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View Poll Results: Which one is your personal choice to live in for the long-term?
Chicago 58 43.61%
Boston 37 27.82%
Philadelphia 38 28.57%
Voters: 133. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
Old 05-11-2015, 05:28 PM
 
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As someone from the Boston area but currently living in Chicago, the Boston vs Chicago question is one I have been wrestling with lately (though not so much Philadelphia).

Here's my take:

As a city, I prefer Chicago. It offers more to do within the city than Boston, and for a significantly lower cost of living. As another posted mentioned, Chicago is probably the best "bang-for-your-buck" city in the English-speaking world (overall I would say it's Berlin) in terms of what it offers for what it costs to live there. The food in Chicago is incredible. The fine dining options are great, and only a hair below New York, and in terms of the "average" restaurant, I think Chicago's average restaurant is actually better than New York's, and I've spent a decent amount of time in New York. In Chicago there's this remarkable ability to walk into any random restaurant and eat an excellent meal, and there are so many amazing places that my list of restaurants to go to keeps growing faster than I can go to them. Chicago also has great nightlife, probably #2 in the country after New York in my opinion (I don't like the vibe of Miami/Las Vegas style nightlife), and all of the other late-night amenities that come with being a truly BIG city like 24-hour stores and diners. Chicago is also simply beautiful - it's in contention for having the best skyline in the world.

That said, Boston is a great city, and more importantly, New England is just a lot more interesting of a region than the upper Midwest. Day-trip and weekend trip options in Boston are great, I would say it's up there as one of the best cities in the country for short trip options. You have great beaches, awesome mountains (for the east coast), New York only 4 hours away, Montreal only 5 hours way, and old towns with real history and buildings from the 1600's and 1700's. I also really prefer the suburbs and towns of Boston to Chicago. Chicago and the midwest in general have a lot of cookie-cutter suburbs. Boston has old suburbs with actual character and real downtowns that aren't just chain stores. Boston is also improving in a lot of the categories that it currently loses to Chicago in. The late night subway service was recently expanded and now runs until 2:30am, and the Boston restaurant scene is definitely improving quickly. It's also still a top-tier city in terms of most of the urban amenities Chicago offers, just not quite as good.

What I've realized is that as I get older, I'm leaning more towards Boston over Chicago. Chicago is a better place to be in your twenties, but I think Boston is a better place to be from age 30 on. As I care less and less about 3am and 4am bars, Boston gets more and more attractive. In terms of non-late night amenities, I think Boston is pretty similar to Chicago, with the exception of Chicago's truly excellent restaurant scene. The Boston area also beats the Chicago area hands down in the higher education department (important as I'm going to grad school soon), and elementary/high school education department (important if you want kids). It's also a much safer city, and in terms of long-term economic outlook, Boston and Massachusetts are looking much better than Chicago and Illinois (it doesn't help that both Chicago and Illinois are completely broke).

Finally, there's weather. From personal experience, Chicago winters are colder and longer than Boston winters. I never minded winter in Boston. Here, I do mind it - November in particular bugs me as it routinely drops down to 20 degrees before Thanksgiving in Chicago. That doesn't really happen in Boston. You also don't really get those arctic days below 10 or even below 0 degrees in Boston, except maybe one day every 2 years or so. In Chicago those happen multiple times every year.

I love Chicago, but I think this one goes to Boston for me. That said, it's close. I haven't been to Philadelphia enough to really comment on it. It seemed nice, but it didn't "grab" me as a place I'd want to live.
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Old 05-11-2015, 05:39 PM
 
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Philly is a little bigger and has a little more of a big city feel. But, overall, I find Bos and Philly to be in the same tier. The headline city difference 1.5 mil vs. 600k isn't very reflective of how they feel in practice. Boston is a small city by land mass and is surrounded by many dense suburbs (Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, parts of Brookline, and so on) that would be part of the city proper in most states.

I think the MSA pops 4.7 mil vs. 6 mill is a more accurate reflection of how they feel in size. Philly is maybe 25-30% bigger, not 3x the size. Plus, the "greater downtown cores" feel pretty similar to me.

I think the main difference isn't the size, but rather Boston is a little more white collar and expensive, while Philly is a little more blue collar and affordable (for a big urban city).

