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Old 07-15-2017, 02:52 PM
 
27 posts, read 17,636 times
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Hey, people. *adjusts microphone for clarity*

There's no perfect place. Every place introduces the same cast of characters, perks, and bull****, though it does this at proportions that, indeed, do vary from one city to the next. As I like to always say (in colloquial fashion that ignores grammar), "Where there's people, there's problems."



So, like many of you, I am scrambling to find the right proportions to take a step closer towards "perfection." I would like to ask, "What's a 'big' and 'affordable' city that has lots of opportunity (and secondary qualities like culture and action)?" I would also like to mention that I prefer cool, overcast weather (if it's possible to satisfy this criterion).



Let me clarify: the population of a city alone does not determine its "largeness," as we must factor in variables like population density and the physical area of the city. Let's look at Phoenix, for example. It boasts a population of well over a million, yet its downtown area covers only ten square blocks and solely contains the following exciting sites: banks, parking garages, hotels, offices for lease, and more parking garages. Yep. When you pass these dead buildings among the empty one-way streets, you can't help but wonder, "Is this a dying or growing city?" It's depressing to gaze up at these wannabe skyscrapers—a cookie-cutter copy of Manhattan, which every city’s downtown struggles to resemble with its low budget and cultural poverty—and then gaze down at the few people in sight: the homeless staggering around here and there; it's a microcosm of today's partitioned America, and it fills you with this hopeless, alienating feeling that makes you want to rob a bank. The artifice that pervades this country—the dominance of the costly "straight-and-narrow path" and the rewards it reaps in the form of boring and fabricated shindigs and outings at overpriced restaurants, malls, and amusement parks—kills your soul (if you still have one).



Anyways, unfortunately, in the US, "city" often means "a sprawling, blank expanse of land riddled with strip malls and highways." Because the "classic" city contains both commercial and residential zoning of all types and at all prices in one area, I tend to judge a city by its skyline—its downtown area—for, at one point (believe it or not), urban infrastructure used to cater to human beings, not machines as it nowadays does in this country. It's like a toddler plopped down and decided to fling Lego blocks in all directions across the living room floor to build a so-called "city." Cities exhibit the illusion of “growth” by merely pushing their borders outwards instead of actually growing within; in conclusion, infrastructure in the US is a goddamned trainwreck.



Now, let's discuss livability. To me, there are, really, only two substantial criteria that should determine a city's "livability": 1. affordability and 2. a stable and flourishing job market. Other criteria like crime, climate, and real estate reflect specific tastes and situations. Crime is inevitable and tends to be concentrated more in designated areas; unless you're a farmer, climate is strictly a matter of taste in the 21st century; and real estate only concerns prospective homeowners who likely fall into specific socioeconomic brackets. When I hear "livability," I hear "likelihood of sustainable survival."







Let's hear some opinions, folks! Rattle away!

Last edited by vongol; 07-15-2017 at 02:59 PM.. Reason: Change in word choice and addition of new information
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:56 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,460,970 times
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First, let's hear your runner-up cities that are not quite the "perfect place."
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Old 07-15-2017, 03:09 PM
 
27 posts, read 17,636 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightlysparrow View Post
First, let's hear your runner-up cities that are not quite the "perfect place."
Oooh, OK. I'll just dump some names here, including cities that I have either visited or lived in and those that I know about through friends, family, and miscellaneous hearsay. I'll just list the names without elaboration to see if you get the general idea in descending order of "unfavorability."

These are all "mid-sized" cities that tend to have a lower-than-average median household income.

1. Jackson, MS
2. Memphis, TN
3. New Orleans, LA
4. Cincinnati, OH
5. Baltimore, MD
6. Sacramento, CA
7. Phoenix, AZ

Some "large" and prominent cities that I only know about and would never want to live in for various reasons include:

Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; and Miami, FL (it should already be obvious).

Last edited by vongol; 07-15-2017 at 03:33 PM.. Reason: Corrected numbers in the list and added additional info
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Old 07-15-2017, 03:39 PM
 
21,207 posts, read 30,420,192 times
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To boil it down it seems you want an affordable larger city with a classic downtown core and minimal sprawl along with a decent economy/job market. I would say Cincinnati is tops on your list followed by Baltimore and would add Columbus OH, Richmond VA and as a wild card Des Moines IA.
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Old 07-15-2017, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,512 posts, read 2,978,326 times
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I think Philadelphia fits your criteria, to a tee. First, it's one of the most classically urban cities in this country, no question, without being too overwhelming (imo, besides parking). A large downtown that is growing, an above average public transportation that is finally modernizing, and intimate residential streets that still maintain the feeling of "urbanity" and human scale, even in the more auto-oriented NE and NW sections of the city. Secondly, it's one of the most affordable big cities in this country, much moreso than Boston, NYC and DC in this part of the country, and will probably still be for at least a decade or two. And lastly, it's job market, while not on fire, is quite stable and past the growing pains stages for a post-industrial city that is on the rise.


