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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 04:49:31 PM

Title: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 04:49:31 PM
Hi all. I'm new to the Mustachian world and am seeking some advice. I've read other threads here about searching for a new place to live, but everyone has different priorities and circumstances, so I'd like to outline mine and see if anyone has anything to contribute. I'm going to overshare here in hopes that more data will produce better results. Thanks in advance for reading. I'd also like to say that I know that many aspects of my life are not Ultra Mustachian, but I am new to this and am trying to work these principles into my existing dreams and lifestyle without abandoning the things that are important to me. Please don't judge too harshly.

My boyfriend (28) and I (30) are late to the saving game, and are at Stage 1. We keep our finances mainly separate, but I will combine here for the sake of simplicity. We have lived in NYC for 7 years (the distractions of which have stunted our adult growth) and will finally be leaving in 6 months. We're beyond excited to move on! We have a small amount of credit card and student debt (about 20k combined), mainly his student loans. We make enough money (125k pre-tax combined) to cover our expenses and have been using Mint to budget for years, but our cost of living here is very high (rent + utilities= 2200), even when trying to practice frugality. International travel has tended to suck up our extra income and leave us in the hole. Our goal is to live abroad eventually, but first plan to move to a new US city and establish a business that allows us to travel for work in the meantime (textile and artisanal goods import business with a boutique and online sales.) This will make the travel habit more sustainable, which is a priority for us. We're world travelers (love cheap and exotic places like Vietnam, Morocco, India) and will always keep that as a part of our lives, but we are willing to cut back heavily on that while saving enough to eventually move abroad and run a small business, which is our version of early retirement. There is more to be said about our long-term goals, but for now I am trying to sort out a 5-10 year plan.

We both have Bachelors degrees, mine from UC Berkeley in an impractical and esoteric liberal arts subject, his from a small NYC university in Entrepreneurship. We currently work in hospitality, me waiting tables for pretty great money but no benefits, him managing a high end bar with benefits. He has hotel experience and I've worked as a well-paid executive assistant in the past, but office life is not for me. I will probably get another restaurant job to get me on my feet in a new location. I can also do location-independent online editing to supplement. He is ready to start his business in a new city, and I will be involved.

We are heavily tattooed, ride motorcycles, and prefer an unconventional and adventurous life. We live in Chinatown and love the challenge of being surrounded by a culture other than our own. We like being able to walk out the door and interact with all kinds of people. We're city people, and not afraid of the rougher parts of town. Our values teeter somewhere between sex, drugs, and rock n roll, and crunchy granola, free love, and peace. Dive bars at night, yoga in the morning. Call me a hipster, yuppie, whatever...I get it. But that doesn't mean I want to live in Williamsburg surrounded by thousands of people who look like me.

Onto the question of where to live. I know this is subjective and personal, but maybe some of you have similar interests and can help guide us. Any ex-New Yorkers who have found happiness elsewhere? New York has spoiled us in the way of stimulation, diversity, and access to amenities. But in an effort to save money, we have had to hugely restrict our participation in many of the best things this city has to offer. The long winter offers hardly any outdoor/free activities, and being stuck in a shoebox apartment cooking 3 meals a day is depressing. Our values don't always align with those of our friends/peers, who tend to focus more on status, consumerism, and self-promotion. I'd rather spend my time gardening and having a backyard BBQ than shopping and going to a nightclub.

He is from Boulder, and while Colorado aligns with many of our values, he wants somewhere new and has categorically ruled out returning. I'm from Southern California (too sprawling and car-centric) and have lived in San Francisco (and Oakland and Berkeley), to which I would return in a heartbeat if it weren't for the tech boom and its effect on the cost of living there. Moving there would mean equal, if not higher, COL. We want a place that keeps us stimulated and challenged, provides an opportunity to build a small (but possibly mobile) business, and ticks enough of the boxes to keep us happy for a few years while 'stashing cash away. Simple enough right? Ha, right. You never know, maybe one of you has the answer!

