If you went to college and graduate school somewhere other than where you grew up, and if you’ve decided to leave academia, you’ve got at least two big things to figure out. First, what kind of work do you want to do and how do you get into it? Two, where do you want to live?
It’s easy to default to a hometown or a home region, and that might be exactly the right place for you. But you might also want to go somewhere else. Like with careers, it’s hard to solve the problem without knowing what your options really are.
A few years ago, I ran across a site that’s both useful and super fun: FindYourSpot.com. It asks you a series of questions, including things like whether you do outdoor sports and what they are, whether you care about the school system, and how important the ballet is, and it spits out 20 locations for you to look at.
My sweetie and I do this periodically, just to see what comes up. There’s always the same city in Louisiana and the same city on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Lately, the top results have all been in Oregon, which has been a big clue for us. There are invariably places we hadn’t really heard of, or wouldn’t have picked out on the map, but which, when we dig in, are pretty interesting.
I have no stake in that site, of course, but if you’re spending time dreaming about what your life could look like if you leave, spend some time dreaming about place.