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Old 08-04-2010, 10:54 AM
 
Location: St Paul, MN - NJ's Gold Coast
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Baltimore.
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Charlotte
626 posts, read 1,026,043 times
Reputation: 491
St. Louis. Very cool city and very overlooked.
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
1,372 posts, read 2,795,045 times
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Cleveland would be the optimal choice ... a great urban city with vast cultural amenities. You get alot of "bang for your bucks" in Cleveland.
Columbus would also be a wise choice for you. Good luck as you continue your quest.

Last edited by JohnDBaumgardner; 08-04-2010 at 11:24 AM.. Reason: x
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Seminole, FL
519 posts, read 815,081 times
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I don't really like it, but I would throw Houston up there as well. Places like Austin, Tampa, Richmond, etc. could also fit the bill. Milwaukee and several other northern midwest / rust-belt cities may work. Although I've never been there, I've also heard good things about Omaha, Lincoln, Boise, and Kansas City. A key that I would (and am) look for is the proximity of a major college. Big colleges bring in all kinds of culture including: lecturers, museums, plays, athletics, concerts (both classical and modern styles), and typically some funky restaurants / things to do.

As a general rule of thumb:

Big cities will have the amenities but will be too expensive to live decently on a retail budget without a bunch of roommates and eating cheap carbs all the time.

Very small cities will tend to be cheap but will not have the amenities. However, many of these are starting to get some amenities, it just depends on how much and of what quality is important to you.

Your sweet spot is probably going to be the middle-sized cities of roughly 500k - 1million or so people (Raleigh, Pittsburgh, Austin, Milwaukee, Baltimore, etc.). These are typically big enough to have a reasonable amount of amenities but not so dense as to cause the cost of living to skyrocket.

Additionally, anything in the midwest, especially northern midwest, is discounted in price. However, that comes with limitations (the reasons for the discount / not as many people want to live there). The landscape tends to be boring to people that didn't grow up there; you have to go a very long way to get anywhere outside of your city and have to really plan a vacation (no weekend trips to the ocean); the northern parts can get very cold and have very long winters; the wind, cold weather, salt (from roads), etc. can cause many buildings and cars to start looking run down much more quickly. Due to cheap land, these areas also tend to be more heavily focused on "old world" style jobs such as warehousing, shipping, manufacturing, agriculture, etc. than other US cities. IMO they also tend to have some fantastic, kind, down-to-earth people. Personally, I just cannot deal with the winters isolation.

Anything near the coast, especially in CA or the north east tends to have a price premium attached to it.

These are all just general guidelines though. Each place is different.
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Old 08-04-2010, 11:43 PM
 
Location: Manhattan
1,168 posts, read 2,535,491 times
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Chicago and Philadelphia by no means have a low cost of living, but it is less expensive compared to similar cities. In terms of culture, Chicago offers just as much or more cultural amenities than Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and DC, but is far less expensive. Philadelphia offers a great deal of cultural amenities as well, and benefits from being so close to New York. I've always felt that Chicago and Philadelphia are the best cities in terms of overall value.

For a truly low cost of living city with a lot of culture, Pittsburgh and Cleveland are probably the best options. Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Dallas are good options as well.
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:53 AM
 
7,598 posts, read 9,455,321 times
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As others have mentioned, Chicago, although not cheap, is a better cost-effective place than the NE and California; it also has a subway system that includes some 24/7 lines..

You might also consider college towns, such as Madison, Austin, etc. Many of these generally have some big-city amenities without some of the drawbacks.

Personally, I'd be a little wary of Philly and Baltimore; many areas are not the greatest..
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Cleveland, OH
3,844 posts, read 8,032,797 times
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Cleveland
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh

The average rents for one bedroom in each city are:

Cleveland: $650-$850
Philadelphia: $950-$1200
Pittsburgh: $750-$950
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Cleveland, OH
3,844 posts, read 8,032,797 times
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After reading, I really thing you should take a look at Cleveland. It has exactly what you specifically list, plus it's absurdly affordable.

Here's my Cleveland pitch:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cicada View Post
What cities / towns have a reasonable to low cost of living,
Cleveland is generally considered the most affordable city in the US:

America's Favorite Cities 2009 - Categories - Type of Trip - Affordable getaway - Travel + Leisure
http://www.positivelycleveland.com/M...adlines_id_262

Quote:
Originally Posted by cicada View Post
but with lots of amenities such as museums (both art and history)
Cleveland Museum of Art (world-class) The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland Museum of National History Home Page

Quote:
Originally Posted by cicada View Post
performing arts
Playhouse Square (2nd largest performing arts venue outside of NYC -- all theaters built in the 1920's-- a.k.a -- gorgeous!) Playhouse Square
Cleveland Orchestra is widely considered among the best in the world and is a part of the "Big Five" in America: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_(orchestras)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cicada View Post
and nice restaurants (not chains)?
Cleveland has Iron Chef Michael Symon, and TONS of locally owned resturants. It's actually difficult to find chains in downtown Restaurants - Cleveland Independents (http://www.clevelandindependents.com/wp/?page_id=10 - broken link)

Not to mention, numerous of local ethnic places, including Little Italy:
www.littleitalycleveland.com/restaurant.html


Quote:
Originally Posted by cicada View Post
I am currently in Raleigh, NC, and I think that it fits this definition reasonably well. Most apartments are out of my range, but I can still find a decent affordable place on retail wages, and within the whole Triangle there are multiple museums, theatres, hopefully a contempory art museum opening sometime, and H&M Also like the grass-roots festivals such as SPARKcon.
There are a ton of grassroots festivals in cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Philadelphia. Here is a list of some of the Cleveland events and festivals: Cleveland Summer Events 2010

Ironically, Cleveland a building a brand new MOCA, designed by renowned London architect Farshid Moussavi: http://blog.cleveland.com/architectu..._by_farsh.html

And we have 3 H&M's in metro Cleveland

Quote:
Originally Posted by cicada View Post
The things I wish Raleigh did have: better public transportation, a more condensed urban core (everything is so spread out I feel like I am driving all the time), a more diverse landscape, and a larger or perhaps easier-to-find singles population.
Cleveland has Rail, BRT, "Trolley," and Bus

Map of Rail line: http://www.riderta.com/pdf/maps/System_Map_Rapid.pdf (broken link)
Map of entire system: http://www.riderta.com/pdf/maps/System_Map_Main.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by cicada View Post
I don't mean to start a pro/con Raleigh thread, just wondering what other cities fit this bill. Based on research so far, it seems like Chicago and Pittsburgh might be possibilities.

Thanks!
Both of those cities would be good options, but don't forget Cleveland, OH!

Last edited by costello_musicman; 08-05-2010 at 02:37 PM..
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
2 posts, read 1,811 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinablue View Post
St. Louis. Very cool city and very overlooked.
I lived in St. Louis for 4 years, but I had to move back to LA. I don't like to use the term "Slow Pace" but the segregated culture of the city I wasn't very fond of. Especially coming from a melting pot like Los Angeles. But is it cheap, yes! I miss 2BD/2BA apartments for 750/mo. LOL
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
2 posts, read 1,811 times
Reputation: 10
What about Dallas, TX? I hear the cost of living is low and the culture is high.
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