Sunday, April 08, 2007

What makes me happy?

dualdogwoods
dualdogwoods,
originally uploaded by ocracokewaves.
I have lived lots of different places during my life, rural North Carolina, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Columbia, Maryland, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ste. Croix Cove, Nova Scotia to a farm in the wilderness of central New Brunswick, Canada.

Figuring out what makes you happy at any given point in your life is always a challenge. I spent a good part of my childhood trying to get away from North Carolina or Mount Airy to be specific. Now I am happy living in North Carolina.

A few years ago, we got the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Mount Airy area. It felt like home. As we started looking for a place to spend the next ten years, we started spending lots of time looking in North Carolina.

Spring in North Carolina or southern Virginia is a pretty special time. These pictures of my family's home place in Mount Airy capture some of the spring feeling just as the Dogwood picture in the post does.

While the beauty of spring or these inviting waters near Emerald Isle, NC might attract you to an area, to be really happy, you need more than a beautiful spring or warm ocean waters.

In the end it is the people of an area, perhaps even the culture of the area that ends up being the most important factor. I have found friendly people in almost every area that I have lived. Some of the most supportive neighbors that we ever had were on our wilderness farm in Canada.

However, from that perspective I think parts of North Carolina and parts of Virginia where the local culture and traditions still survive are among the friendliest places that I have ever seen. The openess of people and the willingness to help are rare traits that are a little harder to see the farther north you go or the deeper you get into urban areas.

I think a couple of places that I have lived in Canada have helped me understand what makes this possible. One was Ste. Croix Cove, Nova Scotia which was a very isolated coastal community where the same families had lived for years with little change. My welcome to the community there was someone running down my Labrador Retriever on purpose. Outsiders while welcomed by some, were distrusted by most. It was as beautiful a place as you have ever seen in the summer, but when you don't feel welcome in a place, you might as well move on. We did.

The next place we lived was in the wilderness about twenty miles north of Fredericton, New Brunswick. We had farm of two hundred acres. We were welcomed by the community with open arms. The difference I believe was that Tay Creek had seen and accepted new comers for many years. They were viewed as the life blood of the community. We spent eleven wonderful years there and made some great friends with whom we still communicate.

I think much of rural and small town North Carolina and Virginia are similar. They have seen many changes and have adapted to them. By in large, people are very accepting of people with different backgrounds.

So if I had to put one thing high on my list of being happy, it would be acceptance by neighbors. We have had it in Roanoke, Virginia and in Cape Carteret, North Carolina. Both places have stunning natural beauty on top of friendly people.

While you might have to search for the right neighborhoods in a particular area that are open and friendly to newcomers, it is well worth the effort. Talking to the neighbors in your potential new neighborhood is also an important step in evaluating what will make you happy.

With one foot on the mountain and the other in salt water, I live in great neighborhoods both in Cape Carteret and in Roanoke. As a RealtorĀ® I would be glad to help in Cape Carteret or refer you to a good RealtorĀ® in the Roanoke or Blacksburg, Va. area.

If you are interested in Roanoke, you can check out my View from the Mountain blog. If you are in interested in affordable coastal living in North Carolina, check out my Coastal Paradise blog.

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