing about where we live. There are some conditions I wouldn’t put up with to be car-nondependent, but not too many.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It really is freeing. It is going to be so hard to go back.

      • Leah Says:

        If it weren’t for daycare, I wouldn’t have to drive. We try to bike around our little city (~26k population) during the summer, but biking is tight with the timeline for daycare drop off and getting back to work.

        Someday again :-) And, maybe, someday I might live in a place where I live near great bike paths and rarely have to drive. If we switch jobs, that will be a priority. I don’t have driving, but I really dislike every day driving.

  5. First Gen American Says:

    I’ve traveled extensively for work and there is no way in hell I would ever live in certain parts of the country.

    I’ve been in those places enough to know I like being around other like minded people who are all driving towards the same goal. I live in MA which is a very liberal, well educated population of people. I’d hate to live in a place where my views were seen as extreme instead of mainstream. Shudder to think.

    I’m spoiled too. I’m close to oceans and mountains. I don’t think I could live in a place that has neither.

  6. Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

    This is making me really look forward to Next Job Land (wherever that may be). My SO and I have been in our current flyover (and pretty racist) locale for quite a while, and I think both of us are starting to tire of some of those aspects of where we live. Granted, many of our friends we started with have left and we are also tired of our jobs, so we would probably like our city more if we had more time to get out and enjoy it and more friends to enjoy it with. The food is tasty, the rent is cheap, and there is plenty of craft beer to keep us occupied while we’re here, so it could be worse. :) We finally discovered Airbnb and managed to sneak out to a place where we couldn’t hear cars at all hours and I realized how much I miss the quiet – hopefully we’ll find something like it somewhere that will also let us have gainful employment (and maybe a commute on public transit)!

  7. Debbie M Says:

    I once decided it’s all about the people. I have been happy living outside in 80- to 100- degree weather (admittedly, in shade except while swimming or canoeing) with 90% humidity but working at a summer camp with awesome other counselors. And I have been happy living in a huge, ugly dorm that looked like a prison because of being surrounded by super-fun other grad students.

    The news reminds me that I’m playing the easy version of this game. The super-easy and beautiful version. Things I never have to see are all over the place out there for real. So I’m going to say that where I live has little effect on how I view the world.

    But it does affect how happy I am. Place traits that increase my happiness:
    * good friends
    * good books available
    * fast internet
    * walkability
    * good movies available
    * casual dress – not having to wear make-up or high heels (summer camp, Austin)
    * personal safety (oh, yeah, that)
    * room for all my stuff
    * good mass transit (things run so often you don’t need a schedule)
    * no commute
    * pension (that’s enough to pay for my lifestyle)
    * wildflowers, fall color
    * good food available
    * good places to do ballroom dance
    * woods
    * walking trails

    Place traits that have reduced my happiness:
    * cramped living (piles of boxes everywhere when first moving in somewhere)
    * constant rain (can’t read in the rain) and even just cloudiness
    * having to scrape the windshield every morning (Atlanta) (and probably having to shovel snow)
    * cold (Chicago, Boston) (I was a kid in Chicago and in rented housing in Boston so I never had to shovel)
    * walking on snow with slippery shoes (first year in Boston)
    * rush hour traffic that I can’t avoid
    * pollution (I assume), acid rain (NYC)
    * no Tex-Mex food (Boston in 1980-1984) (I would also greatly miss pizza, other Italian, other cheese, and chocolate)
    * crime that directly affects me, and even just people moving my stuff around to where I can’t find it
    * bugs including giant roaches (Florida, Texas) and mosquitos (everywhere?) and fire ants (south and southeast US) (I’m sure I would not enjoy having to be afraid of poisonous and carnivorous animals around me, either.)

    • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

      Santa Cruz does not have much in the way of mosquitoes (though 30 miles south in Watsonville does). I’ve not had screens on my windows for the past 30 years and have only gotten one or two mosquito bites. I have more problem with flea bits from the cats, when their systemic flea medication is forgotten.

      We have good bookstores, good libraries, moderate speed internet (fiber throughout town promised in a few years), great walkability, good movies (though I don’t watch much), casual dress (our formal looks like casual elsewhere—it is not unusual to see faculty in shorts and Hawaiian shirts), ok mass transit (though cuts are planned this year, due to the drop in sales tax funding), wildflowers year round, excellent food, redwoods, lots of hiking trails, good bicycling, year-round Farmer’s markets, lots of good grocery stores (including local stores that are better than the chain stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Safeway), craft beers, local vintners, craft hard cider, …

      Downsides: extremely expensive housing (but my house is now paid off), relatively low pay (compared to cost of living, but I’m making more than I need), high incidence of anti-science nuts affecting public policy, sometimes heavy traffic (but mostly avoidable by bike and on foot), somewhat high property crime rate.

      I think it is true that a lot of people are happier in places where living is less aggravating. I’ve certainly found Santa Cruz to be a pleasant place to be, though I think my wife would prefer the more urban culture of San Francisco.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Sounds good! I’m pretty sure I can’t afford it for myself, though–I’m done working and have a lowish pension.

