Best of Both Worlds podcast: Finding home wherever you are with Melody Warnick

During the pandemic, many people began working from home for the first time. Many continue to do so, realizing that it might be possible to choose where to live apart from choosing where to work.

So, if you can live anywhere, where should you live? In this episode of Best of Both Worlds, Melody Warnick, an expert on place attachment, talks about choosing the right place, and turning wherever you live into home. Her new book, If You Could Live Anywhere, discusses how dozens of families have chosen their communities, and how you can make this choice too.

Please give the episode a listen! Why do you live where you live? Did you move there for a job, for family, or something else?


15 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Finding home wherever you are with Melody Warnick

  1. We recently (well, 5ish years ago, but pandemic time feels different) to a town when I got a job at a local college and the 90 minute commute from our old town with a toddler (who came with me because of the on-site childcare), bumper to bumper in the tunnel was too much. I love our new town. We are walkable to a beautiful, large, brand new, light filled public library and a fun play ground. Most important to me is the services. This town organized an amazing summer reading kick off with hockey mascots and games for the kids and a bubble man. There is a Y with an indoor playground. There is a summer day camp where they let you pick individual days, not just weeks, which makes it possible for us to have mid week adventures as a family. At the playground, people take turns pushing the kids on the merry go round and they will chit chat with you. So often when I told people we were looking, they prioritized schools, but what they mean by that is test scores and AP options – not diversity, or socio-emotional learning, or extra curricular opportunities. There’s just so much more to a town, but I’m not sure how you figure all that out before you actually show up!

    1. @LauraK – this really sounds great! But yes, it is hard to get a sense of any of this unless you live somewhere or spend a lot of time there. Sometimes it’s a leap of faith and sometimes you get lucky and figure out a place is wonderful (or not, I guess that happens too…)

  2. Wow, this got longer than I thought: TLDR: What feels just right changes with the seasons of my life (city vs country). I’ve learned about myself that there are a few fundamentals for me: 4 very distinct seasons with lots of snow in the winter, not too much choice in things like school/activities in our day-to-day life but lots of options nearby, and a home is not a home to me until there are books in every room and artwork on all the walls. And apparently, it has to be either city or country for me – the suburbs were not my thing. Also, community and belonging doesn’t just happen overnight and for us is really tied to what we contribute.

    The long version… I find this topic fascinating. I’ve been very happy in a bunch of places. I grew up happily in a very rural place in Europe, then moved to a number of large cities all over the world in my student/earlier career years and now we’ve been living in a rural place though close-ish to a major US city since we had our kid ~10 years ago. At first I thought I was just a happy person who would bloom where she was planted. Turns out, not so: We had a (very) short stint in a suburb – that was clearly not me (not enough land/beautiful scenery to be considered country, not enough museums, concert venues, walkable amenities to be considered city).

    I’ve learned what makes me happy overall:
    4 seasons, though leaning heavily towards fall and winter (and in the Northern hemisphere!)
    Not too much choice in things like school/activities in our day-to-day life but the possibility for lots of choice nearby.

    For example, we chose to live in a ~3000 people town with one excellent school that goes from K-8th grade, the kids do a handful of activities together and every school/town event is attended by most of our friends and neighbors. While not world-class, we have great town fairs, concerts, theater performances, and get-togethers. So basically, there is 0 decision making involved – our default is to go to all school/town events and to stay in the school system until it’s time to go to high school (one town over, also a great school district). Everything is pretty much walking/biking distance.

    But, we also live close enough to Boston that we can go there for an evening concert, an afternoon at the museum, or easily get direct flights to travel and/or visit family back in Europe.

    I really would not describe myself as a joiner. I’m in management consulting, so until I had my son and for his first few years I had an intense travel schedule and we had/made 0 time for “community”. Yet when we moved here and I adjusted my role at work to include less traveling, we made sure to do things that make us feel a part of the community: We joined a town playgroup based on the year of the entry to kindergarten – they start meeting as a group when the kids are born, which is wonderful. His best friends are still from that group. I volunteer at the school and library and we try to be good neighbors. We’ve really found a great community, but it’s also the first time we actually put an effort in.

    This may be minor, but “home” for me is very much tied to how cozy a place feels. So whenever we’ve moved the first things out and up have always been the books and the artwork. And baking our favorite cake so the place smells like us 😉

    Lastly, I firmly believe in what you mentioned on the podcast about making the most of the place you are at. For example, we have a great cross-country ski trail system in town. We had been downhill skiers all of our lives but we immediately got the gear and took lessons – now every day there’s enough snow cover we are out there and loving it! And it makes such a difference in how we feel about living here.

    1. @Karin – thank you for your reply! Yep, figuring out what works sometimes takes some trial and error. But often many places can be celebrated for what they have. If there are no mountains, you start doing cross-country skiing!

  3. We were one of the many families who moved during the pandemic thanks to changes in work from home policies. We had been living in a very expensive (though lovely) neighborhood of Oakland, CA…walking distance to the train, restaurants, etc. But as our kids got older and the pandemic taught us that outdoor living is what keeps us all sane, we wanted a bigger backyard. Well in the Bay Area that will cost you a LOT. So thanks to remote work policies we up and moved 45 min north to Sonoma County where we had dreamed of living someday when we no longer had to commute. Now we both work at home fulltime (though I do have an office 20 min away I can go to if need be) and we bought a house with a giant backyard. So we are in way over our heads with the yard, but so so happy with this change in scenery/pace.