Chicago, on the other hand, is in a higher tier than either Bos or Philly. It is noticeably bigger and has a lot more too see and do from a city perspective. Now of course, big isn't always better and I can see how people would prefer Bos or Philly over Chicago.
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:24 PM
 
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Chicago. Lots of nice suburbs. Not to mention I can't understand Boston accents very well. I wouldn't wanna deal with that on a daily basis.

Philly isn't bad either, but I like Chicago better.
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Old 05-12-2015, 01:53 AM
 
Location: New Orleans, LA
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I'd go with Boston (even though quite honestly I do not like the main city of Boston) because I love Cape Cod, Salem, Providence, and the topography of MA. That is one beautiful state to me.
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Old 05-12-2015, 05:26 AM
 
Location: Austell, Georgia
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I would have to go with the hometown Chicago on this one. Philadelphia would be 2nd, which is my favorite city in the Northeast.
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:43 AM
 
5,807 posts, read 10,362,817 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WinsingtonIII View Post
As someone from the Boston area but currently living in Chicago, the Boston vs Chicago question is one I have been wrestling with lately (though not so much Philadelphia).

Here's my take:

As a city, I prefer Chicago. It offers more to do within the city than Boston, and for a significantly lower cost of living. As another posted mentioned, Chicago is probably the best "bang-for-your-buck" city in the English-speaking world (overall I would say it's Berlin) in terms of what it offers for what it costs to live there. The food in Chicago is incredible. The fine dining options are great, and only a hair below New York, and in terms of the "average" restaurant, I think Chicago's average restaurant is actually better than New York's, and I've spent a decent amount of time in New York. In Chicago there's this remarkable ability to walk into any random restaurant and eat an excellent meal, and there are so many amazing places that my list of restaurants to go to keeps growing faster than I can go to them. Chicago also has great nightlife, probably #2 in the country after New York in my opinion (I don't like the vibe of Miami/Las Vegas style nightlife), and all of the other late-night amenities that come with being a truly BIG city like 24-hour stores and diners. Chicago is also simply beautiful - it's in contention for having the best skyline in the world.

That said, Boston is a great city, and more importantly, New England is just a lot more interesting of a region than the upper Midwest. Day-trip and weekend trip options in Boston are great, I would say it's up there as one of the best cities in the country for short trip options. You have great beaches, awesome mountains (for the east coast), New York only 4 hours away, Montreal only 5 hours way, and old towns with real history and buildings from the 1600's and 1700's. I also really prefer the suburbs and towns of Boston to Chicago. Chicago and the midwest in general have a lot of cookie-cutter suburbs. Boston has old suburbs with actual character and real downtowns that aren't just chain stores. Boston is also improving in a lot of the categories that it currently loses to Chicago in. The late night subway service was recently expanded and now runs until 2:30am, and the Boston restaurant scene is definitely improving quickly. It's also still a top-tier city in terms of most of the urban amenities Chicago offers, just not quite as good.

What I've realized is that as I get older, I'm leaning more towards Boston over Chicago. Chicago is a better place to be in your twenties, but I think Boston is a better place to be from age 30 on. As I care less and less about 3am and 4am bars, Boston gets more and more attractive. In terms of non-late night amenities, I think Boston is pretty similar to Chicago, with the exception of Chicago's truly excellent restaurant scene. The Boston area also beats the Chicago area hands down in the higher education department (important as I'm going to grad school soon), and elementary/high school education department (important if you want kids). It's also a much safer city, and in terms of long-term economic outlook, Boston and Massachusetts are looking much better than Chicago and Illinois (it doesn't help that both Chicago and Illinois are completely broke).

Finally, there's weather. From personal experience, Chicago winters are colder and longer than Boston winters. I never minded winter in Boston. Here, I do mind it - November in particular bugs me as it routinely drops down to 20 degrees before Thanksgiving in Chicago. That doesn't really happen in Boston. You also don't really get those arctic days below 10 or even below 0 degrees in Boston, except maybe one day every 2 years or so. In Chicago those happen multiple times every year.

I love Chicago, but I think this one goes to Boston for me. That said, it's close. I haven't been to Philadelphia enough to really comment on it. It seemed nice, but it didn't "grab" me as a place I'd want to live.
Here's my take:

Sure New England maybe overall a little more scenic and interesting than the Upper Midwest, but compared to the Western US, New England and the Upper Midwest look relatively similar.

