Amy Bushatz: No matter who you are or where you go heading outside is always worth it. Welcome to Humans Outside where we’re using the Humans Outside 365 Challenge to build a life around spending time in nature while learning from fascinating outdoor minded. I’m Amy Bushatz.. I’ve let curiosity be my guide as a journalist for 18 years. But life, including my husband’s war injuries, had burnt us out. So we moved site unseen to Alaska to see if a change of scenery and new focus on outdoors was just the shift we needed. Since September 2017, I’ve spent at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day, no matter what to explore, how nature can change my life, ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are while we work to do the same. Let’s go.
The shutdowns of COVID helped fuel a major shift in how people thought about where they choose to call home. Thanks to office closures many people realized that they really can live wherever they want, especially if they’re newly remote work has a shot at staying that way. As a remote worker for over a decade, it’s a freedom that helped fuel our sight-unseen move to Alaska in 2016, we picked moving here because we wanted easy access to big nature. We were at a spot where a big change was coming, whether we wanted it or not thanks to my husband, getting out of the military, and Alaska is the place we picked to call home. Access to nature and by extension whole life health was our top priority in picking location.
Now, there are plenty of places that can make you happy and plenty of reasons you might be happy there. So if you can live anywhere and you’re wanting to make the change, how the heck do you choose where to go? That is the subject of Melody Warnick’s new book “If You Could Live Anywhere: the surprising importance of place in a work from anywhere world.” I’m honored to share our story of moving to Alaska included in her book. And Melody has been on this podcast before. Her first book. “This Is Where You Belong: finding home, wherever you are,” helped me learn how to love where I live after we moved here. Today, she’s here with us again. To discuss the role of place in making life great ,the steps to decide where you want to live and how to factor in things that make you happy, like spending time outside. And as an aside, this is our second time recording this conversation. Our first go, I forgot to press record. Guess what it does happen.
Melody. Welcome to Humans Outside.
Melody Warnick: Thank you so much for having me.
Amy Bushatz: Well, thank you so much for being here. I’m gonna like full disclosure here, and this is our second time doing this interview because um, I’m a dummy and did not record it the first time. So thank you for your time several weeks ago and today recording this, doing this interview with me. um, This is the dedication you have for the Humans Outside audience. And I feel like they need to know that.
Melody Warnick: Well, I am here for you. And I would like to say that this interview is just gonna be so much better than the first interview that got lost. That is probably not totally true, but we will tell ourselves.
Amy Bushatz: We will tell ourselves, and I don’t even remember it that well, so, yeah.
Melody Warnick: We are having a new conversation today with just new topics, new energy. We’re bringing it.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, we definitely are. So thank you for double your time, very very much.
Melody Warnick: Absolutely.
Amy Bushatz: So we always imagine ourselves in our guest favorite outdoor space, hanging out, having a conversation there with them as if we were there with you out somewhere outside that you love.
So were that the case where are we with you today?
Melody Warnick: So today I think we’re going to be on my back porch. It is perfect weather in Blacksburg, Virginia today. We’ve had, you know, the world’s most humid summer and finally September has hit and it’s in the seventies and it feels kind of crisp like you can feel fault in the air.
And I ate my lunch out there and just had the sunshine on my back. Just warming me up and um, you know, was watching the blue jays fly. And so I’m, we’re in a neighborhood. This is not in nature per se, but it is my little patch of nature that makes me happy. So that is where I will be.
Amy Bushatz: Anywhere outside your door counts as nature. Yes. And also I would like to add, I don’t think that that’s where we pretended to talk last time. So i, you know, it’s a whole new day.
Melody Warnick: I don’t, I couldn’t remember where we pretended to talk. So yes, new it’s new information.
Amy Bushatz: It’s new information and you are on a basically a book tour right now, promoting your new book. So I know you’re having lots of conversations about picking where to live and place- based decisions and that kind of thing. And I’m really grateful that for you, including me in your book, it’s pretty spectacular. , Especially since your first book was so instrumental in how I viewed, where we moved.