What we definitely want:
-Cheaper rent and overall lower cost of living
-Walkable neighborhood, with option for Metro/biking as needed
-Energetic, creative city with progressive attitude and intelligent population
-Access to varied ethnic cuisines, diversity, music, international culture
-At least a small amount of green/sustainable/earth friendly consciousness in the community, enough to provide support for backyard farming and DIY projects
-Greenmarket, farmer's market, or CSA (I would like to volunteer, or at least source good groceries)
-Dog-friendly living arrangement and public spaces
-Access to an international airport
-Support for small business, and a demographic who will buy our goods
-Free activities, festivals, community events
-Busy bar and restaurant scene (to work in, not to spend money in)

What we want but could compromise on:
-Car-free life
-Ideal housing is a small cottage or 1 bedroom house with outdoor space a couple of blocks from grocery stores etc., with a small space to work on our motorcycles and DIY home projects (like the houses found in new orleans or north berkeley). Would like the option to sublet on AirBnB when out of town.
-He likes to camp in tents, I prefer at least a cabin
-He likes to mountain bike, I prefer a long walk around the city
-Food trucks, dive bars, jazz, rock n roll, cheap wine
-Year-round motorcycle riding weather and maybe even a moto culture (i know it's not Mustachian, but we love it)
-Location within a few hours' flight/driving time to see family in CA and CO
-Nicer, humbler people with a friendlier attitude than New Yorkers

What we'd like to avoid:
-Snow and cold winters (dealbreaker)
-Intensely humid heat
-Endless grey skies (I suffer from SAD here in NYC)
-Cultures focused on mindless consumerism
-Bible-thumpers, ultra-conservatives, etc.
-Suburban sprawl, Applebees, Walmart
-Anywhere in the Northeast
-Neighbors whose idea of travel is a Disney cruise
-Condos
-Being landlocked

What we don't care about:
-Family friendly, schools (kids not in the cards right now)
-Real estate prices (ditto)
-Winter sports, golf, surfing (although a beach would be a bonus, but is tied to higher cost of living)
-Tech/Fortune 500 jobs
-"High" culture things like opera, Broadway, etc.

The Shortlist So Far (none of these ticks all the boxes):
New Orleans (looking good, but hot, poor), Portland (grey/crowded?), Seattle (same), Austin (too crowded?), Oakland (too close to SF/high COL), San Diego (too many cars, homogenous), San Luis Obispo (too sleepy?), Nashville, San Antonio, Tucson, Atlanta, Mexico City, Berlin, Buenos Aires

Please share any suggestions of places I have overlooked. My boyfriend claims to be openminded but will really only look at "world class cities", which are generally not very Mustachian. Help me convince him and myself to go check out a few new places and pick our new location. Thanks again! Looking forward to your replies.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: iwasjustwondering on December 04, 2014, 05:02:19 PM
I was going to suggest Austin, and I see it's on your short list.  It's a great city.  What about Santa Fe?  I think it has all of the things on your list.  Another area to consider is the Chapel Hill, NC area.  You'll find a lot of Bible thumpers, but it's also somewhat diverse and sophisticated. 

In Europe, I would think that Amsterdam is the absolute perfect city for what you want, except that it has very long nights in winter.  Prague is similar.  Lisbon might work.  It's very warm, sunny and hip.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 05:04:47 PM
One comment I forgot to mention: I have done the Find Your Spot poll and read at least 50 lists of "best cities for xyz", and have taken that info into consideration, but am still looking for personal experiences and advice since I find that those lists don't always align with my priorities. Thanks again.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: TN_Steve on December 04, 2014, 05:13:50 PM
You guys sound like you'd fit in well in Nashville, which is already on your list.  From the heart of the City, if you drive 60 miles in just about any direction, you'll pass through sprawl and likely end up buckled firmly in the bible belt, but the City itself sounds like a perfect match.  (well, our "international" airport is not really.  But it is quite convenient, easy to clear security, and a short hop to true international hubs)

The neighborhoods and community that you describe are here.  Although our housing prices have "skyrocketed" in the past 3-5 years, they will be attractive to you.

From the number of NYC transplants of your generation that we meet at concerts and bars, the move seems pretty doable.  In fact, if you were aspiring musicians, you'd almost be stereotypical for a transplant!  :-)

(We transplanted here 10 years ago, but are of your parents' generation.)


Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: lielec11 on December 04, 2014, 05:18:32 PM
Although I haven't been there, all I could think of reading your lists was Portland. From what I hear it is a great hip little city with a diverse food, beverage and music culture. In regards to leaving NYC, I am right there with  you. So tired of the overhyped hustle-bustle here. Overpriced and underwhelming.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 05:21:51 PM
Thanks for your suggestions, iwasjustwondering. Lisbon is an option I have considered and will revisit. Have been to Prague and Amsterdam and liked both, but am not sure if we can get working visas without having more specific professional skills to offer. Spain is also an option, as we both speak Spanish and enjoy the culture there. I have a sister in Paris, nearby. We also have a dog that we intend to keep, so bringing her abroad would be complicated and is a consideration. I will start exploring the legal implications of moving/working in those places and see what I find. Overall, I don't think we will be able to come up with the capital right now to make a big international move and put ourselves in a place where we don't know how to secure jobs quickly, although we definitely intend to be expats one day. Still, good to hear your ideas!

