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Old 12-09-2012, 09:42 AM
 
107 posts, read 166,765 times
Reputation: 31

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So I've made similar posts in various places of this forum and have decided to make another one here.

I am in my mid 20's and my fiance and I..and our dog are trying to figure out our next move. Part of it is going to depend on where we can find jobs.. Anyway we are originally from small towns in central Illinois and I went to school in Southern Illinois in Carbondale. I have a BA in Cinema and Photography. After school I moved back in with my parents and did part time work while trying to find something better. On a whim my fiance and I moved to Bloomington, Indiana last August and things just didn't work out after 6 months and now we're back living with my parents in rural Illinois. This was all mostly our fault for not having full time work lined up but oh well we learned some things. I really do hate it here in rural central Illinois..really, way too conservative and nothing to do. She doesn't have a degree but has done phlebotomy in the past and may get her CNA or go back to school for Early Childhood. If she gets her CNA license here in Illinois is it particularly hard to transfer to MO? I know states are different. I do some freelance photo stuff but there isn't much market here. I know I'll probably never make enough of a living doing creative work so I'll probably settle for a normal 9-5 and do my stuff on weekends. Right now I am just working PT in retail trying to save money as well as various freelance work. I'm also very aware that the best thing to do is secure work before moving but I also know it's very hard to secure a lot of work when you're not there. So I've settled that we may need to try and move with enough money saved to live for several months. Would any renters in the area allow paying several months in advance w/o a job? I'm also open to smaller areas or suburbs. I've never been to KC but I've been to Lawrence for a day and it seemed like a nice and charming college town. So here's what we're looking for.

Decent cost of living with a chance of finding rental homes with a fenced yard. Our dog has issues (rescue dog with anxiety, etc.) and it's hard to take him on long walks.
Low crime
Low unemployment (with a decent amount of entry level full time jobs, if need be)
Affordable rent
Decent art scene
Progressive and at least somewhat liberal
Somewhere that is growing
Open-minded people
LGBTQ friendly
Live music venues
Some quirkiness
Sustainable future - economy, climate, etc
Good for kids if we have any
Not terrible to navigate, driving, traffic - I'm somewhat bad at directions but I use a GPS and I'm better at stressful driving situations than most of my family, but that doesn't mean much.

Some other places I've been looking into for comparison are Omaha, Pittsburgh, Des Moines, random places here in IL, Columbus, Boulder/Denver, etc.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:14 PM
 
376 posts, read 430,533 times
Reputation: 350
For the features you want, something in KCMO proper makes sense. I suggest the Volker/39th Street West neighborhood if you want a house; the Crossroads district in downtown if you want a loft, of which there are many (I live in one). The Crossroads is packed with creative types and creative businesses, and is very liberal with an LBGT community. You'd find lower crime in Brookside, which is a wonderful area near UMKC and lots of amenities, but there are few rentals there. It sounds like walkability, street life, creative culture, and a liberal bent are what you want, and either Volker or the Crossroads will deliver those.

As for the other communities on your list, Omaha is, IMO, dreadful. Pittsburgh is terrific, and Boulder, while incredibly marvelous, is UNGODLY expensive.
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:06 PM
 
1,830 posts, read 3,114,909 times
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If you want smaller city, and it sounds like you are OK with that, Omaha is a pretty healthy town for its size and very low cost of living.

Living in KCMO city might fit the bill as mentioned W Side of Midtown is reasonably low crime for city living. KC has a very large arts district downtown (Crossroads) with a lot of collaboration between various kinds of artists that may be an opportunity for you as a photographer. KC also has a very large grassroots theatre scene for its size, maybe top 10 in US (KC Stage | Kansas City's Primary Source for Performing Arts). You could also continue an arts education at UMKC, which has some pretty decent programs in arts/theatre/music, theatre production, etc. If anything to take a couple classes and get some exposure for networking. Many artists make a full time living in KC w/out a side job but not sure about photography - you can network though and maybe collaborate, probably better than any other cities you are considering. The city core has more restaurants/bars compared to retail so you may have to go to burbs for a retail job.
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:19 PM
 
107 posts, read 166,765 times
Reputation: 31
Well I would rather have some sort of 9-5 office job but would work full time retail if need be.
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:51 PM
 
1,830 posts, read 3,114,909 times
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Here is the layout and amenities in city core to give you an idea...
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1238514/pics/bus/maxmwk.gif
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:28 PM
 
677 posts, read 1,148,236 times
Reputation: 478
I think KC fits most of the items on your list quite well.

