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Where Is the Most Perfect Place to Live?

best place to live in the us

by Kileen Prather

Headlines last summer said, "Half the country wilts under unrelenting heat." I couldn't help but wonder if there is "the" perfect place to live in the US. I know Northerners like going south in the winter, but you never hear about a big exodus from the South to the North in the summer.  I am sure some people do come north.

Personally, I find it is easier to button up against the cold, but there are only so many clothes you can take off. And, I have never been a big fan of "glistening" as the Southern ladies refer to just plain old sweating.

Have Two Homes

It almost seems the best idea would be to have two places: one south in the winter and one north in the summer. But, this is only an attainable goal for just a few people and not realistic for most of us.  So, where is the best place to retire?

The perfect place to live

Looking at the big map of the US hanging on the wall in my office, obviously the first place that comes to mind is Southern California. However, with the high taxes, budgetary problems, and over-crowdedness, that seems like a strike against that area. And, of course, there is always the specter of the "big one" that is coming. Could the Sonora Desert, the hottest desert in the world, actually become beachfront property someday? And, if it did, would that create a temperature change? Ocean breezes across the desert...hhhhmmmmm.

What About California?

If you had just one place to live, where would it be? I think the first place that jumps out for year-round living is California. LA and San Francisco are expensive and very overcrowded, but what about San Diego? I have always liked that area. It is big in population, but still retains a small town feeling. The hills around the city are lush and the temperature is very moderate year round so plants and shrubs flower almost continuously. But, will tidal waves wipe out the city if the "big one" hits? And, of course, taxes are horrendous. Perhaps home prices have fallen some with the downturn in the economy, but they have always been pricey in this area.

Retire in San Diego?

There is a lot to like about San Diego. Over fifteen museums line the streets of Balboa Park, which includes the San Diego Zoo, one of the finest in the world. And then, there is Sea World, which is also a big attraction. In the winter, you can take a cruise from the downtown docks out to see the whales that migrate between Mexico and the Northwestern states. And, the airport is right downtown, as well as "Old Town" with many restaurants, historic buildings, and museums depicting life from 1821 to 1872.

If you are looking for something that's free in San Diego, the beach is always available with the ocean waves rolling in. They even have a "doggy beach" for the animal lovers. And, one must not forget Coronado across the bridge from the downtown where the famous "Hotel Dell" is located. I once had a chicken dinner at that hotel for only $55.00. It was the cheapest entree on the menu!

California has a lot of parks, good weather, and many things to do. It is easy to see why people are attracted to this state. However, overcrowding and high taxes have to be taken into account.

But, What of Other Southern Areas?

The Gulf Coast states like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Florida seem like good places to live. Winters are great. But, the humidity in the summer is mind-boggling. I have not lived in Florida but have visited there in both winter and summer.

Galveston Island in Texas

I have lived on Galveston Island in Texas and loved it in the winter. Very mild and the water temperatures help keep the weather from getting too cold. Once in a while, you get a cold front from the north, but the winds always turn southerly after a couple of days.  (Here's a link to learn more about Galveston Island.)

However, summer is a different story. Coming from the North, I could not take it. I had a brother-in-law who moved to Houston from South Dakota, and after thirty years, he still could not take the oppressive summer humidity, although the alternative, winter in the North, was also not an answer. But, he could afford to live in the North during the summer and spend the winter in Houston, which gave him the best of both worlds.

The South Gets Hot

People who are raised in the South don't seem to be bothered by the heat as much. However, they don't sweat...they glisten. I must say Galveston, being an island, is a lot cooler than inland and that is why people stream to the coastal areas all along the Gulf Coast States in the summer. Usually there are ocean breezes that help, but the dew point is always over 75 and you can sweat while being in your house with the air conditioner on.

Of course, everyone has outdoor pools, which also help some. But, I am used to water being refreshing and the bathtub-warm water in a pool does not do a lot for me. If you do go to the pool, evening seems to be the best choice. However, Southerners who have always lived in the South seem to adapt to the temperatures and don't seem to mind them. Even Floridians seem to take the warm summer temps in stride.

The North Gets Cold

So, what about the North? Winters definitely can be brutal but no more than heat in the South in the summer.  It’s definitely easier to bundle up against the cold, while you can only take so many clothes off in the heat. And, lots of people like the snow. Up North (and that includes the West, like Wyoming and Colorado, as well as the Northeast), they ski, skate, and snowmobile, and they do other winter activities. And, summer temperatures tend to be perfect.

What's the Answer?

So is there an answer to “Where is the best place to live?” I guess living in the North, South, East or West doesn't really matter. One thing I noticed is people like to live in the same areas they grew up in, if at all possible. If you lived near water, you like living near water. If you lived in mountains, you tend to gravitate to those areas. They say people who live in the desert would not trade it for green grass or flowing rivers. It is what they are used to.

So, if you can't afford to live in two places, the most perfect place to live is probably where you are. Weather is something we can't control. We must accept the cold, the heat, the rain or snow, or lack thereof.

To me, the perfect place to live is where your family and friends are. That is what makes life worth living no matter what the outside conditions.

More About Kileen Prather:

To read in depth about the Seattle area, check out Kileen's book, Journey Beckons. You can preview a few chapters or buy it at kileenprather.com.

Kileen Prather's books at Amazon.com:

  • Journey Beckons (paperback or Kindle), Journey Ahead (Kindle) or Journey to Port (Kindle).
  • Have questions? Kileen would be happy to hear from you at kileenp@gmail.com.

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 Article Originally posted on AfterFiftyLiving.com by Kileen Prather. Published on this website with permission from Kileen Prather.

Having been a Tour Manager for the last fourteen years and being in thirty-five to forty states a year, there are not too many places Kileen Prather hasn’t visited in the U.S. She loves traveling and meeting so many wonderful people from all over. Kileen likes to share her favorite places and different means of travel whether going by car, boat, train or motorcoach (bus).

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1 Comment

  1. Christina Gregoire

    Kileen, I had to look up the hottest desert in the world and it's the Lut Desert in Iran. I know you were speaking metaphorically, but the Arizona desert just FEELS like the hottest desert in the world. I've been in AZ in summer. Palm Springs gets pretty frog-flurking hot, too.