Author Topic: Boring mid-sized cities?  (Read 8410 times)

GU

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Boring mid-sized cities?
« on: May 02, 2017, 03:16:53 PM »
 I've only lived in large cities during my life, but I have considered moving to a smaller or medium-sized city in the future because of lower cost-of-living and a slower pace of life/less of a "rat race" feel. Whenever I raise this idea with friends, often the response is "you will be bored out of your mind."

My question for people who grew up in or lived in large cities for a long time but then moved to smaller cities: what is it that large cities have that medium-size cities lack in today's day and age? My gut response is "I doubt it's that different for the average person". As far as I know, places like Indianapolis, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, etc. all have plenty of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, but maybe I'm wrong?

Note:  I'm married and have a family. I could see a different calculus for a single person, but let's put aside the mating market for this discussion.  And let's also put aside politics—I'm aware of regional political differences and it's not a big deal for me.

Flynlow

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2017, 03:29:27 PM »
Its a weird form of elitism.  Most of the people offering that opinion have never lived outside of NY/Boston/Philly/Chicago/etc.  But they stopped at a gas station on the side of the road once and didnt see anyone, so they naturally assume the rest of the country is uninhabited. I assume that like so many things, it is self justification for the crowding and higher costs.  If all that stuff is available everywhere, then arent they silly for paying double for the same amenities? :)

Go in with an eyes open, this will be fun attitude and you'll love the relative friendliness and lower costs.  Go in with a snowbird attitude of "Well!  Back in NY, we do things a certain (better to them) way!", and you'll be politely excluded in the future.  And then probably get bored.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2017, 03:42:20 PM »
There certainly is less human things to do, and unless you live out with a little land, not much better outside items.

I moved from the country to the twin cities and I like life better in the 'burbs' myself.

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nereo

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2017, 04:01:00 PM »

My question for people who grew up in or lived in large cities for a long time but then moved to smaller cities: what is it that large cities have that medium-size cities lack in today's day and age? My gut response is "I doubt it's that different for the average person". As far as I know, places like Indianapolis, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, etc. all have plenty of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, but maybe I'm wrong?

Here are my thoughts based on my experiences having lived both:

In small cities there are:
Fewer places that are open 24hrs (and fewer places and kinds of businesses that deliver after 11pm)
Very high-end/costly restaurants and bars are scarce/non-existent (think $200 price-fix menus)
not nearly as many niche markets - e.g. Sudanese food or shops that repair only antique cameras
less $ for Public grant opportunities.  Large cities can fund all sorts of entreprenureal projects and outreach programs that smaller ones can't
less diverse service industry (very non-mustachian territory, e.g. personal shopping firms)
generally less FREE stuff - concerts, festivals, public art exhibits...

All of that said, my favorite places to live have all been small cities (in the 75,000 to 300,000 range).




SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2017, 04:06:45 PM »
I lived in a place that has ~115K people, and I found it a bit boring. It's a gorgeous place, and one that people (who are not me) love. And because it is both a university town and a tourist destination, there was a lot to do for it's size, in that it got fairly good shows passing through (meaning musical acts, film festivals, speakers, a few comics but not many, this was lacking for me). But not the same level as being in a big city, where you know that anyone on tour for anything will be playing somewhere near by. The museums were lame, in that they never got the best exhibits, and the monthly art nights were pretty much just the same thing over and over. The food catered heavily towards tourists, and was overpriced and just not that good (maybe because they weren't depending on repeat customers?). There was a serious lack of diversity in terms of food and people, and I really found myself missing those hole-in-the-wall cheap but tasty ethnic food options you get in bigger cities, as well as top-tier culinary experiences (only a couple times a year, but still fun). The selection of bars was pretty good, probably because of the university and the proximity to a wine region, though the big city I live in now has every kind of bar imaginable, many within a short walk/bike. The library was small, with a small selection, but with interlibrary loan and overdrive that became less of a problem.

Some of the things I disliked were specific to this city, not all midsized cities. Due to it's touristy nature it was incredibly expensive. And due to choices made by the city planners they favored chain stores downtown rather than the individual mom and pop type places that had been there, so all of downtown felt like a giant mall, which is super boring (to me). And while being in a smaller city can mean less traffic, for me it meant way more driving because the public transit was terrible, and because I was frequently going to the nearest big city.

Honestly, the best thing about it were the outdoor options - lots of hiking, water sports, bird watching, picnics, gardens, and the weather was really nice. But I can definitely see how a mid-sized city that doesn't have the same locational benefits this place does would have way less to do.

MrStash

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2017, 04:08:11 PM »
I moved from a city of about 2 million in Central Europe to a small (100,000) US city in one of the most rural states in the country. Best thing that ever happened to me. I don't necessarily recommend "county" country, but a city of 100,000 will have everything a big city does in terms of social life and you won't have to public transport for two hours to get to places and parking won't cost $50/hour. People are friendly, costs are low. If you are lucky, depending on your field & location, you might not even have to take a significant paycut. Definitely worth looking into if you feel like the rat race trapped you.