For cost of living and ability to find a rental home, KC would rank quite high. Cost of living here is about as low as any major city in the US.

The art scene and quirkiness are two other strong points, where I would give KC an edge over the other cities on your list. The Crossroads is one of the largest art gallery districts in the nation and the Kansas City Art Institute, while not a particularly large school, is well respected and has a big influence in keeping the arts going strong in KC. Also, Hallmark being based in KC brings in quite a few creative employees.

As far as being progressive, open-minded, and LGBT friendly, the urban core of KC definitely fits that description, although the suburbs can range from moderate to rather conservative.

Unemployment in KC is below the national average at 6.8 percent and has been declining steadily.

KC has been growing at a decent rate - not as fast as Denver or Sun Belt cities, but better than Pittsburgh and the Rust Belt.

For live music, KC does fairly well, although it could be better. KC is known for its jazz history and does a decent job of keeping the jazz and blues scenes active. Most of the major touring acts stop in KC, especially since the Sprint Center has been up and running. KC also does fairly well with drawing most of small to medium independent acts - although many will stop in Lawrence which is about a 45 minute drive from Downtown.

Many would say that crime is a weak point for KC and the city usually does not rank very well statistically. However, the worst of the crime is fairly isolated to the rough parts of the city, and the majority of the city is about as safe as any other similarly sized metro.

As far as the other cities you listed, I would personally eliminate Des Moines. It does not stack up well, particularly in the areas of art scene, quirkiness, progressiveness, live music etc. I would put KC, Columbus and Pittsburgh at the top of the list based on your criteria (which are all things I find important as well). Omaha seems nice, but I think it is a bit too small for me and Denver would fall behind the other cities for cost of living and quirkiness/art scene.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:19 AM
 
Location: Middle America
35,823 posts, read 39,447,126 times
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I have not read the other responses on this thread, am just answering after reading the OP, so apologies if anything is duplicated. Or, I suppose I could completely contradict what others weigh in with, which could be interesting, too.

As a reference point, I myself moved to KC from rural IL (northern, though, vs. central), five years ago. I have loved it (also for reference, I also lived in Chicago, previously, so I don't come from a strictly rural viewpoint, either). I moved here when I was 30. I was able to secure a professional position prior to moving, but it wasn't a job I ended up staying with...after I'd been living and working here seven or eight months, I moved on to a different job. But it was possible to land a job pre-moving here. This was pre-recession, though, 2007.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdagarim View Post
So here's what we're looking for.

Decent cost of living with a chance of finding rental homes with a fenced yard. Our dog has issues (rescue dog with anxiety, etc.) and it's hard to take him on long walks.
I had this same situation at one point. Houses for rent can be had, in various neighborhoods (the one house I rented was in Waldo), and it's possible to find ones with fenced yards.

Quote:
Low crime
Def. easily found.

Quote:
Low unemployment (with a decent amount of entry level full time jobs, if need be)
Seems to vary by field.

Quote:
Affordable rent
Yes, for an urban area its size, but it depends on that to which you are accustomed, also. I know when I lived in small-town IL, I rented a huge 2BR in a vintage building for $310/mo...you won't find that, but you will find that rent is affordable respective to the size of the city.

Quote:
Decent art scene
Absolutely. Quite impressive, IMO.

Quote:
Progressive and at least somewhat liberal
Yes and no. From where you are coming from, likely much more liberal. Compared to some other cities, hit and miss.


Quote:
Open-minded people
I've found it to be, but I normally gravitate to those types of people no matter where I am.

