“There’s no place like home.”

The longest I have ever lived in one place is 18 years.  It is ironic is that those years were spent in a place where I never felt at home, despite having married and had three children while living there.  I was a teacher at a local high school and even made a few adult friends over the years.  No matter how hard I tried I never felt a part of the community; I was outside looking in.  When my husband was offered a job in New Jersey I was nothing less than ecstatic.  As we drove away from a house that held so many memories I was shockingly unemotional.

We have moved three three times since that day, each time opening us up to new experiences and people.  Some of the moves were easy, but others were not.  Leaving behind family and friends in Texas was excruciating.  Adjusting to life in New York had its challenges, not the least of which was the weather.  Endless numbers of cloudy days and frigid temperatures can challenge even the hardiest of souls.  On the other hand, lush rolling hills, quaint towns, and an abundance of farms paint a picturesque landscape.  It is only recently I have come to appreciate the splendor of upstate NY.  This eye opening realization came after what I can only describe as an Oz moment: when you suddenly realize that you feel at home in a place that previously you felt nothing but contempt for.  My personal Oz moment came when my family traveled to the South on a scouting trip after my husband’s company began hinting that they’d like him to relocate there.

After 48 hours it became apparent that the reality was not lining up with our expectations.  Think your life would be so much better somewhere else?  Maybe.  But before you pack your bags and find a new barn ask yourself a few questions:

  1.  Is the weather REALLY that much better?  Ok, so moving south would relieve us from foot-numbing cold that lasts for six months or  more.  However, NY does have beautiful summers and even nicer autumns.  And let’s face it, there is nothing better than a snow  day!  Eight months or more of soupy heat and humidity will get to you – eventually.  Tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires  – these are truly frightening weather catastrophes that, luckily, we don’t have to contend with very often in the Northeast.
  2.  Housing prices in upstate NY must be some of the most affordable in the country.  Most of the houses around here are not new,  and most have bathrooms that date back to the 1950’s.  However, few regions will allow you to buy a decent  home on a nice street for under $150,000.
  3. Taxes – we pay some of the highest taxes in the country.  It sucks, it really does.  However, if you have kids then high taxes usually equate to good schools and affordable health care.  We are lucky to have a top-notch public high school right around the corner  from our house.  In many areas low property taxes mean underfunded school districts.
  4.  Traffic.  Don’t think traffic is a big deal?  It is when it takes you 45 minutes to go 5 miles.
  5.  This last one is important – BARNS.  Do you belong to a great barn?  What’s special about it?  I completely took the barn we go to for  granted, until I started looking for a new one.  To get the same quality of care, training, and proximity to our house was impossible  to find, at least at an affordable price.  Plus, it is run by some of the most caring people you could ever meet.

Nothing will make me like winter, and I will continue to long for sun-filled days.  However, as I pull on my paddock boots and drive the 20 minutes to our barn, I will appreciate the beauty and serenity that accentuates our days in rural NY.  Understandably, NY is not for everyone.  Whether your home is on the west coast, the east coast, or somewhere in between, there is something deeply emotional in the connection we have with the place we call home.  Indeed, the grass is not always greener on the other side – sometimes it’s just different.

Share what you love about the place where you live.  What’s special about it?

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