Melody Warnick: Well, I appreciate you saying that. And your story is one that I keep talking about when I go on other people’s podcasts, because I think it’s just such a good example of what people are doing these days. You know, we have so many more people uh, who all of a sudden during COVID in particular, found themselves location independent. And people are becoming really thoughtful and intentional about where they wanna live. And what that means for a lot of people is what do I want my life to look like? You know, not just what house do I wanna live in, but how do I want my new community, my new city, my new place to change my life. And so your story, I feel really exemplifies the way people are thinking about this issue, that, you chose Alaska because you wanted to live a life that was more in touch with nature. And I think a lot of people are looking for things like that. They’re looking for a life that feels a little more grounded, a little slower, maybe.
They wanna move to places that just make them happier and more purposeful. And, that’s something I, I tried to do in, in my book is help people think about the things they want in their life and the values they want to sort of exemplify in their place.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So maybe start by giving us a little bit of a rundown. What inspired you to help people pick where they live? Was this totally COVID driven? Like, what was the inspiration?
Melody Warnick: So it was something I’d been thinking about before COVID believe it or not. So I wrote my book This Is Where You Belong. It came out in 2016 and it was really about my personal journey to move to a new town and put down roots here, this place I’d never lived before and didn’t really like at first.
And so I kind of dove into the research around how people put down those roots and start to feel at home in a new place. And then I started uh, I started speaking in communities that were interested in this. I started just obsessing over place could not let it go. And I started noticing this pattern even before COVID of two things happening first that I was seeing people move to communities not because they were moved there by an employer. But because they simply chose it for themselves. I knew lots of people in my adopted town of Blacksburg who could have gone anywhere, their jobs were online or they were retired or something like that. And they were choosing this town. Um, So I became kind of curious about that trend of people being intentional about where they moved.
But I also discovered this whole other thing going on, which was that towns are very interested in attracting you. That in the same way that there are all these people who are trying to make these choices and trying to pick where to live. There are legions of cities and communities out there that really want you to pick their town.
That was driven home to me in 2018 when we saw Tulsa, Oklahoma start that Tulsa remote program, and that was them offering a $5,000 cash bonus to location independent workers who moved to their community And it went so well for Tulsa that lots of other communities started offering similar perks.
Um, Bentonville, Arkansas offers cash and a mountain bike if you move to their to their town. And so it was kind of these two things going on, people looking for the right place and places looking for the right people. And so I wanted to write a book that helped sort of both sides of those equations. That helped people think about and find their right place, but also kind of explored all the things that towns and cities are doing to make themselves more enticing for those people.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. What tactics do you, do you find as part of your research that people use to pick their next home? What are like the common threads here?
Melody Warnick: Yeah. So when it comes right down to it, people are sort of struggling along through this. People don’t always know what’s important either you know, in the grand scheme of things or even what’s important to them. But we see a couple things that tend to be factors for a lot of people.
First is cost of living. I mean, now more than ever with inflation massively on the rise and real estate prices going up, people are really looking hard for a place that will give them a lower cost of living. And totally understandably, because if you can change your cost of living, it really is like giving yourself a raise.
So people are looking for that. But I think beyond that, people really are looking for quality of life factors. And that is like the most sort of vague phrase that can describe all sorts of things. But I tend to think of it as what makes you happy in your life on a daily basis? So for a lot of people that can be something like, my town has walking paths or I have access to restaurants or good coffee shop or bars or entertainment.
And I think nature is huge in there. We see a lot of people who are, especially during COVID, this was kind of an exodus of people leaving cities and relocating to places where they would have more access to nature and to the outdoors. So even though that’s kind of lumped in with, quality of life, I think it’s huge for a lot of people. So people kind of have these ideas about what matters to them, but what they do with that information really varies. I’ve encountered people who literally blindly put their finger on a map or a globe and just say, let’s go there. There’s a lot of people,
Amy Bushatz: That seems very risky .
