The “Where” Factor

For a new graduate, deciding where to live requires a great deal of thought and consideration. Although job opportunities may seem to be the most important factor to consider, in reality there is so much more. As you choose the community you want to live in, you need to be thinking about the lifestyle you want, proximity to family and friends, access to arts and entertainment, a feeling of belonging and a sense of place. You need to think beyond the immediate job opportunity and determine whether the location really appeals to you. Does this move to a different city hold out the promise for personal growth, development and enjoyment?

What Makes A Great Community

A city that is truly great is known for the quality of life that it offers its citizens. It is creative, safe, diverse, builds on its strengths and offers opportunity for all. This kind of community fosters a sense of pride and desire to give back. Great communities support their citizens no matter what stage of life they are in—furthering their education, beginning their first job, starting a family or choosing a new career direction.

Jane Jacobs, renowned for her views on what makes a city work, has almost single-handedly revolutionized urban planning. She has published books on how the different elements of a city, such as sidewalks, neighbourhoods, parks, government and the economy, function together to create synergy. In her well-known book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), she wrote: “Lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.”

Advice To Consider

According to Richard Florida, economist and author of Who’s Your City?, choosing where you live is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Young graduates are the most likely demographic group to move, and this mobility peaks at the age of 25.

For recent graduates today the possibilities can seem endless. Many decide to move across the country, or even the world, in search of life experiences. The freedom to live wherever you choose presents great opportunities, but also the challenge of choosing wisely.

There are some key questions Florida suggests that you consider:

  • What are your expectations based on the stage of life you are in?
  • Where are the places you’d most like to live?
  • Where are your current networks?
  • How much does the weather and climate matter to you?

Florida suggests that after generating a list of priorities consisting of deal-makers and deal-breakers, the next step is to generate a shortlist of places that fit your criteria. From there, you’ll need to do some research to determine what qualities each place has to offer in terms of job opportunities, basic services, your values, and so on.

A Great Example

Ontario’s Waterloo Region is a model example of a thriving community that offers a desirable quality of life and many work opportunities. A unique blend of urban and rural areas, Waterloo Region has always exhibited a strong entrepreneurial spirit. It has rapidly re-configured itself into a megacentre of technology and innovation, and is home to some of the most dynamic companies in Canada, including some of the hottest technology companies in the world. The area is maturing in many of the ways described by both Florida and Jacobs. For example, an initiative is underway to continue strengthening the Region’s already vibrant arts and culture scene.

Chosing Wisely

Deciding where you will live is an investment in your future. If a particular city doesn’t seem like a match for you, don’t be afraid to reject it. It’s important to listen to your gut when making such an important life decision. If you consider all the factors from the start and choose wisely, just think about all the moving expenses you can save on!

By Karen Gallant

One Response to “The “Where” Factor”

  1. Sam

    I recently moved to a new city. I could say it was for work, but I didn’t have any real contacts or interviews lined up when I arrived. It’s all worked out, as I’m employed, but employment wasn’t what I used as the basis for my move.
    I’m glad the article lists other motivations. I knew I couldn’t live in Yellowknife and Toronto’s air doesn’t agree with my lungs. So I found a small city with a thriving artistic community and went from there. I’d rather live somewhere I want to live, than live somewhere I hate just for the job!


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