Our identity and sense of well-being are defined to a large degree by our sense of place and our sense of home…by the natural traits of our environment and by the unseen rhythms that make life comfortable and familiar.
When where you live fits your sense of place you may not even be aware of it because it is such an integral part of who we are. When it doesn't fit, however, it can have a profound effect on you and your whole sense of well-being, impacting both your physical and mental health and how you relate to the world around you.
Sense of place occurs on many levels…from the universe, to planet earth, to your continent…to your country, community and home.
Sense of place includes…
- Geography, climate
- The way people live on the landscape
- Sights, sounds, smells
- The people, myths, stories and other intangibles that give it a specific 'feeling'
You have no doubt heard that location, location and location are the three most important things in real estate…most often referring to property and resale value, but it is also immensely important in personal value. Location is the most important aspect of real estate because it's the one thing you can't change.
You can change your physical home, but you can't change its location. Place can be energizing, calming or stressing, and if your current place doesn't fit you at this point in your life about the only thing you can do is move. Did I mention that the right sense of place for you may change over time? That's ok…it means you are still living!
Our family experienced the effect of place last summer when our granddaugher was born. Our pregnant daughter-in-law was unexpectedly hospitalized in North Dakota…a great place to visit but not the sense of place that feels like home to them. As she was transported back to the Twin Cities, she said the medical staff with her commented apprehensively about all the traffic, noise, buildings, people, etc as they approached Abbott Northwestern Hospital in south Minneapolis. She, on the other hand, was smiling with relief at the familiar sights and sounds. Our son said when he got to the hospital he parked his car…got out…took a deep breath…and relaxed as he inhaled the familiar smell of urban exhaust!
Are you thinking about making a move? Here are a few sites that can help you check out how different locations might fit your sense of place.
- Find Your Spot – asks about the size community you like and has a comprehensive online quiz to help you find US cities best suited to your tastes
- Sperling's Best Places – quiz to find your best place, studies including 'manliest' cities, best airports to make a connection, most secure US places, sexual awarenes on college campuses
- Statemaster – stats on everything from toothless residents to percentage of carpoolers