Melody Warnick: Oh yeah. that, that is definitely not recommended. I think those are people who are just like, super adventurous spirits and willing to just try anything. But
Amy Bushatz: Did you ever do that when you were a kid, like spin the globe and like, I’m gonna go live here, put your finger on and then you’re like, oh crap it’s Antartica again!
Melody Warnick: Dangit! It’s Detroit! Yeah. Well, totally. I mean, there is something appealing about that, right. Um, you know, That’s one of the, trends in place and place choosing that I talk about in the book as well is the rise of nomads, people who have decided I don’t wanna be in any place for any extended period of time. I just wanna explore the world.
And so if you’re a nomad and you’re only staying someplace a month or two, or maybe even less sometimes then sure, spin that globe and put your finger um, down and, and go wherever. For the majority of us, who are actually looking for a place where we can settle, buy a house, become part of a community that’s not really recommended.
And yet you know, a lot of us are kind of floundering here. I talked in the book to one woman who, had lived in Texas for a long time, was not a huge fan. And she and her boyfriend were on a road trip across Iowa and drove through, this really adorable small town and saw an old house for sale.
It was really affordable and they just decided let’s move here. And it, it took them a little bit to realize it wasn’t a great fit for them. And that’s when they really decided to drill down on what would be a good fit for us, what are the things in our community that make us feel most at home?
And for them, it was, you know, maybe equally random things. I think it was stuff like, we wanna have access to a yarn shop because she was really big in, into knitting. And her husband didn’t wanna be any place that had tornadoes because he had a bad experience when he was younger. So they ended up narrowing in on Eugene, Oregon as their ideal community.
And this time they went and did like a sampler trip um, tried it out for a week and really fell in love and felt like it was a good decision for them. But you know, random, isn’t always great. These are huge decisions and kind of being whimsical about it can can be hard.
Amy Bushatz: What I hear you saying is you come to a point where you are willing to understand what’s important to you. And then willing to move against that because, okay. While you were talking about the nomad thing, I’m thinking that sounds great, but I got these kids, man. Okay. But people do that with kids. The difference between those folks and me is that they have decided that being a nomad is important enough to them that they’re going to surmount whatever obstacles are there. So that for, you know, I’m thinking school, right. They’re willing the homeschool or whatever their kids to make that lifestyle work for them. Just like when I said I wanna move to Alaska, it wasn’t a, oh, look up all these obstacles. Guess we’re not going. It was look at all these obstacles now let’s plan for how to get over them, and yes, there are matters of immense privilege with both of those examples that we financially can do that or that we have the ability to make a plan to financially do that. Right. Um, And so I, I definitely wanna acknowledge that, but at the same time, a big piece of that puzzle is just having enough desire for it to find a way to do it.
Melody Warnick: A hundred percent. One of the things about digital nomads, it is like the number one aspirational, spectator sport. You know, If you survey Americans about, are you gonna become a nomad in the next 10 years? Like an enormous percentage, are like, yes, I am doing that. And um, you know, enough for people to predict that within the next 10 years we’ll have like a billion nomads in the world. And the reality is probably way more people thinking it sounds awesome, but not willing to, like you said, overcome all the obstacles that most people would face to take up that kind of life.
But I think, your story is a great example that even when you’re really thoughtful about what kind of place you wanna end up and what you think it will do for your life, none of that is easy.
You know, moving is, moving is arduous. It is a lot of work. It’s a lot of money. It’s physically demanding. It’s emotionally demanding. So, I like to remind people, even those who have found themselves in that location, independent space, you don’t have to move, you know, you are not obligated to relocate just because you can.
