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Old 07-24-2007, 12:44 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
5,608 posts, read 20,727,189 times
Reputation: 5347

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Hello fellow city-datians! I'm a college student at ASU (Tempe, AZ), who will be graduating in 10 months, currently in a process of scouting out the country for relocation! I'm feeling a little burnt out of the desert southwest, literally. I want to go back to a four-season climate, and a place that feels more like the heart of America than the borderlands. For a while there, my plan was simply to move back to Denver (born and raised there), and while that's still a major option, I want to take a good, hard look at the next two biggest cities on the plains a day's drive east of Denver: Kansas City and Omaha. Well, I guess you could also throw in Wichita as well, although KC and Omaha are more of what I had in mind.

For people who have experienced one or more of these cities, here's what I would like you to compare:
--Economy, job market. Not only how strong is each city, but which industries are growing the fastest? Which is the best for recent college grads?
--Urban amenities-- what does each city have to offer-- especially for a young, smart, outdoorsy and fun loving guy? How do the downtowns and other urban neighborhoods compare? How do the suburbs of each respective city compare?
--Climate, topography, scenery, outdoors recreation areas? Note-- obviously Denver has the Rocky Mountains nearby, and the other cities don't. That's no news to me. But Denver itself is in the plains, not the mountains. I want to hear about what's offered within the metropolitan area itself or in a very short drive away. Let's compare the flat-land, prairie, rivers and lakes, and wilderness areas of each city and the surrounding countryside-- so we're at least comparing apples to apples. Hiking, bicycling, and cross country skiing are my personal favorites.
--Growth-- is the city growing, and how fast?
--Hometown spirit and civic pride-- do people enjoy participating in their community?
--Which part of each city would you recommend I live in, if I were to choose that city?

BTW, I've never been to the midwest/ central US-- ever (other than a 1 hour layover in Chicago). For me, this vast region of the country is the great unknown. I know there are many, many cities there, further east especially, but let's start off comparing Denver with Kansas City and Omaha (and Wichita, too, if anybody would like to comment).
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:44 AM
 
606 posts, read 2,778,651 times
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Denver, the mountains, the skyline, the outdoor activities. the other to aren't too much of a comparison. I might be biased since I grew up in Denver.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:07 AM
 
Location: New Zealand
1,872 posts, read 5,790,163 times
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I don't know about the other aspects, but you cannot compare the outdoor recreational opportunities of those cities and leave out the mountains that sit outside Denver. Why would you compare hiking, biking and skiing within the city of Denver, when a 5-20-minute drive (depending on where you are in the city) will bring you to the foothills for tons of hiking and biking? Nobody (at least nobody in their right mind) would say, "I live in Denver and I want to hike/bike only in the city".

If you are into the outdoors more than the city life, I'd say live on the west side of town (e.g. Lakewood, Golden, Morrison) -- walk/ride to trails from right outside your door. If you're more into the urban lifestyle, then someone else more familiar with the city will have to give you recommendations.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:16 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,016 posts, read 102,649,686 times
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DH is from Omaha, I have spent a lot of time there. It has all the positives and negatives of any big city. Like any big city, it has poverty, areas of town in poor repair and areas of beautiful homes. It has some hip city neighborhoods. It has its downtown lofts. Downtown has an area called "The Old Market", which has boutique-type stores and restaurants. It has a lot of arts offerings: ballet, theater, museums. You could go to the Omaha forum and do a search for pictures. There are a lot of them there. Omaha has some "suburbia USA" suburbs and some nice suburban towns such as Papillion. I'm not sure what the outdoors scene is like; my extended family doesn't seem to be too into that. Again, you could check out their forums. I also don't know much about the economy, but it seems to be OK from personal observation. As to what part of town to live in, you'd probably like Dundee or the area around UNO.

I do not know anything about KC.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:36 AM
 
187 posts, read 968,256 times
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Kansas City is an underrated city, IMO. You have the Country Club Plaza area (link to pics below) with a lot of cool restaraunts, shops, high rise condos and hotels, etc. and right up the road is the nightlife scene of the Westport area and south of the plaza are street after street of beautiful, charming houses, most built before WW2. The job market is also very good there and downtown has a nice skyline. And the housing is cheaper than Denver.

