Saturday, December 14, 2013

Moving Around

Visiting all 50 states is a “bucket list” project for a lot of people. I have visited the 41 states you see in blue on the map above. I may or may not visit the remaining 9; completing the list isn’t a priority for me. And to whatever extent reaching 41 was an achievement, it was mostly my parents’ achievement. I have not been to any state as an adult that I did not first visit as a kid.

A generation ago, having children encouraged my parents to travel more than they might have otherwise. For my wife and me, having children has had the opposite effect. Our only trip west of the Mississippi River was in 1999 when our son was just 1 year old. Our daughter was born in 2000 and, well, here’s what things have looked like since:

Business trips to Florida, Georgia and Tennessee have added a little southern flavor to the map. Without them, my out-of-state adventures would have been confined to the I-70 and I-80 corridors that connect me to my native Pennsylvania like umbilicals. The occasional dash down I-95 to visit Washington DC is an add-on to a trip whose main purpose is to reunite with family in Philadelphia.

Beginning in 2014, I would like to use some of my vacation time to explore relocation possibilities. I don’t expect to move away from Wisconsin earlier than 2019, but I do expect to move someday. My “must haves” for a new community include significantly warmer weather, a stable local economy, access to quality healthcare, and abundant cycling opportunities. I assume that I will be a cyclist for many more years. That assumption drives my desire for better weather, but it also adds a dimension to my search that isn’t important to the rest of the family. With that in mind, I might be traveling solo to some of the locations in which I am interested. If I find them bike-worthy, then they may merit further consideration!

Mid-sized cities with major universities are emerging as some of the most attractive options. I’m talking about places like Fayetteville AR, Columbia MO, Knoxville TN, and my current infatuation, Lexington KY. I have been touring houses on and taking virtual bike rides with the Street View function of Google Maps, but I have no real-world experience with any of these places.

The things that make a city fun to visit are not necessarily important to daily life for the year-round residents. I want to experience my relocation possibilities like a local. I’m sure I can find a nice house in a nice neighborhood almost anywhere, but can I find a place surrounded by 750 square miles of good cycling country? That’s roughly the size of my current range, which includes most of Washington County, most of Ozaukee, and parts of Fond du Lac and Sheboygan.

With just 5 years to go before my earliest feasible relocation date, I need to get busy. There are more possibilities on my list than those I mentioned above, and a good goal for 2014 would be to narrow the list rather than to expand it.

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