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View Poll Results: Which do you suggest I choose?
SF Bay Area 4 12.50%
Philadelphia/some NJ City 10 31.25%
Chicago 17 53.13%
Other 1 3.13%
Voters: 32. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-16-2015, 06:47 PM
11 posts, read 12,540 times
Reputation: 20


Hello. I've read several city-data forums in the past and have enjoyed them. I decided to become a member so I could post this thread soliciting your input. Here it goes:

I currently live in Houston (for the 4th time - please don't ask), and I'm getting the same feeling I've had the other times I've lived here - "I don't want to be here." I don't want to insult the city since it's been good for other family members and it seems that many people like it, BUT, I have decided that I'm leaving it this year, or, at the latest, early next year. I think the two main culprits for me are 1) the car-centric lifestyle and 2) the hot and humid weather for at least half the year.

What am I looking for? A place where my two main culprits are lessened. I'm NOT against all driving and some hot and humid days are ok, JUST NOT to the level I currently experience. More readily available walkable areas and a wider use of alternative transportation by a significant number of the general population would be great. I do like smaller towns (I thought Champaign, IL, and Indianapolis, IN, were not too bad - I definitely enjoyed living there more than Houston), BUT, due to the nature of how I earn my living, being in a larger metropolitan area would certainly help, especially where there is a large Limited English Proficient (LEP) population.

I am totally ok living in a small studio as long as it has a kitchen with stove and fridge. I'm looking to pay no more then $800 to $1000 for rent. After reading forums, and taking into account my travels and current personal preferences, I came up with these three areas. Please let me know which do you think may be a good fit, and feel free to suggest any others. In case it adds anything, I'm a 32 year old male, I'm not too much into night life, and I tend to be attracted to things that provide mental stimulation and that are amenable to introspection. I do enjoy going for long walks (not necessarily for exercise, but just to stroll). Of course, there are other sides of me, but enough about me.

SF Bay Area - It's postcard beautiful in my eyes, and the city is walkable, bike-friendly, and has a good transit system. A very memorable experience was biking all around the city when I visited. However, what detracts me is the very high cost of living, and, that outside of SF, the rest of the Bay Area and the state seems to be mostly car-centric (at least from when I've visited). Finding a place within my budget seems like it will be a major hassle. I'm afraid that the places that I will be able to afford will end up being in a car-centric area. One plus though is that there seem to be many varied natural areas/features nearby.

Philadelphia or maybe some NJ city - What attracts me is that I'm both in a city, as well as within the large urban amalgamation that is the Northeast. The area is well connected by transportation, and there seems to be more of a walking culture since a significant portion of the area developed before the car. The rents also seem more reasonable than SF, NYC, DC, or Boston. I'm leaning more towards venturing to this area, but I have to admit that I have this skewed notion (I hope it's skewed) that crime may be too high.
- Please tell me it's skewed. Also, I wonder if I'll feel trapped in the "urbanization" - are there nearby natural features in the area? I think the answer is yes, but I'm rather ignorant about them - Please educate me.

Chicago - I know this place the best since I have been here quite a bit during short and extended visits. I do like the city, the rents seem about even with Philadelphia, and my brother lives there, which would facilitate the transition to a new place. There is good public transportation, and there is a walking culture. The lake is beautiful in my eyes. However, what detracts me is that I'm already familiar with the area, and part of me is seeking something new. Also, Chicago seems to be kind of alone geographically. On the plus side, I did like living in the Midwest in the past.

Your suggestions - Any other cities/areas that you can think of given what I've written?

I appreciate you reading all this, and look forward to your input regarding my three potential choices and any new suggested places. Thanks!
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:21 PM
3,280 posts, read 3,829,223 times
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I'd avoid SF area. It's unnecessarily expensive for what it is. Just caught in a trend bubble right now.
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Old 04-16-2015, 09:25 PM
Location: Center City, Philadelphia
4,630 posts, read 2,778,980 times
Reputation: 2978
You would probably enjoy south Philadelphia for that price (shoot you if search hard enough you can probably find a studio in center city somewhere), and as with any big city stay vigilant and don't look for trouble (I am sure you wouldn't be just saying) and you will be fine, seriously you will be fine. Everything is pretty much walkable here. Maybe try the northwest part of the city too, Manayunk and some surrounding neighborhoods almost feel like there own city with pretty easy rail access to the rest of the city. The "hot" places right now are University City and Lower North Philadelphia neighborhoods which you could look too. I personally think its a good time to experience Philly. The restaurant/bar culture is really on point. Almost everywhere is reachable by transit/foot and it is a very culturally stimulating place with tons of museums/exhibits that you could take the subway to and just walk around.
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Old 04-16-2015, 09:27 PM
Location: Nashville TN
4,925 posts, read 4,911,740 times
Reputation: 4778
Austin TX its a kick ass city and its close to Houston you will not have to move far.
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:31 AM
Location: Philadelphia, PA
183 posts, read 175,021 times
Reputation: 112
Try Philadelphia (but stay on the PA side, NJ suburbs don't connect to Philly very well in terms of transportation).
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:37 AM
Location: The City
22,331 posts, read 32,138,839 times
Reputation: 7737
SF is definitely the most expensive. Philly and Chicago are similar in cost in many metrics. One thing is both Philly and Chicago do have humid summers, not as intense or long as Houston but can be fairly oppressive at times in July and August (shorter and not as intense as Houston based on my experience) SF will not have the extremes. Both Chicago and Philly will have a more significant winter, Chicago a little more intense

All three are walkable but all three also give way to mostly car dependent burbs.

All three have good PT infrastructure, Chicago the best , Philly and SF probably following in that order.

In terms of Philly and your question on access to nature, its there but a lot depends on what you want etc.

Some additional details on work and lifestyle etc might help provide a more informed recommendation.

All three are among my favorite cities in the US and very well could make many people happy and three of the probably top 5 for cities offering a car free lifestyle in the US - but remember even among these this lifestyle is limited to areas closer to the cores which can be a little more expensive than other area in their respective areas.
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Old 04-18-2015, 12:21 AM
Location: Miami-Jax
6,308 posts, read 6,960,359 times
Reputation: 3496
Chicago and Philly make a lot of sense. I think Chicago would be best because of your brother and your familiarity...you'll still have plenty to discover if you've only visited.

If you want another suggestion, Seattle seems like a good fit. Very large international presence, good walkability, different kind of weather concerns.
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:41 PM
11 posts, read 12,540 times
Reputation: 20
Thank you to all who responded! I hope more people keep responding to this thread, but if not, I can always peruse other threads that deal with similar issues.
It does make me a bit disappointed that other than a handful of US cities (and really mostly the central and/or core sections of these) provide a solid alternative to a car-dependent lifestyle that is still somehow affordable for average to below average incomes. It seems that it takes a lot of work and planning to try to have a car-free or car-diminished life in the present. I wonder if this is truly what the market demands and I'm just in the minority, or if it's something more convoluted - I tend to believe the latter. I guess I could also peruse threads that touch on this issue.
Anyhow, thanks again to those who have responded thus far and hope that more respond, even if the thread starts going into tangents.
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Old 04-20-2015, 11:25 PM
Location: Philadelphia, PA
183 posts, read 175,021 times
Reputation: 112
Philadelphia is your best choice. If you're unable to move here, at least visit whenever you have the chance.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:41 AM
21,180 posts, read 30,336,326 times
Reputation: 19590
If you're trying to avoid hot and humid, leave Philly off your list. I lived there for twelve years and now live in FL. Philly summers are every bit as hot as FL and in some months hotter on average than Orlando (the interior of the state).
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