TN_Steve, great to hear a vote for Nashville. The music and general love of a good time are very appealing. I will dig deeper and see if it might work for us. Thanks!

lielec11, I think Portland seems like an obvious match too, but have had many friends leave there due to the weather. Not sure if my SAD would be as bad there as here in NYC, but I'm scared to find out the hard way. Maybe it's worth the risk.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Sarita on December 04, 2014, 05:48:36 PM
This may be too cold/snow, but I think Baltimore is severely underrated as a city.  Very funky vibe, and pretty cheap.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: mozar on December 04, 2014, 05:56:24 PM
Asheville, NC
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: mozar on December 04, 2014, 05:57:18 PM
Baltimore has cold winters.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: iwasjustwondering on December 04, 2014, 05:58:40 PM
Thanks for your suggestions, iwasjustwondering. Lisbon is an option I have considered and will revisit. Have been to Prague and Amsterdam and liked both, but am not sure if we can get working visas without having more specific professional skills to offer. Spain is also an option, as we both speak Spanish and enjoy the culture there. I have a sister in Paris, nearby. We also have a dog that we intend to keep, so bringing her abroad would be complicated and is a consideration. I will start exploring the legal implications of moving/working in those places and see what I find. Overall, I don't think we will be able to come up with the capital right now to make a big international move and put ourselves in a place where we don't know how to secure jobs quickly, although we definitely intend to be expats one day. Still, good to hear your ideas!

TN_Steve, great to hear a vote for Nashville. The music and general love of a good time are very appealing. I will dig deeper and see if it might work for us. Thanks!

lielec11, I think Portland seems like an obvious match too, but have had many friends leave there due to the weather. Not sure if my SAD would be as bad there as here in NYC, but I'm scared to find out the hard way. Maybe it's worth the risk.

I was in Amsterdam for work last year, and was just reminded of what an incredibly livable place it is.  Everyone there speaks perfect English, too, so you wouldn't have to learn Dutch too quickly.  It gets dark incredibly early there -- I have lived outside of Amsterdam, and in Dublin, and seeing the sky get dark at 3:30 pm is a serious bummer.  The summers are incredible, though.  Dublin another great, bikeable city, if you could handle the dark winters. 

Since you have a sister in Paris, what about Aix? 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: sandandsun on December 04, 2014, 06:18:22 PM
+1 for Asheville, NC... It meets nearly every criteria you have!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: diesel15 on December 04, 2014, 06:26:01 PM
Other than the landlocked comment I would highly recommend checking out Denver.  Pretty much ticks all your other boxes.  300+ days of sunshine and lots of outdoor activities within easy travelling distance.  You mentioned family in CO so maybe also a bonus.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: justajane on December 04, 2014, 06:31:35 PM
Berlin might not be snowy but it can be pretty dreary in the winter. Heck, I was there in the summer for a few months and rarely saw the sun. It wouldn't be good for your SAD.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: RunHappy on December 04, 2014, 06:41:30 PM
My vote is for Nashville! It seems to fit a lot of what you want, it is a really fun city, and easy to get around in.  If you're planning to continue in the hospitality/service industry, then Nashville is a good place for it.  Austin is great except for the summers.  There is very little shade and temps easily get into the triple digits.  In the summertime everyone goes to Lake Travis and traffic can be a nightmare.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Ricky on December 04, 2014, 06:43:20 PM
I'm surprised 2 people have mentioned Asheville so far. I live about an hour from Asheville. It's an amazing city that's growing. They recently just got a Whole Foods and Trader Joes. They're getting a Chipotle this month. I know you probably don't care about some of this, but I just mean to say that there are plenty of amenities in Asheville.

Reading your list, I was also thinking Portland or Seattle till I read the no grey skies thing. But I think you're just going to have to compromise on that because other than that those two cities sound perfect.

Asheville is really great and I'd like to move their myself for a while. The only problem is that is very spread out and a car is necessary. They have a decent bus system though, I think. The city isn't very bikeable except in spots. And it's a huge hippie/retiree city. So, not as many opportunities for employment. Overall though, it would be a great place to settle down for a while. You get seasons with Winters being fairly mild.