    1. @Kat – congrats on the yard! Though yes, a yard does seem to generate its own full-time job worth of work…

  4. I read Melody’s first book several years ago and not long after my husband and oldest child had settled into our suburb of NYC. Early in our relationship my husband (a corporate lawyer) and I (a physician–then still in training) committed to staying in the NYC area. It was a place we could both get jobs easily even when I was going through residency and fellowship matches. However, we knew when our son was 2 that we were ready to get out of the city. We chose our suburb for its short and easy commute to NYC, walkability (one of our favorite things about NYC and something we didn’t want to give up), close knit community and great public schools. We sacrificed on affordability…majorly. We have less space than we could get for the same money in a more distant suburb and we pay more in taxes than we would over the border in CT, but 13 years in, we are happy with our choice. In fact, we recently doubled down on our small (for our family of 7) house and did a big renovation, and we are happy we did.

    1. @Gillian – walkability is pretty cool! We don’t truly have that now though our old house wasn’t bad – you could in fact walk to the post office, library, our preschool and, while it was there, the grocery store. That closed but a new one is going in. When we first moved here I thought walkability was going to be really important to me and then I changed my mind 🙂

      1. @Laura something we didn’t appreciate when we moved in with one 2 yo child is the early independence walkability affords kids. My kids don’t cross the street to go to school. Our kids have started walking to school with older sibs, but no adults in kindergarten (or 1st depending on the kid) and all kids are dismissed to the world from their classrooms starting in 3rd grade. Our school is open campus from 7th grade because the restaurants in town can be reach on foot. My 12 yo daughter informed me today that she has arranged with a friend to meet “for snack” at Starbucks tomorrow afternoon and often heads to the drug store on foot to get poster board or some other needed school supply. And my 9 yo routinely let’s us know he is headed to the library solo to get some new books (we have to work on taking the old ones back to be returned…). This might be my favorite thing about our town and a benefit I did not appreciate with one toddler.

        1. @Gillian – the independence aspect is cool. I think one thing my son liked about being at Brown this summer was being able to walk all over Providence – if the Starbucks within walking distance wasn’t great for the budget!

  5. I moved to NYC for a job. Then I changed careers, met my husband, had two babies, stopped working, weathered a pandemic… the city isn’t always a cozy place to live, but it feels like *my* place. I’ve lived several different lives within a three-block radius, and I love how each street corner in my neighborhood is overlaid with multiple meanings. Even though I’m an introvert, I like that city life pushes people out of their bubbles and into contact with each other, and I like that there are so many different types of people here.

    It would be nice to have more space. But that means choosing a suburb, which feels like choosing a particular type of life. And a longer commute for my husband, and probably not seeing our kids during their waking hours half the days. Right now, it doesn’t make sense.

  6. As someone who has lived in 5 states (all as an adult), this topic really resonates for me!

    We went out on a bit of a limb and moved in 2019, somewhat prompted by reading a few of your books about time and realizing how inefficient our lives had become. It seemed like a somewhat frivolous move at the time—it was only 30 minutes away, but it got me closer to work, my husband changed jobs, it was a more expensive neighborhood, etc., but we have loved it from day 1. It is a planned neighborhood and the sense of community is unlike anywhere we’ve lived before. We go to the pool all the time, my kids love the park, and we can walk to school and daycare. They have regular low-key activities–outdoor movie night at the park is Friday–which is great for us. We have even had multiple people we know move to our street (we started recruiting friends which sounds insane but has been amazing). All this to say that where you live absolutely does matter to your overall well-being, but I think its always a bit of a risk and you just hope it works out well. Honestly, we had moved enough that the odds were probably in our favor!

  7. We moved from the city to the country during the pandemic. My husband insists we live in a town, but it’s a village to this Californian. We prioritised better schools (not incredible in terms of exam performance, but my bright kid will be fine), a garden, a third bedroom for guests, and walkability of the town. There are good cafes, a few nice little shops, bike shop, sushi, a good Chinese, and a fantastic library. No yoga studio, and limited aftercare options as full time working parents are rare, but i suspect both of those will come as more people move from the city. Our move was just in time for me to get a job a plane ride away – should have prioritised proximity to the airport.
    I listened to the episode with interest and am putting the books on the library hold list. A mid pandemic move, a preschool aged kid, and a job in another country has meant I feel a bit disconnected with where we live, despite its many virtues.

  8. This was a timely episode for me as we just moved from a small city in the Midwest to a European city last week. This is the 5th place we have lived in the 15 years I have been a parent. Every move has been pretty much for my husbands job, but we wouldn’t have moved somewhere we didn’t want to go.

    I loved the first three and didn’t really like the small midwestern city. I think part of it was because of covid, but the main thing I didn’t like was my kids elementary school. The middle and high schools were superb, but the elementary just seemed to have expectations that were not age appropriate. We moved the younger kids to a more child centered private school and it was much better. The school district we were in is sought after so I was pretty unprepared to be disappointed in the school. It colored my whole experience. Now, looking back, I can see several things that were great about that community that I had a hard time seeing while we were there.

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