Only downside, at least for me, is culture. The oldest structure in my town is probably 50 years old and only thing we have for museums are the yiiihaaa settlers came, built stuff, and now it's here museums. I love visiting other places, ie East Coasts cities, battlefields, etc and other countries, but after a few weeks of that it's time to go home. Home is small-town USA. :)

undercover

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2017, 05:19:05 PM »
In my opinion, if you're relying on the place around you to cure your boredom, you're just a boring person. If anything big cities are full of generic people doing the same things talking about the same things (and very vocal about it - you can overhear everyone's conversation I guess because everyone feels like they're anonymous). You have to get away from the distractions to really think for yourself and let your creativity shine. Where you are should not dictate who you are. Again, my opinion.

I agree that it's more of an elitist thing than anything. "Culture" exists everywhere. And people are mostly the same regardless. Holes in the wall exist everywhere. Good ethnic food exists in most cities > 100,000. How often do you really go to museums or concerts?

I love cities, whether small or big, don't get me wrong. Big is better for opportunity and convenience (sometimes). Small is better for even better convenience and better quality of life overall but less opportunities. I also love rural life. No neighbors, less distractions to think and be a human. Mostly, I don't think it matters where you live.

Pigeon

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2017, 05:38:27 PM »
I live in a city of about 100,000.  I've lived in bigger cities and rural areas, but I like it best here.  I'm a couple hours away from two big cities if I need that, but seldom do.  I'm about an hour and a half of a gigantic state park if I want spectacular nature.

There are almost a dozen colleges and universities in the area.  There is a resort area nearby that gets the ballet and symphony orchestras from big cities for the summer.  There's plenty of culture and it's reasonably priced and not a hassle to get to, like it was when I lived in a big city.  We've got ethnic markets, farmers' markets and more restaurants than I ever could visit.

Eric

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2017, 06:05:11 PM »
Lack of public transit.  Lack of major sporting events.  Lack of a major airport.  More homogeneous culture. 

Depending on your desires, a lot of things are probably pretty similar in your day to day life though.  There's a lot of similarities and it's probably easier to exist.  But if you want to catch an MLB game, see the temporary Picasso exhibit, or fly internationally, it's more expensive and a bigger hassle. 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 06:06:50 PM by Eric »

big_slacker

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2017, 06:39:42 PM »
I brought this up in another thread. Things to do exists everywhere in mid sized cities, there will just be less of them and less variety. And that's probably fine. Like, do you need your choice of 42 different vegan knitting circles, or will one or two do? :D

FWIW I grew up in Portland OR in the 80's and 90's and it was definitely a mid sized city then (under 500k population) but it still had a great variety of neighborhoods, restaurants, bar, a symphony, plays, pro sports, festivals, great public transpo and the like. There was definitely affordable COL then (maybe not so much now) and while my neighborhood was awful I never felt for a lack of culture or stuff to do in any way at all.

So no, you're not missing out on things by living in a mid sized city. Small towns maybe, and they have plusses as well. But not in a city.

GU

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2017, 07:06:19 PM »
Thanks for the replies so far, good points were made, would welcome further insights.

GU

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2017, 07:16:18 PM »
Economically speaking, I think that large cities often have a particular economic sector that is hypertrophic.  Here is how I would define it for some cities:

NY: Finance
DC: Government
SF: Tech
LA: Media
Detroit: Autos
Houston: Fossil Fuels
Boston: College
Las Vegas: Sin

Sure, these cities have other sectors of their economies, e.g., restaurants, education, retail, real estate, and may even be know for other huge economic sectors.  But I think large portions of cash from afar is funneled into the large city's through the main sector.  If that sector hits a rough patch it can cause shocks through the whole system.  One city that comes to mind as being a large city while still having a smaller neighborhood feel to it is Chicago.  I lived there for a couple of months while studying for the bar exam, and I never got the sense that the city's economy was wholly dependent on any one thing.  But, if i had to guess....perhaps for Chicago it would be agricultural commodities and rail shipments?

What are you looking for in a smaller city? Lower COL is obvious, but slower pace seems a bit nebulous -- you could slow down now if you want.  Anything else in particular?

I could be wrong, but here is my take on the slower pace of smaller cities and the benefits it might bring:

1.  In a huge city like NYC, upper-middle class professionals are assumed to place their career as their number 1 priority.  You are expected to be available 24/7 for work, even on vacation (at a bare minimum checking and responding to emails).  I don't think that is necessarily the case for analogous professionals in smaller cities.

2.  When the vast majority of your peers are über-committed to their jobs, and are playing the "I'm so busy" status game, it can be very hard to have a meaningful social life, because everyone is too busy, you can't do anything unless it's planned months in advance, etc. I get the feeling that people in Boise see their friends more than people in Chicago.

