Finding Your “Forever” City

by Nanette on September 12, 2011

in Girl Talk, Lifestyle, Real Life

My husband is a rare native Angelino, born and raised in Los Angeles. I was born out of state, but having moved to my father’s central California hometown when I was a toddler, I consider myself a native Californian as well.

Having lived together in Los Angeles since graduating from college in 2000, I assumed we’d follow in my husband’s footsteps and raise our family here, eventually upgrading from our tiny condo near the beach to a larger house on the westside.

We have debated moving somewhere somewhat distant and out of state, but still on the west coast so we’d be relatively short flights from our families. We never spoke in defined periods of time, though.

It was always just “someday.”

Our eyes were slightly on Seattle or Portland, which felt like a bit of a pipe dream, as neither of us had ever actually been to either of those cities. We’d just loved what we’d heard from friends who lived there.

Then, my husband was presented with a job opportunity in Portland, OR that was too good to pass up. He accepted the offer, and we’re moving there in just a few weeks.

While a big move was always on a radar, the decision to pack up and go was not easy. My husband’s big worry was whether we could see Portland as our “forever” city, the place we’d finally find our dream house and continue building our dream family.

I assured him that as big of a hassle as it is to take our family to another state, far away from our the rest of our families, no one says it has to be our “forever” city if we don’t want it to be. Our hope is that we’ll fall head-over-heels in love over time.

If it doesn’t happen, we can continue our search for a “forever” city. We’re young. The world is our oyster.

I’m curious how others’ decide where they want to make their roots, so I polled our writers, whom I assumed were already in their forever cities. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case at all.

Daisy: Chicago is not our forever city, though we’d happily stay longer and raise our kids here. Eventually we’d like to settle down forever in New Orleans or Charleston. When we are there, we feel like we are home, with the old history and the food and the culture. I’ve lived in New Orleans for 4 years, and my husband and I have both been to Charleston numerous times; we just love both places.

Angie: We’ve been in Orlando for 15 years, but I still can’t say it’s our forever city. I grew up in a small town in the Florida panhandle where our parents still live, and we’d both love to move back there. But because the job market isn’t stable enough for a move up there, we’re here in Orlando for as long as we can see. We love our neighborhood, the schools our girls attend, and being so close to attractions (Disney, hotels, etc), but Orlando has never been “home” for us.

Allison: We are not in our forever city. We moved away from it (Austin) to Houston for my husband’s job. We love Austin so much and feel like we are home the moment we drive into the city – the vibe, the people – its just us – laid-back and chilled. We both grew up a few hours from there and it has always been one of my favorite places. We lived there for several years. We would kill to raise our kids there, but my husband’s job industry is here, so we try to get away when we can for the weekend. We absolutely plan on moving back somewhere down the line, whenever possible.

Greis: I’m definitely not in my forever city, though I’ve lived here forever (30 years). I’m not sure where my forever city is yet. I’m hoping to figure it out!

Shauna: I’ve lived in Fort Worth my whole life (except for the years I was away at college) and I love it. I can easily see me living here my whole life, but I also think I would love to live in Boulder.

Emily: I’ve lived in Indianapolis all my adult and married life. It might be our forever city. It totally is, if we don’t move back to west Michigan where all our family lives. But, I can’t see us leaving Indy anytime soon.

Ali: We live in Toronto right now. I didn’t grow up here, but my husband did. I would not have said it was our forever city, or even our forever country, but the longer I am here, the more it grows on me. We have amazing friends and amazing careers here. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive to live here and that our winters (and falls and springs) weren’t so brutally cold.

Holly: I’m not sure we know what our forever city is. My husband and I both grew up in the Toledo area and have lived here our entire lives. We enjoy living here but aren’t at all opposed to living somewhere else. What we really want more than a forever city is a “forever” home. One with several acres of land, fruit trees, a pond, an outbuilding for my husband’s studio space; just outside of the city limits. Where that will be, we don’t exactly know.

