Home is where the heart is
Recently, my hometown of Sudbury was found to be the happiest place in Canada. Of course Buzzfeed (being Buzzfeed) made a list about it. They got a lot of it right - if you love the outdoors, there's no better place to be. Beautiful lakes, fishing, hiking, skidooing, boating. They did miss Science North (one of the best science centers in the world!) and Dynamic Earth in their rankings...
Sudbury is cheap and convenient. You can drive from one end of town to the other in 30 minutes. You can buy a 4 bedroom house for $250K with a massive yard and still have money left over for your pickup truck, boat, and skidoo. And there is no better place to get wild blueberries than along the side of the highway in July.
I used to get asked a lot when I was moving back to Sudbury, like it was inevitable. I didn't really have the heart to tell them never, if I could help it. Sudbury just didn't make me happy because it didn't provide me with the things that I found to be fulfilling.
I like ballets, and orchestras, and shows, and (my latest obsession) escape rooms. I like trying out new restaurants. The kind of career path I'm trying to forge isn't available in a small northern community. I love the hustle and bustle of a big city. I love not requiring a car. I love having shops that are open on Sundays or 24 hours a day. It's a rare day that I look at something and think "That's really cool, I'd like to try it" and not have the opportunity.
Sure, hiking and fishing are great - but as a once in a while thing and not an every weekend thing. There's only so many times a month you can walk through Bell Park. Going to Science North more than once a year might be pushing it.
I remember walking down the street, downtown Toronto with another ex-Sudbury friend, and the both of us feeling giddy in the big city. It was energizing! It was exciting! It was....hella expensive!
I'm not saying I'm better than the folks who stayed. I'm saying what makes me happy wasn't in Sudbury. In some ways, I'm envious of those people - if Sudbury was my town, it would mean I could be living closer to my family.
The worst are the people who tell me "Oh, I could never move away from Sudbury and live apart from my parents. I love them too much." pointed look Pul-eeze. I love my family too. Get off your sanctimonious high horse.)
Sudbury was a phenomenal place to grow up. For me, Sudbury is a wonderful place to be from. It's a wonderful place to visit. But it's not home.