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Would You Move to Find Like-Minded People?

The ChickieNob and I were having an interesting conversation yesterday about how to choose a college.  The Wolvog has already chosen where he wants to go and will not be swayed from his decision.  In fact, he is so positive about his decision that when he finds a computer engineer or programmer who went to said school, he writes them a fan letter.  You know, as one future alumni to another.  The boy knows what he wants.

Whereas the girl child has some inkling of where she’d like to go but is open to thinking about all schools equally.  Sometimes she wants to go where we went.  Sometimes she wants something completely new.  Location seems to matter above all.

This time the talk turned to the fact that sometimes people choose a school because it matches their personality.  Free spirits may choose Hampshire, where there are evaluations instead of grades.  Some women want an all-woman school like Smith.  Some people are drawn to Big Ten schools.  While there are some people who can thrive wherever they go, I think we can all agree that the type of person who would be drawn to Oberlin is very different from the type of person who would be drawn to Notre Dame.

I think that blew her little mind; the idea of figuring out what sort of person you are and then matching the school to fit your core being.


I recently took a poll on PBS which asked me to put in order of most important to least important eleven values for raising a child.  By the way, the survey took into account both people parenting and people not parenting.

Click on the picture below to go to the site and take the poll yourself.


I discovered that I’m most closely aligned with Swedish values.  Go Sweden!  I could also live in Australia.  I could not live well while parenting in Yemen or Ghana.  The site also gave you the ability to see how your best value country measured up against where you currently live:


But it begged the question: while this is obviously interesting if you’re willing to pick up and move to a place where the culture matches your personality or core values, what do you do with this information if you aren’t inclined or able to move?  It’s sort of like being told that you have to go to Notre Dame when you have your heart set on Oberlin.  What do you do when your personality or core values don’t match up with the people around you?

And this problem, of course, extends beyond parenting.  A lot of times, we live in an area that doesn’t match us at all.  We’re country folk shoved into cities.  Or we’re free spirits caught inside restrictive regimes.  Or all we want to do is dance, but we live in a town that doesn’t allow us to dance.

What do we do then?

It’s an interesting question: how much does where you live fit with who you are?  Has that changed at all over time, or have you just always made yourself fit your space?


1 Nicoleandmaggie { 06.04.14 at 8:06 am }

Norte dame is big enough that you can probably find an Oberlin-like community there. Re: engineering schools, most ppl I know who were single minded focus on Caltech or our state flagship ended up being miserable. Not that ppl at Caltech are all miserable, but those with high expectations were. Our state flagship just has toxic engineering programs.

Re the question, one of the many reasons #2 on our blog just quit her tenured professor job is so she doesn’t have to choose between tea party and libertarian candidates. (See today’s post for more details.)

2 Pepper { 06.04.14 at 8:44 am }

I would move. In fact, I did move a year ago. It’s not so much about like-minded people (because I enjoy differing opinions in my life) but people with similar values. Most important to me was education. I highly value education and the area in which we lived simply did not. Kids did not go to college. Schools were not challenging or exciting. It is interesting to me that by moving to an area which does value education – all of our neighbors are professionals, their older children are in or graduated from college, young children are working hard in the local public schools – I have found people I have a lot in common with in general. So one common value tends to lead to others.

The college thing is interesting, too. I applied to three schools. I got accepted into all and visited to determine which one I would attend. I chose the one my gut told me would be both challenging and comfortable to me – the place where I would fit. I suspect ChickieNob will do the same to find her place.

3 Serenity { 06.04.14 at 9:13 am }

I should be living in Australia and/or New Zealand, apparently. Or Sweden.

I had a hard time choosing colleges as well; I remember my mother bought me this HUGE book that had ALL of the colleges in the United States in it. I must have had 100 different colleges I was interested in at first. I narrowed it down to 30, and we visited maybe 5 or 6 of them. And it was when I walked on campus at my college that I just KNEW – I was going there. Everything about it was perfect for me; the location, the size, the marching band. I suspect that ChickieNob will have that same moment, too.

