As mentioned in an earlier post, my family very much enjoys the nomadic lifestyle. Once we are notified of an imminent move, we begin picturing life in our new home with new friends and enjoying new adventures. (That is not to minimize the adventures, friends, and memories we created in current and previous stops.) While fantasizing about our future, I begin researching places to live and the house hunting commences. The search usually focuses on a combination of three attributes (in priority order):

  • Proximity to work
  • Affordability
  • Safety

Whether it was San Diego, Italy, Maryland or Tennessee, those three criteria drove our decision. As we began exploring life in Pensacola, we decided to add a fourth attribute and move it to the top of the list…proximity to fun. Most people consider these very attributes and parents will likely trump everything for the “right” school, so I see nothing unique about our original criteria. (Note: I only pay attention to a school district as a means of measuring the quality of neighbors and resale value, because a “blue ribbon” designation hardly a good school makes, but that is a separate discussion). The fact that my current commute of 16 miles to work is my furthest since 1998 demonstrates our commitment to the “life is too short to spend it commuting” mentality.

So why did we embrace the “long” commute and modify our housing decision algorithm?

I am not one to hide from my many flaws and within my immediate family it is no secret that on any given day I can talk each of us into believing we shouldn’t go somewhere fun because “it’s too far away.” On the other hand, I can never talk myself out of my responsibilities at work and always find my way to the office regardless of the obstacle. So our thought this time around was to “live close to work, but closer to fun.” We have only been here six weeks and I can honestly say we have created more family fun in that period than we had in the last year. Maybe that speaks more to my failure in the last year than any recent success, but I am not looking back. You can bet that I will be at work when I need to, but my family can be equally confident in my willingness to not only participate but even drag them to the fun by which we are surrounded. Thus far we have walked to the beach almost daily, we journeyed two miles to go parasailing and ride jet-skis, and we got closer to a Blue Angel Air Show than ever before. Sure, I could have cut the commute to work by more than half and even saved a few bucks by doing so. However, if proximity to work remained our most heavily weighted decision input, our experience in Pensacola to date would be so very different and the continual smiles on our faces might not be so prevalent.

I have no doubt that adopting this philosophy earlier would have changed at least a few housing decisions in our past. More importantly, it will influence future decisions. As long as I am able to maintain the freedom to choose, our days in suburbia are behind us and proximity to fun (or at least our definition thereof) will trump all other criteria.

  • Is your family happy in your current location?
  • How do you choose where to live?
  • How often do you talk yourself out of fun?