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Planning to Move? The Surprising Way Your Hometown Affects Your Quality of Life

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Photo credit: iStock

It’s the question that is always on my mind: Where are we going to move when our family outgrows Brooklyn? Where would we consider raising our kids and buying a house? Over the past few months we’ve tried to narrow down the list based on our criteria: good schools, low cost of living, vibrant outdoorsy scene, close to cultural institutions, has defined seasons.

I had almost decided that it doesn’t really matter where we live as long as there is a lake, a river, or an ocean nearby, and plenty of decent hiking trails. That is, I felt that way until I saw this recent analysis that changed my mind. Turns out, where you live actually does have an effect on your health. And not only because living where nature is close by and recreational opportunities are abundant will make you happier. Even the presence of those things does not change the recent findings that people in different regions of the country have different amounts of healthy years left once they reach retirement.

That’s something I want to know about if I’m going to move somewhere to live the rest of my life.

There are areas of the US like Hawaii where seniors can expect 16-17 healthy years after they turn 65. Other areas like the South have only 10-11 years of good health once they reach that age. It’s not clear yet why those disparities exist, and researchers acknowledge that there could be reporting biases or misclassifications that skewed the data and warrant further inquiry.

But for now, there’s a small part of me that thinks that maybe my family should consider moving back to Hawaii.

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