Normally, when planning a move to a new city, we’re told to consider things like the local cost of living and the quality of public schools before taking the leap. While the people who tell us these things are right, that doesn’t change the fact that more often than not, we choose where we want to live based on a location’s terrain and climate. For instance, some folks have a preference for flat terrain and warm, sandy beaches, while others would rather make their home a chilly, mountainous region.
As it turns out, we’re not just drawn to these different kinds of terrain for aesthetic reasons—these preferences are determined, largely in part by our personality types.
Researchers at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology have found that there is a link between introversion and extraversion and terrain preference. In their study, the researchers found that participants equated secluded and wooded terrain with peace and quiet, and they associated flat terrain with excitement and stimulation, finding open conditions to be more “sociable.” More specifically, 75% of respondents preferred the ocean to mountains as a social venue, with slightly more than half saying they’d prefer mountains as a good place to be alone.
Not to mention, introverts just overwhelmingly choose to live in mountainous areas, the study authors say.
"Some cities and towns have geography that is more accommodating for some people than for others,” says lead researcher Shige Oishi. “If you know you're introverted, then you may be rejuvenated by being in a secluded place, while an extrovert may be rejuvenated more in an open space."
For introverts looking for a new city to call home, we’ve rounded up several of the nation’s best mountain cities.
Salt Lake City, Utah
One of our 100 Best Places to Live for three years in a row, Salt Lake City has won a few other Livability awards over the last couple of years, including 2016’s 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs and 2015’s 10 Best Downtowns. Not only are there national parks and ski resorts where residents can enjoy outdoor recreation, but Salt Lake City is home to the 2002 Winter Olympics legacy facilities, including the Utah Olympic Oval and Utah Olympic Park.
Home to hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails and plenty of options for skiing, rock climbing, white water rafting, and other outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that Boulder is also in our 2016 100 Best Places to Live. Also noteworthy is Boulder’s status as one of the 10 Best Cities for Foodies.
Asheville, North Carolina
Another one of the 10 Best Cities for Foodies, Asheville actually has a “Foodtopian Society,” and a slew of restaurants and breweries to reflect that. For outdoor recreation—because you don’t want to just look at the mountains—Asheville has an abundance of popular golf courses and zipline tours. Of course, if you’re not into that, there are plenty of places to hike, as well.
Los Alamos, New Mexico
One of our Best Small Towns in America for four years in a row, Los Alamos has over 120 different hiking and biking trails and also offers residents easy access to the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. There’s also the Bandelier National Monument, with 50 square miles of preserve and 70 miles of hiking trails.
One of 2015’s 10 Best Places to Retire, Charlottesville is home to a plethora of historical sites, including the homes of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. Shenandoah National Park is also nearby, where you can take in some great scenery and some great hiking.