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Old 11-03-2011, 10:46 PM
 
6 posts, read 5,944 times
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I would like some input on your collective opinion on which city (or cities) I would most enjoy living in based on my personal tastes. Sorry for the lengthiness. Cliff-note version is: Looking for a city that is warm with a nice/clean/new feeling/big downtown, ideally with nice natural surroundings, where I could afford to live in a townhouse with a small yard or a SFH very near the "heart" of the city.

Me: 25y/o white male transactional attorney, long-term girlfriend is finishing up her Psych PhD (we would not move for at least 18 months but want to start traveling to different places). I have a medium-large dog, and for that reason I want to live in a SFH or townhome with a small yard (no condo, unfortunately; even though I would otherwise love to). Basically, we both want to work as little as possible while still making enough money to comfortably afford a nice, new/highly refurbished ~1,500sqft place as close to the heart of the city as possible. We want to spend as little time commuting (whether to work or for fun) as possible and basically want to spend as much of our free time as possible doing things we enjoy (caveat: I really enjoy the work that I do and presently honestly really like my job). We also realize that we have certain preferences, but that no city will be all that close to perfect for us. Major considerations:

Weather: Warm climate; Ideal would be 75-80 degree highs all year. 60-65 is getting cold. Would prefer 90 over 55; temperatures regularly below 45 during the winter are terrible (girlfriend has Reynaud's disease, which basically means she gets cold very easily). Love the sun and long days; dislike high humidity.

Downtown: Nice downtowns are great and important to me. I love architecture and nice highrises/skylines, but also love views of water, mountains, etc. A downtown full of beautiful glass skyscrapers sounds great. Cleanliness and "newness" (or very well-kept old buildings that remain vibrant) are also very important. Cities that are dense (meaning, lots to do on every block) and easy to get around quickly are great. Lots of (non-chain!) restaurants serving fresh foods from all different cultures is ideal. High culture (e.g., museums, art galleries, operas, etc.) are nice, but honestly we don't enjoy that stuff too much. Being able to work, live, and have fun in the same area would be nice; I dislike traffic but living downtown usually helps with that (for example, in D.C., if you live outside the Beltway, the traffic sucks; when I lived in D.C., I lived Dupont and never complained about traffic). Being able to walk everywhere is awesome.

Pricing/housing: Obviously the lower prices the better. We want to be able to afford a small house close to the heart of the city without needing to work tremendously long hours. Some availability of newer, well-kept houses is a big plus. To the extent that a work culture is laid back in the area (i.e., employers tend to expect fewer hours), that is a plus.

People: We definitely like having other young/educated people around. Being around people who speak fluent English is pretty important, because I'm a fairly sarcastic person and without having a mastery of English, it's hard to follow sometimes. That said, international/interracial mixing is otherwise great; segregation is unfortunate (to the extent that a city does segregate, we probably would want to stay around other white people). I generally prefer people with a strong sense of humor who are outgoing, fun, sarcastic, unafraid of being edgy and making offensive jokes, and who don't take themselves too seriously. Some stereotypes of groups I usually don't like a ton: rednecks, ultra-liberals, evangelicals, and the "yacht rock" crowd (basically, ex-frat boys). I like stereotypical Jersey guidos a lot more than southern frat boys. I like ultra fast-movers. I go to the gym a lot and being around a culture that values stuff like that is cool.

Stuff to do: We like active-outdoor stuff (along with stuff most everyone likes). Easy/quick access to this type stuff would be great: good airport, nice parks (and dog parks), authentic restaurants (or ones with celebrity chefs), good biking and running trails, nice pools, lakes, beaches, rivers (for rafting), oceans (especially warm ones), comedy venues, (night) clubs, tennis courts, major NFL and NBA teams, and dorky stuff like laser tag, go karts, putt-putt, theme parks, major events, etc.

Crime isn't a huge deal to me as long as it's not outrageous; it's usually easy enough to not live in the unsafe areas of town (I presently live in Atlanta and feel safe in Buckhead). I don't care about the school system (although having a top-20 university around would be cool), or really anything related to the suburbs. I don't golf or boat. I'm not very well-traveled (grew up in a kinda simple stereotypical suburban family) so I don't have much opinion on the cities I haven't lived in. Any opinions welcome. Thanks!

Btw I really do like Atlanta and I may just stay here. My biggest complaint is that Buckhead/midtown/Virginia Highlands/Decatur/Downtown are way too spread out, but the positives make up for it. My girlfriend just gets way too cold in the winter.

Last edited by JRM1475; 11-03-2011 at 11:31 PM..
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Wichita, KS
70 posts, read 118,787 times
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If you go by your preferences for weather conditions alone you'd be looking at primarily the southwest. Phoenix could be a fit, and maybe Houston/San Antonio/New Orleans but they do get more humidity. Would definitely mention a southern CA city, such as San Diego, but the cost of living would be the problem. L.A. could be a legit choice. But to keep away from colder weather and horrible humidity (like the southeast coast) these would be more of the options. At least that could be a start to know where you're looking and just narrow it down from there.
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:52 PM
 
551 posts, read 961,036 times
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It seems quite hard to find what you are looking for, because some of your criteria don't quite go with other criteria you are looking for. The weather being a major factor that really limits your options.