  8. Debbie M Says:

    You’re reminding me that I recently learned that the car you drive can affect driving happiness. Obviously, if your car is reliable, that’s a great help (and that’s all I look for, besides affordability). But my boyfriend says that when he drives my car (navy Toyota Corolla) he gets no respect. People are always cutting him off. Things are different when he drives his red pickup truck (even though it’s a small one and it’s really maroon).

    And a co-worker of mine got to buy his dream car, but then suddenly people around him at stop lights would start challenging him to races and he didn’t like that. Again, this is not a problem with my car!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The other day on the way to work, there was a huge black truck with no license plate and a big Texas decal on the back. The guy was driving erratically and he yelled in an extremely angry and uncontrolled manner at the pre-teen/teenage boy in the passenger seat to shut up or to get out of the car. It was a bit frightening– DH gave him wide berth.

      There aren’t many big pick-up trucks around here. It’s nice.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Heh. Loads of them here. But even super-nice people drive them here (one friend *likes* helping people move), so it’s not as bad as it sounds.

  9. lucy4eng Says:

    I’ve lived and worked in paradise and the US. Here is my take:

    My country of origin can easily be classified as paradise (warm European country), large cosmopolitan city, so perfect social and personal life, non-stressful academic job, politically disgusting, pretty bad financially…which freaked me out so much I left…b/c as N&M said in a post…I need more money as a woman! I need to be independent! and then some more!

    Now in the US, in a remote cold location in the midwest, the outdoors and air quality are amazing, skiing is awesome, my social life is nearly inexistent, I have no family, the job is waaay more stressful and I am financially doing great!

    Which one would I choose? The US for now. I cannot take scary financials. I can take skyping with family and little-no social life…for now…will change when parents get older.

  10. First Gen American Says:

    It’s interesting, but a lot of the comments are more around financial stability than physical location. Things like living in a safe neighborhood or having a reliable car are more about income than geography per se.

    There is a big difference in both people and happiness when you go from below poverty to middle class. Although being poor was not an automatic recipe for sadness, there are a lot of people who just didn’t have the skills my family did to live well on very little. This led to thefts, sadness, debt collectors, evictions, drug and alcohol abuse, fighting about money, etc…Although the money problems were not our biggest issue, it was hard to escape that feeling of hopelessness that was all around you. You really do skewed and depressing view of the world is like when you are surrounded by poverty.

    I recently jumped from a middle class neighborhood to an upper class one and it wasn’t that big of a difference. People are nicer and friendlier, but I think that’s more because they are older and retired or semi-retired. The money isn’t as big a differentiater as the time is. There comes a point where the super rich just give a lot lot more to local charities, but they eat at the same restaurants as I do and go to the same concerts, etc.

  11. jjiraffe Says:

    I loved living in London. I grew up and still live in Paradise, and my college campus was on a beach (for real). Yet the place I had the best time had awful weather, and wasn’t (arguably) as pretty as other places and I wasn’t even a citizen. A friend asked me why London: “It’s so grey and ugly.” I don’t know. I guess because it was exciting, stimulating, and I really loved my social circle there.

    Of course, this was pre-kids…

  12. chacha1 Says:

    I am definitely more in charity with the world when I am not financially stressed, and if you add in a healthy environment, I am essentially unfazeable. People don’t affect me as much because they are so easy to avoid. As an introvert, I don’t need a lot of human interaction, and generally prefer – aside from the few people with whom I am truly intimate – to keep interpersonal contacts on a very trivial level.

    All that said, even though California’s cities are insanely expensive, its dominant politics make me feel comfortable and safe. (I would not want to live in North Carolina, where my sisters live, even though the western part of the state is beautiful, because F**king Confederacy of Dunces, man.) Also, there are cheap places to live in California. You just can’t make a living there.

    We live in the hellpit of L.A. now because we can make a good living here and save for the days of retirement, which will be OUT of the hellpit. Wherever we go in CA we will have relatively easy access to the particular luxuries we enjoy, so we don’t have to depend on the city for those.

  13. Linda Says:

    I just returned from a trip back to the Chicago area, and the differences were very revealing to me. I can now say that I truly consider this little North Bay Area town my home, and not Chicago.

    The vibe there was so different. It seemed that everyone was unhappy and tense. I was harassed by other drivers on the expressways for just following the rules of the road, and once downright terrorized by a jerk in a Hummer. The weather was cold, grey, and snowy. There was little green anywhere — the trees had no buds or leaves, and the lawns were still stunted from the cold and road salt — and there were few flowers.

    My flight landed late Tuesday night, and yesterday was my first day to get outside and really enjoy myself in a week. I loved seeing the hillsides still so green from the March rains. The smell of the flowers in the air (jasmine and roses!) made me smile, and at one point the wind carried the scent of the Bay/estuary to me (salty, muddy, and fecund) and I was absolutely delighted. :-D

    Yes, it is expensive to live here and people are pressed for money, but we are rich in many other ways. I am definitely happier here.


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