And as an aside, Lucky is horrified when we tell him that when he goes to college he won’t live with us. We tell him that someday when he’s older he might actually WANT to try living on his own, but will have none of it. So he’s planning on a commuting school. Thankfully we’re near Boston, I guess? 🙂

4 Amel { 06.04.14 at 9:16 am }

This is interesting, though I’m a bit disappointed that there are no Indonesia (my home country) or Finland (where I live now). But anyway, to be honest I feel more at home here in Finland. I think Indonesia is more suitable for extroverts. I always felt that I had to push myself to be more of an extrovert in Indonesia because over there they value a lot of the strengths that extroverts have. On the contrary, here in Finland silence is really considered golden. People here are notorious for answering questions very very briefly and they love silence.

Case in point: this is the typical Finnish responses he he…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvidoBBJSRA

5 Tiara { 06.04.14 at 9:57 am }

I scored Sweeden too!

I am very glad to live in the area I do. Especially being a choice mom. I am shocked when I read some of the experiences of intolerences from other SMCs.

6 deathstar { 06.04.14 at 11:04 am }

Australia, New Zealand and Cyprus. Mmmm, you couldn’t pay me to live there, but I’ve never been to any of those places either. I don’t want to live on an island. Islands to me are places to visit or vacation. Maybe because I’d like to parent with those values, but those were not the values I was raised with? I also prefer to live where there is a cultural mix of people, and usually that means a metropolitan city.

7 Persnickety { 06.04.14 at 12:15 pm }

As someone who moved from a very progressive area to a fairly conservative one as a child, having that contrast helped me to understand that my viewpoint, and my parents viewpoint, is not the only take on the world. I feel that some of the extreme political and social arguments we are now seeing are because people live in a place where everyone is like them, and spend time on the Internet with people like them, and speeding time in an echo chamber of your own views means that it is harder to understand and sympathize with others.
Seeing that other families have different values, or that the social views of a community don’t align with the views at home should help children to understand that the world is not composed of people exactly like them, and that those people are still people with feelings and hopes and rights.
And on college- one of the points of discussion at my reunion was how many of us were dragged to the college to see it, not intending to go, but fell in love with the campus. So be careful about taking the ChickieNob there. Although they have a big new engineering building!

8 Mrs T (missohkay) { 06.04.14 at 1:07 pm }

My husband and I have now moved twice. Both times, finding a place where people were like us was very important. We wanted to live in a place that valued what we valued because it makes our lives easier and more fun — walkable, diverse, politically progressive, cultural activities, and non-chain restaurants.

All that said, I went to college in a place I never thought I’d go because of the scholarship offerings, but I think you can eventually find your tribe in most places 🙂

9 Esperanza { 06.04.14 at 1:11 pm }

Do you worry much about the Wolvang not getting into his school and feeling devastated. My husband and I went to an awesome, and very prestigious public school that is near by. We’ll be taking our kids there a lot. We dress them in clothes from there and will attend football games as a family. While I feel pretty sure that we will make sure our kids won’t feel pressure from us to go there (I really could care less if they do, honestly) I worry they will really WANT to go and won’t be able to get in because it’s SOOOO much harder now even than it was back then, and a lot of getting in is just luck and I’d hate for them to be devastated, and it makes me hesitate when it comes to sharing our enthusiasm for our alma mater.

What are your thoughts on this? I’m really curious.

10 Ana { 06.04.14 at 1:15 pm }

I got New Zealand (also Australia and Spain). I’ve lived in places where people were more or less like me, and both have their advantages & disadvantages to be honest. Its eye- and mind-opening to have to listen, REALLY LISTEN, to the other side because they are everywhere. But you start to feel a bit isolated. You can usually find a little enclave of like-minded folks most any moderate- to large-sized city, but in a more rural area that might not be the case (I’ve never lived in a rural area or tiny village, but small/medium/large cities). There is the danger of thinking your way is the only way when you’re in a bubble of similar people. I can totally see that happening at a smaller college, too. A larger school, you would have vocal minorities of any viewpoint.

11 Esperanza { 06.04.14 at 1:18 pm }

As for your actual question, I don’t think I could live in an area of this country (or in another country) with significantly more conservative views than my own. I just have a really hard time relating to people who believe so fundamentally differently about things that I do. The Bay Area is quite liberal and progressive and I feel very comfortable here. I don’t think I could live in St. Louis, where all my extended family lives, because their attitudes about things are so different. I just wouldn’t be comfortable there. So yes, I would move to be in a place where most people shared my values, and if I couldn’t, I’d be really unhappy.

12 Esperanza { 06.04.14 at 1:22 pm }

I got Australia, New Zealand and… Japan?! Does that seem incongruous to anyone else?!

