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View Poll Results: If Santa Fe is my ideal, but it's not a realistic option right now, what is my best real option?
Albuquerque 20 45.45%
Denver 4 9.09%
Other (please write in) 5 11.36%
Just move to Santa Fe, stupid. 15 34.09%
Voters: 44. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-01-2008, 01:21 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Brief bio (for those who haven't already heard my spiel): I'm a 22 year old guy, born and raised in Denver, just spent the last four years in Phoenix getting a college degree from Arizona State (home of the Sun Devils ). Right now I'm temporarily living in LA, going to school here for a 1 year master's degree (in accounting). I graduate next May, and then I start my life in the real world. I'm NOT your typical young guy. I could care less about clubbing, drinking, partying, city action. I'm into the outdoors, hiking, bicycling, exploring the great Southwest, eating tasty food. I think of all the places I've ever been to, Santa Fe, New Mexico comes closest to the most beautiful and enjoyable town I've ever seen. (even more than Las Vegas... which is somewhat outdated screen name of mine). It's certainly one of the most unique places I've ever seen. I've been to Santa Fe about four times. I think if money was no object I could happily live in Santa Fe. But I also want a career. I'm going to school to become an accountant (at least for the next forseable 5 years at which point I'll re-evaluate how things are going), and want to work for at least a relatively large accounting firm (either a Big Four firm or a large regional firm). So it goes without saying that living in Santa Fe is not a practical option at this point in time. At least it doesn't appear that way.

You know, I've been thinking things over lately-- for the last year or so I've expressed some interest, off and on, about moving to Albuquerque. I've been through Albuquerque half a dozen times, but have actually stayed there and explored the city four times. I like Albuquerque, but I still don't know enough about it or like it quite enough to be able to decide that I want to live there right now. My plan now, and it's been my plan for several years, is to move back to Denver to start my career. I'm about 90% sure this is what I'm going to do. That other 10% possibility is Albuquerque. ABQ is actually just big enough and growing just fast enough where it can be a viable option for me career wise, if I want to make it one. From the job research I've done, it appears that the pay would be less than Denver but I could still make a fairly decent living there. But I'm wondering, am I interested in Albuquerque for what Albuquerque is, or is it really Santa Fe that I'm thinking subconsciously in my mind when I'm thinking of Albuquerque (even though I've been to both and know the differences)?

What would a "big city alternative" to Santa Fe look like? Here are some criteria:
  • A climate and physical landscape that most closely approximates Santa Fe's natural location-- Denver more than any other major city most closely approximates the temperature averages of Santa Fe in both summer and winter. Look this up on weatherbase.com, it's quite interesting. But Albuquerque, while hotter, a different temperature alignment (due to lower elevation), most closely approximates the local weather patterns. Mountains that at least roughly approximate the Sangre de Cristos (again, Rocky Mountains west of Denver seem to be the closest thing there is).
  • Close proximity to Santa Fe. Being able to drive there within a day's drive without a big problem. Being able to be close enough to head down there spontaneously for a long weekend without needing to make vacation plans months in advance. Thus we're talking a city in the four corners states. I guess in theory a city in west Texas or Oklahoma may count.
  • Santa Fe-style New Mexican food and culture-- Albuquerque seems to offer this the most.
  • A vibrant southwestern style arts community-- Albuquerque also seems to offer this. Although there is actually a Santa Fe Dr in Denver with a section south of downtown Denver that includes several blocks of art galleries and even Santa Fe themed restaurants such as the Santa Fe Tequila Company. Much of this may very well be superficial, but it's worth noting.
  • Similarities in the architecture (although admittedly this can be the most superficial)-- again, Albuquerque seems to be the most similar. Phoenix to a somewhat lesser degree.
  • A place that while not a carbon copy of Santa Fe, offers destinations where people want to visit from all over-- Denver does remarkably well in this camp-- places like Boulder are also very touristy. Then there's tons of fun towns to explore in the foothills and mountains-- Golden, Idaho Springs, Central City, etc... each offering something different.
  • Pinion pines and junipers; high desert landscaping-- Albuquerque seems to offer the most similar kind of landscaping. Denver isn't 180 degrees different, but there are some subtle and not so subtle differences that let you know you aren't really in the desert southwest, even though you're close by. Pueblo, Colorado, a town about 1:30 south of Denver, is the closest thing I've seen in Colorado to a "New Mexican" style city.
  • A place that may be different or similar to Santa Fe, but like Santa Fe, it's an awesome place to live!