With the exception of the highest mountains of New England or Upstate New York, any scenery or outdoor experience that can be had in Vermont or Upstate New York can be experienced in Wisconsin. Northern Michigan generally feels a lot like Maine. The big difference is that there is a LOT more small towns that have a much more developed tourism industry and "urban refugee" transplants have transformed many small towns. I think this is overall a good thing. However, in terms of actual physical scenery, Wisconsin and Michigan have places just as great to visit, but they are more well kept secrets, however, I think Wisconsin and Michigan will have a local culture that feels more insular, with fewer transplants and tourists.

Midwest cities get colder in the winter, but northeast cities get more snow. Take your pick.

Chicago and other midwestern cities have plenty of suburbs with historic character and charm.

The one BIG thing I would agree with you however, is that the Bos-Wash corridor allows one to easily travel to experience other major cities. Some NE cities are so close to others that they are part of the same metro area (DC-Baltimore) or in the case of Philly, the proximity to NYC truly is a major selling point. (Boston is a little further, NYC is not a realistic day trip so much).

Chicago safety is very much divided along race. The Chicago that AA/Black people experience is truly a different city than the Chicago that white people experience, sadly. "White Chicago" is probably just as safe as Boston. I think with this point however, Chicago easily has more in common with Philly.

Also, keep in mind that not all people in their 20s want to get sloppy drunk, and many don't care about last call extending past 2am. I'm always a little suspicious about a lot of people talking about how Chicago is way more exciting than other cities. (I can guess as to how they spend their weekends). Chicago and surrounding suburbs have plenty, I mean plenty of areas that are good for families or singles in their 30s. (IE: Lincoln Square/Ravenwsood/Andersonville are mostly people (both singles and couples) in their 30s). You made a good point however, the number of universities that bring in people from all over, Boston has this over Chicago. However, I would add to that, is that it would make Boston also as good for people in their 20s. Getting wasted at 3am is not something everyone is interested in doing.

Anyways, thats my take. I think overall all three cities in fact have a lot in common.
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Boston
7,359 posts, read 15,336,765 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex?Il? View Post
Here's my take:

Sure New England maybe overall a little more scenic and interesting than the Upper Midwest, but compared to the Western US, New England and the Upper Midwest look relatively similar.

With the exception of the highest mountains of New England or Upstate New York, any scenery or outdoor experience that can be had in Vermont or Upstate New York can be experienced in Wisconsin.
Eh, I think you're underselling the Mountains of Northern New England quite a bit. I'm never going to claim it's the same as the Rockies or Sierras, but Wisconsin's highest point is 1900 feet above sea level and has a prominence of 425 feet. It's on par with Great Blue Hill just outside of Boston (which actually has a higher prominance at 485 feet). So the outdoor experience of hiking the highest point in Wisconsin is closer to hiking a hill just outside of Boston than it is to Vermont. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine all have mountains with real alpine environments. There's nothing of the sort in the Midwest. Apline Tundra (above the timberline) environments don't exist anywhere in in Wisconsin. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all have peaks above the timberline.

For the non adventure seeker, there's the views. Nothing in the Midwest comes close to the mountain views in New England. Google Baxter State Park, The Presidential Range, Crawford or Pinkham Notch, Mt. Mansfield, Franconia Notch, etc. There's to much there to just forget about for the sake of a comparison.

I know you say, "with the exception of the highest mountains in New England...", but that's essentially excluding the biggest natural appeal of that region to prove your point. Again, I get that it's not on par with what's out West, but Northern New England is far more rugged and mountainous than anything in the Midwest and you're underselling it by saying it can be replicated in Wisconsin. It can't.

Quote:
The one BIG thing I would agree with you however, is that the Bos-Wash corridor allows one to easily travel to experience other major cities. Some NE cities are so close to others that they are part of the same metro area (DC-Baltimore) or in the case of Philly, the proximity to NYC truly is a major selling point. (Boston is a little further, NYC is not a realistic day trip so much).
New York Day trips are absolutely realistic. I do them all the time as does everyone else I know. Between the cheap and numerous buses, trains and a relatively easy drive, it's pretty simple and pretty common. No, it's not as close as Philadelphia, but Boston-NYC day trips are far from being unrealistic.

