Nancy K. Schlossberg Nancy K. Schlossberg

We constantly hear, “location, location, location,” especially when realtors are discussing view and neighborhood status. But there is a different way to think about location, location, location.

Malcolm Gladwell tells an informative story in the introduction to his book, Outliers: The Story of Success. Stewart Wolf, a physician, discovered a town where "There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime" (7). The physicians compared the town, Roseta, to nearby towns with the same demographics. In Roseta, there was a "powerful, protective social structure…People talked to each other, had three generations under one roof. There was constant caring and interaction. Wolf and his colleagues were convinced that the place you live could affect your health and life (10)".

In Shock of Gray, Ted Fishman compares Rockford, Illinois with Sarasota, Florida. In Rockville, people feel and act old when they are fifty. People leave Rockford while people from everywhere come to Sarasota. "In Sarasota, the sixty-year-olds are the ‘kids,' while in Rockford, the fifty-year-olds ...are getting on" (2010, p. 231).

A New York Times front-page story, "How Happy Are You? In a Boston Suburb, It's a Census Question," reports on the first city to take its happiness temperature. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone agreed to a "Happiness" survey. He points out that, "Cities keep careful track of their finances, but a bond rating doesn't tell us how people feel or why they want to raise a family here."

What do these vignettes tell us? They tell us that where you live makes a difference. If you live in a Boston suburb, or in Sarasota you might be happier than if you live in Rockford. If you live in a retirement community that is filled with activities rather than living in a single family home alone, you might be happier. Our newest mantra is "Aging in place." I am not sure that should be the mantra. I think we should "age in the location that will promote fun and friends."

Blog reposted from Dr. Schlossberg’s Psychology Today blog series Transitions Through Life. Dr. Schlossberg also co-authored the Springer Publishing Company title: Counseling Adults in Transition, Fourth Edition: Linking Schlossberg’s Theory With Practice in a Diverse World.