And if it's really Santa Fe that's on my mind, but I'm looking for a big city alternative to Santa Fe, then might Denver also happen to be a good alternative? Would it be even better than Albuquerque? And then there's the overarching question-- while I'm looking for a certain degree of Santa Fe-ness, overall quality of life matters more than just trying to copycat the traits of another city. So the city that's the most genetically similar to Santa Fe is not necessarily the best alternative to Santa Fe. But if the city with the closest geographic proximity to Santa Fe (aka Albuquerque) also happens to be a great place to live, then it's a win-win situation! I don't know... what do you guys think?

ps-- Phoenix is out of the question-- I've experienced full blast what that place is all about, and I simply cannot take that degree of heat. LA is out of the question too; I just don't feel comfortable here. Tucson is another city I really like, but from what I can tell it offers nothing career wise; Albuquerque actually has superior career opportunities compared to Tucson.
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:09 AM
 
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
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In my opinion, there is no big city alternative to Santa Fe.

I love Albuquerque, I even like Denver, I like some other cities, but as an alternative to Santa Fe?

No way. Santa Fe is unique.

In my opinion.

I guess if I were you and felt like I could not afford to live in Santa Fe, I would live in Albuquerque.
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:21 AM
 
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Have you ever been to Austin, TX? It's not like Santa Fe, but it does have its own "vibe", is a big city, and has lots of outdoor sports opportunities.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Santa Fe
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Why the need to work for a large accounting firm? If your heart is set on this, look at working in Albuquerque and living in Santa Fe. The Rail Runner will be operating by the end of the year and you can ride it to work. Or contact some of the accounting firms here and feel them out.

Now is the best time for you to move to Santa Fe. You are single and just starting your life in the "real world". No ties, no attachments. If you wait, life and commitments can get in the way.

At the end of your life when you look back you only regret what you didn't do, not what you did do. You will learn that being happy is much more important than making a lot of money. If you feel living in Santa Fe is what you want to do, do it! You are still so young that if it is not a good decision you can always move.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:42 AM
 
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I second Loborick...excellent post!
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:33 AM
 
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Maybe Portland, OR. I am not sure, Santa Fe is pretty unique, the City Different!

San Francisco? Probably Sevilla, Spain or Zacatecas, Mexico!!!
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loborick View Post
Why the need to work for a large accounting firm? If your heart is set on this, look at working in Albuquerque and living in Santa Fe. The Rail Runner will be operating by the end of the year and you can ride it to work. Or contact some of the accounting firms here and feel them out.

Now is the best time for you to move to Santa Fe. You are single and just starting your life in the "real world". No ties, no attachments. If you wait, life and commitments can get in the way.

At the end of your life when you look back you only regret what you didn't do, not what you did do. You will learn that being happy is much more important than making a lot of money. If you feel living in Santa Fe is what you want to do, do it! You are still so young that if it is not a good decision you can always move.
Actually, you could very well be right-- I might just be assuming that I couldn't get a good job in Santa Fe when I haven't fully investigated that possibility. I don't know if working for a large accounting firm is really a necessity, or if that's just what's been drilled into my head in this program I'm in. I still have some battles within my mind to work out. I totally agree with you that being happy is the #1 most important thing. Keep in mind though, that to most of my colleagues here who plan on working in LA, and some plan on going to NYC and Chicago, Denver is considered a small town. They probably consider me an under-achiever for thinking about working in Denver. These people complain there's nothing to do in San Diego-- a city of about 3 million people, even larger than Denver, about 4 times the size of Albuquerque and 30 times or so larger than Santa Fe. I'd be willing to bet the half the people in my class have never even heard of Albuquerque before, probably don't even know what state (or what country for that matter) it's in, and wouldn't even consider for a moment's notice living in a place "so small." The administration and career recruiting center here would probably laugh me out the door if I told them I wanted to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They'd probably laugh at me out the door if I told them Albuquerque-- which is still a very good sized city.

This is the kind of environment where most people here don't even want to give the "mid tier" accounting firms a moment's thought (some of these firms still can have 100 or more people working in one office-- and Albuquerque actually has several of this size firm), only Big Four, Fortune 500 companies, or nothing to them. Why-- because starting salaries at the Big Four can be upwards of $10,000 more than at a mid-tier firm. And some people are choosing to go into tax instead of financial accounting, and when I ask for their reasons the #1 thing I hear is that tax salaries are on average a few thousand more... not that they necessarily enjoy tax more. And I strive to have my own mind (that's why I'm on this forum-- to help think things out-- and torture other city-datians in the process. ), but undeniably you are influenced by the people you are surrounded with. It's not just my classmates; it's the professors, the administration, my parents, family, and friends-- everybody has their personal differences but they more or less think along the same lines. It's almost like I've been led to feel guilty for even considering the possibility of living in New Mexico-- even in New Mexico's largest city. I feel I may have made a mistake choosing this school as the whole environment is just not in tune with my personality. I'm really not a snobby private school rich kid by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm not turning back-- I'm going to finish this 08-09 school year, graduate, and then move on.