Your post also ignores the non- mountain day and weekend trips from Boston. There's very little in the Midwest that compares to Cape Cod, the Maine Coast, Rhode Island's coast, etc. There aren't many communities like Newport RI, Portsmouth NH, Northampton MA, Portland ME, Provincetown MA, Rockport MA, Burlington Vermont, etc, etc, etc, within short distance from Chicago. I know the Great Lakes are beautiful, but they're not the ocean and there's quite a difference.
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:17 PM
 
5,807 posts, read 10,362,817 times
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Originally Posted by lrfox View Post
Eh, I think you're underselling the Mountains of Northern New England quite a bit. I'm never going to claim it's the same as the Rockies or Sierras, but Wisconsin's highest point is 1900 feet above sea level and has a prominence of 425 feet. It's on par with Great Blue Hill just outside of Boston (which actually has a higher prominance at 485 feet). So the outdoor experience of hiking the highest point in Wisconsin is closer to hiking a hill just outside of Boston than it is to Vermont. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine all have mountains with real alpine environments. There's nothing of the sort in the Midwest. Apline Tundra (above the timberline) environments don't exist anywhere in in Wisconsin. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all have peaks above the timberline.

For the non adventure seeker, there's the views. Nothing in the Midwest comes close to the mountain views in New England. Google Baxter State Park, The Presidential Range, Crawford or Pinkham Notch, Mt. Mansfield, Franconia Notch, etc. There's to much there to just forget about for the sake of a comparison.

I know you say, "with the exception of the highest mountains in New England...", but that's essentially excluding the biggest natural appeal of that region to prove your point. Again, I get that it's not on par with what's out West, but Northern New England is far more rugged and mountainous than anything in the Midwest and you're underselling it by saying it can be replicated in Wisconsin. It can't.



New York Day trips are absolutely realistic. I do them all the time as does everyone else I know. Between the cheap and numerous buses, trains and a relatively easy drive, it's pretty simple and pretty common. No, it's not as close as Philadelphia, but Boston-NYC day trips are far from being unrealistic.
I get your point, but the Appalachians do not have true alpine environments. That's not true timberline. The plant and animal life change very little within that elevation range. The barren areas at the tops of those mountains may be influenced by wind exposure and mostly unweathered bedrock, where little plant life can gain a foothold. Its not true alpine environments. Yes, those hills in Wisconsin and Michigan are little compared to what is found in New England, but all the plant and animal life is the same, and you do get windy, exposed, rocky bald areas.

The areas about 10,000 feet in the west truly are alpine environments, with plant and animal life similar to what you find in the arctic.

Here is a thread I created a few months back, with elevation range by state.

Elevation range by state

All the western states were at least 10,000 feet in elevation range, most over 11,000 feet in range. California and Washington were over 14,000.

New York is 5,343 feet, Vermont was 4,300 feet, and New Hamsphire the highest is 6,288.

Michigan is 1,408 feet, Wisconsin is 1,372 feet, and Minnesota is 1,700.

Clearly Upstate New York and New England have a lot more topography than the Upper Midwest, yet for the most part, Upstate NY and New England are a bit closer to being more like the Upper Midwest, than the western states. And as far as plant and animal thee two regions east of the Mississippi are virtually the same. (same sugar maples, white pines, etc.)

Last edited by Tex?Il?; 05-12-2015 at 12:30 PM..
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Old 05-12-2015, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Boston
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex?Il? View Post
I get your point, but the Appalachians do not have true alpine environments. That's not true timberline. The plant and animal life change very little within that elevation range. The barren areas at the tops of those mountains may be influenced by wind exposure and mostly unweathered bedrock, where little plant life can gain a foothold. Its not true alpine environments. Yes, those hills in Wisconsin and Michigan are little compared to what is found in New England, but all the plant and animal life is the same, and you do get windy, exposed, rocky bald areas.

The areas about 10,000 feet in the west truly are alpine environments, with plant and animal life similar to what you find in the arctic.

Here is a thread I created a few months back, with elevation range by state.

Elevation range by state

All the western states were at least 10,000 feet in elevation range, most over 11,000 feet in range. California and Washington were over 14,000.

