May 12, 2008

Does Your Hometown Have "Issues?"

[By Crabby]

Doctor, Sometimes I Just Feel So... Dirty!
(Photo credit: Spike)

So there's a new book out called "Who's Your City," which is about different places to live and the people who choose to live in them. And guess what? It's written by a guy named Richard Florida. It would be even cuter if he lived there!

I haven't read the book, but the Boston Globe did a thing on it, and it looks pretty cool. For instance, it has tips about finding the best place to live given your life stage and personality and goals and such.

(Psssst: wanna make some money in real estate? The author went on Stephen Colbert and they both agreed: just follow the gay people around. And hint: they all just moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts!) OK, maybe not every single one.

P-Town: Probably Still A Safe Investment
(Photo: Beach Comber)

Anyway, this whole concept of personality and place intrigues me. I'm one of those people who's totally opinionated about good places to live. Theoretically, I know it's all subjective, but in my heart of hearts I truly believe that the places I like are the "best."

People who live elsewhere must therefore either be: (a) unfortunate; (b) complacent; or (c) just plain crazy.

But come to find out, other people with different goals and personalities really do have perfectly legitimate reasons to live where they do. Even if it's somewhere I would hate to live!

Harummph! How is this possible?

So Florida (the guy, not the state) took a look at the way different personality types tend to cluster in different places. Not just in trendy neighborhoods, but in huge swaths of the United States and the world. And he found out some interesting things.

For example, check this out:

(Note: If you can't see it very well, you can go here instead--it's the "personality map").

Isn't it cute how the "agreeable people" all got together and decided to form a picture of a duck?

And isn't it sad that apparently a big part of the country forgot to have any personality at all? Whoops!

I was relieved to find out that I've entirely avoided living places where the "extroverted" and "conscientious" gather. Instead, I've been drawn to locations where the "open-to-experience" and "neurotic" folks hang out. Exactly on target!

Sorry Extroverts! You'll Just Have to Amuse Yourselves Without Me.
(Photo by adwriter)

So why do people with similar personality traits end up clustering together? According to Florida, one possibility is selective migration. Agreeable and conscientious types do NOT like to move, and the extroverts and open to experience people do, so people start sorting themselves into similar personality types.

Sure, sounds plausible. Whatever.

To me, as interesting as the big regional variations are, they seem kinda minor compared with the "neighborhood" factors. If you live in a hip urban neighborhood in say, New York--wouldn't you have more in common with people in a hip urban neighborhood in San Francisco or Chicago or even Paris? Instead of, say, other Northeastern folks who live in gated suburban communities or retirement homes or housing projects or farm towns?

The Sushi Place? No Problem. Make a Right at the Church,
Then Straight Ahead for About 300 Miles. Can't Miss It.
(Photo by docman)

I would tend to agree with the author that the place you live has a huge impact on your life. It can affect your employment options, the kind of people you'll meet, and even your opportunity to exercise and find healthy things to eat. (This is, after all, a health blog so it seemed wise to work in something about health. And hey, Cranky Fitness did actually do a post once on the importance of walkable neighborhoods).

Yet it seems like a lot of people just stay where they were born, or end up somewhere sort of arbitrarily and get trapped there, without ever really choosing.

How about you folks, do you like where you live? Does it suit your goals and personality? Did you choose it, or get stuck with it?


  1. (follow the gays :))

    I adore where I live (well, except for those few days when it is beyond hot. like Africa hot (if you know the movie)) but I chose it.

    Im fortunate enough to be married to a man who let ME decide where we went (even though it was his job which would support us in the Rich & Famous lifestyle to which the MizFit is accustomed once we got there) and I chose here (ahh vagueness).

    love the climate, sure, but also the interesting liberal smart creative peeps.


  2. Next year we are relocating from PA to NC. Only we haven't yet decided exactly Where.

    Thanks for posting this. This is just so pertinent to our dilemma.

  3. I love where I live. Open spaces, wildlife, mountains, cities an easy drive away when needed. I have no idea about the personality thing, but I'm happy here.
    Love the banana belt fellow in the pic.

  4. Both my husband & I ended up in our city because there happened to be jobs for us here. It was never a place that I thought about living before then. But, in a way I suppose I did choose it because, being a small town girl, I concentrated my job search on smaller cities and as it turns out, we're both quite happy here. It's close enough to where we both grew up that we can get home for weekend visits with our families. We can have a house in a nice neighborhood and still be a 10 minute drive from work and it didn't cost a fortune to buy our house. It doesn't really feel like we live in a city. It suits us.