I think if I were working in Albuquerque I would live in Albuquerque, get to know the city, see if I like it, and only then if I just couldn't contain the desire live in Santa Fe and commute. It's a great thing to know that Albuquerque and Santa Fe will have (or will have soon) the RailRunner. I wouldn't even consider driving on I-25 the distance between ABQ and SF every day, with the way gas prices are and knowing how dangerous that stretch of road is. And I'm not discounting the possibility that I may end up loving Albuquerque-- even more than Santa Fe perhaps. I'm sure that living in a tourist town day in day out is a different world than visiting on vacation. It's just that from the experiences I've had so far, Santa Fe is what has ignited the passion.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:59 PM
 
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
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Vegas -

I will reply in a more general, direct, global sense to your question in a separate post later tonight, but there was a part of what you are indicating here that I really wanted to hit on, and I felt it deserves its own separate post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
Keep in mind though, that to most of my colleagues here who plan on working in LA, and some plan on going to NYC and Chicago, Denver is considered a small town. They probably consider me an under-achiever for thinking about working in Denver. These people complain there's nothing to do in San Diego-- a city of about 3 million people, even larger than Denver, about 4 times the size of Albuquerque and 30 times or so larger than Santa Fe. I'd be willing to bet the half the people in my class have never even heard of Albuquerque before, probably don't even know what state (or what country for that matter) it's in, and wouldn't even consider for a moment's notice living in a place "so small."
Here is the crux of why you are having such a dilemma with considering where you want to live.

Honestly, for most, choosing to relo to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, other towns in New Mexico, etc. - is pretty much the ANTI-attitude of the one you are describing above. Folks that *don't* care as much about being "hip" by living in a "huge, trendy city". Folks that appreciate the uniqueness and laid-back-ness that involves living in NM and not needing that extra $5000 on your paycheck to find fulfillment in your life. Folks that would rather sit quietly by themselves in a foothill of a mountain to take in the majestic quiet, beauty, and serenity than going to the most hip place of the week and dropping $100 to be seen.

See, I am an old fogey compared to you (in my young-30s), but hey, I am kind of a mid-level professional; I think I am not a complete professional disaster (have worked in pro sports, at a major university, etc.) but to me, I have always kind of given to cr*ps ultimately at the end of the day what my specific salary was, or what my specific job title was. I have always had the attitude that you know what, if God is gracious enough to me, I will be alive for what, 30, 40, 50 more quick, scant years...why kill myself with my job. My job is a means to live (spend time doing things I love to do, spend time with my family, etc.).

So for me and my interests, ABQ was a perfect type of town. Sure, I am sure I could eek out a few more thousands of dollars in salary living in a bigger city market, and sure, if I took a more stressful, more hours-intensive job, I assuredly could make an even higher salary. But to me, I am just big on the quality of life of a smaller sized city like ABQ - rarely have to sit in traffic, rarely have that overly-materialistic, cutthroat stressful lifestyle to contend with, can actually afford a nice house with (gasp!) a backyard, etc.

I truly, honestly, in my heart of heart burn with anger when I hear people talk about a Denver "being a small town with nothing to do" or Milwaukee or Albuquerque. That is one of the most uninformed, naive, ignorant and frankly unintelligent things I think someone could say. Some probably don't know better, but so many I really, truly think say it because to them - like being seen at a hip club or working for X company at X salary to afford their fast trendy new car - is just for attention and a show. They are trying to fit a current day societal "do this to be hip" lifestyle, and whatever.

The next time someone says something to you so absolutely amazingly absurd like "there is nothing to do in little San Diego", start to grill them to give you specifics. Seriously. I mean honestly, what in the hell couldn't you do in a San Diego that could go do in LA or Chicago? Now, of course there'll be regional specifics (if you like x-country skiing, of course, you could do that in Chicago but not SD)...but I am talking things *due to the size* that you would be missing out on.

Sure, huge city X might have particular museums or whatever that the slightly smaller city doesn't have (although I would be my bottom dollar that the smaller city has some damn decent alternatives of their own), but honestly, how often are you going to do stuff like that? Chicago my have 3,000 good Greek restaurants and SD only 100 good ones (and ABQ only 4), but again, how many Greek restaurants are you going to eat at realistically every week?

I guess my point is - look, if people really, honestly really prefer living in a city of 8-million or 15-million, fine, whatever. That's their prerogative. But it is purely ridiculous to act like a city of 3-million metro or 1.5-million metro or 800K metro leaves one with "nothing to do."

