Having lived in both Perth and Geraldton, and a few other metropolises of varying shapes and sizes, I often wonder what would be an ideal city size/location/climate/whatever to suite my tastes.
For people who have only ever lived in Geraldton, it's easy to grow blind to the things that living in a place like Geraldton has to offer. The only things that occur to you is what is lacking, or what is done better elsewhere.
There are trade offs wherever you choose to call home.
But it never ceases to amaze me how many people spend many a year in Geraldton, move to Perth for the perceived benefits, and end up back in Geraldton a few years later with a big sigh of relief and newfound gratefulness for the town they once criticised.
I was standing at the corner of Durlacher and Champan Rd the other day (near Maccas) and just watching Geraldton's biggest "pain in the butt" intersection. And the thought occurred to me that if this was the worst intersection in Geraldton, then we've got it pretty good.
I know other people have different tales, but finding a job in Geraldton has never been a difficulty for myself. And if per chance the job is 15 minutes away from home, it's considered a long way. And skilled workers are harder to come by in Geraldton, and so they're worth their salt.
Then there's the parking. Here in Geraldton, we're so spoiled for easy parking that we think if we have to park and walk 15 minutes to get to our destination, we'll just keep driving and go back home. Yet paying $20 for 2 hours parking and then walking another 25 minutes to get to the shop/office is par for the course when making a short trip into Perth CBD.
There are certainly things the hospitals in Perth have that we lack in Geraldton. But if we're honest, the frequency with which we call on those things is infrequent enough to warrant a trip to a larger city.
90% of the things 90% of the people do, are available in the Geraldton area. Shopping, movies, dining, pubs, etc.
Does Perth have more choice? Certainly. I grew up in Perth and am not bagging it as a place to live. In terms of large cities, it is world class and has managed to avoid many of the pitfalls other large Australian cities have fallen into.
Considering the recent population growth it has endured, the traffic is still fairish. The cost of living is not as bad as it could be. It gets lots of large named artists visiting. It has the best of facilities in terms of health care. There are plenty of jobs. The beaches are beautiful. The city centre is gorgeous, overlooking the Swan River, and Kings Park is an invaluable asset to all.
At what cost?
From where I sit, one just has to ask him/herself whether the additional features of a larger city are worth the trade offs you need to make.
Enjoying an outdoors lifestyle is more challenging in a large city. Mere mortals cannot afford acreage within cooee of the city, or a home of any description within a suburb from the beach.
Ridiculous travel times every day to work, school, church, friends' homes, going out etc eats into your free time to actually enjoy the very things you were hoping to have access to in a large city.
The money you save by having easy access to cheap department stores like K-Mart comes in handy when you need to fuel your car up once (or twice) per week instead of once every three weeks.
The wonderful transport system in Perth is fantastic. Except you can't find anywhere to park at the overcrowded train station, where your car is less safe than some of the perceived "unsafe" areas of Geraldton.
So what's better?
Clearly, humans generally prefer to put up with those short comings in order to gain access to all the perceived tangible and intangible benefits of living in a large city. Heck, there's just something magical about being in a city with millions of other souls all going about their lives.
But it's worth taking stock every now and then of what you have where you live, what you'd lose by living somewhere else, and what being in a place like Geraldton offers that no large city can EVER give you.