Once you see how much house you can get somewhere else, you can’t unsee it. We all know that Metro Vancouver real estate is some of the most expensive in Canada, but we don’t appreciate just how much less it costs to live almost anywhere else.
Our move away from New West started with a look…
We had always enjoyed poking around the MLS to see what houses were available, but the day we had the whim to look outside the Lower Mainland was the day the urge for going was born. If you are happy here in New West, don’t look at the house prices in the Cowichan Valley, Sooke, Kelowna, Charlottetown, or Montreal. Don’t look at Halifax. Just, don’t.
If you have already nibbled from the Tree of MLS Knowledge, you may be going through the same seesaw of emotions as we did when we grappled with the decision to stay or go.
We were happy in New West, and that makes it harder to decide to make a change, as we all fear such a choice will make us unhappy. But in some ways, when you are happy is the best time to go, as you can be sure you are not running away from your problems. They say your problems will follow you wherever you go, and I would say the same is true for your feelings of well-being.
If you are a happy person who finds joy in life, you can find joy wherever you are.
On the other hand, sometimes your reason for going is that you have a problem with the place where you live. It’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about whether your problem is really with something concrete in your environment (for example, be- ing unable to find a home with enough bedrooms at a price you can afford, wanting to be closer to work, or being bothered by excessive traffic noise) or whether the problem is unspecific and emotional (feeling sad, lonely, or bored).
A feeling that you would be ‘happier’ somewhere else is not a good reason to move, unless you can get specific about which particular aspects of your life you want to change. Over time, you will become habituated to whatever has changed in your environment and your big change will become your new normal. Once the novelty of the new place wears o , you will still be you.
On the other hand, moving to take advantage of a lower cost of living can offer a long-lasting financial benefit, and can increase happiness if it means you are feeling less stressed about your financial situation. This is assuming you have your financial house in order, of course. Bad spending habits don’t go away when you have more money to manage.
And sometimes, the urge for going is an itch you can’t explain. Some of the worst regrets are the things you didn’t have the courage to try. One of the things that made our cross-country move work was doing a lot of research and reflection on the lifestyle and cultural aspects of the communities we could have moved to. We didn’t just ogle houses on MLS to decide where to go. We spent a lot of time talking about the things we liked about where we lived, what aspects of other communities appealed to us and why, and so on.
When we thought we had narrowed down the area to three small towns in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area outside of Montreal, I started looking for community discussion groups on Facebook, Instagram photos, You- Tube videos, Twitter posts, and blog posts. In our new community, the Facebook groups have been the most helpful. Before we booked our first house-hunting trip, I already knew what the local hot-button issues were, which areas were considered ‘good’ neighbourhoods, what the main recreation options were, where to get
groceries, the reputations of the various schools, and I had already begun to make a few friends. Because municipal politics matters to me, I also watched some interviews in French with the mayor of my new town and read through as many news articles on local politi- cal issues as I could find online. When we came on our house-hunting trip, we already knew what we would find. Reassuringly, there have been few surprises.
In the end, I truly believe your community is what you make of it. This is good news whether you stay or go: if you decide to make your community a better place, you can find happiness here, there, or anywhere, as long as you have the essential things you need to create a good life.