  5. Very interesting concept Mr. Florida has proposed...very interesting in deed.

    Let's see, I grew up where the Open to Experience and Neurotic people live, and I've always wanted to live in NYC, which seems to be the epicenter of the Open and Neurotic. Eight years ago I moved to the fringes of Open and Neurotic, but I'm still within the borders. Although I'm a bit hesitant to admit this, I think his map is right on target.

  6. I'd say they definitely got the South down pat!

    I love where I live (NC) but am ready to move on. Looks like we might be heading to the midwest, which apparently has no personality, and that I find sad.

    My eventual goal, however, is to wind up closer to the Mizfit. No, not so I can stalk her, but because I'm from the region and want to move closer to my family. Besides, 90 degree heat is my idea of perfect weather!

  7. It's so cool when you "accidentally" end up in a place that's perfect for you!

    And I think MizFit lives in a great place too--except for the heat part.

    Seems like weather and cost of living are often the two hardest things to get around when evaluating potential places to live.

    And I MUST have at least a few neurotic folks like me around!

  8. I'm moving to Philadelphia in a week, solely because my boyfriend is there and after doing the long-distance thing for a year, we thought it was time to see each other more than once a month.

    It looks like that location will work for us: He's open to new experiences and I'm neurotic.

  9. in MA now, but am originally from NYC. Over the years I've lived in many countries and all over the U.S., but there's no escaping it, I am a true blue neurotic and if I had my way i'd be back in the NYC looneybin with the rest of the nuts!

  10. Several years after I moved to my wonderful town, it was chosen as the number 1 city in the USA! It was all downhill after that! I wish I was joking :-(

    Dr. J

  11. Man, I live in the wrong area! I'm totally neurotic!! Gotta make my way to the north east to find my soul sisters (and brothers).

    I suppose this theory makes sense but having moved 27 times in 29 years, I've lived everywhere - does that make me schizophrenic? Don't answer that! ;)

  12. I am not so sure about this location theory Mr Florida, if that is your real name...

    I think there are many things that can affect where you end up, including weather, cost of living, immediate family, job availability etc...
    I personally ended up where I am completely unintentionally. I do not fit at all the typical population of my location. That being said, even in my super conservative state, there are pockets of groovy neighborhoods, and I live in one of them.
    My state has also changed me in some ways. Though I do not vote like most people do here, I have learned to enjoy the great outdoors, and oh, I like downhill skiing a lot, who would have thought?

  13. I definitely felt like I "belonged" in Austin. In San Antonio I feel more like a confused tourist who somehow ended up buying a house near Shamu.

    I'm ready to move West!

  14. I grew up in the land of the open and neurotic. My neighborhood wasn't the safest ever, in the 70s it was kind of a hippie ghetto where people regularly got mugged after dark. The I went to college (and a bit after) in the land of the conscientious, extroverted and whatever the other one is, I don't remember. And the people were definitely friendly and all, but I couldn't handle the lack of stuff to do, the lack of variety and openness to trying new things (sushi anyone?). So I came back to neurotic adventurous land. And my hippie ghetto neighborhood I grew up in? Got discovered by the gay community and is now one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city.

  15. I live on the outskirts of Extroverted Land apparently. Which is funny as my wife says I live on the outskirts of Sanity. She must be looking at the wrong map.

    Great post.

  16. Oh dear. The Bag Lady doesn't know where she lives because it wasn't on the map! Must be the no-personality area.
    Ended up here through a series of (mostly happy) accidents. Wouldn't live anywhere else in the summer, but winter? Would gladly relocate somewhere warmer!

  17. I apparently am also Open and Neurotic. The neurotic is right on target. And I suppose I am open to new things, if I'm not being stubborn. But I live here because that's where everyone in my ancestry who has lived in the U.S. has lived, and my parents and my grandparents and most of my great grandparents (i.e., the ones that lived in the U.S.) have apparently never felt like moving.

  18. Well, I live in Los Angeles, which is the home of "Open to New Experience" people, but I've lived here my whole life, as did my parents and grandparents! Does that cancel out the "Open to New Experiences" thing? LOL

    (I did think about moving a couple of times, because the real estate out here is God-awful expensive, but I've got the beach, the mountains, the movie industry, and mostly perfect weather. Why on earth would I move? :D)

  19. I've lived in the south all my life and couldn't imagine living any where else. I did recently move further away from the big city and I like it so much more. I think I'd be happy any where with a small, southern town feel but with larger cities (job) that aren't too far away.

  20. Apparently I, the most introverted introvert who ever verted intro... have spent all of my life up until a couple of months ago right in the heart of Extrovertia! And I still live inside Agreeable Extrovert territory.

    Where the heck do all the introverts live? Were they too shy to answer the survey?

