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Old 10-17-2015, 04:48 PM
 
8 posts, read 3,754 times
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I'm planning to relocate my family from Portland, OR to somewhere within 1,000 miles (give or take) of Indianapolis, IN. Essentially I'm looking to mimic the portland experience as much as possible, except maybe with better schools and a smaller city. Specifically, in order (roughly), here are the things I'm looking for:

1. Has to have temperate summers... no month with average highs in the 90's; 70's would be ideal.

1a. Medium-sized city is preferred, something smaller than Portland but big enough to support, say, intramural sports leagues.

2. Public education: great school district at city level, but also good public colleges at state level

3. Access to a variety of outdoors activities in a beautiful setting (mountain biking, water sports, hiking, etc.) (beautiful setting = not flat farmland. Talking about rolling hills, rivers, forests, lakes, mtns, etc.)

4. Friendly, welcoming people: I've heard anecdotally from friends that moved to Madison, WI that the people were cliquey and snooty. I've gotten this impression from one couple I met from Ann Arbor, but I do recognize these for what they are, anecdotes. That being said, community is really important, and we want to feel at home in our new city not have to work really hard to fit in.

5. Dynamic economy with positive outlook, meaning not just a one trick pony (e.g., not just a tourist town...). Should have jobs in a variety of sectors that all work together giving the city a healthy growth outlook.

6. Progressive / liberal city: both the population and the local government. Thinking of Portland, being very much a progressive city on both of these fronts with mixed-use zoning, growth boundary, bike-friendly, etc. Also stronger public services, etc. State politics a consideration as well.

7. Creative; interesting things going on. Things like co-housing communities, non-traditional entrepreneurship and businesses, etc. Essentially, a "cool" place.

8. All else being equal, closer to home (indianapolis) is better, although inevitably warmer.

-------------------------------

I know this is the US forum, but I'd be glad to hear about Canadian cities that fit this criteria too... really like Canada and the people that live there.

Given the geographic 1,000 - mile radius limit, it looks like we're working with Eastern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Southeastern Ontario (and just the edge of Quebec), and most of New York. Maybe Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois too, but those are are likely to be much warmer. (SEE ATTACHED IMAGE)

Cities that have come to mind in the past include: Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Madison, and Duluth, Marquette. But honestly, I don't know much about the area, so would love some guidance.

My hesitancy around Ann Arbor is that the geography seems a little boring: flat farmland. Traverse city, on the other hand, seems pretty great, but the economy seems heavily dependent on tourism and the city doesnt appear to be especially dynamic or progressive, politically or creatively. Madison, I don't know. I just heard the people there can shun outsiders, maybe that's wrong. And I just read about Duluth in an article and talked to someone who lives there and compared it to a mini Portland. Marquette I worry about the winters and it possibly being too small, but the access to the wilderness in 'da UP in the summer seems like a great luxury.

Long story short, I don't know where to start... any help is much appreciated. Thanks much!
Attached Thumbnails
what cities fit this description in upper midwest area?-screenshot-2015-10-17-3.44.26-pm.png  

Last edited by septimushodge; 10-17-2015 at 05:59 PM..
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Old 10-17-2015, 06:00 PM
 
56,569 posts, read 80,870,855 times
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Ann Arbor and East Lansing in MI, Ithaca NY, Madison WI and Iowa City IA come to mind. Given what you said, Ithaca may actually fit everything. Personally, I think Ann Arbor's proximity to Metro Detroit helps in terms of job options.
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Old 10-17-2015, 06:50 PM
 
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Madison is your best bet without a doubt
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Old 10-18-2015, 08:53 AM
 
3,959 posts, read 3,489,082 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by septimushodge View Post

1. Has to have temperate summers... no month with average highs in the 90's; 70's would be ideal.

1a. Medium-sized city is preferred, something smaller than Portland but big enough to support, say, intramural sports leagues.

2. Public education: great school district at city level, but also good public colleges at state level

3. Access to a variety of outdoors activities in a beautiful setting (mountain biking, water sports, hiking, etc.) (beautiful setting = not flat farmland. Talking about rolling hills, rivers, forests, lakes, mtns, etc.)

4. Friendly, welcoming people: I've heard anecdotally from friends that moved to Madison, WI that the people were cliquey and snooty. I've gotten this impression from one couple I met from Ann Arbor, but I do recognize these for what they are, anecdotes. That being said, community is really important, and we want to feel at home in our new city not have to work really hard to fit in.

5. Dynamic economy with positive outlook, meaning not just a one trick pony (e.g., not just a tourist town...). Should have jobs in a variety of sectors that all work together giving the city a healthy growth outlook.

6. [B]Progressive / liberal city: both the population and the local government. Thinking of Portland, being very much a progressive city on both of these fronts with mixed-use zoning, growth boundary, bike-friendly, etc. Also stronger public services, etc.[/b] State politics a consideration as well.

7. Creative; interesting things going on. Things like co-housing communities, non-traditional entrepreneurship and businesses, etc. Essentially, a "cool" place.

8. All else being equal, closer to home (indianapolis) is better, although inevitably warmer.

Don't write off Grand Rapids because you're perception is that it's conservative. The city itself is very dynamic and agressive with public transit options, bike lanes, mixed use zoning ect. It hits alot of your points. Your concerns about Ann Arbor being topographically boring are a little unwarranted, but the surrounding areas in Western MI are more beautiful with many options and an outdoor culture. It also has one of the strongest economies in the midwest, with rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods around the core.

