Some time ago I was talking to a fellow foreigner about the quality of life in the city we live in. Our impressions were both quite positive, even though my hometown is 30 times smaller, while he comes from a metropolis that is more than twice as big. He asked me what my ideal living place would look like. I listed a few characteristics. He was quite amused because, in his opinion, those qualities contradicted each other. My list included, or would include: + silence (unsurprisingly) + clean air and closeness to nature + extensive and frequent public transport, since I don't use wheels, and an airport nearby + availability of good food (especially fresh produce) + possibility of intellectual exchanges + presence of interest-based groups I could join
So far, the job (or school) factor has overridden all my preferences on the place to live. I know there are many people who move first and then find a job, but I can't say I would be able to do that - the anxiety would be overwhelming. There are also a lot of students who choose their study place only because they like the "vibe" of the city, and I find that a little irresponsible. Nonetheless, I, too, found myself craving a change of environment, to escape one that was either sensorily overwhelming or socially miserable (in my terms, obviously).
I am generally inadequate at handling social life as NT's define it, preferring to spend quality time with friends on a one-to-one basis and in small doses. At the same time, I enjoy events and activities that don't require much or any interaction, like coding sessions, conventions or individual sports trainings. In these occasions, deep talk is by far more common than small talk. Conversing with people about common interests is often pleasant and sometimes even enriching, and thus worth the effort. I find this kind of setting more suitable to me because I can join in "passively" in the beginning, and then decide whether to interact. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find this outside the big city. Smaller towns often don't have the critical mass for such interest groups to form beyond the bonds of existing friendships, and if they do, they advertise mostly by word of mouth.
The sensory part is, in my case, rather subtle. I am fortunate not to have serious sensory issues, but I can feel the effect of a noisy, polluted and excessively hot environment on my body all too well, affecting my sleep, mood and level of energy in the longer run. Like for many other Aspies, getting adequate sleep is no easy task for me, and a rigorous sleep hygiene does not completely offset adverse environmental factors.
I wonder how other Aspies think about ideal places to live. Like always, please feel free to add a comment to this post.