3.  Because of the prevailing work/I'm busy ethos in large cities amongst upper-middle class professionals, you're seen as a loser, or someone who couldn't hack it, if you "slow down" and take an easier job (if such jobs are available, they can be hard to find because the prevailing ethos raises the bar on what's considered reasonable work demands).  I admit, I should probably not care about what other people think, but it's human nature to worry about status.  In other words, it's easier to maintain a higher social status with a less busy job in a smaller city, or so I posit. 


AlanStache

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2017, 07:50:38 PM »
Your access to cool stuff might also be very house/job location specific; the smaller city might have a cool hipster area with great food and indy-movies but if you live 45 min away you wont go there.  Likewise I got a buddy in DC that lives and works outside downtown (but still on the metro) and he only goes into the cool areas when I come up otherwise he is in a generic mid-sized-city-bubble made of strip malls. 

LouLou

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2017, 08:11:53 PM »
I grew up in LA, now I live in a mid-sized Midwestern city. Think Indianapolis or Kansas City, except not either of those cities.

I could never go back. My city is big enough to have:
  • more restaurants than I can possibly go to
  • multiple museums and cultural institutions with changing exhibits that I do not visit enough
  • professional sports
  • excellent outdoor opportunities within a half hour drive
  • many other mid-sized cities within a drive of five hours or less for weekend trips
  • distinct neighborhoods in the city, and suburbs with great school districts nearby
  • excellent healthcare
  • an airport that is easy to get to
  • multiple industries and large employers
  • okay public transportation (but not great to be honest)

My city is small enough to have:
  • very little traffic
  • low cost of living whether renting or buying
  • friendly people
  • free, easy parking if you drive. bike racks have plenty of space if you want to ride
  • houses in excellent school districts in the 'burbs for less than $150k

Plus I save so much money that I can easily travel to big cities for vacation if I want. After about four days, I am happy to go home and enjoy my yard, in my quiet suburb less than 20 minutes from downtown.

But I cannot order takeout at 1am. We've got some 24/7 hole in the wall diners though.

SwordGuy

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2017, 08:49:58 PM »
Quote
Lack of public transit.  Lack of major sporting events.  Lack of a major airport.  More homogeneous culture. 

I live in a city of about 220,000.   We have a bus system though it's certainly nothing like the metro or subway in DC or NYC.    Then again, we're small enough that a good deal of the city is within bicycling distance.   Amtrack runs thru town for those so minded.

We have sporting events.  University and minor league teams.   Professional teams are one to 3 hours away.     Frankly, they could all disappear and I would be happier.   :)  Your mileage may vary.

We have an airport.  I can be at the airport in less than 20 minutes, and that includes pulling out the driveway and checking in at the gate.   There's something to be said for that.   Sure, we have to make connecting flights, but unless your city is a major hub, you'll likely to have to do that anyway.

More homogenous culture!   You are too funny!   We have people from all over.   US-born folks from every state in the union live here.   If our military has been to some foreign country somewhere in the last 70 years and married someone from there, we've got folks from there living here.   We have a pretty large international festival every fall to celebrate that.   Anyone from somewhere else, or married to them, or just feeling an affinity to same, can march in it.   The various groups set up food booths to sell food from their culture to raise funds for whatever cause they've a mind to. 


Because of the nature of our community, if you show up at a group and want to participate in it, and you're making a reasonable attempt to be nice, you'll be fully welcome.   

Don't just assume.   Research.  Keep an open mind.   

PS - We had so many French war brides from WWII that we set up a 1/10th scale Eiffel tower in town. 

Turnbull

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2017, 10:33:38 PM »
I live in a town of about 1500 people and have never been bored.


Bicycle_B

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2017, 10:51:27 PM »
One person's boring little city is another person's peaceful community.

Cranky

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2017, 05:09:24 AM »
As I often say to my students (who are in their ennui intensive early teens) "Only boring people get bored!" LOL

Beyond that, I've lived in Denver, Miami, and Pittsburgh, as well as several college towns, and spent quite a bit of time in NYC and Chicago. ( now live in a crumbling Rust Belt city regularly featured as a Bad Example on NPR.)

Honestly, Pittsburgh is my favorite place I've ever lived, and I do rather regret moving as opposed to making my dh commute. My next door neighbor does commute into the Burgh every day.

We lived in a nice neighborhood *in* the city, not in the suburbs. We took public transit. We sent out kids to the public schools.

We had little kids and were not attending concerts, but if that's your thing it seems like their are plenty of concerts to attend - I have friends who go to Cleveland and Pittsburgh for concerts a lot.

As I've asked in other threads - so, what are you doing now? There's no reason why you can't do that in a different location, IME. If you go out every night, you can still do that, but honestly, I didn't do much stuff that I couldn't take kids to and that would have been the same no matter where we were - but 20 years later, my kids still talk about the Sunday morning concerts in the park that we went to in the summers.

