Quality of Life
We have a choice with remote work
Now that many of us can live wherever we want, what is most important for you? For me, it is a healthy environment, good services, and good weather. But numbers one through three are healthy air, water, and food.
My mother died of emphysema, so I am perhaps more aware of air quality than most, and where you live is critical. The three things our bodies consume constantly are air, water, and food, and together they likely have at least eighty percent to do with how healthy we are - focusing on these three factors is smart, and where I spend most of my time optimizing.
We can choose to live where the air quality is good, maybe even pristine. Where it is easy to get natural, pure water, without added chlorine or other chemicals. Where we can obtain high-quality foods that are grown organically and without additives or harmful contaminants.
For most of my life, I have only consumed mostly untreated spring water, and done my best to eat whole, natural foods. I figured this was giving me the biggest bang for my buck (along with constantly reducing stress), but recently it dawned on me that I was neglecting the thing my body consumes the most, air! Not that I never thought about this but I assumed living in Boulder the air was of a better quality than most other places. I was wrong.
Boulder's Dirty Little Secret
Living in Boulder I assumed I was breathing pristine mountain air, but that is false. The latest State of the Air study done by the American Lung Association shows the Denver metro area (which includes Boulder) to have the 10th worst Ozone pollution in the United States, and Ft Collins which is north of Boulder comes in with the 19th poorest Ozone levels. This was something I suspected but never researched thoroughly. Ozone is one component of poor air quality, particulates being the other, and the Boulder area does not do so well on that count either. We decided to move.
Finding a new home was more challenging than we thought. We decided air quality was important, but if we were going to the effort of moving we wanted good weather and recreational opportunities too. Because we work remotely the entire country was on the table. In addition to ruling out poor air quality we also decided weather was the next most important factor. Despite loving Austin, TX we decided it was too hot during the summer and the air quality was only average as opposed to good or excellent.
Weather versus Air Quality and Proximity
Of course, California wins hands down for weather but loses to air quality. Hawaii wins hands down on air quality and comes in a close second for weather (only because it does get a bit hot in the summer) but is too far away from the rest of the country. Colorado wins location because it is smack dab in the middle of the country and has a great airport. Austin has all these things at a "B" level but none at an "A" level. We were getting frustrated and could not decide which category to compromise until we decided air quality was first, weather was second, and proximity was third, sort of. By that criteria, Hawaii should win easily but it is an "F" for proximity and it looked like Florida was going to be the winner. It is an "A" for air quality and weather but more like a "C" for proximity.
Snow for Christmas and Pueblo, CO
My largest real estate project is in Pueblo, Colorado and a variety of interesting things caused me to investigate air quality further. First, my daughter was very upset about Christmas without snow. Then, my wife did not want to be too far from her parents who live in Boulder. So I went back to the charts in the State of the Air and found out something that blew my mind - Pueblo is the 13th cleanest city in year-round particle pollution.
Now Pueblo does not get that much snow but it is still right up against the Rocky Mountains so if you want more than a few inches of snow for Christmas all you have to do is drive an hour into the mountains.
Full disclosure, I have a large residential community that we are building in Pueblo, but this does not change the fact that Pueblo is one of the least recognized areas in the United States with the greatest number of assets. This will be proven out in time.