The only potential issues you might have are that many white collar/high paying jobs aren't in the city proper, as businesses have set up shop in the suburbs (Conshohocken, Cherry Hill, King of Prussia, etc.) to avoid city taxes. Those areas are your typical office park, strip mall business centers dominated by the automobile, and are quite inconvenient to reach by public transportation (some more than others). Also, cool overcast weather isn't really something that happens in this area during the summer. Mid 80s to low 90s with high humidity and sunshine are the norm, with rainy days being fairly common and muggy (70s to low 80s).


But since you're aware that there's no such thing as "perfection" and are discerning enough to mitigate through crime and poverty (which this region unfortunately still has much of), I think Philly would fit the bill. I also think Baltimore on your list could work, provided you stick to the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the Inner Harbor. But if you want the "big city" vibe, Baltimore (and definitely not Wilmington) might not satisfy, but they're definitely not bad if you set yourself up right.
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Old 07-15-2017, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Northern California
935 posts, read 1,717,079 times
Reputation: 644
Quote:
Originally Posted by vongol View Post
Oooh, OK. I'll just dump some names here, including cities that I have either visited or lived in and those that I know about through friends, family, and miscellaneous hearsay. I'll just list the names without elaboration to see if you get the general idea in descending order of "unfavorability."

These are all "mid-sized" cities that tend to have a lower-than-average median household income.

1. Jackson, MS
2. Memphis, TN
3. New Orleans, LA
4. Cincinnati, OH
5. Baltimore, MD
6. Sacramento, CA
7. Phoenix, AZ

Some "large" and prominent cities that I only know about and would never want to live in for various reasons include:

Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; and Miami, FL (it should already be obvious).
Sacramento is actually pretty expensive - not so much compared to coastal CA but above the national average
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Old 07-16-2017, 09:57 AM
 
Location: Denver
14,151 posts, read 19,785,378 times
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Chicago is the first place that comes to mind.
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Old 07-16-2017, 02:08 PM
 
27 posts, read 17,636 times
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Thanks for the speedy and informative responses, guys.

Philadelphia was definitely one of the top choices in mind for a while. Even though I'm from the East Coast (from NYC, yes), I have only passed it a few times and never got to actually visit it. I have lived nearby DC before.

Chicago sounds great, but I feel like it's too expensive (plus, there are too many, well, "questionable" and unwanted people in its "affordable" areas—to put it in a way that appeases to liberals). Please correct me if I'm wrong.

One person recommended Cincinnati, but that place is too small for me. Columbus, OH? I dunno. That place is probably also too small. I've examined pictures of it and have seen nothing but a negligible handful of small skyscrapers spread apart by hundreds of feet; it just looks like a huge provincial town to me. Baltimore is too shabby unless I find a worthwhile job there.

Therefore, Philly, so far, seems like the most suitable place.
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Old 07-16-2017, 02:14 PM
 
27 posts, read 17,636 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pistola916 View Post
Sacramento is actually pretty expensive - not so much compared to coastal CA but above the national average
Yeah, if you want to live in the remotely "decent" parts that gravitate towards the city's center. Most of the place is a sad dump filled with sleazy and trashy people.
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:27 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati (Norwood)
3,515 posts, read 3,968,774 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vongol View Post
Thanks for the speedy and informative responses, guys.

Philadelphia was definitely one of the top choices in mind for a while. Even though I'm from the East Coast (from NYC, yes), I have only passed it a few times and never got to actually visit it. I have lived nearby DC before...

...One person recommended Cincinnati, but that place is too small for me. Columbus, OH? I dunno. That place is probably also too small. I've examined pictures of it and have seen nothing but a negligible handful of small skyscrapers spread apart by hundreds of feet; it just looks like a huge provincial town to me. Baltimore is too shabby unless I find a worthwhile job there.

Therefore, Philly, so far, seems like the most suitable place.
Although I was disappointed that Cincinnati got crossed off the list, it's your call and I hope you stick with Philadelphia. Reiterating things expressed in CityGuyForLife's #5 reply, not only is Philly one of the nation's most cultured and significant cities, it is also one of the most dynamic and connected. Only a handful of big U.S. cities rival it in amenities and only a few surpass it in urbanity. (Its downtown is amazing!)

As I expressed in another thread - I live in an absolutely beautiful mid sized city, but if I had the opportunity to start over again, without hesitation I would consider Philadelphia.
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