Pic of downtown KC http://www.americaswonderlands.com/i...25mod2-web.jpg

Pic of the Plaza http://www.americaswonderlands.com/i...s22-23-web.jpg

Now KC doesnt have the outdoor stuff that Denver has, but there are some lakes in the area if you are into boating or fishing or any water recreation.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 69,434,810 times
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Denver, then KC, then Omaha.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:12 AM
 
187 posts, read 968,256 times
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And unless you like tornadoes and overall blandness (except for a decent downtown area), pass on Wichita.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:46 AM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
3,742 posts, read 6,909,420 times
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I think Denver is the winner here. It is the largest of these three cities, has the most going on it as far as I know, and you just can't beat the Rockies, especially when you are comparing them to the Great Plains.
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Old 07-24-2007, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
5,608 posts, read 20,727,189 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzz View Post
I don't know about the other aspects, but you cannot compare the outdoor recreational opportunities of those cities and leave out the mountains that sit outside Denver. Why would you compare hiking, biking and skiing within the city of Denver, when a 5-20-minute drive (depending on where you are in the city) will bring you to the foothills for tons of hiking and biking? Nobody (at least nobody in their right mind) would say, "I live in Denver and I want to hike/bike only in the city".
To a lot of people, moving from a big city in the intermountain west to a not-as-big city in the Great Plains states seems absurd. And perhaps it is? My family thinks I'm absolutely nuts just for bringing up the idea. They're not even willing to take a road trip out east with me even to investigate. Coloradans, Arizonans, Californians, and westerners in general have a kind of "superiority complex" against the flat land states in the center of the country. In Denver, making fun of Kansas and Nebraska is practically a sport. People like to dis Aurora, the eastern suburb of Denver, saying that it is "out in Kansas."

Here's why I'm having second thoughts. I'm willing to bet that most big cities in the midwest are better towns than Phoenix (where I'm living most of the year right now) once you strip away the exoticism of the climate and desert landscape. The actual city of Phoenix is not impressive at all. It's getting better, for sure, but I'm willing to bet $20 there is more going on tonight in downtown Kansas City and the Plaza than in downtown Phoenix. I've come to learn that living somewhere just because it has an exotic climate is not as great as it's cracked up to be. Right now, people are heading to Phoenix and the rest of the sunbelt in droves. It's the latest fad. Colorado is also currently very fashionable, for much the same reasons. Some people want coyotes, saguaros, desert sunsets, and tequilas. Some people want the "Rocky Mountain High" and snowcapped peaks. Two different themes, but fundamentally the same thing.

A lot of Denverites might think they are true mountain men, but they aren't. Otherwise they would be living IN the mountains, not settling for living in the plains next to mountains. I've found from experience that when you actually live in Denver full time, your journeys to the mountains basically consist of day trips, driving in and out of accessible parts of the Front Range. I wonder, if you were visting Colorado on a vacation, you would be more inclined to actually want to stay overnight in the mountains, and get more out of it? A poster on the Denver forum who I normally disagree with said it well yesterday:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skwurl View Post
If you're crazy about the mountains, move to a mountain town. Denver is at least an hour from the nearest decent ski area. Moving to Denver for the skiing is like moving to San Bernardino for the beach. Denver isn't what it's cracked up to be, and the suburbs are worse.
I lived in Denver, in the southeast suburbs, continuously for 18 years, and also for summer and winter breaks since then. I'm actually there right now as I type this. I'm starting to realize, Colorado is not what it used to be. Going deep into the mountains every weekend eats up a lot of gas and a lot of money. The traffic on I-70 just to get to and from the high country is sick. The convenient recreation spots and mountain towns within several hours of Denver are getting overcrowded. The slopes are not getting the amount of snow that they used to. The pine forests in the mountains are actually dying as we speak. I was just in the mountains, in and around Breckenridge last weekend, and I couldn't even believe my eyes how many trees are turning brown due to the pine beetle infestation. The entire Rocky Mountains are basically one giant timberbox right now. Everybody has to have their own private cabin right in the trees, making the situation worse.

While Denver itself is a fairly attractive city with trees and greenery, that is only possible because of extensive irrigation. Otherwise the city would look bone dry for most of the year, with nothing but yellow-brown grass. The entire western US is in a drought right now, but no one wants to admit it. I find that a lot of Denverites are schiziophrenic about the very land they live in. Now, even with all these problems, I'm not saying that Denver still isn't the best choice of the three cities I mentioned. But what if I widen the selection? What if the choice is between:

Denver, Kansas City, Omaha, St Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburg, or (we'll throw in the big one here): Chicago?

Then does Denver still unquestionably come up on top?
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:29 PM
 
Location: New Zealand
1,872 posts, read 5,790,163 times
Reputation: 5565
^^^ You're right that doing day-trips into the mountains from Denver can get old. But don't discount the foothills. When we lived in Denver (Lakewood actually), we would walk/bike from our front door to miles and miles of trails. There are tons of Open Space Parks you can access, like I mentioned, between 5 to 20 minutes from Denver. You don't HAVE to go to the mountains proper. So even if you stay in/around Denver, the outdoor opportunities are much greater.

In regards to city life, I couldn't tell you.
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