I grumble about driving an hour to get to Trader Joe's, but then I remember that in Miami, it took us an hour to get from North Miami to South Miami anyway.

dignam

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2017, 06:43:32 AM »
As they say, "only boring people get bored".  EDIT: I see this phrase was just mentioned lol.  I get  a kick out of big city elitist types.  I would guess the vast majority have never left their big city bubble.

I've lived in a city of about 250,000 for many years.  It's also within a couple hours of Chicago so I spend quite a bit of time there too.  Obviously Chicago has more to offer entertainment-wise and for opportunities; but for being so much bigger, the difference is small.  I love it here; not too big, not too small, if you can deal with the crappy winters, the rest of the year is great.  Tons of events year-round, lakes, one of the best biking cities in the USA, etc.  And honestly, I rarely find another city that holds a candle to the restaurant scene here; so much good food.  One of the best research Unis in the world is here too (my alma mater).

I've also lived in a town of 6000 for a couple years.  Even there I found things to do, and really did enjoy the peace and quiet.  It had the quintessential small town USA feel in its "downtown"; really cool looking, lots of people out and about.  Too bad it wasn't closer to my job. 

It comes down to what the person makes of where they are living.  IMO, medium sized cities offer the best of both worlds.

andy85

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2017, 07:00:23 AM »
i'd consider Louisville mid-sized (i guess??). Plenty to do here. All four seasons. Outdoors within a 30 minute drive. Plentiful lakes within a couple of hour drive. Food. Booze. Music. Arts. Crappy public transportation. Decent property prices. I enjoy it here.

Vindicated

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2017, 07:13:28 AM »
I'll give my Indianapolis pitch:

Sports?
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Brickyard 400, Indianapolis 500, RedBull Air Race, MotoGP (some years), and more)
Basketball - Pacers, Football - Colts, Baseball - Indians (Minor League), Soccer - Eleven (Minor League for now), Hockey - Ice (Minor League). 

Concerts? Comedy? etc.
Pretty much any tour you can imagine.

Museums?
Indianapolis Children's Museum (#1 in World), Indianapolis Museum of Art (One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen), Eiteljorg, NCAA Hall of Fame, + many more

Zoo?
Not the biggest, but we go once or twice a year.

Parks?
Everywhere

COL?
Very low

Jobs?
Ranks #5 in Tech-Job Growth, Ranks #2 in best places for new Tech Grads.  Eli Lilly, Cummins, Salesforce, Rolls Royce, Roche Diagnostics, many more.

#1 Place to live in the Country? (niche.com)
Carmel, IN (Indy North side 'Burb)...  Fishers, IN, another 'burb was ranked #16 in the country.

Day Trips?
Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, Louisville all within 4 hrs driving.

I love it here :)

Raenia

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2017, 07:47:52 AM »
I've been hesitant to move away from a large city for certain specific cultural sectors I enjoy - we attend orchestra concerts and operas several times a year, at one of the best opera companies in the country.  I would definitely miss that.  We also visit the art museum at least once a year, the zoo similarly.  Basically, it depends what aspects of the city add value for you.  If you really like sporting events, you can find a mid-size city with good sports teams.  If you love music, find a city with a good music scene.  Or pick a city within a few hours of a larger city, and plan to visit a few times a year.  That's my eventual plan, once we're ready to FIRE and move to a lower cost of living area - I'm not likely to find a good opera company in a smaller city, but I'm perfectly willing to drive a few hours three times a year to keep that in my life.

Vindicated

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2017, 07:56:35 AM »
I've been hesitant to move away from a large city for certain specific cultural sectors I enjoy - we attend orchestra concerts and operas several times a year, at one of the best opera companies in the country.

Oh, I forgot about Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra!  They're wonderful.  We try to get to the Symphony on the Prairie at least once a year, but hopefully more!

https://indyschild.com/2017-symphony-on-the-prairie-season-lineup/

Conner Prairie is a 40 minute drive for us, since we live on the opposite side of town, but if you lived in Fishers or Carmel, you could get there in 5-15 minutes.

I don't know anything about Opera, but Chicago is 3hrs away.

Method

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2017, 08:25:20 AM »
I've been hesitant to move away from a large city for certain specific cultural sectors I enjoy - we attend orchestra concerts and operas several times a year, at one of the best opera companies in the country.

Oh, I forgot about Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra!  They're wonderful.  We try to get to the Symphony on the Prairie at least once a year, but hopefully more!

https://indyschild.com/2017-symphony-on-the-prairie-season-lineup/

Conner Prairie is a 40 minute drive for us, since we live on the opposite side of town, but if you lived in Fishers or Carmel, you could get there in 5-15 minutes.

I don't know anything about Opera, but Chicago is 3hrs away.

Funny that opera in Indianapolis should come up - the one time I visited your city was to audition for the opera company there! Indianapolis Opera isn't huge like the Lyric Opera of Chicago, but it does put on a couple shows a year, and decent singers do show up.