Madison without a doubt hits your points on all cylinders. However if you were focusing on Michigan do a little more research, maybe even visit in person Lansing, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor ect. You'll get a much better feel for them than just what you have read. Even Traverse City's economy is more diverse than you can understand by gleaming at posts on C-D.
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Texas
57 posts, read 57,588 times
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Are you willing to consider Pittsburgh? Most people say Pittsburgh has a mixture of East Coast and Midwest influences, and it meets most of your criteria.

1. On average, you shouldn't have to deal with temperatures beyond the low 80's at the warmest time of the year (assuming there is no uncharacteristic heat wave.) Climate in Pittsburgh is often compared to the pacific northwest. They aren't exactly the same, but they are fairly similar in a few ways. I know a lot of people who move from Pitt choose to relocate to Portland because it feels familiar.


1a. If you look at the population of both cities, Pittsburgh is half that of Portland. But if you look at the entire metro area of Pittsburgh & surrounding communities vs. the"Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro" metro, both have populations that are essentially equal. Pittsburgh has the advantage of feeling like a smaller city but has the amenities needed to support a larger population.


2. Public education: Pittsburgh public schools aren't so good, but there are many options for great schools right near the city. The city itself is very compact, so it's possible to live outside of city limits without actually feeling like you left the city, and I know there are plenty of private school options. I don't have children so I can't offer too much advice there, but I can say for whatever shortcomings Pittsburgh has in public schools, it makes up for with several world class universities downtown, and then some.


3. I think people who haven't been to Pittsburgh often underestimate how beautiful the area is. With three rivers and a mountain within city limits, you don't have to go far at all to be outdoorsy. I was just there kayaking downtown this summer and the views from the water are gorgeous. The city is currently looking for ways to make biking around town easier as well, if that's something you are interested in. Pittsburgh also has one of the densest urban tree canopies in the country, even more so than Portland. Urban Tree Canopy - National Geographic

Beyond Pittsburgh, Lake Erie is within driving distance, as well as the Appalachian mountains that will offer basically every outdoor activity you are looking for. It is not unrealistic to make day trips for skiing on the weekends either.


4. Friendly, welcoming people: You'll have no problems here. Pittsburghers are very welcoming and are especially enthusiastic towards newcomers who appreciate the city.


5. I think Pittsburgh has a diverse economy, especially for a city it's size. PNC Bank just finished building their new headquarters, which is currently considered the greenest sky scraper in the world. The area around it I know is also being developed and I have no doubts this will encourage future businesses to locate themselves here. And you can't forget the Google office on the other side of town as well.


6. Progressive / liberal city: I have seen articles out there that say Pittsburgh is the new Portland. Pitt is definitely a progressive city and the people there are enthusiastic about it being a progressive city. The general goal of most people involved with revitalizing Pitt is to make it one of the best cities anyone has ever visited.


7. Creative; interesting things going on: Pittsburgh is big on art, and there are festivals to reflect this. Not to mention the museums that come along with the universities downtown. New interesting businesses pop up in different parts of town regularly. If you are into sports, the city has 3 major sports teams, which most cities twice it's size fail to have any.


Overall, I'd say Pittsburgh is a low key Portland, and maybe to an extent, a very low key Austin. Aside from Pittsburgh itself, the location gives you better access to the East Coast. A drive to NYC is about 6 hours, so long weekend vacations to coastal cities aren't out of the question. If you can deal with the winters, then there shouldn't be too many downsides to living there.
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Old 10-18-2015, 12:14 PM
 
56,569 posts, read 80,870,855 times
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Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
Ann Arbor and East Lansing in MI, Ithaca NY, Madison WI and Iowa City IA come to mind. Given what you said, Ithaca may actually fit everything. Personally, I think Ann Arbor's proximity to Metro Detroit helps in terms of job options.
Also, if you are looking in NY State outside of Ithaca, you may be able to do certain areas of the bigger Upstate NY cities(for certain public/charter schools or if open to private schools). You also have solid to very good schools just outside of the cities and are still within the realm of public transportation, with some suburban areas that even have some walkability(villages and select older suburban areas).

Generally with the cities, look near the colleges/universities, as they bring that vibe to those areas(i.e.-Syracuse's East Side south of East Genesee St and east of Syracuse University, Rochester's SE Quadrant, Buffalo west of Main St and roughly east of Richmond, Albany from around Delaware Ave to the west into SUNY-Albany and south of Western Ave, Binghamton's West Side south of Main and across the Susquehanna River to the western half of its South Side, Utica's South Side from around Burrstone/Parkway to the New Hartford/Utica line, Schenectady's Union Street(esp Upper Union) corridor, Troy around RPI to the south of campus(SE corner of city).

Villages of these areas like Brockport, Kenmore, Liverpool, Fairport, Fayetteville, Manlius, Clinton, New Hartford, parts of Johnson City, Scotia, Williamsville and Pittsford come to mind.

Older suburban areas like the Twelve Corners area of Brighton, parts of western Irondequoit, the DeWittshire/Orvilton area of DeWitt, Delmar in the town of Bethlehem and the Eggertsville area of Amherst near the University of Buffalo's South Campus are such areas that come to mind.

There may be others, but those are places that come to mind in NY.

Also, there are urban/walkable suburbs outside of Cleveland like Lakewood and Shaker Heights that would work as well.
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:58 PM
 
11,172 posts, read 22,369,908 times
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Madison, Iowa City and Ann Arbor
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