Do you get told what the good life is, or do you figure it out for yourself?
Posed by a middle-aged lifestyle migrant who left a corporate career, this question invokes the theme of Opting for Elsewhere that emerges from stories of people who chose relocation as a way of redefining themselves and reordering work, family, and personal priorities. This is a book about the impulse to start over. The accounts presented involve new expressions of old dreams, understandings, and ideals. Whether downshifting from stressful careers or the victims of downsizing from jobs lost in a surge of economic restructuring, lifestyle migrants seek refuge in places that seem to resonate with an idealized, potential self. Choosing the option of elsewhere and moving as a means of remaking self through sheer force of will are basic facets of American character forged in its history as a developing nation of immigrants with a seemingly ever-expanding frontier. Stories told here are parts of a larger moral story about what constitutes the good life at a time of economic uncertainty coupled with shifting social categories and cultural meanings. Brian Hoey provides an evocative illustration of the ways these sweeping changes impact people and the places that they live and work as well as how both react—devising strategies for either coping with or challenging the status quo. This stirring portrait of starting over in the heartland of America will initiate fruitful discussion about where we are going next as an emerging postindustrial society. Available (for pre-order) from Vanderbilt University Press and Amazon.