I ended up taking a job elsewhere, but I remember thinking from that visit that it seemed like a great place to live. Also, my friends and I drove in for the audition from Chicago, and it was definitely a manageable drive. Not for everyday, but occasionally.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2017, 08:57:07 AM by Method »

boy_bye

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #24 on: May 03, 2017, 08:49:41 AM »
I lived in Pittsburgh for a long time, and I liked it a lot but there are some downsides to be aware of.

- the public transport is terrible and the traffic gets worse every year. It's not what I would call an easy city to get around.

- housing prices in neighborhoods that you'd want to live in are skyrocketing -- a friend bought a huge house in a gentrifying neighborhood just ahead of the wave and got it for $57,000, now such houses on his street are more than $250,000.

- there's also the environmental aspect. Pittsburgh is among the dirtiest cities in the US. The air quality is not good, and recently there was a boil order for water within a large chunk of the city limits. Huge amounts of fracking and degradation of water tables all around the city.

- the culture is okay but everyone is obsessed with the Steelers and it's irritating after a while to see people cheering on rapists.

- the weather is very gray, about as gray as Seattle. Summers are hot and humid and winters have been milder lately but tend to just be several months of unbroken grayness. 

On the plus side it is a really beautiful city with lots of nice restaurants and lovely old trees and neighborhoods and fabulous museums and parks. Lots of jobs in tech and healthcare especially. There are many people I love living there and I go back to visit quite often. I just don't drink the water!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2017, 08:55:35 AM by madgeylou »

Greenback Reproduction Specialist

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2017, 08:50:20 AM »
Just the issue of less traffic is enough to make me never want to go back to a big city. Our FIRE property is 1hr from a mid-size city, and about 20min from the nearest town with a population of 300 people. Its freakin amazing! I can hop on a four wheeler and go visit neighbors, or just walk, or bike, and not pass a single person. If you enjoy being outdoors and the piece and quiet of it all, you cant beat it.

BTW, a lot of mid-size cities still have plenty of amenities... I've lived in both large and mid-size, I cant think of a single thing I miss about a large city... Not one.

Greenback Reproduction Specialist

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2017, 09:26:08 AM »

I think the biggest difference between large and midsize/small cities in regards to entertainment is that in a large city you can find something to do EVERY NIGHT - but in a smaller city you have to look a little harder and it may be more like once a week or once a month.

Totally agree with this, the small town(population 300) I live next to almost always has a weekend event going on. Such as a chili cookoff, hosting a rodeo, hosting a rally race, hosting a motorcycle race, event at the senior center, event at the library, school events, movie nights, holiday events, etc.. There is also a group of locals that get together and play softball once a week when it is nice outside.

Panfish

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #27 on: May 03, 2017, 10:56:02 AM »
Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Positives:  COL index is 86 out of 100.  City is about 200,000 people. There is an up and coming entertainment and restaurant scene, especially in the quaint downtown.  The city is laid out well and you can get anywhere by car in 15 minutes.  It's not the most bike friendly city but there is a series of parks that follows the Sioux River virtually throughout the entire town with bike paths that connects everything.  Its at the junction of I29 and I90 so getting to and from larger metros is a breeze (Omaha and its amazing zoo is 3 hours, Minneapolis and all of its people are 4 hours away).  The Black Hills and Rapid City are 4.5 hours west and are a great place for a short vacation.  The fishing is excellent an hour away.  The crime rates are insanely low.  I can't imagine a better place to raise a family.  pretty awesome waterpark 7 miles west of town that serves beer. Nicest people on the planet.

Negatives: i think its boring having grown up 20 miles away, the parks department does a good job but outside of town is just corn fields. Cold in winter but hot and humid in Summer.

In summation, if i wanted to give my family the highest possible standard of living and quality of life i would find a way to live here in a heartbeat, but i am a selfish prick and like deserts and mountains so i won't be moving back.

Eric

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2017, 12:05:57 PM »
Quote
Lack of public transit.  Lack of major sporting events.  Lack of a major airport.  More homogeneous culture. 

More homogenous culture!   You are too funny!   We have people from all over.   US-born folks from every state in the union live here.   If our military has been to some foreign country somewhere in the last 70 years and married someone from there, we've got folks from there living here.   We have a pretty large international festival every fall to celebrate that.   Anyone from somewhere else, or married to them, or just feeling an affinity to same, can march in it.   The various groups set up food booths to sell food from their culture to raise funds for whatever cause they've a mind to. 


It's a comparative term.  Every place has a more homogeneous culture than NYC.  That's just a fact of life due to fewer people who are from fewer places.  That doesn't mean that there's not diversity, it's just that there's not as much.  Even DC and SF, cultural capitols in their own right, have more homogeneous culture than NYC.  It's not an "attack" on your choice of town.

Don't just assume.   Research.  Keep an open mind.   


My list above is not based on assumptions.  It's based on my observations and experiences while living in a mid-sized city after moving from a major city.  They're all true. 

It could be a good or bad thing depending on how the other factors stack up.  In your example, you seem to like the fact that you are always a connection away from a major airport because you can get to your local one quicker.  I have the opposite opinion, as I'd rather fly directly even if it takes longer to get to the airport.  That's okay though.  We don't all have to have the same preferences.