13 Sharon { 06.04.14 at 1:31 pm }

To answer your question. . . at this stage of my life (middle-aged, married-with-children), I wouldn’t move to find like-minded people. Although the area where we live is more socially and politically conservative than we would like, my in-laws live here; my husband’s job is here (and he has over 16 years in toward retirement in 20 or 25 years); our house is here (and only worth about what we paid for it nearly 6 years ago); and we like many things about the area despite it not being full of like-minded people.

When I was younger, more open-minded and had fewer ties to the community, moving to find like-minded people was something I probably would have considered. But even then, many of the places I would have found like-minded people might have been undesirable to me in other ways. . . most notably, cost-of-living and climate. (I refuse to live anywhere too expensive or with harsh winters.)

14 sharah { 06.04.14 at 2:02 pm }

I’ve thought very seriously about moving to a different part of the country where my values and opinions would be part of the majority, rather than the minority. But keeping our kids close to their extended family here seems to be our highest value, because it keeps trumping all the reasons to move.

15 a { 06.04.14 at 3:25 pm }

I live where there are no like-minded people. Once in a while, I run into someone who shares my world view, but usually the differences far outnumber the similarities. If not for the traffic (oh, and my husband), I would move back to Chicago in a minute. Instead, I stay where I am, mostly shaking my head internally, and occasionally arguing when I feel the topic is really important.

16 Jo { 06.04.14 at 4:46 pm }

I got Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. It’s interesting to me how many other commenters got similar results. I’d be fascinated to see how we ranked certain values. Are we really so similar? It would seem so. Which is fascinating because I don’t know how many people I know IRL would rank the way I did. I am much more liberal than many of the people I live near. Moving is not an option right now – my family is here, and I need their support at this stage in my life. So I deal, surrounded by very few like-minded people. I find connections in other, mostly online, places.

I will so be asking Mo to complete this later tonight. I wonder if we are as different as I suspect? Not that that’s a bad thing – we have different strengths that we will hopefully pass on to our children.

17 Mali { 06.04.14 at 7:10 pm }

Loving all the people who got NZ! I live in our capital city, so there are a lot of like-minded people, and a lot who aren’t as well, with all sorts of different cultures and socio-economic groups, and of course politicians representing them all (argh). That said, of course most of my friends are like-minded, similar education and interests.

I grew up on a farm near a small town, and the attitudes there I suspect would be different, but even there I think I’d find a few like-minded people. And that’s all you really need in some ways. I don’t think we have the extremes of conservative attitudes and religious zeal that we see in the US, and so it would be easier for me to live most places.

So whilst I have these idyllic dreams of living somewhere gorgeous and isolated, I know that I wouldn’t get the interactions I would want, and think I’m now a city girl at heart. I guess the answer is therefore that yes, I would move where I could find like-minded people. I like diversity though (I’ve lived in Asia), and I think we can learn a lot from diversity.

And especially when we are young, I think it is good to be exposed to a lot of diversity, to have our biases and thoughts and opinions challenged, to figure out what our values really are. It’s easy to think you know your values if your family and friends and school all share the values you grow up with. Going on a student exchange programme to Thailand when I was 17 opened my eyes and was the best thing I could have done.

18 Battynurse { 06.04.14 at 9:45 pm }

I feel a bit like I don’t fit where I live. I often feel surrounded by “conservative, everyone needs to conform” people and it drives me nuts. Granted I’m not 100% sure where I want to live. I guess time will tell.

19 andy { 06.05.14 at 7:25 am }

Interesting… I am most similar to Germany or Australia. For me, the one thing that would make me move, or make me not chose to live somewhere, is the level of acceptance for same-sex families. I’m very lucky that most of Canada has great acceptance, but there are certainly areas or communities that I would not live in.

20 Ellen K. { 06.05.14 at 11:13 am }

I also got Australia and Sweden.

I went to a Big Ten school, where there was more room to breathe — and be, and grow — compared with my small-town high school in northwestern Illinois. I liked it a lot. I don’t give a damn about sports. Most people went to/returned to the Chicago suburbs. I prefer river towns, and I really didn’t feel like seeing much of my college roommate and feared I would fall in too much with her crowd, so after graduation I looked for jobs in St. Louis… and met my husband 2 weeks later.

