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Thread summary:

Single soon to be college grad seeking relocation assistance, desire; warm climate, low cost of living, active singles scene, low chance of natural disasters

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Old 03-19-2009, 11:04 PM
82 posts, read 181,808 times
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Let's just assume that I am a soon-to-be 22 year-old college grad. that has the opportunity to work anywhere in the country (hard to believe in this economy, but assume). Now, I am not very well traveled at all and have no idea what a lot of cities are like, so I need your help. Here is what I need in a city, listed roughly in order of importance:

1. Warm climate, for me defined as daytime temps above 50 year-round. Looking at climate charts, this of course confines me to the southern portions of CA, AZ, NM, TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, and all of FL.

2. Good singles scene for people my age. (Increasing the chances of meeting someone I like is really the only reason I specify "city"... for this purpose I'd say any metro area no smaller than about 300k would work).

3. Short and easy commute to work and around town (defined as no longer than 45 minutes, even at rush hour, preferably shorter than 30 min). To be on the safe side, assume my office will be located smack-dab in the middle of downtown and that I DO NOT want to take public transportation (assume that I am highly allergic to it). This I'm sure rules out L.A., and probably Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta (correct me if wrong).

4. Somewhat low cost of living. Assume I will in a 1-bedroom by myself, earning 40k. San Diego, and the rest of Cali, is out.

If possible, a low chance of natural disasters, especially hurricanes (these seem to be getting more frequent and I don't want to bother with them) is preferable. I am lenient here, provided the other criteria are met.

I do NOT care about sports teams, quality of schools, the arts, the crime rate, or parks/recreation. I like the outdoors but do not care one way or the other about beaches (which is, along with reasons above, why I lean towards AZ/NM).

So what does that leave me with? The way I see it:
Phoenix, Tucson, Las Cruces, El Paso, Austin, Corpus Christi, Shreveport, Montgomery, Tampa, Savannah, and some others.
I'm considering Phoenix and Tucson because of what they offer outdoors-wise. Taken the above into consideration, what do YOU suggest? Feel free to suggest cities I haven't mentioned!
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:25 AM
Location: St Louis
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Why dont you try looking at St Louis. Its has a low cost of living, lots to do, and a decent singles scene. Only draw back would be the winters however its nice to have 4 different seasons.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:49 AM
Location: Denver via Austin
3,115 posts, read 6,497,713 times
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Most of those cities on your list are good fits except you might have problems with traffic in Phoenix and Austin. I'm going to throw out my city of Lubbock and see what you think. Lubbock's CSA is right at 300K, and it has a major university (Texas Tech), so there are many young single professionals. It has a very low cost of living (about 20% lower than the US average), and it takes only 20 minutes to drive across town. It's January temperatures are on average 52/25. If you are interested, just DM me with any more questions. Good luck on your decision!
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Old 03-27-2009, 01:59 PM
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Thanks for your replies. St. Louis is probably nice but I'm looking to escape winter, forever. Lubbock,Texas is definitely on my list of possibles though.
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:42 PM
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I would add Charleston, Wilmington, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville to your list.

I'd rather live in Columbus, Georgia, than Montgomery, Alabama.
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Old 03-27-2009, 05:36 PM
Location: Greater PDX
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I lived in a 1BR apartment 6 miles outside of downtown Dallas and worked in downtown (albeit on the outer fringes, but in a high rise). My commute (driving) was like 20-25 minutes most days, up to 30 sometimes. If you are close to the major freeways and within 635, traffic isn't too bad. A great city for social activities with other singles and for a lower cost of living compared to salary. Occasional hail storms and tornadoes (although the west side of the D/FW area gets hit with them more due to weather patterns), and it won't be above 50 during the day all the time.
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Old 03-27-2009, 05:45 PM
Location: Southern Minnesota
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Honolulu, HI seems to fit your bill.
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Old 03-27-2009, 07:32 PM
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How bout Baton Rouge, La?

Weather is good, has LSU-big time school that produces plenty of honey's, relatively low cost of living, hurricanes don't really affect it b/c it's too far inland, traffic not great but you could do worse and there's always a party going on somewhere. Plus great food.

