I’ve been really amused over the last few months with some discussions about the best (or at least better) place to live. Currently it’s focused on the city of Pittsburgh or the Central Florida area. The debate between Florida and the rest of the country always seems to be a more heated, emotionally-intense debate.  It may have to do with some subconscious rivalry between the snowy north, and the almost year-round summer in the south–with the occasional tropical storm risk in Florida thrown in as the wild card.

I see these debates differently now than I did a decade or two ago.  I have some thoughts and insight I want to share, with the hope it will help you see these type of debates from a different perspective.

The late American humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a book entitled “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” Ironically, when we get into debates about what location has the best combination of being the better place to work, live, socialize and play, we are hoping to discover that greener pasture for the next phase of our life.  And I am sure the debates are also to uncover how much manure we are going to have to put up with for that greener pasture, which everyone understandably wants to minimize.

Over the course of my post-High school life, I have lived in eight cities.  Clermont Florida, the most recent, has been a really good experience.  It’s one which I am very thankful for, but it’s also the one which I could not understand why it was so good for me.  I had visited Florida on vacation before, but did not expect it to be so enjoyable and a great fit for me as a place to live.

And, strangely, I began to understand why during a recent trip to Europe with my family. We visited the Austrian town of Kaunertal at the end of skiing season. The town is in a valley surrounded by the Alps, with the skiing on a slope at a 10,500 foot elevation. At the ski shop in the town, I spent a few minutes talking with the young man who was helping us with the rental equipment. He was born and raised in the town, and is an avid snowboarder. And ski season was ending in the Alps in less than a week.

So I asked him, out of curiosity, what he was planning to do in the off-season. The ski shop does close down for the summer, after all. His answer surprised me a little: he was going to go to Chile for 5 months. I asked him why because, to me, it seemed like an odd choice. He pointed out that the Andes mountains in Chile where he goes have some of the best snowboarding in the world. And he takes this trip every year.

And then I considered something I had not thought too much about before: imprinting. For the part of the world he grew up in, winter sports are awesome.  So being able to travel to (or better, escape to) another winter sports location while your hometown is warming up continues the fun.  And when it starts warming up in that other location , go home again–a perpetual winter.  He had grown up in winter, and it was in his blood.

I spent the latter part of my youth in Los Angeles, in the desert heat.  I didn’t have snowy winters, just a little cooler weather than summer.  So after having lived there and in Texas, I was very used to (and enjoyed) warm climates.  For the next 20 years, I spent time in colder climates, and then I moved to Florida.. and my imprinting as a teenager kicked back in.  No wonder I love Florida life so much.

So the next time you hear a debate about Florida or some other area of the country being better, there’s way more to that debate than just the facts.  Even the debaters have their reasons for their positive or negative reactions to different areas of the country–from their own imprinting.