    (arrgh! Technorati!! you lost my comment twice!! *shakes fist*)

  21. I live in what I think is the most perfect place in the world. Grew up in the Neurotic Northeast, came west for grad school (San Diego; beautiful, PERFECT weather, but DANG it's expensive!), moved to Los Angeles (ended up, eventually, in a beautiful house, but I was too isolated and HOT, damn it!) and have settled just south of San Francisco. DH's family is here, the schools are great, the weather is awesome, and the people are nice. Plus, we have lots of ducks and geese, and we're really close to the city.

    My brother lives in Texas, which he LOVES. (For a while he had a combination Boston-Texas accent, which was very bizarre!)

  22. i cannot for the life of me understand why there isn't a huge target over chicago/my house for the Neurotic category.

  23. Love the post! I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and definitely fit there--the mountains and the ocean keep me sane. I came to the east coast for college and wound up in NYC. Sign me up on the Open to experience & Neurotic lists! Does it say something about me that I can't imagine living far away from the coast?

  24. I've lived in New York City for my entire life and cannot imagine living anywhere else. Of course it is a large place with lots of different type neighborhoods, and I live in one of those urban/suburban parts where I can walk to almost everything, yet still find a spot to park the car when I use it.


  25. I was born in extroverted land, but later I migrated into an "open to new experiences" kind of person. i guess that's why i'm now off the map, far across the ocean. I wonder what this would look like in Britain. They'd have to add a category for "drunk".

  26. funny how only conscientious people live in new mexico. hmm...

  27. I guess all of Canada must fall into the "quiet neighbour to the North that won't complain if we don't include them on anything" category. (I looked at the other maps - nary a drop of colour)

    I have had such vast experience - living in three cities in my rat free province! Well, two cities, one town. I really like the one I am in, it suites me very well and I don't know if it is typical of other cities, but we have pockets of extroverts and introverts and weird and suburban. I imagine it is. (Of course, we have more rednecks than the rest of Canada which is too bad.)

    Much as I hate the winters, I hate insects large enough to carry off cats even more, so I think I will stay right here.

  28. Right now, I'm moving every 4 months (and getting tired of it!)

    But in 2 years, I will have to decide where to live - permanently...duh duh duhh. Scary! Perhaps I need to find a Canada version of this map to tell me where to go...

  29. Started off in extrovert (although I believe I'm more introverted) and landed here in neurotic land. It works. :)

  30. I live on an island in the land of neurotic people. That cannot be good.

  31. True that the author of the book doesn't live in Florida. You'll notice, though, that the author's name is Dick Florida, which about sums up my experiences here.

  32. Oops here meaning in Florida, not your blog!

  33. Very interesting. I live where I live because my parents provide the roof there. Once I graduate, I plan on moving out of the state, due to economic situations and what not.

    However, I think the issues your area faces, be it climate, social, economic or whatever, have an effect on the people there, hence similar personalities forming.

    Just an idea. :)

  34. Ironically, I both love and hate where I live, the SF Bay Area. I have literally lived on every corner of the bay. I love the cultural diversity here. I love the beauty. I love the food. We are sooo spoiled here health-wise, and I love that this is the land of dreamers. Hello Silicon Valley. I've been to many major cities around the globe, and the SF area still has my heart.

    On the flip side, I hate that you practically need to be a millionaire to buy a house here, and that still does not guarantee you some kind of yard. I don't like the techie culture because I spent WAY too much time in it. Yes, I know I have issues and I'm in therapy thank you very much. I'm not thrilled that we pay taxes up the ying yang and our govnt still says we're broke and now they want to tax "luxuries" like our Starbucks lattes and gym membership. An, that our gas is one of the highest in the land. Hello 87 gas is at $4.11.

    I have to say though that I have more love than loathe so I stay here. Perhaps I win the lotto, bag a sugar daddy, or write a best selling book so I can buy a house ;-) Another note there is a book or two about the "Creative Class", and their characteristics and where they live is almost dead on to this study.

  35. Love the comments--I find it fascinating what everyone likes about where they live (and doesn't like) and I'm glad to find out that other open-minded neurotics are well represented here!

    Stephanie Q--yeah, if I'm not mistaken, the Creative Class book was written by the same Florida guy which is probably why it lines up so well. Sounds like an interesting book.

  36. Ha, according to those maps, I live in the land of extroverted people, conscientious people, and a bit in the lands of agreeable people and neurotic people.

    I happen to be highly introverted, highly conscientious, often agreeable and sometimes neurotic. ;)

    Hubby and I live near the mountains, which suits us just fine because we love spending time in the mountains, hiking.

  37. I definately chose where I live and it's a struggle (financially) to stay here, but worth every damn penny.


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