Alright, there you go, lemme know when you're moving so I can come to the house warming party.
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:19 PM
82 posts, read 181,808 times
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Plenty of honeys eh? Sounds like my kind of place. If you've got a lot of women of French descent down there then I'm sold. How does it compare to the west in terms of outdoor activities (like hiking) though?
kazoopilot, snorkeling daily in Hawaii would be awesome and the weather is ideal, but I get the feeling tourists + beaches (and the high prices that come with that) would get old.
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:32 PM
Location: Phoenix
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If I had a choice, I'd be in Hawaii in a red hot second, but it is more expensive, and after a while, I'd probably feel a little claustrophobic. Since you mentioned Phoenix and Tucson, I wanted to give you my take on each. I took sports, jobs, arts, and schools out of the equation, since hypothetically, you weren't interested in any of those - Being the larger city, Phoenix (by sheer volume) would've won on these fronts (including shopping, but not sure about quality of schools).

Here is the comparison (some based on my experiences):

*The city and its people -

Phoenix (4.3 million metro) is more of a mainstreamed, cosmopolitan, bigger city (mini-LA) than Tucson, where everything is spread out more evenly (dense sprawl) instead of having a dense centralized core like a typical big city. The mean resident age (as of 2007) was 33 (males and females each 50 percent). In 2009, Phoenix-Mesa was considered the 22nd Fattest city in nation. The Phoenix area has more fresher and newer areas than Tucson, due to the population boom and new construction it experienced. In other areas of Phoenix (subdivisions), you'd perhaps not notice the difference between it and Tucson, except for the fact that the mountains in and around Tucson dominate the sky. I'd say the middle class is more prominent in Phoenix than in Tucson, but you'll also find more $65,000. "millionaires" up there as well. In reference to this, (this is only based on my experiences), there seems to be a little more concentration in Phoenix on the ostentatious display, whether it be the clothes, the career, the body parts, the children...than in Tucson. It sometimes can come across as a little forced, although this is not meant to be a reflection of the population as a whole.

Tucson (1 million+ metro) is more of an organic, friendly, down-to-earth, and quirky mid-sized city. It is smaller, more liberal-leaning, and less congested (even in the parks). The mean resident age (as of 2007) is 32.1 (males 49 percent - females 51 percent). In 2009, Tucson was considered the 13th Fittest city in the nation. Tucson is also spread out, although not to the same degree as Phoenix (area-wise). Some areas do not look as fresh and actually look older here than in Phoenix, but the natural scenery is much prettier (IMO). The nicer areas seem to be in the foothills (you'll actually find a larger number of people in a higher income bracket here than in Scottsdale) and Oro Valley, but the divide between the higher-income and lower-income is slightly greater in Tucson. The NW and SE parts of the metro also seem newer. The people in Tucson seem to be trendy, while at the same time, a little more down to earth. Because Tucson is a smaller city, it can sometimes seem a little cliquish, but that may be due to the fact that there is a better chance of running into someone you know due to the smaller population.

Neither one of these cities has a skyline that represents what cities their sizes should look like. Phoenix has made more strides recently to improve its downtown, which is bigger than Tucson's, but size for size (factoring in the population difference), I'd say Tucson actually has a little more activity to its downtown than Phoenix. That will most likely change with the new light rail system in Phoenix and the new ASU downtown campus, which hopefully brings more people to downtown Phoenix. Tucson is just now starting to do something with its downtown (it seems to be a slower process). In both cities you'll perhaps hear half of the people say that their downtowns look pathetic, and the other half who say they like them just the way they are.

*You're looking for warm weather without the natural disasters:
They both offer that. I give the edge to Tucson, as it is not as hot as Phoenix, and you get the brunt of the Monsoon Season, which is actually a blessing when it happens.