Quote:
LGBTQ friendly
Most definitely, moreso in the city itself than the far-flung 'burbs, which, like anywhere, get less progressive the further out you get. But the LGBTQ community is particularly embraced in the local arts and music scene, KC Pride is always a thing, there are largely gay civic music ensembles that are well-regarded, etc.

Quote:
Live music venues
Many.

Quote:
Some quirkiness
Not 100% sure of your criteria for quirky, but I suspect you'd find it.

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Sustainable future - economy, climate, etc
Seems to be headed on the right path, IMO. Needs better public trans, though.

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Good for kids if we have any
Overall, great for kids, IMO (I don't have any, but I work in education, so I do have a pretty valid perspective). The school district serving the innermost urban core is a trainwreck, so anyone living in the areas served by it (a small portion of the metro, actually), typically look to charters and private schools. It was stripped of accreditation twice in the past decade or so, and is currently not accredited. Biggest black eye in the city, in my fairly informed opinion.

Quote:
Not terrible to navigate, driving, traffic - I'm somewhat bad at directions but I use a GPS and I'm better at stressful driving situations than most of my family, but that doesn't mean much.
Piece of cake. Traffic is essentially nonexistent most of the time, the city is not confusingly laid out, and parking is a relative nonissue most places.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:18 AM
 
107 posts, read 166,765 times
Reputation: 31
Thanks for all the great info so far! When we had a 2br apartment in Bloomington, In we paid $620 or so before utilities which was considered a steal for the apt community and the prices there in general. It's a college town thought so I'm expecting to pay at least that if not more for a rental home wherever we go. Good to hear navigation and traffic isn't much of an issue, especially coming from my Pittsburgh post I started, which the "traffic hell" is one of the few turnoffs to that area that I've heard thus far.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:50 AM
 
Location: The Valley of the Sun
1,481 posts, read 2,167,776 times
Reputation: 1528
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdagarim View Post
Decent cost of living with a chance of finding rental homes with a fenced yard. Our dog has issues (rescue dog with anxiety, etc.) and it's hard to take him on long walks.
Low crime
Low unemployment (with a decent amount of entry level full time jobs, if need be)
Affordable rent
Decent art scene
Progressive and at least somewhat liberal
Somewhere that is growing
Open-minded people
LGBTQ friendly
Live music venues
Some quirkiness
Sustainable future - economy, climate, etc
Good for kids if we have any
Not terrible to navigate, driving, traffic - I'm somewhat bad at directions but I use a GPS and I'm better at stressful driving situations than most of my family, but that doesn't mean much.
Kansas City has a very low cost of living. Denver/Boulder? Well, if you cant afford central IL there's no way in hell you'll ever be able to afford Denver much less Boulder.
Theft is really low. Violent crime is sorta average.
Average Unemployment.
Very affordable rent.
Surprisingly good art scene. I always said KC was a bit of an island regarding art and culture because the rest of the cities in the area such as Wichita, Topeka, Des Moines and Omaha suck big time in that regard. You'll want to live in the Waldo/Brookside area. Mission is pretty cool too. KU Med Center area is a really really hip (for lack of a better word) area as well.
Surprisingly liberal.
Views on traffic are relative. I grew up in Phoenix so KC traffic is a breeze IMO.
Great for families.

The best thing about KC, other then the trees and greenery, is the people. Very laid back pace and everyone is so nice. Again, this may be relative. Phoenix is now full of pushy, rude, dehydrated, overly aggressive driving Southern Californians so when I moved to KC I was in shock at how nice everyone was.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,706 posts, read 18,531,221 times
Reputation: 5420
When it comes to cost benefit analyses and having a large metro with plenty of amenities yet still easy to navigate take advantage of its offerings, it's pretty tough to beat KC. So if cost of living + a vibrant large metro with good quality of life is what you want, look no further.

Pittsburgh is similar to KC and I might even prefer it over KC now (I like to be closer to other cities, coast, mountains etc), but traffic there is so annoying especially with all the bridges and tunnels. KC has no traffic. None. I hear they want to spend like 700 million to fix one interchange in the KS suburbs. KC will build its way out of any sort of rush hour delay, even if that delay is only five minutes and last 1 hour.
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