The point was to let GU know the differences.

scottnews

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #29 on: May 03, 2017, 12:34:33 PM »
Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Positives:  COL index is 86 out of 100.  City is about 200,000 people. There is an up and coming entertainment and restaurant scene, especially in the quaint downtown.  The city is laid out well and you can get anywhere by car in 15 minutes.  It's not the most bike friendly city but there is a series of parks that follows the Sioux River virtually throughout the entire town with bike paths that connects everything.  Its at the junction of I29 and I90 so getting to and from larger metros is a breeze (Omaha and its amazing zoo is 3 hours, Minneapolis and all of its people are 4 hours away).  The Black Hills and Rapid City are 4.5 hours west and are a great place for a short vacation.  The fishing is excellent an hour away.  The crime rates are insanely low.  I can't imagine a better place to raise a family.  pretty awesome waterpark 7 miles west of town that serves beer. Nicest people on the planet.

Negatives: i think its boring having grown up 20 miles away, the parks department does a good job but outside of town is just corn fields. Cold in winter but hot and humid in Summer.

In summation, if i wanted to give my family the highest possible standard of living and quality of life i would find a way to live here in a heartbeat, but i am a selfish prick and like deserts and mountains so i won't be moving back.

No income tax in SD must be nice to : )

ditkanate

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2017, 12:49:29 PM »
I've only lived in large cities during my life, but I have considered moving to a smaller or medium-sized city in the future because of lower cost-of-living and a slower pace of life/less of a "rat race" feel. Whenever I raise this idea with friends, often the response is "you will be bored out of your mind."

My question for people who grew up in or lived in large cities for a long time but then moved to smaller cities: what is it that large cities have that medium-size cities lack in today's day and age? My gut response is "I doubt it's that different for the average person". As far as I know, places like Indianapolis, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, etc. all have plenty of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, but maybe I'm wrong?

I find it funny how different people's perspectives can be.  When I read the title of your thread and the first couple sentences of your post I was thinking about cities more like Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, IA.  To me, Indianapolis and Charlotte ARE "large" cities and I'd be overwhelmed moving to one of them.  I can't imagine someone being bored in one of those cities.  Or Kansas City, St. Louis, etc.... that just boggles my mind.  Those cities have NFL teams for crying out loud.

nereo

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2017, 01:03:25 PM »
I've only lived in large cities during my life, but I have considered moving to a smaller or medium-sized city in the future because of lower cost-of-living and a slower pace of life/less of a "rat race" feel. Whenever I raise this idea with friends, often the response is "you will be bored out of your mind."

My question for people who grew up in or lived in large cities for a long time but then moved to smaller cities: what is it that large cities have that medium-size cities lack in today's day and age? My gut response is "I doubt it's that different for the average person". As far as I know, places like Indianapolis, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, etc. all have plenty of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, but maybe I'm wrong?

I find it funny how different people's perspectives can be.  When I read the title of your thread and the first couple sentences of your post I was thinking about cities more like Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, IA.  To me, Indianapolis and Charlotte ARE "large" cities and I'd be overwhelmed moving to one of them.  I can't imagine someone being bored in one of those cities.  Or Kansas City, St. Louis, etc.... that just boggles my mind.  Those cities have NFL teams for crying out loud.
Agreed - we haven't defined "big" or "medium" here so it's often not apples-to-apples. 
IMO, a city has to exceed 500k mark before it can be considered "Big".  There are about 35 such cities in the US.  Even then there's a huge difference between NY/LA and, say, Milwaukee. 
I would classify both Des Moines (pop 209k) and Cedar Rapids (pop. 129k) as small cities. Don't know why but I put my threshold for 'medium' at 250k-500k.  Others may differ in their interpretations.

On a global scale even SF is downright tiny compared to Shanghai, Tokyo or Jakarta.  Tokyo has more people in it's urban area than all of Canada (including Montreal, Calgary and Toronto).

StarBright

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2017, 01:19:50 PM »
I've only lived in large cities during my life, but I have considered moving to a smaller or medium-sized city in the future because of lower cost-of-living and a slower pace of life/less of a "rat race" feel. Whenever I raise this idea with friends, often the response is "you will be bored out of your mind."

My question for people who grew up in or lived in large cities for a long time but then moved to smaller cities: what is it that large cities have that medium-size cities lack in today's day and age? My gut response is "I doubt it's that different for the average person". As far as I know, places like Indianapolis, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, etc. all have plenty of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, but maybe I'm wrong?

I find it funny how different people's perspectives can be.  When I read the title of your thread and the first couple sentences of your post I was thinking about cities more like Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, IA.  To me, Indianapolis and Charlotte ARE "large" cities and I'd be overwhelmed moving to one of them.  I can't imagine someone being bored in one of those cities.  Or Kansas City, St. Louis, etc.... that just boggles my mind.  Those cities have NFL teams for crying out loud.