Look into Kansas City as I heard that is a good area for what you want and the prices are cheap, it has good architecture and has a nice downtown but also has sprawling inexpensive single family homes too. I heard that place is hopping to some C-D members.

You might also try looking into Louisville, Kentucky too. It has a nice downtown and it is inexpensive infact my cousin once considered moving there with her husband a while back.

If you are ok with it you could try St. Louis, it has a nice downtown too but I heard crime can be bad there in some parts.

Austin, Texas would also be good. Compared to other Texas downtowns it has a small core of urbanity if you're into it and generally Texas is cheap.

San Antonio would be good too.
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:29 AM
 
Location: New Mexico --> Vermont in 2019
9,046 posts, read 17,317,574 times
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If you want a warmer climate, a newer post modern type city that's still fairly walkable in downtown and some other neighborhoods and good museums as well as nice natural surroundings with moderately low crime rates I'd say San Diego is your best bet. As far as lower COL well San Diego doesn't really fit that, but a cheaper city isn't going to meet most of your criteria listed.
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Old 11-04-2011, 02:52 AM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
12,841 posts, read 23,212,253 times
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OP, check out Sacramento.

IMO, KC, STL, and Louisville would be too cold for you.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:06 AM
 
6 posts, read 5,944 times
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Thank you very much for the advice so far.

I am surprised by some of the responses (which is good -- I had not thought of Sacramento, which may be a good fit). I had previously made a top 5 list (1 being my present home, Atlanta) and I expected most of the recommendations to be those cities. I was worried that I was being biased and ruling out certain places, so I made this post.

One thing I would like to reiterate is that we are very aware that no place is going to be perfect. So, for instance, I realize I say I'd prefer lower humidity. That doesn't mean Miami should be completely taken off the list. I am more looking for whichever city seems to best fit overall. I'd love a city that was the size of New York, with the downtown and skyscrapers of Manhattan (with some small townhouses in there), but cleaned up and with the newness to feel like Salt Lake City, with the people of Boston (I think?), with the weather of San Diego, with the beaches and views of Miami, and with the affordability of Dallas. That's obviously not present anywhere in the world (closest maybe being Sydney?), so I'm really looking for whatever comes closest, even if not very close. Even though we are considering moving from Atlanta in part because of the cold winters, an otherwise perfect city even a bit colder would still be one we would consider...but we probably could not handle a place any colder than Raleigh.

And I'm not sure how big of a deal the affordability thing is. Within 2 years, I'll be making $100k or so (working 40-50h weeks), and when my girlfriend finishes school she'll probably be making over half that. We don't expect to work fewer than 40h/w, so with a combined ~$150k (probably a little less in a smaller town and more in a bigger/more expensive city), I would guess we would easily be able to afford a ~$350-500k home. So, I think it comes down to availability of nice/new ~$425k townhomes/SFH's very near (like, ideally walking distance to) a downtown that has a lot to offer. In Atlanta, this is available for 170-325Kish. And by small yard for my dog, I mean a little porch or something, not a place in the suburbs.

Oh, and I think anything outside of the largest 30 or so cities is probably not reasonable. I probably wouldn't be able to find much work (as a transactional attorney) anywhere outside of that. Lots of white collar jobs helps.

Thanks again for the advice and any more is appreciated.

Last edited by JRM1475; 11-04-2011 at 08:53 AM..
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:12 AM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,520 posts, read 11,974,524 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRM1475 View Post
T
Oh, and I think anything outside of the largest 60 or so cities is probably not reasonable. I probably wouldn't be able to find any work (as an attorney) in a town like Louisville.
BTW, Louisville, KY is the 27th large city and 42nd largest metro (MSA), so its actually not that small.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:47 AM
 
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What about Albuquerque, Tucson and maybe even Las Vegas?
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Old 11-05-2011, 07:50 AM
Status: "In an Involuntary Time Warp" (set 25 days ago)
 
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The people category: don't know if the West would be a good fit. People don't move that fast like the East. And, sarcasm, funny or not & sense of humor, all of that would not be as good as a fit like the East. That's been my experience anyways.I think the East better for your people category. Not sure where for warmth.
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Old 11-05-2011, 07:51 AM
 
4,440 posts, read 4,451,700 times
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I think SACRAMENTO is the perfect fit it for you.

Plenty of rivers and lakes, and waterways nearby for boating, kayaking, etc.

Outdoors activities and sports are big here both summer and winter. World-class snow skiing 1-2 hrs away. Mountain hiking, rock climbing, fishing, hunting, etc.

Housing prices cheap/moderate; you might as well live in a small house with a small yard for your dog(s); instead of a condo.

Lots of sun, low humidity, may get a little cold and gray in winter but still not colder than Atlanta and better by far than most of the US. Don't listen to coastal Californias; they will say its too hot/cold because they don't know better and are too sensitive.

I see only one thing that is NOT spot on: WARM ocean temps. The closest ocean beach is just under 2hrs and its not warm; even in the summer. You need a wet suit for surfing, but being Northern Californians we use them all the time.

Whatever we lack in world-class urbanity is in SF. (1 hour, 15mins-45mins drive) or by train.

Last edited by Chimérique; 11-05-2011 at 08:07 AM..
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