At a holiday party, I met a doctor and his wife who grew up in Miami, Florida. Not only are they residents of Chicago, but they are enthusiastic proponents of living in this currently frigid environment.
Given our well-deserved reputation for having blustery winter weather, I was curious to learn about what made them such avid fans of the city. They seemed to defy the normal migration path, which usually results in people moving from the cold, northern climes to warm and sunny southern destinations. At least that is the path that one of my sisters took, having moved from Oak Park, Illinois to New Orleans many years ago. Whenever she visits us, she asks the question: “How can you stand to live in this frigid climate?”
Getting back to Dr. S., he suggested that the weather in the deep south isn’t always all that it is cracked up to be. He painfully recounted memories of his youth, when, during the course of hot and humid summer days, he had to peel multiple shirts off of his back, because they were drenched in sweat.
Apart from the weather, the third largest city in the country has many attractive aspects that are absent from other locales: a diverse economy where a variety of career paths are available for those who are industrious and well educated; cultural amenities—such as the Lyric Opera, the Art Institute, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, live theatre, and so on—that are non-existent in many tropical climates; housing prices that are relatively stable compared to some of the “hot” southern destinations; and a variety of other events, sporting teams and amenities that are often absent from warm, tourist meccas.
Despite our proclivity for talking about the inclement weather during social events, what matters most—in determining where to live—is the relationships that we form with other people. Whether one lives in the south or north, it is our friends, family and other significant people that makes all the difference.
As much as Chicagoans complained about the 2 feet of snow that we experienced last week, the prospect of moving to a warm weather climate is daunting, if you consider what it takes to develop relationships with strangers. A recent AARP survey indicated that 2/3 of adults age 45 and older deem it extremely important to be near friends and/or family. The survey of 1,615 adults concluded by stating that “wanting to remain in one’s home and one’s community as one ages continue to be paramount.”
This philosophy of life is known as aging in place. Its adoption is impacting major industries—from home building to retail.
How important is the weather in determining where you live?