I wouldn’t move back to my hometown, mostly because after 15 years here, I just cannot handle cold weather, and I like the energy of a city. But I do feel I have to live near the Mississippi River and would probably be equally happy in other large cities near the river — Minneapolis, Memphis, or New Orleans. (Friends from those cities have confirmed this.) But I have to be nearby. I am not into boating or fishing or anything like that; I don’t use it recreationally. It feels vital in a different way — T.S. Eliot wrote about this (although he got the eff out of STL!). Our current house is within 3 miles of the river. My parents and brother also live near the river, so even though it takes 4.5 hours to drive there, I feel connected. My other brother lives on the outskirts of the St. Louis area, across the Missouri River, and he says he likes to live near a river, too, even though the Missouri seems a bit “foreign.” : )

We live in the city, which is a huge disappointment to our fathers. My dad had a tough experience growing up in a poor and abusive family in an urban housing project in the 1950s and 60s. He chose rural subdivision tranquility for his family. D’s dad is resentful that we don’t live in the same small town, which has middling schools, nondescript homes, 2 restaurants and 2 taverns with the most basic beer, fried food, and dark wood paneling — just a nondescript little township that is in stark contrast to the picturesque German-American small towns nearby. As D. has observed, why should HIS life be curtailed by his great-grandparents’ taste?

Now that the girls are in parochial school, we’ve made lots of friends with like-minded parents — preferring the city, and trying to make a good go of raising kids in the city. A few of them were even at my Big Ten school while I was there. I had been wondering where more of my fellow alum were hiding. : ) And two other couples are actually from my hometown region, oddly!

21 SRB { 06.05.14 at 12:17 pm }

I’ve moved to different areas of the country, different neighbourhoods in the same city…Ultimately, you have to put yourself out there to find like-minded people and even then, it’s tough.

Anyhow, I got Taiwan, which was strange, and then I tried to compare that to where I live now. Perhaps it was just a mobile glitch, but Canada wasn’t a choice for comparison. Umm, okay?

22 Queenie { 06.05.14 at 10:01 pm }

This is so interesting to me, because for the last 4 years, we’ve been living abroad and had a couple of moves (and there is another on the horizon). Although our last country was someplace a lot of people love, my husband and I struggled with the core way that local people behaved. It really negatively colored our experience there. We used to say that it was a fun place to visit (i.e., vacation), but a tough place to live, because people’s attitudes really wear on you. So much pessimism and negativity! Conversely, although there are many aspects of our current country that are difficult (i.e., security/crime), the local people are AWESOME, and our quality of life greatly enhanced because of it. I really think that the people you are around, even passively, even those who are not close to you, have a much greater impact on your quality of life than you realize. How you are treated by people on the street, in the grocery story, etc, etc, really matters, way more than I ever would have thought. And then there are how difficult cultures treat children, how educational systems are run–those impact in big and obvious ways. It is so nice to be living in a culture that values family/children, instead of snarling when toddlers appear in restaurants.

And now I must go take that quiz. Perhaps it will provide insight no where we should go next.

23 A. { 06.06.14 at 5:56 am }

We would. (We don’t because of money and career roots.) My husband and I fantasize about our dream home in the Bay Area around San Francisco, where we have many friends and visit often. Culturally, we’re more suited for that neck of the woods than our community here on suburban Long Island. Everyone here seems to be pissed off all the time–hair gel and traffic and designer pocketbooks–and I just have no patience for it. Thank God for the beach!

24 Smiling Scar { 06.07.14 at 2:23 am }

Well I moved.. to New Zealand and loved it. Then circumstances took me to italy, which didn’t mesh as well, but I adjusted. I think for me I need large blocks of time surrounded by ‘my people’ or I start to lose myself in my pull towards fitting in and hammering all the ‘me’ of me out of me so I can fit in. I also like the challenge of living with people really different from me and picking up things that make me a better person. There were so many thinks I really didn’t like in Italy that now I see great value in and would totally adopt into my own parenting style (should parenting ever be in my future…)

But in the end, I need to be around people with similar values with me now and then or I just am so exhausted and parts of me never come out to play.

Sadly, when I return home to America, where I grew up, I feel more and more lost, the Italian pieces and the New Zealand influences have shifted me just enough and now I don’t know how to be me here. At least for now..

25 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 06.16.14 at 11:45 am }

We’re obviously movers. I think if you’re strong enough you can probably start to shape the place around you, but I guess I’ve never felt that strong.

I thought you were going to show the video of those guys who got arrested in Iran for dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”. Did you see that?

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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