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RosieTR
12-14-11, 9:46am
I was just eating breakfast, looking at our wall chart and noticed some trends. The chart is interesting because it spans our time from Colorado through our time in Phoenix and reflects the move. A few things happened during this time. One, we now earn a significantly higher income than we had been. Interestingly, our expense line is only a little bit higher due to increased housing costs and increased taxes most likely. Two, our net worth level is just about what it would have been if things had continued as they were before we moved, because we saw a significant drop after moving, primarily from buying the house. The overall upshot is that we don't really feel better off-we're spending the same amount, with about the same amount of savings plus now way more debt. Lesson learned: chasing higher income must be done carefully or it won't really feel like anything better anyway. Chasing higher income is actually advocated to some degree in YMOYL so it's not totally going away from the idea of simple living, and we have been saving most of the extra which goes along with that idea.
The other major lesson I learned has to do with happiness. I haven't exactly kept my feelings a secret, but I have been the most unhappy here in Phoenix since high school. I think it has to do with two things-we don't have any family and only a few friends here, and I just don't find the desert all that beautiful. The family and friends connection is pretty obvious why less of it would lead to unhappiness. I wouldn't have thought distance had as much to do with it as it does, but for me it's major barrier.
As for finding the area outside beautiful, I was reading a bit on Stella's blog when she mentioned the need for beauty and I realized I just don't have that much stuff around that I find beautiful. Everyone has their own idea of beauty, and what I've learned here is that I need tall trees growing wild. When I think of the places I've lived: Massachusettes, Texas, Colorado and now Arizona, my escape has always been to a place of wilderness with tall trees. Weird to think of that as a *need* rather than a want, but I think for me, it really is. I have no idea why humans seem to need beauty but I guess we do.
So, those are the lessons I've learned. I suppose they could be bitter lessons, but I think that's true only if I don't choose to see them as a gift of insight into myself.
Feel free to share your stories if you're inclined...

iris lily
12-14-11, 10:48am
Rosie, I'm with you. I'm a flatlander who MUST have green around me.

I lived in southern New Mexico for a while and while there were mountains there that were pretty, and while I loved the architecture and culture and history, the dryness and desert were depressing to me. ugh. Everything was always so dusty.

Mrs-M
12-14-11, 11:32am
Life's lessons learned, has forever been one of those buzz sayings/adages I've lived by. For me, if my immediate environment doesn't consist of four seasons, a more slower and relaxed pace, and a warm community feel about it, then it isn't home. Lucky for us, we are there.

In my (our) case, we are truly happy. My husband draws as good an income as he could draw anywhere else (City Planning and Development), and being that the community we reside in is small, our children benefit from that. i.e. Safety, freedom, never-ending things to do, etc. A perfect balance for us.

Lesson learned for us... born small town, stay small town. We've been asked by people before Re: small town living, and our answer to them is always the same, "we wouldn't have it any other way". Nothing like being able to slice off a healthy wedge of pie, and eat it too!

Rosemary
12-14-11, 11:32am
Rosie, I lived in Phoenix and Tucson for 10 years. I made some great friends there, found beautiful places to go hiking (though never close to home - Flagstaff, Alpine, Payson, etc, due to my own need for real trees), and had a successful career. But it never felt like home because the dominant culture was just foreign to me. In Phoenix, at the time I lived there, I felt like it was a culture based primarily on consumption. As you noted, I missed trees dreadfully, as well as snow, the sound of rustling leaves, the smell of fall, shade, and actual cold weather. I felt like living in the desert was not a sustainable lifestyle, as was later noted by B. Kingsolver in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

DH could have stayed in AZ for his career. He would probably be earning more now if we had stayed there, and he would have a better title. Plus the cost of living was really low, so we would be saving more. But we moved to MN, and we all love it here. The culture is a fit for us, the schools are better, the climate gives us 4 beautiful seasons.

My own lessons... DH and I have made a series of choices based on simplifying our lives (including leaving industry jobs to either get a PhD or stay home with DD), and they have all worked out despite difficulties and risks. I feel like taking those risks and seeing how happy we are compared to people who did not take them has been a great lesson. I feel like those decisions have created more balance in our lives than we would have had otherwise, and I work to maintain that balance when we make new decisions.

Mrs-M
12-14-11, 11:35am
Rosemary, check out our posting times!

Gardenarian
12-14-11, 7:02pm
Hi Rosie ,

I'm interested in the chart you are talking about. How did you make it? Is this something you always keep posted up? I haven't used YMOYL because I am a genetic skinflint.

I sympathize with your unhappiness about your natural environment. We drove through that area a few years back and I would not want to live there. Maybe you have to grow up there to really appreciate the beauty. Like you, I need trees - or at least meadows, and water, and birds. I don't think that is weird at all.

I know you didn't ask for advice, but I was wondering if you have any pets. I have found my dogs to be a great source of comfort in lonely times - and they get me outdoors and help me to enjoy it, however meager the resources may seem.