New York is 5,343 feet, Vermont was 4,300 feet, and New Hamsphire the highest is 6,288.

Michigan is 1,408 feet, Wisconsin is 1,372 feet, and Minnesota is 1,700.

Clearly Upstate New York and New England have a lot more topography than the Upper Midwest, yet for the most part, Upstate NY and New England are a bit closer to being more like the Upper Midwest, than the western states. And as far as plant and animal thee two regions east of the Mississippi are virtually the same. (same sugar maples, white pines, etc.)
I don't think we necessarily disagree about the facts, but I think we view the same information differently. I agree that New England is topographically closer to the Midwest in terms of the elevations and the numbers.

However, I think the experience in the two is quite different. I've already touched on the views. It's hard to argue that the Midwest offers anything approaching the views that New England does in terms of the mountains. No, the Presidential Range, Katahdin, and the Green Mountains may not rival the Rockies, but the rugged peaks and exposed summits are far more mountainous than anything in the Midwest. Moreover, while there may not be "true" alpine areas according to the official definition, the larger exposed summits in New England replicate the experience pretty well whereas nothing in the Midwest does. Most people would say that Knife's Ledge on Katahdin or the summit of Mt. Lafayette in New Hampshire more closely resembles a peak out west than a hill in Wisconsin because that's the experience one gets.

The flaura and fauna may be similar. The elevations of New England may be closer to Wisconsin than Colorado. However, the largest mountainous regions of New England don't have a counterpart in the Midwest in terms of look and feel. There's nothing in Wisconsin that looks as mountainous as Franconia Notch. There's no place in the Midwest where you can experience standing on an exposed summit a mile above your surroundings the way you can on Mt. Washington or Katahdin. I get the numbers and stats, but it's an entirely different feel. I doubt most people who have been to both regions would disagree.
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Old 05-12-2015, 02:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lrfox View Post
I don't think we necessarily disagree about the facts, but I think we view the same information differently. I agree that New England is topographically closer to the Midwest in terms of the elevations and the numbers.

However, I think the experience in the two is quite different. I've already touched on the views. It's hard to argue that the Midwest offers anything approaching the views that New England does in terms of the mountains. No, the Presidential Range, Katahdin, and the Green Mountains may not rival the Rockies, but the rugged peaks and exposed summits are far more mountainous than anything in the Midwest. Moreover, while there may not be "true" alpine areas according to the official definition, the larger exposed summits in New England replicate the experience pretty well whereas nothing in the Midwest does. Most people would say that Knife's Ledge on Katahdin or the summit of Mt. Lafayette in New Hampshire more closely resembles a peak out west than a hill in Wisconsin because that's the experience one gets.

The flaura and fauna may be similar. The elevations of New England may be closer to Wisconsin than Colorado. However, the largest mountainous regions of New England don't have a counterpart in the Midwest in terms of look and feel. There's nothing in Wisconsin that looks as mountainous as Franconia Notch. There's no place in the Midwest where you can experience standing on an exposed summit a mile above your surroundings the way you can on Mt. Washington or Katahdin. I get the numbers and stats, but it's an entirely different feel. I doubt most people who have been to both regions would disagree.
I would agree with this. I think we've come to a consensus. I do agree that the experience is different, having been to northern New England (its been a while), and having spent a lot of time in the Upper midwest (went to school in upper michigan).

I'm just a physical geography nerd (I teach that stuff, so I find that numbers and names of species sometimes trump my experience).

I will also say that supporting your statement about the difference in experience upstate new york and northern new england have an outdoorsy tourism industry and a small town rural culture that has been transformed by back-to-nature, "hippie" folks of urban background moving to those places (as well as other towns along the Blue Ridge mountains like Asheville, etc. that is more similar to cool towns you find in the west coast states, Colorado, etc.

Although the Upper Midwest certainly has outdoor tourism, its very hard to get away from more typical conservative, and "redneck" (snowmobiling, hunting, etc.) outdoor activities, away from the immediate university culture in small towns.

There is no equivalent in the midwest to the culture of Burlington, VT, Lake Placid, NY, Catskills, Woodstock, etc., etc. or the Maine coast. You have Door County, WI and Mackinac island, MI. But these are small areas which is more of the norm of what you find in New England.
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