He Said/She Said: What We Want in a Home

He Said/She Said: What We Want in a Home


Part 3 of 4: FINDING A HOME. When left home, we left with the hope that we’d find the city for us.  We’d walk the streets and feel comfortable.  We’d savor the foods and feel fine if we got fat there.  We’d see the homes and picture ourselves in the future.  It would feel like home.  After visiting more than 200 cities, where have we decided to settle? Follow us on the second Wednesday of each month to discover what traveling the world taught us about where we want to call home.

Click here to read Part I of Finding a Home: Living in a Developing or Developed Country

Click here to read Part II of Finding a Home: Living Abroad vs USA

Having decided last month that living in the USA provides us the best opportunities to work, live and play, what is it we want in a home? Do we want to live in a crowded city or vast space?  Do we want to be surrounded by mountains or oceans?  Do we want a house or a downtown condo?




The biggest benefit of traveling the world is getting to see how other people live.  We get to peek into people’s lives from afar, ask them about how they live, and when Couchsurfing get to actually stay in people’s homes.  Being young enough to get to define how we live the majority of our lives, yet old enough to have actual independent living experience, the trip gave us an opportunity to really think about how we want to live, where, and what we value.  For me, as it often does, it comes down to economics and health.  I want to call a place home that I can earn good pay, have a selection of places to work, yet have a cost of living that allows us to save money and enjoy life.

Enjoying life for me is about how I spend my time.  The reality is that there is only one completely limited quantity in life: time.  I don’t want to waste my limited time driving in traffic, I would like to spend no time driving myself.  I love cars and motorcycles, but if I have to commute I’d like to be able to do it on public transportation where I can use the time productively.  Instead of spending time behind the wheel I’d rather be able to use the time to read, work, or just relax.  Be it train or bus, I want the time I have to spend commuting on the things I want, not shuffling my foot from brake to gas pedal.  The commuting time and options are important to me as they will serve as bookends to my working day.

That brings me to “work” a word that doesn’t appear in my life much these days.  Since I will most likely have to work again I want to live in a place that has a strong, diverse economy with a variety of options: companies big and small of many industries.  This will allow us to earn more, do interesting work, and interact with a diverse set of people.  If we have children I don’t want to have to move much, so I want to make sure that our community can support us now and into the future.  For this I think it will need to be a larger city to provide opportunities for decades to come.

Getting to/from work and what I am doing is important, realistically life outside work is more important.  I want to live somewhere I can be active outdoors.  Primarily I want bike and running paths near my home as I’m not a gym person.  As much as I wish I had the ability to go to a gym and work out, I know that I don’t like gyms.  Ideally these outdoor activities would allow for hiking and camping near my city.  This trip has taught me that I love the mountains, they get me to be active not simply to work out, rather to be active exploring and taking photos, activities I love.

If I hadn’t gone on this trip I don’t think I would have had these realizations.  It is because of this trip that I believe we’ll make choices that make us healthier and happier people by choosing a place that best provides for the lives we want to live.




Despite our differences, as evidenced in using travel as marital counseling for the last two years, we’re looking for the same things in the place we settle.  Economics and health are high on my list of priorities, but with a little bit of a different take on them.  Public transport, good pay, affordable cost of living and access to outdoor activities are all key factors in choosing a home.  I look at health in terms of availability of fresh foods, nearby parks and a strong sense of community.  When I consider economics an affordable cost of living is important, I don’t want to have to take out a 90 year mortgage to have a place to call my own or be feel the need to pay for private education instead of sending my kids to public school.

One of the biggest enjoyments in life for me is food, cooking great meals and enjoying fabulous restaurants.  I want to have access to farm fresh produce and meat, we were spoiled in Minneapolis with weekly deliveries of fresh vegetables, and that’s not something I want to give up.  I like knowing where my food came from and I love connecting with the producer, so an active farmers market is a must.  If you have these things, innovative restaurants are usually quick to follow, which makes life better.

While food is a big part of health, so is community.  I want to live close to family and friends, have a supportive and tight knit group of people to lean on.  I also want to have community programs and parks near my home.  I want to know my neighbors and have places where we can gather and activities to meet new people.  It takes a village to raise a child, so living in a place with other young families is something that I want to seek out when considering where to lay down roots.

Finally, an affordable cost of living is important to give us more options when it comes to owning a home, sending our children to school and being able to afford to still fund our travels as this travel bug isn’t going away any time soon.  While earning a good salary helps, I don’t want to have to spend all that we make to enjoy life and provide for ourselves.  This journey through different countries and cultures has taught me that there are many different ways to live a life that reflect your values.  Having seen so many places and met so many people we both have a better idea of what we want and I know we will make better decisions about everything from how we live to where we live.

Do you know of a place that fulfills our requirements?  We are open to ideas and would love to hear why you’ve chosen where you live.

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» Rick :
May 9, 2013


LOCAVORista Reply:

Rick, Minneapolis is a top contender, but time will tell where we end up or if we continue to be world nomads. Hope Minneapolis is treating you well!

» Pan @ The Gravel-Roadin' Guru :
May 11, 2013

Nashville! There is a very diverse group of people living there, the energy felt in the city is contagious, they have a fabulous farmers market (fresh meat on weekends) downtown, and there are a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities. Trails, lakes to kayak on, etc.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Pan, I still haven’t made it to Nashville, but you’re not the first person to sing it’s praises. thinkCHUA has visited, so I guess I need to get down there and see it for myself, sounds like it has a lot of the elements I’m looking for in a home!

thinkCHUA Reply:

I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the Nashville area, specifically Franklin, and love it. The city’s vibe, music culture and affordability really appeals to me. I’ll have to take the wife to see it when we roadtrip the USA next year.

» Bob Spears :
May 11, 2013

Check out Seattle. Has a reputation re: weather but it’s not that bad…. particularly compared to Minneapolis. If you love mountains, water, a young, vibrant, outdoorsy, smart, environmentally sensitive & nature loving population Seattle ranks high. Traffic can be a challenge but people who live downtown walk to work and the theatre/nightlife in Seattle rivels NY and SF. In our condo on Alki we see Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, Seals/Sea Lions almost daily from the living room. Boat traffic is non-stop.
Skiing, Hiking, Boating, Camping is minutes away from everywhere.

thinkCHUA Reply:

We’ve spent some time in Seattle and though it statistically seems like the perfect fit it’s never won me over. I don’t know why, everyone seems to recommend it to us, but the traffic and sprawl from Seattle to Bellevue doesn’t make me want to live there. Maybe I’ll have to do some more exploring there…

» Tim Morrison :
May 12, 2013

Hey guys, even though I’m biased and came back to Minneapolis (I guess I could have gone anywhere in the U.S.). I’d recommend checking out Denver. It’s near the mountains, probably has the community and healthy living aspects too. Not sure on the cost of living though. I’ve heard the weather is more temperate than MSP. Although, if you came back to Minneapolis, that’d be alright too.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Tim, thanks for the recommendation. I know we´ll come back to Minneapolis for a little while, but after that time will tell. Colorado is high on our list of places to check out, stay tuned for our next post on the different places we´re considering.

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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