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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.1 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?


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

10 comments to How do you decide where to live?

  • 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.

  • Steve

    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) 🙂

  • Dena Shunra

    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…

  • cyn

    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.

  • If I just use pod­cast­ing or gam­ing as a fil­ter, I’d choose Seat­tle, Phoenix, or Upstate NY. Hmmmm.…interesting.

  • Purr

    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.

  • 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 🙂

  • amqueue

    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.

  • cyn

    We haven’t ruled out the north­east, AMQ. I appre­ci­ate the sug­ges­tion 🙂

  • 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.