But if you do decide to relocate, don’t expect that even this really thoughtful, intentional move is gonna be easy. Your story of, you know, that I share in the book of moving to Alaska, because you think it will open your family up to all this time in the outdoors, and then kind of landing there and being like, oh, the weather’s crappy and there’s mosquitoes. And you know, we have this brief window of summer and you could have interpreted that as, and maybe you did, you could have interpreted that as we have made a terrible mistake with our lives, like what have we done? But instead you decided if I’m going to get out of this place what I wanted to get out of it, I’m going to have to work for it. And we’re gonna buy the gear and we’re gonna make goals to be outside every day. So, I think we want our places to change our lives and to make us different people, that almost never happens just automatically, we always have to contribute something to our own evolution inside a community.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. I, two things about that one. Well, I don’t think moving here was a mistake. Let’s be clear. Um, i, I, even in that
Melody Warnick: Maybe you had moments?
Amy Bushatz: No, even in that journey, I knew this was the right place for us, and this is where I wanted to be. And that the next step was overcoming my own attitude. I’m gonna use the word deficiencies. Um, although you could also view those as completely reasonable responses, but I knew that those things were things that I needed to internally overcome.
But then other side of that is this idea of you, yes, sometimes the move may be the right. And it was the right thing for us. Like we were gonna move whether we moved here or not, we were gonna move somewhere because where we were was not somewhere we wanted to stay and that had nothing to do with access to the outdoors. It had to do with Army and all this other stuff we were dealing with. So there’s that, but the independent of that factor: if you are moving somewhere to become a different person news flash, you move with yourself. And so unfortunately you might accidentally pack your problems and bring them with you. And that’s pretty much what I found that we had moved here for this concept. And yes, we had found a new place to live and we needed to do that.
So check box checked. But I still had me and the way I thought about things that had moved with me. And I needed to overcome that. And so if we had not actually needed to move or wanted to move somewhere, if we could have stayed there reasonably, had, I had that perception at that time could have stepped back and said, okay, how can I make me work here instead of here, work for me um, and change how I looked at the world in much the same way that I have done now here, where I say, okay, like what can I do? And that’s really where your first book helped me, right, was to say, okay, how can I change how I’m perceiving, where I live and receiving where I live to make it be something that can work for me?
Melody Warnick: Right. And it is kind of um I, a little bit of something I wrestled with between the two books, because in the first book uh, This Is Where You Belong. I talk about this idea of the geographic cure, which is this idea that a lot of us have that we’re just gonna find the new place and it is going to heal us, it is going to make our lives better. And some of that is just this idea of a fresh slate. That whatever place we’re leaving, we’re gonna leave behind all the complications of life that have started to weigh us down, you know, relationships that are a little more complex than we want or obligations.
And we just gotta shed that and move someplace new. And that is really enticing a lot of the time. Um, you know, we’re just gonna burn it all down and start over. But the thing that I realized as I moved to Blacksburg and kind of worked to put down roots here is just what you said. You’re bringing yourself with you and you don’t necessarily find the perfect place that’s going to heal you, you make your place right by choosing it and by deciding that this is going to be the right place for you.
But the reality. Things about our lives do change when we move. And so that was kind of one of the things that I started thinking about as I was um, writing, if you could live anywhere, not everything changes, we don’t necessarily change, but a new place can do something for us.
It might change our finances a little by, you know, we move to a lower cost of living area. And all of a sudden we free up a little more money to invest in things we care about. I think also a well chosen place sort of acts as a daily reminder to you about what you value and what you hope to create of your life.
I share in the book, the story of a couple from Seattle who moved away from the city because their number one goal really was raising chickens. They just, they envisioned themselves having this kind of rural life, where they could have chickens and dogs and, you know, can peaches and stuff like that.
And they weren’t able to do that in Seattle. And that was really guiding their search. They ended up in Tennessee and they’re happy there, but, they could have ended up in Tennessee and said chickens, you know, weren’t all we thought they were gonna be, but for them, the move kind of created space in their life for these things that they already knew they wanted. It didn’t change who they were fundamentally. And they probably, you know, had to face those, remnants of their city selves, that weren’t used to doing stuff like this, but it, gave them the opportunity to kind of become, to evolve into those people they hoped to be.
