If you’re anything like me, you get restless. I’ve lived in four places in the last 10 years: Wuhan, China; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Seattle, Washington; and Valencia, Spain. The last two moves were with active Crohn’s disease. I learned a lot throughout those moves, and I wrote about how to move with a chronic illness over at Gutsy Girl Blog. The actual moving was the second step; first, I had to learn how to find locations that would not only be fun to live in, but would also work for taking care of my Crohn’s. Today I’m sharing how to choose a new location when you have a chronic illness.
Talk to Your Doctor About Any Possible New Locations With Your Chronic Illness
The first step when you consider making any big life change is to talk to your doctor. This helps your doctor tailor your care, and she can be a huge resource for you. Your doctor will know where the major research for your condition is being done. Or, she can tell you where the major treatment centers are for your chronic illness. For example, the University of Michigan has a huge IBD center that does research, so Ann Arbor would be a fantastic place for someone with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
Find Locations Where Research for Your Chronic Illness is Being Done
In addition to your doctor, look up where research is being done for your chronic illness or which hospitals have a center focusing on care for your disease. I use Google and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s website. Make a Google My Map and start saving the locations, adding the website for each place. A quick Google search of “IBD center” gave me a long list of specialized care all over the United States.
If you dream of moving abroad, investigate the healthcare situation. In most of the Western world, healthcare is a national program that you can qualify for if you are working in country. When I started dreaming of moving abroad, I looked for the easiest places to get a work visa so I would qualify for the national healthcare. I’m a teacher, so as long as I get hired at a school, my work visa is taken care of. All of my care in Spain has been awesome, and I haven’t spent a penny! It’s been amazing to get the tests and medicine I need without having to budget for medical bills.
Make a Wish List for a New Location
Make a wish list for what you want in a location. Consider:
- After rainy and grey Seattle, I looked for a sunny place and found it in Valencia on the Mediterranean coast.
- I love cities, and my husband likes the countryside, so we found a small city that has the activity I like without being overwhelming for him.
- Airport Convenience/Travel Opportunities
- Flying out of Seattle was so cheap and easy. It has a ton of nonstop flights, and you can get anywhere easily. Valencia….not so much. Because it’s a smaller city, flights are expensive, and there aren’t as many nonstop options. We make it work, though!
- Salary vs. Cost of Living
- There are a lot of online tools that help you compare the cost of living in different locations. This can help you determine what kind of salary you’ll need in the new location. In Seattle, I made almost three times the amount I made in Oklahoma City. While Seattle is MUCH more expensive than Oklahoma City, it’s not three times as expensive, so I had a much better standard of living.
- Maybe you want to live without a car. Or, you want a place with a robust recycling program. I eat a vegan diet, so I look at Happy Cow and search “vegan” on Google Maps to see what the vegan scene looks like. Think about your lifestyle and the kinds of opportunities you want and need.
- Rhythm of Life
- Are you an early bird or a night owl? Keenan and I are early birds, so we have found that the late night culture of Spain is great for a vacation but is very hard to live in for morning people.
- Hobbies and Interests
- Keenan and I chose Seattle because of the outdoor activities available like rock climbing. Now that we love to surf and boogie board, we look for coastal locations….or somewhere with easy access to surf breaks.
Time to Start Looking!
Now that you know how to look for a new location when you have a chronic illness, it’s time to start researching! I’ve created a free printable to help you brainstorm and organize your research. Click here to sign up for the email list, and I’ll send it over right away.
Where do you dream of moving to? Tell us in the comments and share this post with anyone who’s getting antsy for a some new scenery.
Then check out some of the blog’s most popular posts:
- How to Travel with Chronic Illness
- How to Avoid Malnutrition and Dehydration During a Flare
- Probiotics’ Best Benefits
- A Beginner’s Guide to What to Do During a Flare