On Finding The Best City To Live In

“Your Heart Will Find Its Home”

By Cassidy Avery

With the exception of one term studying abroad, I have lived my entire life in Northern Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C. The town I grew up in was one of the further out suburbs and small enough that we did not even have a Wal*Mart for a long time. Things have changed. Now there are two Wal*Marts within 15 minutes of my family home which are in response to the explosive growth in the area.

More and more people seem to be moving into the greater D.C. metro region as they are drawn to our seemingly recession proof bubble of jobs. These transplants are not exactly wrong. We do have plenty of jobs: government jobs, contractor jobs, and of course numerous service-centric jobs.

On top of the prospects, DC has all the perks of a major city: museums, theatre, live music, great food. And DC is unique in that it has the National Mall with all the monuments.

It sounds pretty much like heaven, right?


And it might be someone’s heaven, but it isn’t mine.

When I was in middle school, I remember hearing classmates lament about how sleepy our small town was and how they couldn’t wait to get out. I would retort that we lived just an hour from the mountains, an hour from a major city (DC), five hours from New York City, and just a couple hours from the beach. We lived in the middle of everything and still were somewhere that felt like a small town. It was idyllic, really.

But over the past fifteen years or so, the sprawling suburbs have pushed further and further out from the beltway engulfing even the further out small towns. Neighborhoods where houses practically touch are popping up everywhere and traffic is spiraling out of control with not much hope in sight. And the house prices are pretty much on a steady march upward making home-ownership a distant dream for many in the area.

In the face of all this change, I have become one of the people who wants to live in a different place. I want my kids to have a life more like what I had when I was growing up: mountains and beaches within an easy drive, a city close enough to offer education and culture, and yet a yard big enough to run around in and neighbors who know each other.

So my husband and I have decided that we can’t wait to get out, and as such we have spent the past few years actively looking for a new place to live.

We started off by deciding on a general area: neither of us wants to live in the flat middle of the country, neither of us really wants to be on the west coast (too far from our families). Since we both grew up in the East, it made sense to look there. We started taking weekend trips (long weekends for the places further out).

We’ve been to Burlington and Montpelier, VT; Worchester & Boston, MA; Rochester and Buffalo, NY (and many, many of the suburbs); Williamsport, Wellsboro, Mansfield, and Philadelphia, PA; Harrisonburg, Staunton, Charlottesville, and Roanoke, VA; and, Ashville and Charlotte, NC.

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I think in a way we fell in love with all of the places we have gone too. But for most of them, there was something that held us back. Maybe it was too big, too expensive, too cold in the winter. Maybe we were not sure we could find jobs or not enough in love with the place to really make it a home.

Just like keys you can’t find are always the last place you look, the last place we visited, Charlotte, NC, is the place we want to call home. It seems to have all the things we are looking for, and we are excited to get down there and get settled.

We have been saving up for this inevitable day and so now all we have to do is close our eyes and jump. And the unknown has never seemed more delectable. We cannot wait.

If you think that where you live is not where you belong, don’t be afraid to go exploring and your heart will find its home.

About Cassidy

cassidy averyCassidy lives just outside Washington, D.C., with her awesome husband and two crazy cats. She is currently on sabbatical and trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. his means that most of the time she’s taking personality quizzes and learning to do housewifey things like how to hem cuffs on slacks. She’s a vegetarian bibliophile who likes to cook, devour shows and movies on Netflix, and play video games. In an ideal world where money was no object she would live in Oxford, England, with a bunch of cats and kids, drink hot tea, take long walks, hang out in pubs, read books, and write.

View Comments (2)
  • Charlotte is an amazing city! I moved back here just after graduating college 2 years ago to my disappointment at the time, as I grew up here in the suburbs. But I found a roommate near the city and have found Charlotte has so much more to offer than I remembered from growing up. It’s the big city feel, but with less traffic and the great touch of southern hospitality. There’s something here for anyone: art, theater, sports, music, restaurants. It’s fantastic and I think you and your husband will love it! Also, great weather

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