Amy Bushatz: And there really are place considerations that are things that are outside of you. Like, the weather. So you can not love being in the heat and find that’s where you live and really all things considered the heat is what’s keeping you from living your best life. Okay. Or I like, I grew up on a beach, I love a beach. Okay. If I could find an affordable beach to move to, that was like, I mean, even here in Alaska that was close to where I, we needed to live for access to the airport and that kind of thing, 100% we’d move there. Not even a hesitation, right. Because I love the beach. Or maybe you love mountains. Well, you can change you all day on all night and a mountain is not gonna spring up in your backyard. That’s just not how mountains work guys. So those sort of place considerations certainly are valid and are definitely things that you’re not gonna change just by looking inward, if you will.
Melody Warnick: Right. For sure. And in This Is Where You Belong it’s like okay, you ended up in a place that doesn’t have that stuff you like. Here’s how to adjust to that. Here’s how to learn to like what you have. But on the other hand, if you have the choice, if you’re at the beginning of that process and can think about, what do I really want? What will make me happy? Then of course, you know, choose the things that you know, you love. Um, you know, there’s tons of research that shows living near water makes people feel better makes people more content. You’re right. It is incredibly expensive in most places, but you know, like if that is a possibility for you and that’s something that you want, you have to, yeah, you have to go toward that. You can’t just wish it into existence and make yourself live near beach just cuz you really wanted it.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah Which is, let me just say a major bummer.
Melody Warnick: It’s a huge bummer. Oh my gosh.
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So I think people toy with living wherever they want, okay. Like this is all good in theory, but it’s hard to do it. So we’ve kind of already talked about how you have to actually want to. Okay. So how do you make easing into this more palatable? Is there, do you have like an on ramp to feeling better about jumping in here?
Melody Warnick: Well, so one of the things I talk about in the book is making a location strategy for yourself. And this is kind of this idea that companies like Starbucks are really data driven when it comes to where they’re gonna put their new stores. You know, they have drilled down to, how much traffic goes by this lot. And we we don’t have access to all that data, but what we do have access to is data about ourselves and our own experiences. And so I kind of lay out some instructions to help people think about this starting with: first do you really need to move? You know, some people like you, you’re gonna move, your situation is untenable where you are or whatever.
But a lot of people who are asking themselves this question, should we move? We can live anywhere. Should we relocate? Might really be happy where they are. And so it’s good to start by really digging into those questions, you know, like what would we miss about our lives here?
What are we hoping to change? And can we do it right where we live? So, once you’ve gone through that, then I have a few more exercises in the book and people can actually get a free download of these in a workbook form at my website melodyWarnick.com if you subscribe to my newsletter, but I have exercises that kind of help you think through, what is your ideal place and what kind of values are you really hoping to live out in your new community.
I, I have this list where, you know, I kind of walk people through what are some of the major things that people think about when they’re making choices about where to move from, you know, population size to proximity of hospitals, to , climate change factors and things like that. So, you know, I think that does help people ease into it because it gives you some confidence that you are, you have researched this thoroughly, you have really thought about it. You’ve questioned yourself. And so if you’ve decided to move forward with a move and you’ve chosen a place, it’s probably because you’ve put a lot of effort into this.
I think the actual move. It, It is going to be hard. , you know, like don’t fool yourself into thinking that, you know, once I move my life is gonna be easier in so much way in so many ways, you have to kind of expect that there is an adjustment period and that can be up to six years for you to fully develop the kind of place attachment that, means that you really love your place and feel at home in it.
But then it kind of goes back to some of the tips I offer in This Is Where You Belong about, you know, when you’re new in a place, here are some ideas for really building community and developing relationships and stuff like that. So, I think it is, it is possible to make these moves and be happy with. I always, you know, talk about how moving is such a mess and so chaotic and stuff like that. And people listening are probably like, yes, you are. Right. I will never do that. Thank you. but really, you know, we do do these things and it is okay. It will be okay. It is possible to move to some place that you really love and that can improve your life and make it better.