Tena: It never dawned on us that we wouldn’t just live here forever.  We were born and raised in Missouri.  All of our families is here. But, I’m not opposed to living anywhere else, I just wouldn’t know where to begin as my husband’s training to be a policeman is valid in Missouri. We do dream of living near an ocean, and everytime we travel, we like it better than home, but doubt that anything like that will ever materialize. Midwesterners are awfully adventurous.

Brittany: This is such an interesting question at this time in my life, because it’s something Andy and I are endlessly discussing. I always thought our home here would be our forever home, but as our lives become less and less tied here, we realized we have absolutely nothing holding us here.  What an amazing feeling to suddenly think, wow, we could live anywhere we wanted!? We think we want to move to NJ. It’s very much on our radar. If not there, then the PACNW.

Mishi: We are definitely not in our forever city. We are in a great place to raise our family, but it isn’t the place that we feel is perfect for us.

Meghan: We are in our forever city. A) My husband was born and raised here B) His business (Heating & A/C) is here, and has been here, in his family, for the last 30 years. C) It’s Santa Barbara, so…it’s hard to beat. But, like Ali, I just wish it wasn’t so damned expensive.

Meredith: Oh, the never ending debate at our house. My husband is loyal to his company to a fault. While I love where we both work, I am not loving where we live. I want more. More options. More culture. More opportunities for our children. More doesn’t even have to be far away from our families. For me, more is Columbus, OH. But for my husband, change is difficult. So we make the best of our city. And pray that it comes back around again. I mean, after all, we were both born and raised in this area, but sometimes, I think that’s the only thing keeping us here — fear of the unknown.

Heather B.: I was born and raised in Albany and live here now. Though everyone and their brother thinks that I should live in DC and cannot fathom why I don’t live there. However,  a) it’s way too expensive b) I don’t want to be sucked up by in the Beltway bullshit, and  c) I’d have to move well outside of the city to VA or MD to have a family. Unfortunately, Fairfax is most definitely not my Forever City. I know that here, I could have great schools and a very low cost of living, and my family is here. One big problem, you can’t meet anyone in Albany and DC is much better for that. I often think of moving to Austin or Boulder or even SLC. But, I’m (relatively) young and single so ask me this question in 10 years.

Katie: I don’t know where our forever city is. My husband would really like it to be New Orleans, which I love dearly, but where we have no family and most of our friends have moved away as well. I would love to plant roots and raise kids somewhere along the California coast, if money wasn’t a factor. My heart absolutely belongs in Ventura, California, where I spent the summers as a kid. It’s close enough to family, but not “that” close, and it holds a lot of really good memories. But my husband hates the beach. So, we may only ever know a current city instead of a forever one.

How about you? Do you have a “forever” city? Are you there now? How did you know it was “the one”?

AmazingGreis September 12, 2011 at 7:09 am

I’m so ready to start testing out cities to see if they could be the one.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Excited to see where you end up!

Ashley September 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

I think Chicago could be our forever city. We actually live in a great suburb but have family, friends and work in the city. After the kids are out of the house (14 yrs from now) I’d like to live in the city, too. Shoot, I’d move there now but my husband (who grew up here, I’m from KS) doesn’t want to be so close to neighbors.

We’ve recently had a couple tentative job opportunities elsewhere. Comparing those areas to what we have now showed me that we have a lot of what we want here and there aren’t many other places that fit the bill so well. The big drawback is being 700 miles from my family. We only get to visit once, sometimes twice a year. That’s hard.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I’ve never been to Chicago, but I hear such amazing things about the area!

Daisy September 12, 2011 at 8:09 am

Now I just want to take a quick weekend vacation to New Orleans. Just because!

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I’ve always wanted to visit. Someday!

Nelly September 12, 2011 at 8:18 am

My forever city is Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK.

I love my city, I was raised in the countryside, but moved here for university. It is the perfect place for me. It is quite a small city, you can easily travel from one side to the other in under an hour.

The people are super friendly, all my friends and family are here, I just get such a great vibe here.

I did live in London briefly about 4 years ago and hated it! Too big, the people are rude, just not a good vibe to live in.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Sounds lovely!