But seriously, small business is a big part of Asheville. There are no chains except for hotels (and only a few) in downtown Asheville. There are plenty of dive bars, mountain bike trails, and the city is very walkable with an amazingly vibrant downtown vibe. Oh, and the people are amazingly welcoming. You'd definitely enjoy it.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: pagoconcheques on December 04, 2014, 07:21:51 PM
Portland, OR was the first city that came to my mind when I read your criteria.  I visit Portland and Seattle often and always love them, but the lack of sun prevents us from ever living there. Still, Portland sounds like a perfect city for you guys, though tattoos blend into the background there like clouds so you won't feel special or different.  In the northwest I'd take Vancouver BC over any other city, but the Chinese money in the real estate market has made it cost prohibitive.  San Luis Obispo (I'm also originally from So Cal) is just too sleepy and not cheap enough for what it offers--it's also 4 hours from any serious international airport.  For probably not much more money you could swing Santa Cruz which has much better access to the bay area and SFO. 

I think Baltimore is an excellent choice, and it's easy for you to check out from NYC--you can probably get bus tickets for $15.  I'd add Albuquerque, NM to the list and consider Pittsburgh, PA as well.  Like others have mentioned, Nashville is typically an underrated city.  I can also recommend Virginia's tidewater region (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, etc.).  It's surprisingly cosmopolitan (big Navy base) and liberal for being so far south.

Spain is expensive and has crazy unemployment/underemployment, though I think the economic outlook for Spain a few years out is much stronger than current conditions suggest.  Madrid and Barcelona would be obvious choices, but seriously consider Sevilla--it's a much more manageable size and has as much alternative culture as history.  If you're worried about SAD in NYC or the northwest, write off the Netherlands along with pretty much all of non-Mediterranean Europe and the UK. 

If you're willing to think outside the box a bit, and since you speak Spanish, I recommend Uruguay.  Montevideo has a vibe very similar to many of California's beach towns and has generally avoided the security issues that plague Argentina and so much of South America. But if I were to move to South America tomorrow, I'd head for Bogota, Colombia--it's a dynamic city with a good arts scene and plenty of alternative culture.  Colombians are among the most entrepreneurial populations in the world and it can be a good environment for starting a business.  It can get gray there as well, but the climate is more San Francisco than Pacific northwest. Quito, Ecuador is similar in climate, but there is much more going on in Bogota.

We made a similar move in our twenties by setting out criteria and researching until the list of cities we liked got down to two.  We ended up choosing the DC area over San Francisco (from living in LA) and it has worked out very well for us--no regrets after nearly 30 years. 

Good luck. 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: RH on December 04, 2014, 07:32:50 PM
Check out San Diego, especially the east village area.

Also, Portland is great. Yep, its cloudy in the winter and spring...but there are plenty of direct flights to Hawaii for a quick vacay! I currently live in pdx.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: expatartist on December 04, 2014, 07:39:18 PM
OP, your ideal city sounds pretty similar to ours! Like most, we compromise on several fronts, to reach our other goals. For us, these are financial (the COL here makes it easy to save and travel), career (I'm in the arts and Beijing is bursting w/creativity), and linguistic (er, Mandarin with a crazy accent).

Some scattered notes:
* Are you both US citizens? Different European countries have different employment/residency laws. Berlin would be relatively easy for US citizens, Spain is somewhat easy (but you need to have documented income), and most others are difficult if you're a non-EU citizen.
* Portland was my first thought, too. But perhaps you might feel you fit in *too* well. And, yeah, SAD city.
* The Southeastern US is a region which I think offers loads of overlooked opportunity. There are cosmopolitan, artsy communities scattered throughout what most of us northerners think of as a giant Bible Belt. Some great suggestions above. Weather tends to be sunny, though can be humid in places.
* Nashville: musician friends of mine sadly left their hometown of New Orleans for a future in Nashville. NO simply didn't offer the income opportunities or career connections that Nashville could. Landlocked, though.

Re. living overseas, after having established a client base in the US, you might consider basing yourselves for half the year in a low-cost, creative hub with flexible visa laws like Chiang Mai/Sapa/Cambodia/Nepal where there are loads of handicrafts on offer, then spend the other half of the year in the US where you sell your wares.

