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Old 04-06-2018, 02:27 AM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,236 posts, read 24,416,312 times
Reputation: 13004

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Quote:
Originally Posted by California_Aspirer View Post
Which state/s would be the best to live in Western USA in terms of cost of living, crime, and general quality of life. The following states I am referring to.

Arizona
California
Colorado
Hawaii
Idaho
Montana
Nevada
New Mexico
Oregon
Utah
Washington
Wyoming
I'm going to defer on Hawaii, but I've lived in three of the rest, and have at the very least slept in all of the other ones.

It's hard to judge entire states, so I'm going to do my best to balance it out. I don't spend much time researching crime rates, but I will point out anything I think is worth mentioning.

Arizona has a very reasonable cost of living outside of Flagstaff and Prescott/Sedona. IMO Phoenix is a huge bang for the buck, and would work for most people seeking a simple suburban lifestyle (assuming they could handle the heat). The outdoors and other diversions are above average as well.

California's cost of living sucks along the coast, and unless being inland (and still near the coast) is that much of a pro for people (Inland Empire, inland San Diego County, the outer Bay Area), it simply isn't worth it for many people. Don't get me wrong, LA, SF, and SD are amazing cities to live in/near, but the price you pay in COL and traffic make it difficult to justify living there. The Central Valley has its own set of problems (unemployment, crime, heat, air quality, etc), but is much more reasonable COL-wise, assuming you can get a job and deal with or ignore some of the glaring issues of living in the area. The good thing about living in cities like Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Sacramento, Redding, etc., is that the rest of CA is at your disposal when you leave town. Rural CA suffers from many ills (harsh weather, isolation, unemployment, drugs, etc) but work for certain sets of people.

Colorado has gotten out of control. Living anywhere desirable is now only for those who have succeeded elsewhere, this is no longer a place for the entry-level/just starting out folk. Denver is ridiculous for COL, and while you do get a lot for your money, simply getting in here isn't easy. Jobs do indeed grow on what few trees are here, but finding a place to live (and affording it) is a struggle for many (traffic is increasing exponentially every year it seems). Colorado Springs offers a much better balance, but could bore some people after a while, and the variety of jobs/industry is limited (commuting to Denver isn't for the sane). The Northern Front Range is also much more expensive than it used to be, but the quality of life is very high overall (aside from heading southbound into the traffic). Pueblo and the Eastern Plains won't interest most people, they're more places for those who have lived there their whole lives, and don't have the scenery Colorado is known for. Grand Junction is an interesting place, and should be much more of a retirement destination than it is. The resort towns serve no other function than to serve tourists and the ski industry, and living in many of them is prohibitively expensive. In my opinion, state and local services (including education) are lacking, even in comparison to California.

I only know the Idaho Panhandle well. I've been to the southern swath of Idaho only one time, so I'll defer on that. IMO, Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint, and their nearby lakes contain some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. The cost of living is still almost reasonable, but the local planning (especially near Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls) is atrocious (think cutting down forest to build tract homes, not expanding roads that get new traffic....basically unchecked/uncontrolled growth). Moscow is a cute little college town, and Lewiston would be a good place to hide if you never wanted anybody to find you.

Montana is a vast, still pretty wild state whose big cities would be small towns in most any other state. Helena and Butte feel at least a good 20 years in the past, Missoula and Bozeman are pretty attractive overall, and the big city Billings is very functional (though holds no appeal to me). The COL is pretty reasonable, but every city is pretty isolated, though life (particularly in the "cities") doesn't seem like it could get all that difficult. The scenery is pretty unmatched in the western half of the state.

Nevada: I'll defer on Reno, as I haven't been there in a very long time. Las Vegas is pretty much the strip and downtown surrounded by suburbia. IMO COL is still very reasonable/decent bang for buck, but the area feels very laissez-faire and unfinished overall. There are a lot more bad areas in Las Vegas than I think it gets credit for. Aside from the heat (it was legit 118F when I was there for WSOP last July), the weather is pretty good most of the time. The constant entertainment coming through is a big plus, and the fact that people come from all over the country and world makes for an interesting dynamic.

I'll admit that I'm not much of a NM expert, but I think New Mexico has a pretty reasonable cost-of-living. I also think New Mexico is an acquired or inherited taste. Albuquerque has problems with crime, but the weather is pretty agreeable for most of the year. I would expect salaries to be pretty low, and unemployment to be at least average, or above average. I've only given it the briefest of thoughts in my own personal relocation quests, but in my opinion most people would rather steer themselves to Arizona or Colorado, unless they absolutely fell in love with NM (and many do).

Oregon is harder to live in than I think it needs to be. The COL is way higher than it needs to be outside of Portland (which is almost justifiable IMO, even with its unintentional intentional weirdness), Eugene, Medford, etc., are not cheap, yeah there's no sales tax, but still. Unemployment is typically pretty high outside of Portland as well. The western half of the state is very beautiful, which eases the pain some. Eastern Oregon won't appeal to most people (outside of Redmond/Bend {but those are more Central OR}, as much of it is plains/desert, and mostly unpopulated. Unless I wanted a relatively peaceful life, in a very beautiful setting, and wanted to pay a little more for it than I probably should, I would steer clear from Oregon. Washington gets you so much more, for only a little more.