I just googled cities by population and was absolutely shocked to see that Indianapolis and SF are almost the same and Boston much smaller.

But having lived in those places I know that the population of Indianapolis is actually an entire county (mostly made up of suburbs) with a relatively small city portion. "Boston" doesn't include Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Brighton, etc but those are all certainly part of living in the Boston Metro area. Indy feels like living in a mid-sized town whereas Boston and SF feel like big cities.

So i guess it would help if the OP clarifies metro area vs actual city living?

Marathon_runner

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2017, 01:27:02 PM »
Things I would consider:

- Budget
- Where is best for your employment profile
- Where is best for the weather and activities that you enjoy
- Demographics: Schools, crime rates, local culture, etc.

MMMarbleheader

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2017, 01:44:32 PM »
I have looked at moving out of the Boston Metro to smaller cities in New England like Burlington, VT or Portland, ME. What I have found is that for a $100-$200k savings in housing, I am loosing probably $1M in income over my FIRE savings time, not mention I would have to buy a second Car. I work in the construction industry which is not very conducive to work at home. I do know people that take their big city salaries and telecommute from a smaller city 2ish hours from the office, much like the Frugalwoods. That seems to be the sweet spot.

Trudie

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2017, 01:44:58 PM »
As with most things in life, it depends...

I have lived in huge places (Chicago), but mostly smaller cities 75,000 to 200,000 people in the midwest.  I now live in a small college town, which will be too small for my liking as an ER destination.

I am a fan of smaller college towns.  While they can vary in size I like the amenities they provide -- cultural and sports activities at the universities, decent public transportation, and "enough" amenities to make life go a little more smoothly.  I don't know what the sweet spot is, but we've kind of noticed that a town needs to have population of 65,000 or so to start getting into decent health care and city services and to keep property taxes in check.  Anything below that (like where we live now) might be quaint and have its advantages, but city services isn't one of them.

This is a pretty individual question.  We all have to decide what is "enough" for us, and this varies.  We're currently looking into a few different college towns for retirement.  Yes, this might seem boring to some, but before we make a final decision we will have weighed the amenities WE value -- public transportation, COL, public libraries, access to university facilities, lifelong learning opportunities, a Target, an Aldi, a decent movie theatre, trails and recreation opportunities, airport proximity (and shuttle service for getting there....) 

I also find that the older I get (and less of a consumer I am) I get really fed up with mile after mile of strip malls, restaurants, and retail spaces.  (Interestingly, I just heard an NPR news story about retail space being overbuilt by 30%, so I think there's a rude awakening coming for municipalities that rely on retail income.)  I like having access to it when I need it, but prefer it to be a bit further afield -- except for the things I use on a regular basis (see paragraph above.)  Plus, the older I get, the more I travel.  So, I don't get the "wow factor" from having a Dunkin' Donuts or a Noodles within a mile of my house.

GU

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2017, 01:49:39 PM »
I've only lived in large cities during my life, but I have considered moving to a smaller or medium-sized city in the future because of lower cost-of-living and a slower pace of life/less of a "rat race" feel. Whenever I raise this idea with friends, often the response is "you will be bored out of your mind."

My question for people who grew up in or lived in large cities for a long time but then moved to smaller cities: what is it that large cities have that medium-size cities lack in today's day and age? My gut response is "I doubt it's that different for the average person". As far as I know, places like Indianapolis, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, etc. all have plenty of restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, but maybe I'm wrong?

I find it funny how different people's perspectives can be.  When I read the title of your thread and the first couple sentences of your post I was thinking about cities more like Des Moines or Cedar Rapids, IA.  To me, Indianapolis and Charlotte ARE "large" cities and I'd be overwhelmed moving to one of them.  I can't imagine someone being bored in one of those cities.  Or Kansas City, St. Louis, etc.... that just boggles my mind.  Those cities have NFL teams for crying out loud.

I just googled cities by population and was absolutely shocked to see that Indianapolis and SF are almost the same and Boston much smaller.

But having lived in those places I know that the population of Indianapolis is actually an entire county (mostly made up of suburbs) with a relatively small city portion. "Boston" doesn't include Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Brighton, etc but those are all certainly part of living in the Boston Metro area. Indy feels like living in a mid-sized town whereas Boston and SF feel like big cities.

So i guess it would help if the OP clarifies metro area vs actual city living?

I think metro area, not city limits population, is the proper criterion here, especially since I'd probably live in the suburbs if I moved to one of these places. By "mid-sized cities" I meant cities outside the top 11 of this list, and which have a relatively low CoL (so Seattle area is excluded, for instance). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas

Ebrat

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2017, 01:59:47 PM »
I find that most of the people I know who live in large cities mostly do things in their neighborhood, so their sphere isn't really any bigger than mine in a mid-sized city. 100-200k seems like a smallish city to me though. I was thinking in the 500-900k range based on the OP.