Looking forward to hearing how your adventures go! And do PM if you plan to come to China in the next few years....there are amazing textiles in Guizhou.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: aspiringnomad on December 04, 2014, 07:46:43 PM
Portland/Seattle have full seasons where the sky is endlessly, endlessly grey. I know locals try to put on a grin-and-bear-it attitude, but I visit quite often and see some of the pastiest, SADdest people in the world during their winters. That, and you will certainly not be challenged in terms of different cultures in either of those cities (think Williamsburg, but as if the gentrification occurred generations ago). Otherwise, they meet your criteria pretty spot on. Nashville and Austin are also cool towns, but too car friendly for my taste and you also seem pretty concerned about that. Have you thought about Oaxaca City, Mexico or Cuenca, Ecuador? Both pretty chill, walkable towns with excellent climates. Otherwise, Southeast Asia is loaded with cool/cheap places that also check a lot of your boxes.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 08:02:08 PM
Wow, very impressed with all of the responses. It's great to hear from supportive and open-minded people!

Expatartist, sounds like we have common travel experiences and interests. 

* Are you both US citizens? Different European countries have different employment/residency laws. Berlin would be relatively easy for US citizens, Spain is somewhat easy (but you need to have documented income), and most others are difficult if you're a non-EU citizen.

Yes, both US only.

* Portland was my first thought, too. But perhaps you might feel you fit in *too* well. And, yeah, SAD city.

Agree

* The Southeastern US is a region which I think offers loads of overlooked opportunity. There are cosmopolitan, artsy communities scattered throughout what most of us northerners think of as a giant Bible Belt. Some great suggestions above. Weather tends to be sunny, though can be humid in places.
* Nashville: musician friends of mine sadly left their hometown of New Orleans for a future in Nashville. NO simply didn't offer the income opportunities or career connections that Nashville could. Landlocked, though.

Re. living overseas, after having established a client base in the US, you might consider basing yourselves for half the year in a low-cost, creative hub with flexible visa laws like Chiang Mai/Sapa/Cambodia/Nepal where there are loads of handicrafts on offer, then spend the other half of the year in the US where you sell your wares.

I absolutely love SE Asia and have been to all the places you mentioned. They will definitely be a source for our business imports, and our plan is similar to what you suggested, but rather than a bi-locational life, we will shoot for something more like living in a cheaper US city 6 months of the year, and international business travel the rest of the year. Eventually we want to move the home base elsewhere, but not sure if we're at that stage yet.


Looks like so far the votes are leaning toward Portland, Asheville, and Nashville. No votes for New Orleans? I'm interested in it for the vibrancy and unique culture, plus cheap housing that suits our style, but maybe there is just not enough commerce to support a small business (but there is tourism!), and maybe not enough alternative types. Would love to hear anyone's feedback on that.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: TerriM on December 04, 2014, 08:11:49 PM
I think Baltimore is an excellent choice, and it's easy for you to check out from NYC--you can probably get bus tickets for $15.  I'd add Albuquerque, NM to the list and consider Pittsburgh, PA as well. 
Good luck.

If you move to Albuquerque, make sure the job market has improved.  They were one of the last three cities in a recession, and two people I know are still out of their DOE/DOD jobs.  Less jobs means less people at restaurants.  If you want to buy a house, though, now may be the time.  Prices seem to be low.

Also, i thought Baltimore winters were supposed to be mild like Albq. and Denver....  I thought all got snow, but on average had milder winters.  Is that not the case?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 08:43:14 PM
San Luis Obispo (I'm also originally from So Cal) is just too sleepy and not cheap enough for what it offers--it's also 4 hours from any serious international airport.  For probably not much more money you could swing Santa Cruz which has much better access to the bay area and SFO.

**I haven't been to Santa Cruz in years, but will be visiting in a couple of weeks to see how it's changed.

If you're willing to think outside the box a bit, and since you speak Spanish, I recommend Uruguay.  Montevideo has a vibe very similar to many of California's beach towns and has generally avoided the security issues that plague Argentina and so much of South America. But if I were to move to South America tomorrow, I'd head for Bogota, Colombia--it's a dynamic city with a good arts scene and plenty of alternative culture.  Colombians are among the most entrepreneurial populations in the world and it can be a good environment for starting a business.  It can get gray there as well, but the climate is more San Francisco than Pacific northwest. Quito, Ecuador is similar in climate, but there is much more going on in Bogota.

