I do not know why I am so averse to the idea of living in another metropolis at this point in my life. Perhaps I have been worn down by the physical machinations inherent to big cities - the pollution, the grid-lock, the overcrowding, and the noise that all come together to grind its inhabitants down into submission. Perhaps the machinations I wish to escape are of a more spiritual nature, for the big cities I have lived in were all, each in their own way, veritable hives of dark desires, vulgar materialism and ruthless ambition. Perhaps I am merely longing for a place where I might experience a genuine sense of community, a place where you are not just a forgotten face in an ocean of forgotten faces. Whatever it is, one thing is certain - I do not want to live in a metropolis now.
As much as I wished to avoid large urban centres, I was also reluctant to live in a place that might be to small or too secluded. If I were alone, I do not think I would mind it, but to place my wife and son in a tiny village cast off from the rest of the world did not seem prudent to me. Hence, I knew I had to make an acceptable compromise.
I would need to find a small-to-medium size town far enough away from a bigger city to escape its gravitational pull, yet close enough to be within its orbit. The town would need to have some of the modern amenities we have become accustomed to - supermarkets, banks, post office, shops, fitness centre and transport links - but could not be a pre-planned, soulless corporate subdivision existing in the countryside like some kind of bizarre and pointless lunar base. The place would need plenty of green spaces and places for walks and quiet contemplation. It would need to have architecture that uplifted. One or many old churches with functional belfries. An open air market. Everything would have to be accessible on foot making automobile ownership optional.
I found all of this in a town in Northumberland and happily rented a three-bedroom terraced house near the town centre. Now, whether or not I will find whatever experience or feeling I yearn for by choosing to live here rather than a large city like London remains to be seen, but I can tell you this: It has been splendid thus far.