Our usual conversation is about where we would move if we left Alaska. Our parents are in the Northwest and we grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and Portland, but we’ve found that when we go back, we’re stressed out by the amount of people and traffic and the bustle that has moved into the suburbs. Living in Anchorage has made us small-time people. We’re now definitely more country or suburbs-of-suburbs type of people. We also would love to live next to siblings, but our siblings are all over (Texas, Nebraska, California) and we’re not in love with any of those locations and we can’t count on them to stay there either.
Alaska is wonderful and we really do love it so much, but we live in a small house. In reality, we may not be able to comfortably stay in this home until the kids graduate. Yes, we absolutely could make it work, but you know I think the journey is important and I won’t want us all to be at eachother’s throats because we’re forcing ourselves to stay in this house when the kids are big (2 teenage girls may not be able to happily share a tiny room with bunk beds). That’s when I get depressed about our future here.
Our home is perfect for us now. We love it. We can see the northern lights from our living room window! Housing in Anchorage is weird. We only have a few areas that would qualify being called “neighborhoods” in the lower 48. The rest of the areas are just splatterings of houses. Nice houses next to trailers. Split-levels (I’m not a huge fan) are king here because the housing boom that followed the pipeline hit in prime split-level building years. Most housing is dated and ugly. The only new constructions are outside Anchorage or in the too-nice or not-so-nice parts of town. And houses are relatively spendy. A dated, ugly split-level (split-levels can be nice, but these are ugly inside and out) in our part of town costs $375,000+.
In summary, if we moved into a larger home, we would be moving from a home I actually LOVE that would be entirely paid off (we’re getting closer!) to a home I don’t like at all with a mortgage.
The Perfect Place to Live (May Not Require a Move to the U.K.)
Our conversation in the car ventured into WHY I wanted to move to the U.K. so much… and this is where the breakthrough occurred. Having recently read Mr. Money Mustache’s The Happy City, I realized THAT’S what I wanted! I could be talked into nearly every village in the U.K. because they are self-contained and walkable/bikeable.
My perfect community:
- Has shops within walking distance
- Decent schools within biking distance
- Small homes are fine because everyone has one and people hang out elsewhere instead of just going to the “cool kid’s” house that is bigger than everyone’s.
- Trains or public transportation easily accessible to bigger cities (museums, concerts, theatre, etc.)
- Enough people that everyone doesn’t intimately know each other, but few enough that the community comes together for community events (ie: annual community fair, etc.)
- Weather that isn’t too hot (we are now Alaskans, after all) or too cold (we live in Anchorage, not Fairbanks).
- Is a place we can legally live (since we’re U.S. citizens) and put our kids in school without getting a job there.
The places I’m aware of in the U.S. that are heading in this direction are bigger cities that are creating this kind of community for young professionals. Kids are often not included in the plans. Or, they are 55+ communities where kids aren’t even allowed (also, we’re not that old, if you weren’t sure…).
My Vision of the Future Isn’t Clear
Because I can’t think of a place that fulfills my requirements, I’m frustrated. (If you can, CHIME IN! WHERE IS IT?) Our plans are unclear. Again, maybe we can just stay here and all be very happy until the kids leave (in 15 years!), but more likely, we’ll have to move out of this house at some point.
Not being able to visualize the ideal location (and thus concretely visualize our perfect future) makes aiming toward that goal more difficult. Concrete goals provide more motivation.
I don’t have the solution, but the realization of my list of needs (and Mr. T agrees) is a breakthrough. Maybe we don’t need to move to the U.K. to fulfill all my requirements (also, we still can’t figure out how to legally do so, so the U.K. doesn’t actually fulfill all my requirements). And maybe we’ll be able to find the perfect place as time goes on and we get closer to that future.
Can you think of a place that fulfills all of my requirements?