Amy Bushatz: You earlier, you laid out, you know, think about why it is you want to move and have a, a plan for picking that and then like the things that are important to you essentially. And then what you just said is think about the strategies for picking that place, right? So you have like this concept and then you have a actionable steps in making that happen.
Melody Warnick: Right. And between those two things is honestly like a fair bit of research, right? You know, like yeah. You know that it’s really important to you for instance, to send your kids to well ranked schools. Um, and how do you find out which are the well ranked schools that can be tough. So, you know, it’s a, a process of looking at websites and hopping online and asking people.
It’s if you throw this out on Facebook, what’s a small to mid-sized town that has great schools that I should consider moving to you’ll get like 8,000 answers. So, right. There, there is an abundance of choice.
There’s thousands of towns all over the world. So, unfortunately, there’s not really a great shortcut there for, just . There are websites like livability.com, make my move catalogs. All those communities. They’re offering bonuses for people who live there. Whether that’s, move here will give you $10,000 or will help you pay off your student loans.
Or you can have free land stuff like that. So, those are a few interesting starting points. I also like to tell people that, or remind people that most people tend to be happier if they’re living near family or, you know, for some people, friends. And so it is something to think about as kind of like a, an initial step. Where, where do family members live? Do we want to be close to them? Not everyone does, you know.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Some people, it makes them happier to live far away from family.
Melody Warnick: Yeah. A hundred percent. I have never really lived close to family and that’s been okay. But I, I was coaching a woman recently who was trying to make this tough decision about where to move.
And she was trying to decide between, staying near her current home because her mom lived nearby and she was close to her mom, or moving out west. She was looking at Colorado cities in Colorado and Montana because she really loved the access to nature. And she’s, really outdoorsy and loves hiking and rock climbing and things like that.
And that was a super difficult choice for her, like to decide between closeness to family or closeness to amenities that make you happy. She still hasn’t decided she’s still working on it. So the, yeah, these are tough choices for sure. But give yourself time and give yourself grace too.
You know, like I think people are freaked out about the idea of making a mistake here because they can be expensive mistakes. They can be kind of time consuming mistakes. But you know, wherever you live, even if you end up deciding this isn’t the right place for us, we’re not gonna stay here long term. You’re gonna have experiences that help you grow that help you become a different, hopefully better person and nothing is wasted, I guess. Yeah.
Amy Bushatz: The military community is fascinating for this. So for people who don’t know, military personnel move every two to three years is pretty typical. You are um, you know, contracted to be a soldier or airman or whatever.
And uh, they tell you where to live and that’s where you go. And then two or three years later, they say, it’s time for you to go to a different duty station. We need your skill set in Guam or or um, the middle of literal middle of nowhere in Nebraska. Okay, like these are, we need, you only, you can help us in Nebraska and that’s how it feels.
And so they can move you for you. Like the move process itself is kind of a different disaster. Okay. And then and it’s been very very chaotic recently with tr truck driver shortages and all these things. That’s a different subject. Uh, But then you get there and now you have to settle in and make the most of it for a couple of years.
And if you’re lucky, you love it. And then you’re sad to move. And if you’re unlucky, you just sort of muddle through or whatever. Um, lots of people get out of the military cuz they don’t like that lifestyle. But. Let’s say you make it for 20 years going hit and thither. And now you’re getting out of the military, which is what we were doing.
And you have to decide where do you wanna go? And so there are these Facebook groups of military members who are, they’re retirement support groups, but more, the most often ask question is where should we move? I wanna live somewhere that has good access to restaurants. And um, is outdoorsy and has doesn’t tax military retirement and has good access to hospitals.
And we like water parks. So it needs to be, you know, like just like very, very specific things, right? Because they have spent their entire lives, adult lives, not living where they wanna live. And now they know exactly what they like and they wanna pick places. And so help me, God, there are more people who respond with like the perfect response.
