Relocation Summary: The Grass Isn’t Always Greener


As my preceding blogs on relocation have indicated, the decision whether to relocate is a difficult one with which many chemically sensitive people grapple. I have seen relocation work well for some people who are fortunate enough to have sufficient funds to buy a property in a relatively unpolluted area and then build a house with less toxic materials, but most people do not have enough money to make all the right choices to increase the probability that their relocation will work. 

I am familiar with several cases in which people relocated to more arid regions of the western United States, which seemed like the right thing to do at the time but the move didn’t help all that much. Eventually they returned home, where they were able to gradually overcome many of their symptoms through reducing their toxic exposures and eating healthy and organic food to the degree that they could afford it. And they could wake up each day feeling as if they were no longer in exile.

For most people, I think that if your current house or apartment has problems that make you feel constantly sick, then carefully choosing a better house or apartment in your extended present area has many advantages. For one thing, you remain close to your family and friends. Even though your chemical sensitivity or requests that they don’t use fragrances may have strained your relationships, these are at least people who might be willing to provide help when you need it. They also know what you were like before you developed multiple chemical sensitivity.  

If you decide that going to live in the desert is the solution to your problems, bear in mind that everyone you meet there will know you only as a person who is sick enough that they felt they had no choice but to pull up stakes and move. So many people have ruefully mentioned in the stories they have written for me how much they regret the fact that the new people they meet don’t realize what an active and capable and sociable person they used to be. “This isn’t the real me” is the refrain that runs through their stories.

We all thrive on positive social interaction. I suspect that one has a better chance of gradually improving one’s health when one is able to socialize with others, and this will be easier in a community where you have lived for an extended period of time.

If you remain in a geographic area with which you are familiar, you are less likely to make mistakes, like buying or renting an apartment that is close to the site of the old town dump or that is downwind from a place where they burn tires. 

Having said all this, I want to close by saying that to relocate or not relocate is a decision about which all of us should hesitate to speak with any real assurance. Everyone’s situation is different, so my basic message is just that you shouldn’t feel pressured by a physician or other health care professional or someone else who tells you that you will never get well unless you head to the desert.