A lesson I keep coming back to is that a love of nature is almost all one needs to be happy - almost.

Another hard lesson that keeps getting pounded into my thick head - friends are good, nice neighbors are a treasure, but cliques are evil.

Spartana
12-15-11, 5:48pm
The other major lesson I learned has to do with happiness. I haven't exactly kept my feelings a secret, but I have been the most unhappy here in Phoenix since high school. I think it has to do with two things-we don't have any family and only a few friends here, and I just don't find the desert all that beautiful. The family and friends connection is pretty obvious why less of it would lead to unhappiness. I wouldn't have thought distance had as much to do with it as it does, but for me it's major barrier.
As for finding the area outside beautiful, I was reading a bit on Stella's blog when she mentioned the need for beauty and I realized I just don't have that much stuff around that I find beautiful. Everyone has their own idea of beauty, and what I've learned here is that I need tall trees growing wild. When I think of the places I've lived: Massachusettes, Texas, Colorado and now Arizona, my escape has always been to a place of wilderness with tall trees. Weird to think of that as a *need* rather than a want, but I think for me, it really is. I have no idea why humans seem to need beauty but I guess we do.
So, those are the lessons I've learned. I suppose they could be bitter lessons, but I think that's true only if I don't choose to see them as a gift of insight into myself.
Feel free to share your stories if you're inclined...

Oh Rosie I soooo share your lesson on this one - especially if you are giving up the things you love merely to chase a higher income. Not worth it IMHO. My "lesson learned" is the same as yours - find a way to do what you love, live where you love, and be what you love in your life even if it isn't the most financially sound move. I'm in the process of taking my own advice (not always the wisest I might add :-)!) and plan to leave SoCal (a place I really dislike - except for a few months a year in winter and spring) and find my own beautiful tree-filled spot - or most likely many spots :-)! Even if financially it isn't the wisest move (it isn't), it's the right move for me.

ctg492
12-15-11, 7:04pm
My lessons learned on Moving, which I have done 26 times, a couple states and way to many cities.
"Home" seems almost a dream in finding now. Not sure I will ever find it as I am now 50, so won't be somewhere a life time. So lesson learned, Home is where I hang my coat and purse.
Moving and meeting new people priceless. Saying good bye painful. Lesson for good or bad, I just do not get close to people. Lesson, People come and go from my life, so enjoy them while I am with the company of them.
Chasing the almighty dollar for career moves. Lesson, the cost of the emotional move sometimes is not worth the dollar.
Perennials.....lesson annuals.
I am glad for my experinces, Yet the grass is sometimes greener on the other side and wonder how life would have turned out living in the cute little first home we bought around the corner from my folks in 1985.

RosieTR
12-16-11, 10:11am
Ha ha ha, Rosemary, those are my favorite places in AZ too! Probably the best place was one backpack we did near Strawberry. The whole loop had a bunch of cabins and streams running through meadows. Not like typical Arizona at all. That said, I do know people who really like it here but that's because they like the culture or amenities that I don't really appreciate: baseball, shopping, golf, concerts, large amounts of all kinds of citrus fruits. I talked to a bunch of people who had moved here fairly recently, and most of them said they felt like this was home and they liked it here for different reasons. I realized then that if it was going to feel like home it probably would have after 3 years. Instead, yeah we were constantly going up to Flagstaff or the Mogollon Rim even in fall and winter when the hiking is doable in the low desert.
It's interesting-I'll be taking a bit of a pay cut to move back, and my new boss was a little worried about that. The way I figure it, I could write a Mastercard advertisement because seeing Longs Peak every day on the way to work instead of Chase Field (and the horrible, garish electronic advertising pillar they put up recently) is priceless.

RosieTR
12-16-11, 10:20am
Gardenarian, the wall chart is one of the steps of YMOYL. We track monthly expenses and income and quarterly net worth and debt. I'm pretty frugal by nature as well, but I find it nice to see what's going on and track it. Not everyone wants or needs this, and that's fine. For me, I found it interesting because it just reconfirmed with hard data the thoughts and feelings in the back of mind about money, happiness and simplicity.
As for pets, yes 2 dogs and a cat which have helped. If we HAD to live here for some reason obviously I would deal with it. But I just got to the point where I figured, why? Sort of like Spartana's thoughts. It might be a financial hit but what price do you put on loving your surroundings and being around people you love?

Zoebird
12-16-11, 9:44pm
it is funny. connects to the housing stuff i posted in the 1 in 2 americans thread. . .

a lot of folks ask us -- why not live in this neighborhood or that neighborhood?

the reality is that NZ is gorgeous, and I don't want to live in a neighborhood that reminds me of a US suburb. I might as well have stayed in the US, right? LOL Water, mountains, some kind of view must be had. Makes my housing more expensive. LOL