How do you decide where to live?

Over the last two years, Sam and I have talked about moving elsewhere. Georgia has almost no consumer protections for citizens, has a crappy support structure for humans in just about every way you can imagine, and has law enforcement who don’t care to enforce laws unless you’ve got enough money to get their attention. Essentially, we want to live in a blue state, which means leaving the Bible belt. Cooler weather would be nice, too. Less humid heat, at least, would be a relief.

We haven’t really made plans, not wanting to uproot Katie while she was in school and so on. There’s a lot of inertia, too, since I’ve been here all my life (except for the few years in Alabama before my parents moved us to Atlanta). Sam was born here, and wasn’t thrilled with New York or New Jersey when he lived there. Our families are here, which means something, even if we don’t see them that often.

But more and more, I want to be somewhere else. I’ve started looking for work as I get closer to completing my degree, and I can’t help but think, “Yeah, but what if we move?” In my head, it’s even starting to be, “What about when we move?”

I have an assignment for school this week, in which I’m supposed to research the job market somewhere else in the U.S., pretending that my spouse/partner is being transferred there. Since the professor isn’t assigning locations, I decided to make it a little more useful. I took the quizzes at Find Your Spot, which seem to be a bit more thorough than the “paste the results in your blog” varieties, and was quite surprised at the results. FWIW, I don’t remember any questions about political leanings. They were about the kind of weather you prefer, how important arts or spots or shopping is to you, the industry in which you work, and so on.

Oregon. Oregon, Oregon and Oregon. Of the top 24 suggestions, six cities are in Oregon: Portland, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Medford, and Bend. Wow.

I know nothing about Oregon, other than the fact that it’s in the Pacific Northwest, on the coast between Washington and California. It has the Silicon Forest area. It has a higher cost of living than Georgia, but just about everywhere does.Okay, maybe Alabama or Mississippi are lower, but who wants to move there? They have an anti-gay marriage law. Ick.

A few of the other places on the list can be dismissed out of hand. I don’t want to live in D.C., nope. Chicago and Milwaukee are cold! I’ve never really thought about Connecticut or Rhode Island. Husband v.1 and I talked about Massachusetts a little, because he wanted to go into marine biology and Woods Hole is there. Albuquerque is a mystery, other than remembering Bugs Bunny telling us to turn there. California? Eh. I’ve been to Maryland, but just to Rockville, not Baltimore.

I don’t really know how people go about finding a place where they want to live. It seems that they mostly get transferred somewhere, or move to go to school, or in a few cases move to the center of a particular industry. Have any of you really evaluated different states and made a deliberate choice to move there?

I’d like to avoid extreme weather, especially, say, hurricanes. Humid heat is tiresome. A decent economy is important, and Sam and I both work (have worked, prefer to work) in high-tech companies. Mass transit is important, since I’m not driving. Mass transit pretty much means cities, doesn’t it? Health care is a big factor, but anywhere that has high tech companies should have hospitals and the like, right? Less crime than Atlanta would be lovely. More acceptance of non-Christian people would be dreamy. Am I silly to think that there will be fandom, gamers, and filkers in just about any city?

10 comments

  1. XtinaS says:

    Okay, maybe Alabama or Mississippi are lower, but who wants to move there?

    No one smart.

    Portland is fantastic.  Green in culture and vegetation, good with parks and art, great place for beers.  The weather rarely gets that extreme – we get winds, due to being close to the coast, but they’re not too bad.  The worst that has happened is flooding.

  2. Steve says:

    No I have never specifically looked into some place to move to just because I wanted to live there. As you said every time I moved in my life but 1 was job related and that 1 was to make a LDR local (yes, when I moved to Alabama to be with Gwen).

    However having now lived in 10 different cities covering pretty all of the regions of the country except the Pacific Coast and North Western states I do have a but of insight into what you will find.

    “I’d like to avoid extreme weather, especially, say, hurricanes.”

    Harder to avoid than you’d think. Every part of the country is prone to some type of extreme weather to one degree or another. Probably your best bet for avoiding truely extreme weather would be Southern California but you still Have Santa Anna Winds, occasional temperatures over 100 Degrees, and when the weather cooperates the threat of Earthquakes. After that the Mid Atlantic and Appalachian states are likely your next best bet where the severe weather is at least rare.

    “Sam and I both work (have worked, prefer to work) in high-tech companies”

    These exist in just about any city with a population over a million. Some are better than others but don’t necessarily shy away from smaller to mid sized cities in the mid west. Sure there are fewer IT related jobs, but there are also fewer people with the skills to be able to take them on. I’ve also found that the IT payscales in the Rust Belt portion of the midwest comes very close to matching that found on the coasts with the cost of living being significantly cheaper.

    “Mass transit is important, since I’m not driving. Mass transit pretty much means cities, doesn’t it?”

    Yes, not just cities but BIG cities. Sure any city of any size will have some sort of mass transit system, doesn’t mean it would be a worthwhile one. It is a fairly safe bet that if the city has a population much less than about 3 million that it cannot support a meaningful mass transit system.

    “Health care is a big factor, but anywhere that has high tech companies should have hospitals and the like, right?”

    Yeah, pretty much everywhere but small towns is going to have at least a couple of pretty decent hospitals.

    “Less crime than Atlanta would be lovely.”

