Find a City

Not that I’m committing to any radical course of action in the face of my current disillusionment, but I find myself scoping other cities with increasing frequency. Any comments (particularly from people who live or have lived in any of these places) are most welcome. First, some of the criteria:

Type of City:

I fancy a fairly large place (in the 500,000 to 1,000,000 population range) just because these cities tend to be more interesting and diverse, and have bonuses like working transit, a variety of bars and restaurants, etc. I do, however, want a place where having a car is not a complete nightmare. I do in fact have a bias for older (perhaps even decaying) industrial-type cities. One bedroom apartments in the $500 range are a plus. Cheaper ones are a much bigger plus. Some job options might be nice too…

Geography:

Proximity to the Family is increasingly important; I’d like to be within a day’s drive from home. This rules out the west coast. Having a river, lake, or other large body of water IN the city is pretty essential as well, for aesthetic reasons rather than recreational ones. A variety of fairly close road trip destinations is just as important. I don’t particularly mind cold weather, or even some snow, although these are not “must haves”. I really hate hot summers.

Ruled out from the start:

Cute college towns, gentrified yuppie meccas, and relatively suburban boomtowns (Houston, Denver, Charlotte) hold no appeal whatsoever. Neither do congested nightmares like Washington, New York, and Boston. Portland and Seattle are probably not options either, losing out only because of distance from the parents. Los Angeles and San Diego never were options, nor was the southwest or New England. And I will not move back to the south…no discussion allowed…

And now the short list (not that I’m planning to move or anything):

  • Chicago (visited in 1996 and 1997): A little big, a little pricey, and the summers (and winters) are brutal. But it’s a great place. I like the way it looks. I could spend several years exploring and not get bored. There are White Castles and cheap Indian restaurants, and bowling alleys which host bands, and the transit is good.
  • Detroit (visited once in 1997): Most people who know me realize I have an unhealthy obsession with Detroit. The climate sucks, there’s no transit to speak of, and the place can be down right scary. But I still like it. Canada’s just across the river. The cost of living is close to nothing. They have White Castles too…
  • Baltimore (most recent visit in 1997): I’ve visited pretty often and Baltimore has always intrigued me. No one seems to like the place except its residents. This is a big plus. It’s also close to New York, Philadelphia, and home, and not all that far from Chicago and Detroit. Could be an option…
  • Toronto (visited once in 1979): I don’t know about the logistics of moving to Canada. But I’d like to look around the place and see how it’s changed since my last visit nearly 20 years ago…
  • Oakland (just across the bay): I include Oakland simply because it’s where I WILL live if I stay in the Bay Area…
  • Minneapolis (visited once in 1996): Damn…talk about ugly winters… But I like the place and I have a fair number of friends there. It’s a little far from home and the road trip options are pretty much limited to Chicago, but they do have White Castles, so I’ll say Minneapolis has a slightly more than slight chance…
  • Pittsburgh (visited once in 1997): Another one with an outside chance. Great place, hugely industrial and working class feel. Lots of hills and rivers. But it’s a bit isolated and I fear for the nightlife options. Very possible, still…

The second tier: Cleveland, St. Louis, Philadelphia…

Suggestions, comments, job offers, and links to cool web sites are solicited. Not that I’m planning to move or anything…

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