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Old 12-06-2014, 08:44 PM
Location: Aurora, CO
6,556 posts, read 10,261,428 times
Reputation: 9796


A lot of people make Cost of Living a key component of Quality of Life. I don't because a city can have a low COL but still be a really crappy place to live.

1. Fort Collins, Colorado. Small city living. All your basic necessities. Decent schools. Home of Colorado State University. Active outdoor lifestyle. "Old Town" Fort Collins was the model for Disneyland's Main Street, USA. Jobs are hard to come by because CSU students tend to stick around the area and it's far enough from Denver to eliminate commuting as an option.

2. Aurora, Colorado. 3rd largest city in the state. Close enough to downtown Denver to take in what it has to offer. Great schools (depending on where you are), and plenty of parks. Downside is that it's further out on the plains and is pretty typical suburban America.

3. Dallas, Texas (far north Dallas not close to downtown). Outer fringes of the city of Dallas. Older apartments mixed in with small, early 00s subdivisions. Zero nightlife, plenty of strip malls, and meh schools.

4. Lewisville, Texas. Older, generic suburb on the shores of Lake Lewisville about halfway between Dallas and Denton. Very limited nightlife and commercial base. Other than the reservoir, a rundown shopping mall, and a bunch of strip malls, there really isn't anything special here.

5. Craig, Colorado. Grew up here. Small, isolated ranching/mining town 40 miles from Wyoming and 95 miles from Utah. Way below average schools, zero nightlife, a couple chain restaurants, and (now) a WalMart. High mountain desert landscape. No picturesque mountains nearby. Not "typical" Colorado.

6. Little Elm, Texas. Far-flung Dallas suburb for those who don't want to or can't afford to buy a house in Frisco. Nice neighborly folk; definitely far less pretentious than Frisco. Bad schools. Traffic has gotten better over the last 5-7 years, but it's still pretty lousy and the town is fairly far from most job centers. Town's population exploded from around 2000 to almost 30,000 between 1998 and 2014.
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Old 12-06-2014, 09:26 PM
Location: Who Cares, USA
2,343 posts, read 2,750,537 times
Reputation: 2258
Like the poster above me, I'm not factoring COL. Too subjective based on circumstances and my various levels of income from place to place. Besides, I have been raking in the money yet miserable before, as well as barely scraping by yet happy. This is strictly about quality of life.

Objectively, and in order:

1. Seattle
2. Los Angeles
3. Where I live today (a tiny town in Northeast WA whose name shall remain anonymous)
4. Long Beach, CA
5. Huntington Beach, CA
6. Houston
7. Austin
8. Dallas
9. Phoenix
10. New Haven
11. Greenfield, MA
12. Las Vegas
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Old 12-07-2014, 08:15 AM
Location: Wonderland
44,695 posts, read 36,132,256 times
Reputation: 63270
From most favorite to least favorite (in terms of amenities,activities, and aesthetic beauty - the things that are most important to me):

Tyler, TX
Abingdon, MD
Hampton Roads area, VA
Aschaffenburg, Germany
Metairie, LA
Columbus, GA
Knoxville, TN
Fayetteville, NC

I liked all the places listed above - it's a close race. I could settle in nicely in any of them. As you can see, I prefer mid size towns/small cities over either rural living or urban living.

Here are some places I personally didn't care much for, in no particular order:

Yokohama, Japan
Copperas Cove, TX
Columbus, OH
Phenix City, AL
Clemson, SC
San Francisco, CA

Once again, I could make a good life for myself just about anywhere, so I'm not hating on those places (with the exception of Copperas Cove, TX!), but of course like anyone, I have my preferences.
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:43 AM
Location: West Michigan
3,075 posts, read 5,447,836 times
Reputation: 4314
1. Grand Rapids MI
2. Lansing MI

Not necessarily in that order. Except for the fact that I listed them in the exact order in which I prefer them. Most of the time.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:38 PM
161 posts, read 181,105 times
Reputation: 128
Portland, OR - Great parks, transit, riverfront, downtown, urban neighborhoods, not too far from the beach and mountains, pretty good economy. COL is somewhat high.

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill - The Triangle region would tie with Portland if it had good transit. Reasonable but increasing COL, great trails and parks, strong economy, very progressive region.

Charlotte - What Charlotte's transit is better than the Triangle, I place the Triangle above it because state government and the universities brings a better educated and progressive population.

