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Where you live has a big impact on happiness and health

When my husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Washington for his job, I saw only the cons in our new city: Overcast skies, solemn monuments and women wearing an accessory I’d forgotten about from junior high dances: Pantyhose. The humidity was oppressive, the gray a wet blanket.

I wanted to move back to Los Angeles, where the sun gave a warm welcome, the open sky made me feel free and purple flowers hung like grape clusters from the jacaranda trees.

Ron wanted to stay put. Facing off, we planted our feet and tried to pull one another in opposite directions, a tug-o-war.

We weren’t dealing with mere whims. Where we live is a matter of medical interest. Geospatial medicine, sometimes called geomedicine, studies how location affects our health and well-being. Just as a person has a genetic DNA, a person has an environmental DNA, says biologist and geographer Amy Blatt, author of “Health, Science, and Place.” “I don’t think people take into account how importantly a place impacts their health until it’s too late,” Blatt says.

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