THE BLOG
03/09/2012 04:30 pm ET Updated May 09, 2012

Quality of Life: Does a Good Quality of Life Mean Money?

A friend who I'll call Brian crashed with me recently. He's been living abroad for a while since his business is handled entirely online and his cost of living is much lower there. He sees me buying things on sale and eating at inexpensive cafes. Knowing I'm a freelance writer with no steady income and I can write from anywhere, he insisted I should move out of NYC to a state or even a foreign country with a much lower cost of living than midtown Manhattan.

His rationale is that I'd have a much better quality of life since my money would go a lot further if I moved. Brian is a spender. He likes to go out to eat all the time and enjoys many costly activities which he uses to measure quality of life. I immediately defended my lifestyle. More spending money would not improve my quality of life since I consider what I have to be wonderful the way it is.

He was confused. "But you watch your spending. You could spend a lot more in a much cheaper city." "On what?" I asked. He was more confused. He happily spends on restaurants and partying and buying stuff in every city he lives in. In that moment, I realized how blessed I am to have found what makes me happy. Brian needs to do things that cost money to enjoy his life. I don't. His quality of life corresponds to how much money he has to spend. When he's short on cash, he's short on happiness. When my money is tight, I still love my life.

Since I've learned to love and appreciate me, my contentment is constant. Yet Brian doesn't understand why I prefer to spend so much of my income on my fairly high rent. I explained that if I lived elsewhere, I wouldn't have my loved ones nearby, or get to run in Central Park, or be active in the organizations I enjoy being part of, or be able to walk almost everywhere I go. And I wouldn't be able to breathe in the energy that I love so much in Manhattan. For me, that's a great quality of life. I don't need extra spending money like Brian does for that.

What do you consider a good quality of life? For me, it's living in a place I love, being healthy, having good friends, loving what I do for a living, paying my bills and having enough money for what I want -- and I don't need a lot. So much of what I love to do doesn't cost much. I never feel a lack because I have less money. Brian does. I'm grateful for my life. Brian doesn't think about gratitude. He's too busy seeking his next amusement. I know many people with lots more money than I have who are miserable. Often, the more they have, the more they want. That's not a good quality of life in my book!

We see celebs like Whitney Houston, allegedly drugging themselves to mask their pain. Shouldn't they be happy if money means a better quality of life? But it doesn't. We all have to define for ourselves what makes us happy. I'm sure I'd enjoy having a lot more cash, but not if I have to relocate to achieve that. The common component in my view for a good quality of life is being happy. If money makes you happy, that's fine. But would you be happy if you had less? I would! As long as I can pay my bills and enjoy my cheap cafes, the rest is gravy. More money won't change that!

For more by Daylle Deanna Schwartz, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.

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