The search for the ideal place to live has been a big part of my life. I prefer a quiet rural area far from neighbors with a hilly terrain, affordable housing, moderate weather and earthy women.
I've lived in scores of places in 12 states now and have yet to find heaven on earth, but I keep getting closer.
Apparently, perfection is a state of mind rather than a spot on a map.
WHERE TO LIVE
Obviously, everyone has their own reason for choosing where to live, such as economic opportunities, climate, cost of living, political environment, quality of education, social atmosphere, recreational activities, etc.
One consideration for finding the ideal place to nest might be projected life expectancy of various locations. Dr. Christopher Murray of the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study of life spans across the USA.
The longest human life spans by state are:
Connecticut -- 78.7
Iowa -- 78.3
New Hampshire -- 78.3
North Dakota -- 78.3
Rhode Island 78.3
The shortest life spans by state are:
Arkansas -- 75.2
Kentucky -- 75.2
Tennessee -- 75.1
West Virginia 75.1
For some reason, southerners don't last as long as the rest of the country. That's probably because they're too busy having a good time, eating too much deep-fried possum and breathing in too many NASCAR fumes.
Hawaii may be a good place to live a long life but it's also highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
A university study, recently published by Live Science, listed the largest 50 American cities from the safest to the most vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, flooding, etc.
The 10 safest cities are:
1) Mesa, Ariz.
2) Milwaukee, Wis.
3) Cleveland, Ohio
4) El Paso, Tex.
5) Phoenix, Ariz.
6) Tucson, Ariz.
7) Colorado Springs, Colo.
8) Detroit, Mich.
9) Fresno, Calif.
10) Minneapolis, Minn.
The 10 most dangerous American cities when it comes to natural disasters are:
41) Tulsa, Okla.
42) Long Beach, Calif.
43) Houston, Tex.
44) Los Angeles, Calif.
45) San Jose, Calif.
46) Honolulu, Hawaii
47) San Francisco, Calif.
48) Oakland, Calif.
49) New Orleans, La.
50) Miami, Fla.
The most dangerous places are near the ocean. The West Coast is along the Pacific Ring of Fire where there's a lot of volcanic and seismic activity, and the East Coast has an active annual hurricane season.
I lived in Miami (1964-65) during Hurricane Cleo (devastating property damage) and in Los Angeles (1975-86) through many earthquakes (mostly minor), not to mention brush fires, mudslides and occasional riots.
Another study, listed the same largest 50 American cities, from best to worst, based on "essential quality-of-life and economic factors that affect your personal sustainability."
The top 10 cities are:
1) Portland, Ore.
2) San Francisco, Calif.
3) Seattle, Wash.
4) Chicago, Ill.
5) Oakland, Calif.
6) New York City, N.Y.
7) Boston, Mass.
8) Philadelphia, Penn.
9) Denver, Colo.
10) Minneapolis, Minn.
The 10 least favorable cities are:
41) Arlington, Tex.
42) Nashville, Tenn.
43) Detroit, Mich.
44) Memphis, Tenn.
45) Indianapolis, Ind.
46) Fort Worth, Tex.
47) Mesa, Ariz.
48) Virginia Beach, Va.
49) Oklahoma City, Okla.
50) Columbus, Ohio.
Utilizing the above criteria, Minneapolis appears to be the best place to live. Minnesota is second in terms of life span, plus Minneapolis is in the top ten of the safest cities and in the top ten of the most sustainable cities.
I lived in the Minneapolis metropolitan area in 1956-64 and 1968-75. It's a great place, but very cold in the winter and the summers are infested with the Minnesota state bird, more commonly known as the mosquito.
These days, Im in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas, where the terrain is hilly, housing is affordable, weather is fairly moderate and the women are definitely earthy. Ill probably remain here for a long time.
The one place you don't want to live is anywhere near me, especially if you have noisy kids or wind chimes.
WHERE TO DIE
Every living thing in this dimension suffers from extinction. Death is a part of life -- its merely a matter of when and how.
There are worse things than death, like spending an afternoon with an insurance salesman. Woody Allen
A coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave die but once.
All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
Life is a three-act play -- birth, death and everything else in between.
When the final curtain drops on the players, the audience applauds and life goes on.
Forbes Magazine, ever eager to promote optimal decision-making, has recently ranked the best places to die. The results are based on the following five categories with the weighted percentage of importance in parenthesis.
(44 percent) Health Care Quality How well patients were treated for a variety of diseases based on the latest available data originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
(22 percent) Cancer Deaths in Hospitals, Nursing Homes, or at Home Researchers at Brown University tracked where cancer patients were likely to die (home being the preferred choice).
(22 percent) Percent of Medicare Patients using Hospice in the Last Year of life Data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health based on the percentage of Medicare patients cared for at home in the last year of life.
(8 percent) Legal Protection Based on an American Bar Association report on law and aging which rates each state in terms of quality and comprehensiveness of law for the elderly.
(4 percent) Estate Taxes Computed, by state, for an estate worth $10 million legated by the widow or widower to their direct heirs, based on each individual state's estate and gift tax code.
For those concerned about such matters, perhaps you should switch to a decaf.
The top places to die are:
6) New Hampshire
8) North Dakota
Apparently, Utah is the best place to die. I've been to Utah and would wholeheartedly agree. If Im not mistaken, Utah is a Ute Indian word meaning land of salt and boredom. According to Mormon folklore, Utah is the land nobody wanted. But the Mormons yearned for a place where they could practice their religion without interference from the outside world, so they settled in the barren desert and set up shop. They frown on alcohol and gambling, but tend to have lots of kids -- not much else to do.
As reported above, based on longevity Utah was third, behind Hawaii and Minnesota, as the number one state in which to live. In Utah, you will live longer than almost anywhere else in the country and its the number one place to die (based on the above criteria). If you are a Latter-day Saint, you will fit right in. If you are any other form of Saint, you should probably practice your sainthood elsewhere.
The following states are at the bottom of the list. If you live in one of these states, you might consider moving to Salt Lake City and joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
46) New Jersey
Birth is a blessed gift, death is inevitable and everything else in between is up to us. You can either live life to the fullest or screw it all up. In the end all that truly matters is the impact, or lack thereof, you left on the world. But don't worry too much about the end of existence in this dimension. It's just another phase we go through on the eternal sojourn of the soul into the Infinite.
And eternity is a very long time, especially toward the end.
Quote for the Day "Either he's dead or my watch stopped." Groucho Marx
Bret Burquest is the author of 12 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where earthy women roam in hilly terrain.