I feel like most of the mid-sized cities I've lived in have been kind of boring places to visit (as a tourist) but very nice places to live.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2017, 02:14:40 PM by Ebrat »

Noodle

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #38 on: May 03, 2017, 02:38:22 PM »
I live in a very large city now but have previously lived in (and have lots of friends and family in) small to mid-size cities. I happen to have job that only tends to be found (at a reasonable salary) in big cities so I will not be able to change until retirement. That said, I really like the smaller cities and have never been bored. What I have found--

1. Medical care is limited when it comes to specialists. There will be plenty of primary care, OB-gyn, dentists, etc but, say, ENT surgeons or psychiatrists will be limited to just a few...so if you don't like them, you're driving into the big city for care. Mental health services can be especially tough to get.

2. Most mid-size cities have an airport, but flights are often pretty expensive compared to flying into a hub. Again, a lot of people I know end up driving into the city for air travel. And public transportation tends to be very limited.

3. There will be plenty of restaurants that serve the regional cuisine or "American", and probably one or two other types of food. (My parents' city has amazing Tex-Mex.) Other kinds of cuisine may be limited to just a couple of restaurants, of varying quality.

4. It depends what you like for fun. There won't be any issue with new movies, or access to cable or high-speed internet (as there might be in a more rural area). Outdoor fun is more accessible because you don't have to drive a long way to get there--my sibs and I all live fairly close to the center of our big metropolitan areas and it's a good hour's drive to get to parks, the beach, etc. My parents can be at the boat dock in ten minutes. For the arts, the biggest shows and artists won't tour there, and the museums won't get the biggest exhibitions. But the local venues are often very energetic and enthusiastic about what they do provide, and if you want to get involved (as a performer, volunteer, etc) you'll be welcomed with open arms in a way that you wouldn't be in the big city. The tickets are much cheaper, so you could see four plays for the cost of one ticket in the big city. I know that this isn't always the case in areas that are in economic decline, but all the cities I tend to be visiting have really nice parks, libraries, and other public facilities.

5. For shopping, big grocery chains and big box stores will all be available but certain brands may not be (a lot of places don't have Trader Joe's, for instance). Amazon may take longer and you probably can't get all the delivery services you do in big cities. Uber, etc may or may not be available.

6. Of course it varies by city and neighborhood, but most of the mid-size cities I visit have solid school systems and plenty of kid activities. However, they probably won't have the variety of a big city or "elite" opportunities. (Ie, there will be ballet classes, but not the opportunity to study at the Dallas Ballet.)

Personally, I tend to get stressed by crowds and traffic, so I would have a lot more fun going to an event in a smaller city, even if it isn't the same quality as the big-city version, but YMMV.

If you tell us more about what you and your family like to do, we could give more specific advice.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2017, 04:15:53 PM »
I'd sum it up as it depends on how much you go out, and how mainstream (to the local area) your interests are.


dougules

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #40 on: May 05, 2017, 11:03:55 AM »
I think a lot of it depends on culture, and by culture I mean what groups you feel like you fit into.  Do you like talking football?  Do you want friends to go kayaking with?  Do you want to have somebody to discuss astrophysics with?  Culture is generally different between different size cities, although some of it depends on specifically what city. 

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #41 on: May 05, 2017, 11:33:47 AM »
It's my dream to live somewhere like this someday. In the giant cities where I've lived most of my life, I've felt overwhelmed and anonymous. The things I like to do can be found in any city of 100K+, particularly if there is a college/university nearby. I like the idea of living somewhere young, vibrant, and growing, but not so large as to be set, or so established that the wave has already crested for the civic life there.

Mika M

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Re: Boring mid-sized cities?
« Reply #42 on: May 08, 2017, 02:57:16 PM »
I have to confess that I have previously suffered from the idea that living in close proximity to a big important city makes me feel more big and important; and that thought of moving away would sometimes fill me with a fear of drifting into the netherworld of unimportance...

Now that I'm in my late-30s, I'm really, really, really over it. I'm in the DC/NoVA area. It doesn't suck, but I don't love it. The congestion and stressed out vibe have a way of weighing on me.

My job doesn't suck either, it pays ridiculously well for relatively monotonous but easy work.

But the higher my number gets, the harder it is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, career-wise. And the harder it is to keep trying to pep-talk myself into living here indefinitely...

From the perspective of the DC sprawl, mid-size city to me is something like Portland, OR, Austin, TX, or St. Louis, MO.

I like culture but not enough to worry about it being easily accessible. I think there's lots of towns that IMO are pleasantly small-ish to small but still big enough to offer plenty of diversions like Pittsburgh, Dayton, Fort Collins, Bend (my personal favorite), Couer D'Alene... haven't been to a bunch of the middle ones like Kansas City and Omaha but I've heard some nice things about them. I hear Kansas City has a pretty decent immigrant population so I bet there'd be some ethnic restaurants to check out there... Not sure I'd care to deal with the weather. (I've heard some dismal opinions about Kansas in July...)