*You're looking for a good singles scene:

While both metros aren't stocked with just university girls, both metros do have pretty good sized universities - ASU (Tempe) and UA (Tucson) with lots of girls to choose from. In the looks department, I say it is a tie (I'm not tying this in with the Scottsdale crowd, which has a significant percentage of girls who have had some "assistance"). Obviously you'll have more choices in the Phoenix area being that it has a larger population, but you'll also have more competition - you'll have a lesser chance getting lost in the crowd in Tucson. I say its a TIE.


By sheer size, you've got more options (quality and quantity) in Phoenix. Scottsdale has the most popular nightlife scene in the area - it's pretty fun (although it can be a quite pretentious at times - even the boys), while Tempe has Mill Ave which is also fun, but seems more laid-back and less uptight. Then you have other places scattered throughout the valley.

Tucson doesn't offer the amount of nightlife you'd find in the Phoenix area, but it also is more laid-back, less uptight, while still fun. You'll still find a few places scattered around town that offer the same type of quality/clientele and music (Richard Vission guest DJ tonight at Level) that you would find in Scottsdale (depends on what you like), but most of the nightlife is concentrated around 4th Avenue (mixed crowd - always a party), University Blvd (more University of Arizona crowd), and Congress St. It is not unusual to see people from Northern Mexico (especially Hermosillo) come up to Tucson to party for the weekend.


The Phoenix area wins hands-down obviously, because it is much larger than Tucson, and there is a bigger demand for more choices. Tucson still has some pretty good restaurants for a city its size. If you are looking for some nice eye candy, check out RA on a Sunday night during happy hour.

*You're looking for a short and easy commute:

Phoenix - Depending on the direction you are going, and at a specific time of day will determine your commute time (Phoenix isn't as bad as many other cities its size). Phoenix has an extensive freeway system, but even with that, the average commute time is still longer than in Tucson. You mentioned that you are not a fan of public transportation - both cities do have an extensive bus system, and Phoenix does have a new light rail system as of late last year.

Tucson - Unless you are driving from one end of the metro to the other, this shouldn't be a problem, but you won't have as many freeway options as you would in Phoenix. The traffic is heavier in the late fall/winter, which can be frustrating, but you can find a few surface streets that aren't used as much as some major ones. Tucson does not have a light rail system, but they have already begun installing tracks for a new modern streetcar system.

*You're looking for a lower cost of living:

If you're planning to rent, Tucson is slightly cheaper in this category than Phoenix, and is the lowest in the west. If you're looking to find a home vs. rent, the better option is a foreclosed home in Phoenix - the home values are actually lower now in Phoenix than in Tucson. I'm assuming you're planning to rent though. If you like views, the foothills can be pretty expensive, but you can still find an affordable condo or apartment to rent.

* You like the outdoors:

This depends on what you like to do outdoors.

Since you mentioned you like hiking, Tucson has the advantage here, as it stays usually 10 degrees cooler than in Phoenix due to its higher elevation, but you can feel an even more significant difference at night. In addition, Tucson sits at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, with Mt. Lemon at over 9,000 ft at its peak. Plenty of hiking to be done, and when it snows up there, you can actually go skiing, although that is nothing compared to real skiing destinations. There are some nice parks w/ tracks to go jogging, walking, or rollerblading. Tucson is also named one of the top bicycle-friendly cities in the U.S.

Phoenix also has plenty of outdoor activity options, and has more in-town parks (which tend to get a little more packed). Although I personally do not believe the desert is as well-preserved as it is in the Tucson area, you'll find other options that you won't find in Tucson. Tempe has Town Lake. If you like to go tubing, you have close access to the Salt River. If you like fishing, you would have better options in that part of the state, or more northern.

If you like to skydive, my suggestion would be Eloy, located near the half-way point between PHX and TUC (slightly closer to Tucson).

*Ultimately, these cities share some commonalities and at the same time are quite different. It really depends on finding a balance of the things you like. Phoenix experienced tremendous growth over the last 10 years, and is a bit more fast-paced than Tucson. Tucson hasn't really hit its stride like Phoenix and has experienced modest growth, and it is a bit more laid-back and less uptight than Phoenix. Who knows what the future will bring to either one of these cities, but the advantage for both is that the things you may like or choose to explore about one is only costing you 1.5 hours of driving time from the other.
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