Well, the place that you are talking about is, this random city in Idaho.
Melody Warnick: Oh, gosh I love that.
Amy Bushatz: And every single time I’m like, well, that doesn’t exist. And sure enough, somebody’s like, well, the place that you’re talking about is in Wisconsin, you know, like, who knew?
Melody Warnick: And what a better group to ask because they have moved around so much, military families have probably seen a lot of the country right. And beyond, and yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. It’s, it’s, It’s really interesting to watch that and it makes you remember that no matter what your priorities are and oh, by the way, you can have more than one. You can really want to live in proximity to a national park and really like water slides. And also need a good school. And also, oh, by the way, we are in the tech industry, like all of those things can be true at the same time with even more random facts in there. And there is a place out there that fits those things. It’s just a matter of finding it and getting there and making all of that happen.
So you mentioned a few minutes ago that. Like people are afraid of making a mistake. And you mentioned before that, that it can take up to six years to figure out if a mistake has in fact been made. And I’m just think sitting here thinking my God, that is a really long time to live with what may turn out to have been a mistake. So, um, how do you know if you are just in the, I’m getting used to this period, or if you are in the mistake period. And you know, like what happens if you do make a mistake? What’s your advice for people who are like, oh, we don’t actually like Iowa. What we really need is Oregon, which are very different places. So .
Melody Warnick: Yeah. Well, and that’s a great question, cuz you don’t always know, right? You, if you expect that this is a process, it’s gonna take you a little bit to settle into a place. You’re not sure where that line is between I’m still settling in I’m still getting to know people, and oh my gosh, this was not right for us. And we need to cut our losses and move on. So, and I don’t know that there is uh, a perfect.
Amy Bushatz: I, I need a perfect recipe.
Melody Warnick: I know, like, I wish, but you know, like for me, I had the same reaction to that six year figure, and that’s why I wrote This Is Where You Belong, which the whole concept was, I don’t want it to take six years like that. I don’t wanna be miserable for six years. And so I did these love where you live experiments that were all. I’m gonna do the kinds of things that I see place attached people who love their community doing, and that is gonna accelerate the process for me. So it was like, I’m gonna go to all the community events and I’m gonna take banana bread around to my neighbors.
And I’m gonna really embed myself in nature here. I’m gonna spend a lot of time hiking and stuff. And so it was a very active participant in trying to change my feelings about my place. And I’ve seen other people do that same thing too. You are a perfect example of this. Like I am, not loving it here or this isn’t totally what I expected, but I’m going to invest in getting outside. I’m gonna join these groups and make friends and stuff like that.
So I think, most people probably, you know, you go through a period after moving where you’re just trying to get your head on straight. You don’t have any bandwidth for anything new, but you know, maybe a couple months in you’re like, okay, I’m gonna join the book club at the library, or I’m gonna start trying out all the new restaurants in town or whatever.
And you become a, a very active participant in, making yourself happy here, not expecting it to just happen for you and wash over you with all this delight, but you know, you’re gonna be part of it. I have talked to people who say, I’ve done those things and I’ve been here for eight years and it still isn’t really working for me.
And I say, That’s okay. You know, like every community has a personality, just like people do. And we’re looking for a good person environment fit and there’s a lot of wiggle room there that sometimes we can adjust ourselves or the environment adjusts to us to make us happier where we’ve chosen.
But sometimes it just was a bad fit or sometimes you’ve changed, your life has changed and the place that was fine for you five or six years ago, isn’t working anymore. And I think it’s okay to not feel like a failure when that happens and just say I, I did my best and it’s time to move on. Um, you know, like your, your story about military families, like, gosh who is more of an expert on moving and quickly settling into a community than a military family. Uh, I’ve talked to a lot of military families, military spouses, especially who maybe even have less autonomy in this process. And my friend, Jen told me something that I included, and This Is Where You Belong, which was an advice that sh a piece of advice she was given by her military mother-in-law who just said, wherever you go, unpack your suitcase, you know, metaphorically emotionally decide. I want to love it here and I’m gonna do everything I can to make this my home. And, I saw her do that again and again, in communities all over, just really engage, engage enough that when it came time to move, she was a little sad about it every time.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah, there’s there. I think at the end of the day, though, there’s nothing wrong with saying, like, we tried this and it wasn’t for me. And that is just a part of, of life. It’s a pretty big risk. I mean, that is a risk, but it is a part of every risk that you take. And so even when we talk about heading outside and trying something new it’s with this idea, like you don’t have to love everything you do outside.