And it is purely ridiculous and ignorant to see the quality of life virtues that living in a smaller big city offer. Less stress. Much less time of life wasted by sitting in traffic or waiting to catch the next train. More affordable cost of living. More access. Easier airports.

(I always love that whole mentality too of "well, I really want to take the job in San Fran over smaller city X because I can make $10K more". Well sure, but what is that $10K going to do for you in the city - take you to a small 1 BR apartment where you could've afforded to buy a really nice house in city X even with $10K less). Frankly, it doesn't make sense. If one just wants the personal "thrill" of living in a big city or prefers it, all the power to them. But don't knock cities with 500K+ metros as "small cities with nothing to do" as that is just beyond foolish.

I have stated repeatedly that for my tastes, interests, Santa Fe is too small for me to live in. Frankly, a city of ABQ's size to MKE's size is just about perfect for me, although I could do a Denver too. YET, just because I say that, I am not presumptuous or dumb enough to then say "there is nothing to do in Santa Fe", as, most assuredly, there is a whole lot to do there.

I know you know all of these things and largely I am just preaching to the choir, but this one topic really hits my cord.

Maybe it is because I have lived much of my life with Chicagoans always so darn eager to pull their Napolean complex and take out their inferiorities on the "easy target north" - Milwaukee - as they always get such satisfaction out of pointing out how small Milwaukee is. But then they go back to their lifestyle of living in a small cramped apartment, going through 2 hour daily white-knuckled commutes, and despite being big Cubs fans, rarely being able to go see them play because it is so expensive and unrealistic or accessible to hit Wrigley Field often. Yet, here in "little Milwaukee" who they so eagerly like to talk down on its size (trying to talk themselves into feeling better about living in just a massive mass), I can afford a freaking home, have a comfortable 15 minute one-way commute, and can easily access going to a Brewers or a Bucks game at affordable prices.

Are there advantages to that huge city? Sure. But folks are so foolish if they don't realize the huge advantages to these "little cities".
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Old 08-01-2008, 04:10 PM
 
Location: Surprise, Az
3,496 posts, read 8,345,361 times
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Santa Fe is unique...

Cities that are close but not fitting in to your plan are
Taos, NM
Ruidoso, NM
Sedona, Az

I wouldn't put Albuquerque in their category...

Albuquerque is more like Mesa, Tucson, or Denver...

Las Cruces is another unique city to consider...
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:18 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Excellent post, EnjoyEP! I'm looking forward to your more personally directed reponse to my question later. I'm telling you, this website is like therapy to me.

I think what you're saying about the advantages of medium sized/small cities to giant mega cities is a similar analogy to mega sized international Fortune 500 corporations vs working for a smaller but still big company (that still might be a large company and even some international presence, just not on the Fortune 500 list). Or a big company vs working for a small, local business. I don't see why you couldn't still have a satisfying, challenging career just because the companies you work for aren't at the top of some list. Likewise, I'm sure there are tons of large companies that are also great places to work. Quality can exist at many different levels. Unfortunately, as you've also seen, some people just don't "get it" and think bigger always = better.

I actually do get somewhat defensive (respectfully) when people here say San Diego has nothing to do. Or that it's not a "real city." San Diego at least is only two hours south of here so many people at least do know what they're talking about. But the further inland you talk about, the more geographical ignorance people have. Before I came here I used to think it was just a straw man argument, but no, people here really do have a "bicoastal" mentality; they think the whole center of this country is nothing but "flyover country." If there's one city in the middle that people are familiar with, it usually doesn't extend any further than Chicago. Even Chicago isn't really on the radar screen of most New Yorkers or Angelinos. I think I can definitely feel the heat you Milwaukee guys receive from the Chicagoans. There are a heck of lot of former Chicago (usually Chicago suburbs) people living in Phoenix-- and LA.

Now, bringing this back to Santa Fe-- here's another way for me to state the question, since obviously Santa Fe is the "city different" and I didn't necessarily ask for the city that's *like* Santa Fe-- because obviously there isn't one. There's only one Santa Fe. Let's put it this way: Let's say you were someone who has lived in Santa Fe for a long time and really enjoys the community; however, you just lost your job and don't realistically think you will be able to be gainfully employed in Santa Fe any longer. You've looked at all the options and it doesn't look like Santa Fe will become viable again until retirement. To stay employed in your chosen field you will have to move to a city of at least 500,000 people. You've resolved to leave Santa Fe, but don't want to go too far away geographically (so you can go back to visit family at least several times a year without needing to get on an airplane) and don't want something that's completely foreign anyway; at least enough regional similarities to provide some feeling of a home away from home. You also figure that if you're going to move away from Santa Fe, the economy of your new place has got to be much bigger, more diverse, and faster growing than what Santa Fe offers, not just a slight incremental improvement. Which city do you choose?
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