I'll defer on most of Utah. I know the southern half decently well, but I've only been to Salt Lake City/etc once. I don't think it's a terribly inviting place, it seems behind the times, and will come off to many people as very conservative. The COL seems reasonable, the weather in the southern half is nice and reasonable most of the time (Cedar City gets quite a bit of snow though), crime doesn't seem to be much of a problem, but I myself would run out of things to do. When I'm in Utah, I'm usually trying to get through fast to somewhere more exciting.

Washington is probably my favorite state in the union. I just feel like the state does a lot right. Seattle isn't anywhere I'd ever move though, I love the city, but it is way overhyped and has lost a lot of its soul during my lifetime. COL is ridiculous in Seattle/Bellevue, but almost gets reasonable (note, I said almost) when you reach Everett, Tacoma, and the most undesirable suburbs. Local and state services (including education) are on point compared to many other states. Tons of jobs, many with inflated salaries. Traffic within 30 miles of Seattle is beyond ridiculous, and growth in the suburbs hasn't been checked/controlled nearly enough. Many people have problems with the people in Seattle (I myself never have). Tacoma is going to pop off over the next 10 years (this shouldn't be news though). In the western part of the state, the scenery is pretty darn breathtaking, and should strike awe in folks who have never seen it. Spokane/NE Washington is very underrated, and gets a pretty bad rap within the state (it's a modest city, with a fair amount of crime, but with a still very reasonable COL and inspiring scenery). The Central and SE parts of the state do not represent the "Evergreen" part of the state motto very well, this part of the state is filled with agricultural cities and towns, and are like a cleaner version of the Central Valley of CA. Most of WA struggles with property crime. WA isn't a good bang for the buck, but you do get a lot for what you pay IMO.

Wyoming, like Montana, but not nearly as pretty. There is a probably a reason (or reasons) it is one of (if not the) least populated states. It is mountainous, flat, and windy, all at the same time. The southern and eastern parts of the state are pretty barren. Cheyenne is very reasonable COL-wise (it should be considered more of an alternative to the cities in CO, but it is not), but is still a pretty cute town that sustains itself pretty well. Casper is a small city that acts like a big town, is reasonable in most every way, but is very isolated. Laramie is a very pretty college town, but can get very cold. I think WY takes a certain kind, some people really love it, but most folks don't give it much of a second thought.

IMO, you can find the kind of life you're looking for in most of them, but you'll probably have to make concessions of one sort or the other to make it work. I chose metro Denver 11 years ago, because it was under the radar, was reasonable COL-wise, had jobs, and tons of things to do. I would not move here now.

I would look for somewhere with a average or below-average COL, preferably below-average unemployment, a climate I could agree with, and scenery I loved. Or I'd give up one to have the other three.
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Old 04-06-2018, 12:05 PM
 
Location: SoCal
3,768 posts, read 2,556,427 times
Reputation: 2982
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepCSC View Post
I agree California is overcrowded along a fire hazard fault line with no potable water. Wait, what was the question?
Considering that Bangladesh has 168 million people on a land area a third the size of California, i don't think in the grand scheme of things it's really "crowded".

With the world rapidly growing the only way we as a race can survive for centuries to come is to develop a way to accommodate many people on small amounts of land.

Somewho have a twisted view of "crowded" will continuously be tested over the years to come. I think the smart thing to do is to encourage growth, and try and see the opportunities that can arise from it, as opposed to focusing on the negative inevitable.
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Old 04-06-2018, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Illinois
989 posts, read 594,294 times
Reputation: 1092
Man, Count David really put a lot of effort into that post. Bravo.

Reading it though, as someone who loves the west, but is apprehensive to live in it, made me realize it might not be for me.

Did live in Tucson for awhile, which has it's pros and cons. It seems I missed the Denver wave, and now it's too late to move there affordably and enjoy it.

Just spent a couple of days in Spokane. It's a pretty beautiful area, but way isolated, and lots of unsavory people walking around at night in the downtown.

I love California, but living there scares me with all the taxes, COL, etc.

If Boise was about 2x the size it is, I'd probably be racing to move there.
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Old 04-06-2018, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,236 posts, read 24,416,312 times
Reputation: 13004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmanshouse View Post
Man, Count David really put a lot of effort into that post. Bravo.

Reading it though, as someone who loves the west, but is apprehensive to live in it, made me realize it might not be for me.

Did live in Tucson for awhile, which has it's pros and cons. It seems I missed the Denver wave, and now it's too late to move there affordably and enjoy it.

Just spent a couple of days in Spokane. It's a pretty beautiful area, but way isolated, and lots of unsavory people walking around at night in the downtown.

I love California, but living there scares me with all the taxes, COL, etc.

If Boise was about 2x the size it is, I'd probably be racing to move there.
I agree with you on all of these points.

Yeah, unless you're coming with a professional-level income, Denver should be skipped.