SwingCheese September 12, 2011 at 8:30 am

We’re in our forever city (medium sized city/eastern Iowa). We just didn’t realize that it was our forever city until our son was born, and we were struck with the desire to move back. I grew up here, and I want to give my son the childhood I had – playing outside, having the run of the neighborhood, good public schools, within driving distance of both the University of Iowa and Chicago (and it is also possible to get to Minneapolis/St. Paul in a single day’s travel). Plus, it provides a great jumping off point for travel :)

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:40 pm

My best friend lives in Iowa and LOVES it there!

Liz September 12, 2011 at 8:59 am

We are definitely NOT in our forever city. While we like it here okay, we have nothing keeping us here. My husband’s job, with his hour each way commute, is really it. We have friends, but not an amazing group of friends we couldn’t imagine leaving. Only BIL & his wife in terms of family. So as recruiters keep calling my husband, we’re hoping one of them is “right” for us, in a new, amazing city.

We came “this” close to moving down to LA, but the offer just wasn’t right for us to uproot our family right now, a month away from having our third child. I’m still hoping for something on the east coast. I do love it in California, but I also love my family and hate that it’s just so difficult to visit them.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Interesting to see how it’ll all unfold, Liz!

Miss Britt September 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

Our forever city is NYC, and we won’t consider ourselves settled until we get there for good.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I love the certainty in your (writing) voice. I’m excited for you!

amy September 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

My husband & I both grew up in Central PA-met in high school. We traveled cross country right after we were married and were convinced that Central PA where all of our family was (& still is) was the forever city. Fast forward 10 yrs later…we had realized that we needed to be somewhere else and CO had captured us when we were there years ago. WE JUMPED and last year we moved with 2 small kids 2000 miles west, away from everyone and are loving it. We live in Louisville, CO (just voted #1 Place To Live by CNN). 6 miles from Boulder, 20 miles from Denver-it is the best place ever. Shauna, Heather B., any of you guys-come on out-we’d love to have you.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I’ve only visited a couple times, but I can understand how one would fall in love with Colorado!

Nona September 12, 2011 at 9:21 am

I am definitely NOT in my forever city. This is the third, and the smallest most clique-ish, city I’ve lived. While it’s OK, it’s not home, even after seven years, and it never will be.

My forever city is Indianapolis (waves to Emily up there). It’s where I grew up and it is the city of my heart. We have tons of friends and family there, and we both love it and miss it very much.

I hope that one day my husband’s job will take us back there. If not, then when we retire, we are headed back to the Circle City.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I hope you get where ya wanna be!

Nicole September 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

Yes, we are most definitely in our forever city! Give it up for the Pacific NW!! I live in Spokane Washington which is a fantastic city for raising a family. Decent cost of living, traffic that I can most definitely live with, lots of great restaurants, we can get to the ocean, Seattle, Portland & Vancouver BC within a days drive, lots of great skiing in the winter, beautiful things to see all around – hiking, biking, camping – whatever! I grew up in the midwest (for the most part) and I loved it too, but I had no idea what life could be like until I moved here…so many fun experiences available! I love getting to share those experiences with my family & friends!

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Eee! So exciting — for you AND for ME!

Amy September 12, 2011 at 9:59 am

We are in our forever city… my husband grew up here and I fell in love with it. Its has so much to offer young families and is a growing ski-resort town, so new people and jobs are constantly flowing through here. However, we took a driving trip through the Pacific Northwest a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with Portland, OR and both agreed that we could totally see ourselves living there forever. BUt, we are Canadian and a move to the US isn’t that easy…
but fun fact – we live at the north end of the Columbia River and Portland is at the south end, so we would still be on the same river, just different ends!

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I love your fun fact!

Sugar Scientist September 12, 2011 at 10:05 am

The “forever” city has always been a big thorn in our relationship. We almost broke up roughly 29432 times while we were dating because I hate his “forever” city and he refused to give up setting down in his city for me. Eventually, I gave in, and figured as long as he forked over the money to travel extensively and I was able to get out of Philly frequently, I could live there.