Greensboro - Not a bad place but it's lacking the young professional population that the other cities have. Very affordable but not that much going on.
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:46 PM
Location: Kent, UK/ Rhode Island, US
626 posts, read 575,135 times
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Originally Posted by drewcifer View Post
1. Minneapolis - lots to do. Big city amenities with a low cost of living. More diverse and cosmopolitan than most people realize if they haven't been there. Good music, art, theater and restaurant scenes. Fantastic parks. Lakes and beaches in the heart of the city. Crappy winter weather is made up for by the fact that the city is strong in nearly every other category.

2. Chicago - great urban environment. The most affordable metropolis type city in the country. Anyone can find their niche there. Sometimes it seems like a city full of people with suburban and small town mindsets. Has some crime issues.

3. St paul - incredibly safe for a central city. Has some really beautiful victorian neighborhoods. Surprisingly cheap. It can be incredibly boring and somewhat insular. Its best attribute is that it is next to minneapolis.

4. Clinton/utica, ny - horrible. Like a redneck version of the jersey shore. A dying, decaying rustbelt crap hole full of racists, bigots and the sort of people who want to reach for their gun every time they hear the word culture. A place full of people who have given up. Was likely a beautiful area 100 years ago.
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Old 12-07-2014, 10:56 PM
Location: Morgantown, WV
1,000 posts, read 1,596,830 times
Reputation: 493
1. Charlotte, North Carolina - I've lived here since 2008 and still find it a great place to live in. Great variety of places to shop and eat and has a good sports culture. I'm a college student outside of NC, but it seems like Charlotte is a great place for young people over 21 (and I can't wait to celebrate my 21st there ). Transportation is great, especially Lynx, our lightrail. I enjoyed going to high school in South Charlotte, so I'd say it's a good place to raise a family depending on the area of the city.
2. New York City, New York - I was born and raised in NYC until High school. I love this city...so much culture (especially great cultured food) and such a great place to visit. I lived in 3 of the 5 boroughs, so I am very well acquainted with the city. Transportation is good, sports is great. However, while I do like NYC...I am so glad I don't live there anymore...it's too big, population and size wise, for me now. I don't know if I'd raise a family there.
3. Morgantown, West Virginia - I currently spend most of my time living here attending college. I think it's a great place to be if you are a young adult or a college student. However, after a few years it starts to get old and while it does have some history...I'd hardly say it's the place to be if you are a history or culture buff. I love going to college at WVU and despite the reputation...I wouldn't trade it for the world. I have been getting a solid education. The sports scene is amazing and while the shopping scene is kinda weak in town, Pittsburgh is only an hour away from here and there is also an outlet center in Washington, PA. There are residential areas here and they seem to enjoy living here most of the time, but I am not sure I'd want to raise a family in a big college town. We also have the Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) service on campus, so that's something to look into.
4. Tannersville, Pennsylvania/Poconos Mountains - Not a bad area to be at per se...but I didn't enjoy living here. It's too much of a tourist trap and was way too big of a change from NYC. There are some nice things about the area, though, like the shopping centers and outlets and also the Camelback and Camelbeach resorts.
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Old 12-08-2014, 12:57 AM
Location: Silicon Valley
18,083 posts, read 22,934,448 times
Reputation: 35202
Well, quality of life is different for everyone, and changes based on how their life changes, in my experience. For instance, I'm retired now, so I don't care about job markets anymore. Am too broke to go out to eat, so don't care about restaurant options.

So, I'll place towns and areas based on how happy I was at the time I lived there. Having grown up in the perfect weather of the SF Bay Area, it was often weather that was the main downside to living anywhere else. Having grown up in a car culture, I have never cared about public transportation, and for the most part don't like taking it - other than Amtrak trains. Hate taking BART, don't really like taking buses. They're usually full of stinky, rude people. I'd rather be in my car any day - except the Amtrak trains I've been on.

What matters most to me is weather that won't keep me from going outside, and having somewhere nice to be outside (pretty scenery), not too much traffic, fairly friendly people, decent shopping (and by this, I mean bargain options like Walmart, Grocery Outlet, Costco, etc.). So, from best to worst:

Crescent City, CA - just moved here. So far so good. Cloudier than I like, but very mild year round - not too hot, not too cold. And the scenery is gorgeous with redwood mountains in view, and I can walk to the ocean. Shopping not as good as bigger cities/towns, but good enough. Small town, but big enough (pop around 7500).

