When to Stay, When to Go

If you love your place, have friends and a livelihood (even if it is modest) and are able to exert some beneficial influence, stay. Unless you are in really dire straits, never move somewhere else just for a better-paying job.

If you have no option other than to leave, go. If the land is dead from abuse; if the tide is rising; if all the jobs are gone; if the people you love have left or are leaving — go. And my heart goes out to you.

If your family lives somewhere else, and you miss them, and you think you could enjoy (and afford) living in the place where they live, go.

If all of your best friends live somewhere else, and you are having trouble making close friendship connections, and you think you could enjoy (and afford) living in a place where your close friends live, go.

If your local area seems to be on a fatally self-destructive path — mowing down forests; infatuated with big shiny development; not interested in resiliency — and you have made your absolute best effort to promote and demonstrate better alternatives, go. If you know of a place where a critical mass of people care about growing food and planting trees (real trees, for shade and food, not just vanity landscaping) and building soil and nurturing small local business, and you can afford to live there, go. (Just look before you leap — never flee to a new place without meeting the people who would be your neighbors.)

If you see the handwriting on the wall in all sorts of ways both specific and vague, and it’s keeping you up nights and you’ve taken time to really get centered and tune in to your intuition and it’s guiding you to go, go.

If, despite all adversity, you love your place and the people and other creatures in it with a fierceness that permeates every fiber of your being and won’t let you turn your back … then stay. Stay, and be a force for good — and thank you.

And how about you? Where are you living now? Are you staying, or going? And what are your deciding factors?

Further Reading

Sometimes You Need To Move (from StrongTowns).

America’s Great Exodus Is Starting in the Florida Keys (from Bloomberg)

The Land Institute website. Wherever you live, city or country, you can’t afford not to take care of the land. The Land Institute is doing great work restoring native prairie land, and their example offers hints for all of us.

Becoming Native to this Place (book of essays by Wes Jackson of The Land Institute).

Becoming Native to this Place (transcript of annual E.F. Schumacher Lecture by Wes Jackson, on CenterForNewEconomics.org).