My high school sophomore started talking about her inevitable move away from home the other day.
She says she knows she’ll want to move away, so she’s trying to find a city that she likes that her mom and I might like too, so we’ll come to visit her. She craves the bright lights and action in a bigger city.
I remember being her age and thinking that I wanted to live anywhere but here. I chose my college, Ohio University, in part because it was as far as I could go away while still qualifying for the lower in-state tuition.
I also remember wanting to see more of the country when I moved away to Georgia. I thought the same thing when I moved to the outskirts of the Washington, D.C., metro area. The same ideas crossed my mind living near Columbus too.
We don’t have particularly deep roots here. My children don’t attend the same schools I did, and I didn’t even attend school in the same state where my parents did. I suppose my children probably envy some of these multi-generational families who live nearby.
Yet here I sit, living just 29 miles from my boyhood home. I came home 18 years ago, and apparently I’m not alone in realizing living near your hometown isn’t so bad after all.
A 2019 study by North American Van Lines found that 72% of Americans live in or close to the city where they grew up. Three reasons dominated why people didn’t move away: Remaining close to family (50%), familiarity/comfort (24%) and a low cost of living (13%).
I know my four daughters could be swayed by data, so I try to find reasons for them to stay near Lima:
• Lima is the ninth-best city in the country to find a starter home, with an average sale price of $149,518, according to a study by ConstructionCoverage.com.
• It’s a good place to start a life and career, with 33.7% of Gen Z adults living on their own, compared to 30.6% nationally, according to Porch.com.
• Average weekly wages in the Lima metro area experienced a year-over-year increase of 5.8%, according to SmartestDollar.com. That amounts to $59 more per week in your pocket.
There are plenty of opportunities to be found around here, in nearly every sector you could imagine. (Our 8-year-old, who thinks she wants to work with dolphins in the Outer Banks, might have found an exception.) For most normal jobs, there are opportunities here to remain near your childhood friends and family while enjoying the low cost of living.
Ultimately, we all want to go out on our own and see if we can tame the world. I’m reminded of the lyric from “Wide Open Spaces,” by the artists now known as The Chicks: “She needs wide open spaces; room to make her big mistakes.”
I don’t doubt she’ll head out and explore the world on her own some day. I told her she shouldn’t weigh her mom’s or my feelings on where she goes. She should look for a place that feels like home to her.
I also told her that she might find what I found: You can look all over the country and land right back here. There’s no shame in that journey of discovery bringing you right back where you belong.
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