Ironically, because of current career training, we are each living in our own version of a forever city — him in Philly, me in DC. And even he has finally realize that living together is more important than living in his beloved Philadelphia, and is interviewing for fellowships all across the country… and I will gladly move wherever he goes, provided I can find a post-doc fellowship in the same city.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Funny how that works out. Good luck with your eventual move!

JenniferA September 12, 2011 at 10:30 am

I was born, and have lived my entire life, in Quincy, MA, just outside of Boston, and I am totally a Boston girl. I’ve traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and a lot of countries in Europe, and every time I come back to Boston, I know I am home. I’ve spent 3 months here and there, but I don’t think I could be away from here longer than that. My fiance is from Ireland and we have decided that we would live here when we are married. He loves the area, and has friends nearby. I did tell him we would spend summers, or a few weeks each summer, in his hometown, especially when we have kids. And maybe when I am older I wouldn’t mind living in Ireland for a year or so, but we’ll see. For now, Boston has been and will be my forever city.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Love this!

B September 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

This is a constant topic in my relationship as well! We grew up in completely different parts of the county (Connecticut and Louisiana), and neither of us can imagine settling where the other grew up. Our families are so far apart and both of us would like to be near our families. So in the end, it seemes like wherever the job market takes us is where we will go.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Good luck!

Peach September 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

First of all, welcome to Portland!! I hope you enjoy it, have you visited yet? The food is AMAZING.
I have been dating cities for the past 9 years to find my true love.
New York
I’m thinking Seattle, maybe NYC, is my forever city. Only time will tell.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm

We’ve only been the one long weekend, but you’re right — the food IS amazing. We did not have one bad meal the 3 days we were there.

I love that you’re “dating” cities. Love!

Stacey September 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I think you will love Portland! It is our forever city mainly because all of our family is here. However that said – there is so much to do and you are so close to snow, beaches, skiing, hiking, biking, and river sports that it really is the best of all worlds. You also get to complain about the weather any time you like because here you get a free pass :)

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm

This comment made me giddy!

tilly September 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I love living in Portland, but I am a nomad at heart. In other words, I am dying to move. Where? I don’t know. I really miss change, y’know? It is just so much harder to move when you have kids.

Nanette September 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Yeah, we figure that if there’s ever a time to make a big move in our kiddo’s life, now’s the time. She’s 3.

Good luck to you!

Jessica V. September 13, 2011 at 12:02 am

I think we are in our forever city, but it is because of the job market and family ties more than any specific love of the area. I would LOVE to live in NorCal where I feel like there is more space than we have here in SoCal, but my husband wants to stay here. I love PDX too, but I think the weather would get to me. Don’t get me wrong, the South Bay is awesome, but I feel a little trapped sometimes. I grew up here, and he is from San Diego, so I have a secret longing for change…maybe someday!

jami September 13, 2011 at 12:35 am

I should have read your post more closely before posting! I could have just said, “ditto!” (for the most part). :-)

Jessica V. September 13, 2011 at 12:38 am

Haha! Too funny…and I like how you put it…LA is our forever city by default.

jami September 13, 2011 at 12:34 am

I don’t think I ever thought about a “forever” city. I ended up back in LA because my husband lived here, and with both sets of parents close by, jobs, friends, and two kids in school, I doubt we’ll move any time soon. LA may end up being my forever city by default. If I could keep all of those friends and family in the same close proximity, and all other things being equal (job opportunities, cost of living), I’d love to live in northern California.

jesser September 13, 2011 at 7:47 am

I’ve lived in Denver all but 6 years of my life and my husband has now been here with me for 7. All of our family is here and we have amazing friends and great jobs. I really can’t see us living anywhere else. The vibe here is very relaxed and yet sporty and active and it suits us perfectly. I would love to visit other places, maybe even for an extended period, but The Rockies are our home.

Kellyanne Revenaugh September 27, 2011 at 1:07 am

What city in California are you from, Nanette?

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