SF Bay Area, CA - horrible traffic, but if you can plant yourself in a good neighborhood and not have to commute, it's the perfect place for weather, always plenty to do including free stuff, ocean was 30 minutes away from last place I lived there (Santa Clara), sometimes the diversity is actually annoying, having to deal with many different cultures that you may not understand or want to (did I really say that? ha ha). Too expensive for me to afford in retirement, or I'd still be there. But, now that I'm out of the traffic, I'm thinking I like Crescent City better. Time will tell.

Redding, CA - beautiful, friendly, too dang hot for too dang long - like 5 months of 100 degrees - not kidding. Disturbing homeless population downtown. But, affordable and if it wasn't so hot, probably would have stayed there. I enjoyed that 99.9% of the population spoke English (did I really say that, too? ha ha)

Sacramento/Davis, CA - Loved Davis, but a bit too far from ocean or mountains, safe, lots to do with the UC Davis campus and other events. The full-time residents of Davis can seem kind of...what's the word? Insular? Berkeley wannabes? A tad snobby? Has Sacto weather. Sacratomato (we call it the big tomato because of the major tomato growing in the area) has horrific traffic, too hot summers, but there's a lot to like about it, too. Lots of arts, great old architecture. But, many not so great neighborhoods. Though I went there a lot to do stuff, I never fell in love with Sacto.

Seattle & Bellingham - lumped together because I loved everything about both except the weather. Liked Bellingham a little more because there was less traffic. Beautiful, great people (back then anyway), great old architecture and lots to do, but horrible, depressing weather most of the year.

Nashville, TN - lots to like about it, but always felt like a fish out of water in the southern culture. Icy winters, humid hot summers.

Small town in the mountains of southern WA state - town of only 200 people, need I say more? Growing season was too short. The local joke was that we had 9 months of winter and 3 months of bad sledding.

Ajijic, Mexico - fun to go as a tourist, horribly frustrating to live there year round because of living in a different culture where you will always be an outsider to the locals, the time it takes to get things done, waiting 6 months for a phone number, very expensive taxes and electricity, VERY small expatriat community, which basically translates into living in a VERY VERY small town. I did actually use the public transportation in this area (buses), and it was actually pretty good.
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:16 AM
Location: MPLS/CHI
553 posts, read 482,005 times
Reputation: 389
1. Minneapolis
2. Chicago
3. St Paul
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Old 12-08-2014, 09:15 AM
Location: East Mt Airy, Philadelphia
1,018 posts, read 1,037,009 times
Reputation: 1791
Originally Posted by kyle19125 View Post
3. Philadelphia PA -- A mix of NYC and Boston in my opinion, with the charm of neither. It offers a more affordable cost of living if that's your primary criteria as well as a grungy to overall filthy "charm" that some seem to gravitate willingly toward. The food scene is actually quite good and there is some great architecture/history as well. A nice stepdown from those who can't hack NYC I suppose.
Let's deconstruct this comment about Philly:

First sentence: OK. A roundabout way of saying Philly is, well ... Philly and doesn't really need to be compared to anywhere.

Second sentence: Yes, very affordable COL. But ... way off base saying the city ranges from grungy to filthy. Absolutely true there are nasty-looking areas, but dumping the entire city into this narrow range does it a disservice. Go to street view in my 'hood: https://www.google.com/maps/@40.0653...7981,18z?hl=en. Probably not most peoples' image when they think of Philly (I think we have Stallone to blame for that!).

Third sentence: Agreed. Food, history, architecture are top-notch. Museums and parks weren't on the list, but that's a quibble.

Fourth sentence: A "step down" from NYC? Live here because we can't hack NYC? I (and, I suspect, others) live here by choice, not default. I could have "stepped up" to NYC's absurd COL, panhandling Elmos, faster pace of life, nation-leading rat population, etc. but chose Philly. And given the Census numbers, which show an increase in net migration from NY -> Philly between 2007 and 2011, I made a good choice. I grew up in NYC (well, almost - Staten Island ). I know there's nothing like it in the US, maybe the world, but for what I want in my life - reasonable COL, access to great parks, restaurants, culture at all "brow" levels - Philly is where I chose to do my "hacking."

Sorry to ramble. Just touched a nerve or two...
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