I used to live in Spokane, and while I personally continue to love the place (we've been pondering moving back, especially lately), it is not without its problems (the isolation to me is a plus, it keeps the local culture/flavor intact ), and what you say about downtown is spot on, it is still fairly scary at night (sirens go literally all night on Friday/Saturday night, you would think we were at war....I'm not kidding).

We were there this past February, and were staying downtown. One night, I'm walking back to my hotel, and this teen kid walks up to me, he doesn't have his shirt on (it was VERY cold), he says something unintelligible, and then proceeds to throw up all over the place, and then he continues walking (lol). Downtown has improved since I lived there 9 years ago, but it is still very fragmented, full of homeless/lower rungs, and is likely plenty unsafe after dark.

Have you looked at Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, or Colorado Springs? If you do look at Colorado Springs, get in now or "be priced out forever".
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Old 04-06-2018, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Olympia, Washington
1,258 posts, read 699,374 times
Reputation: 1123
Western Washington
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Old 04-06-2018, 06:24 PM
BMI
 
Location: Ontario
7,261 posts, read 4,496,801 times
Reputation: 5593
Check out Las Cruces, NM

Checks off most boxes.

Best weather in the west (other than CA).
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Old 04-06-2018, 06:49 PM
 
Location: North Dakota
7,725 posts, read 9,024,418 times
Reputation: 11089
Quote:
Originally Posted by California_Aspirer View Post
Which state/s would be the best to live in Western USA in terms of cost of living, crime, and general quality of life. The following states I am referring to.

Arizona
California
Colorado
Hawaii
Idaho
Montana
Nevada
New Mexico
Oregon
Utah
Washington
Wyoming
I've lived in Wyoming and Montana so I will weigh in.

The cost of living isn't cheap in either one. They're ultra conservative (although some parts of Montana have an awful mix of ultra liberal and ultra conservative). Both can be very unwelcoming of outsiders. Wages in Montana are low to boot. In my opinion, not a great quality of life.

On the plus side, they do have lots of outdoor activities and low crime.

I'd consider the Black Hills area in South Dakota as well. It's a neat area but not many jobs.
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Old 04-08-2018, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Illinois
989 posts, read 594,294 times
Reputation: 1092
Quote:
Originally Posted by Count David View Post
I agree with you on all of these points.

Yeah, unless you're coming with a professional-level income, Denver should be skipped.

I used to live in Spokane, and while I personally continue to love the place (we've been pondering moving back, especially lately), it is not without its problems (the isolation to me is a plus, it keeps the local culture/flavor intact ), and what you say about downtown is spot on, it is still fairly scary at night (sirens go literally all night on Friday/Saturday night, you would think we were at war....I'm not kidding).

We were there this past February, and were staying downtown. One night, I'm walking back to my hotel, and this teen kid walks up to me, he doesn't have his shirt on (it was VERY cold), he says something unintelligible, and then proceeds to throw up all over the place, and then he continues walking (lol). Downtown has improved since I lived there 9 years ago, but it is still very fragmented, full of homeless/lower rungs, and is likely plenty unsafe after dark.

Have you looked at Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, or Colorado Springs? If you do look at Colorado Springs, get in now or "be priced out forever".

ABQ isn't for me. SLC maybe. Colorado Springs is too stroller moms/white/military for my taste.

I will say, Spokane's downtown (outside of it being scary at night) was pretty robust for a city of its size. And visually appealing.
Reminded me a little bit of Madison WI, which is a town I love (I recommend you visit there if you haven't).

I did a google street view of Boise, and unfortunately, was not impressed. It's tough when you are used to Chicago.
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Old 04-09-2018, 07:53 AM
 
2,727 posts, read 5,148,433 times
Reputation: 1938
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmanshouse View Post
ABQ isn't for me. SLC maybe. Colorado Springs is too stroller moms/white/military for my taste.

I will say, Spokane's downtown (outside of it being scary at night) was pretty robust for a city of its size. And visually appealing.
Reminded me a little bit of Madison WI, which is a town I love (I recommend you visit there if you haven't).

I did a google street view of Boise, and unfortunately, was not impressed. It's tough when you are used to Chicago.
Strange, SLC is "maybe" for you, but also fits your description of Colorado Springs minus the military.
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Old 04-09-2018, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Brew City
4,223 posts, read 2,505,774 times
Reputation: 5651
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmanshouse View Post
ABQ isn't for me. SLC maybe. Colorado Springs is too stroller moms/white/military for my taste.

I will say, Spokane's downtown (outside of it being scary at night) was pretty robust for a city of its size. And visually appealing.
Reminded me a little bit of Madison WI, which is a town I love (I recommend you visit there if you haven't).

I did a google street view of Boise, and unfortunately, was not impressed. It's tough when you are used to Chicago.
No. Just no. Spokane is nothing like Madison.


If it weren't for the crazy conservative politicians representing Idaho I'd say that would be the best state in the west. (I do love California but the water situation terrifies me). While the panhandle is beautiful it's not a place to make a living. Boise is a great small town but it is in fact, a town. I may grow into a city and you could get in now but it does lack amenities and is quite isolated.


Just the latest in a long line of crazy Idaho politicians;
https://www.sltrib.com/news/nation-w...top-abortions/
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