    Not all that hard to achieve, Atlanta has one of the higher Crime Rates in the country. In fact you’d be almost hard pressed to find one worse than Atlanta. Detroit, St Louis, LA, NY, Houston, New Orleans would be right out but Atlanta may be 7th on the list after those.

    “More acceptance of non-Christian people would be dreamy”

    This pretty much restricts you to the coasts, Minnesotta, Wisconsn, and a few of the larger cities in the interior of the country (Austin Texas, Denver Co, is pretty open and accepting from what I remember, a couple of others but I’m not certain what they would be), for the most part the rest of the center of the country could be termed Jesusstan.

    “Am I silly to think that there will be fandom, gamers, and filkers in just about any city? “

    Yes and no. It is a safe bet that in any city of any size there will be at least a few geeks, filkers are somewhat rarer being only a very small subset of the group known as geeks. The problem is whether you can find geeks who are over the age of 15, are willing to accept us old folks, have time to add new friends into their lives, and that you can get along with.

    As an example we have lived here in Louisville for a little over a year. We have met a couple of other geeks but been essentially unable to make any friends while we have been here. I know you and Sam are better at networking and making friends than we are and you don’t have young kids to scare away 20 something geeks but you do have to accept that if you leave Atlanta it may be 2 or 3 years before you can build anything resembling a community of friends. Heck it may even be more than a year before you could find anyone else to game with.

    I don’t know a whole lot about Portland but it does seem based on what you are looking for that it may be a good fit. Boston is another one that might work for you. Honestly if it weren’t for the winter weather Minneapolis would be perfect for the two of you (it is probably the coolest city I have lived in in this country) but the weather would rule it out. Phoenix might work but I don’t remember it having a very good Public transit system (of course it was almost 20 years ago when I lived there so who knows what it is like now) but those are the only ones which could possibly give you most of what you were looking for.

    Of course if you moved to Louisville you’d have a ready made gaming group and being a hiring manager there is a chance I might be able to help with a job search (if not in my department at the very least I’ll know of all of the IT openings in the company) 🙂

  3. Dena Shunra says:

    Well, Portland Oregon has got to be just about my favorite city in the U.S. – both to visit and to think of moving to (although realistically, I’m probably staying put for the foreseeable future).

    When we were picking a place to move to, from outside the U.S. back into it, we wanted a place with views and a “sense of place” sort of feeling. We wanted weather, but not too much of it. We wanted a place that wasn’t quite a big city, but not too impossibly far from a big city (we failed on that one. TWO HOURS from the city. Eeek!)

    You know where we ended up.
    What we found out after arriving here is that Washington is a southern state, in terms of accent and “feel” – there’s a slow pace and a sense of hospitality that makes it very pleasant to live here. A cordiality. Manners. (Does that makes sense?)

    Portland’s public transit system is beyond awesome. It is a beautiful city to look at. Most important, it is full of educational opportunities, which make it a good option for when Katie proceeds into college. It has a lovely, lovely library (now that MATTERS in a city). It has all those freaky bridges… …but most of all, it has a vibrant, open-air “feel” to it.

    I see a vacation in Portland in your future…

  4. cyn says:

    Thanks to all of you 🙂

    Minnesota and Wisconsin were both on that list, Steve. They were higher when I went back and was less wimpy about the weather. Sioux Falls, SC was on top then, though—eeek!

    We do know some lovely people in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, if we plotted them all out on Frappr or the like, we know people all over this country and at least two others. Emigrating is unlikely to work, but we’d certainly like to meet many of you in person (or see you again, in Steve & Chris’ case).

    I don’t travel well, but it would be silly to consider a move without visiting the target location.

  5. Purr says:

    We’re talking about moving to Portland, too. (Actually, I think 90% of the country is. It’s almost growing TOO fast.)
    The weather is decent, but the people can be… odd. If you are REALLY interested, join up on the ‘damnportlanders’ LJ community to get to know the people, places and attitudes. I highly recommend it, but the population boom is going to bust sooner or later.

    As for the “anti-gay marriage” topic… there was legal action this week along those lines. As of Monday morning, domestic partnerships are allowed. You might want to Google up some of the news reports.

    If you can telecommute, or even commute ($80 round-trip airfare to Seattle and Portland areas) North Idaho is mild, smaller, and has a lot of personal-right protection laws that DO get enforced. No point in voting here, since the big politics is down on the other “populated areas” down south with the conservatives. The real day-to-day living though is never compromised by the negative Urban legend stuff that the rest of the world hears about.

    Just tossing out some ideas.

  6. Hope says:

    I’ve generally moved for jobs of living arrangements, myself. But right now I’m at a place in my life where I reasonably could choose where I want to live, and could save up to move if that’s what I chose to do. I’m not at all sure how I’d make that decision!

    I’ll certainly be interested in the process you and Sam use, if you do pursue living somewhere else 🙂

  7. amqueue says:

    I’m sorry to see that you’re not willing to consider the northeast. I was going to suggest Pennsylvania. Lower cost of living, I’ve been told that Philly has a decent transit system, and near enough to other useful places.

    Yes, if you need mass transit you need serious metro areas. I’m not sure how many of them are in your climate range.

  8. Ariah Fine says:

    having grown up in Madison and now living in Minneapolis I’ll have to give another vote for either of those states and cities, also Chicago is pretty swell.

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