You don’t even have to try, you know, I always tell my kids you don’t have to like your food. You just have to try it. Well, guess what? You’re a grown up. You don’t have to do that either. Like you don’t have to try everything in the world. But you have to be honest with yourself about how your experiences are and what is flavoring that experience.
And so when I go out and try a new activity that I don’t love, right. I say like, what about this did I not like, and is that because it, like, the weather was bad while I was doing it, is that the activity or the situation and so on and so forth and maybe give it another shot, or not. That’s fine too. And so when you move somewhere to achieve something, so let’s say you’re moving somewhere because you wanna spend some more time outside and you get there. And the weather’s bad, like in my situation, right? Yeah. Like, so I’m looking at it like, is it because I moved somewhere where the weather’s bad and that’s like my bad, I should have known better than that. And now I should move somewhere where the weather is not bad? Or is that because I have an unreasonable expectation for how weather is going to obey my every whim?
And unfortunately it turns out that um, the uh, you know, it’s the, it’s the last one. So , so I changed me, right? Yes. But that’s, I mean, that’s how it goes. And I think that’s, I think that’s part of being human and I think that’s completely fine.
Melody Warnick: Yeah, totally. I mean, there is a lot of margin for error here, you know, there’s margin for error in kind of misidentifying what this community you’ve chosen maybe has to offer or what it’s really like. And there’s errors that we can make about ourselves and who we are and what we actually want in our lives. So I think when you move you get to change your perspective about both of those things, you know, like you kind of shift your expectations about what you thought this place would be like and what it actually is like.
And you can shift your perspective about what you’re capable of too and who you are. And you know, I think there’s a lot of work we can do to make a place right for ourselves once we’ve chosen it. But I also totally agree that it’s okay to say this was a mistake and we’re, you know, we’re gonna move someplace else.
There’s risk. Every time we make these sort of big decisions, but, you know, that’s kind of an exciting thing too. I talked to someone for the book who was living in Florida during the great recession. She and her husband both lost their jobs and were just really struggling financially. And the way they decided to solve that problem was they moved to Panama. And, talk about a move that has a lot of potential for true culture shock and maybe some, oh my gosh, what have we done? Sort of moments, but you know, here’s this couple in their fifties. And they found that they really loved it. It was totally different, probably not exactly what they thought they were getting into, but they, they lived there for a few years. They saved tons of money. They reduced their stress, they started a new business. And ultimately didn’t stay forever. They moved back to Florida because, aging parents needed them. And that was okay too. She still kind of talks about, I hope that in the future, we can live abroad again, but you know, they got to have this really enriching, exciting experience.
And maybe we should all think about our time in places, a little more like that, that, you know, no matter how it turns out in the end, it can be a growth period for you for sure.
Amy Bushatz: Well, Melody thank you so much for coming on Humans Outside today for doing this discussion discussion twice. I think this one was better.
Melody Warnick: I think this one was totally different. I don’t remember hitting on any of this before and yes, I agree. It was so much better.
Amy Bushatz: Um, Well, people can find your book wherever they find books, where, you know, wherever in their library at your local bookstore online, wherever that may be. And I wish you the best of luck with it.
Melody Warnick: Thank you so much, Amy. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Amy Bushatz: Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode of Humans Outside. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, take a second to leave a rating or review wherever you get your podcasts that makes it easier for others to find the podcast, too. Your positive review makes a huge difference. Now go get outside. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.