**These are interesting ideas. I was in Quito last winter and enjoyed it, but not really the climate. I also didn't feel a huge connection in general. Colombia/Bogota have come up as an option several times and are worth more thought. Thanks for the reminder.
 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 08:48:13 PM
Portland/Seattle have full seasons where the sky is endlessly, endlessly grey. I know locals try to put on a grin-and-bear-it attitude, but I visit quite often and see some of the pastiest, SADdest people in the world during their winters. That, and you will certainly not be challenged in terms of different cultures in either of those cities (think Williamsburg, but as if the gentrification occurred generations ago). Otherwise, they meet your criteria pretty spot on. Nashville and Austin are also cool towns, but too car friendly for my taste and you also seem pretty concerned about that. Have you thought about Oaxaca City, Mexico or Cuenca, Ecuador? Both pretty chill, walkable towns with excellent climates. Otherwise, Southeast Asia is loaded with cool/cheap places that also check a lot of your boxes.

Sounds like your impressions/concerns about Portland and Seattle are spot on with mine. Oaxaca is totally on the radar, and we even have some possible faint job connections in the Mezcal business. Haven't visited Cuena, but I liked Quito so-so. SE Asia is totally on the list for long-term living, especially Vietnam!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: lhamo on December 04, 2014, 09:03:01 PM
Funny all the common thinking here -- I was also thinking Portland as #1.

As expat artist noted, there are several places in China you might think about.   Visas can be a challenge for independent contractors, but if you are travelling a lot the new 10-year business visa is supposed to come with a 60-day duration of stay limit.  If you based yourself in Kunming or Chengdu and were making regular trips elsewhere in the region that wouldn't be a problem.  I have lived in Chengdu and really liked it.  Maybe not hip enough for you, but there is a good local arts scene.  Enough expats so that there are some import stores for foods you crave and a few ok international restaurants.  The local food ROCKS, as long as you can take spicy.  Read Fuchsia Dunlop's books to get a sense for both the city and the cuisine.  I would LOVE to live in Kunming if I could.  The most ethnically diverse city in China and tons of great minority textiles nearby.  Also close to lots of interesting Southeast Asia destinations.  Dali is another place you might look at.  Big artist community there and supposedly a very nice life.  Lijiang is a bit too touristy for most people's tastes.  Shangrila had a huge fire recently and is probably a construction zone, but if you are interested in Tibetan culture that is one of the few places expats have been able to stay longer term.

Personally, if I were starting out on an adventure like yours I would seriously think about trying to get to Burma.  Have no idea what the visa situation is, but things are changing rapidly there and it seems like a REALLY interesting/adventurous place to be at the moment.  I'm a couple of decades too old and with too much baggage of various sorts to make that leap, though.

Good luck making your decision!
 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: kwasibor on December 04, 2014, 09:06:24 PM
Have you considered Chicago?  It has the benefit of being a big city with all the big city amenaties without the high price tag. There are tons of neoghborhoods where rent is extremely affordable.  My colleagues in NY practically die when I tell them about where I live and how much it costs...

You can fly direct to just about anywhere with 2 international airport.  There is a beach and out door activities galour in wisconsin and michigan, including beaches...Nashville and mountains are 8 hours drive.

Friendly Midwestern people, music, food, cultural scenes, breweries, wineries...

The one compromise is winter but it is what it is...go rent a house or do a house swap for a couple months and live in mexico on the cheap.  I'd rather deal with some winter than have it be gray all the time..

Chicago is the perfect home base for me and I know lots of others who agree based on your checklist
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: TerriM on December 04, 2014, 09:35:04 PM
Have you considered Chicago?  It has the benefit of being a big city with all the big city amenaties without the high price tag. There are tons of neoghborhoods where rent is extremely affordable.  My colleagues in NY practically die when I tell them about where I live and how much it costs...

You can fly direct to just about anywhere with 2 international airport.  There is a beach and out door activities galour in wisconsin and michigan, including beaches...Nashville and mountains are 8 hours drive.

Friendly Midwestern people, music, food, cultural scenes, breweries, wineries...

The one compromise is winter but it is what it is...go rent a house or do a house swap for a couple months and live in mexico on the cheap.  I'd rather deal with some winter than have it be gray all the time..

Chicago is the perfect home base for me and I know lots of others who agree based on your checklist

Chicago has pretty cold winters, though.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: The_path_less_taken on December 04, 2014, 09:41:17 PM
I'm originally from NYC. My Dad still lives in Queens, my uncle moved the Princeton.

New Orleans was awesome in the winter, even better when Mardi Gras wasn't happening. But the humidity is insane. And they have flying cockroaches. Yeah, they call them palmetto bugs. Some are two inches long. (beyond ick for me)

I loved Seattle, but omg was shocked at how long a sky could be gray. Poulsbo was a short ferry ride across the bay and if you kept going out on the peninsula you got to sun...usually. Seattle was the only place that had that "so what if it's 3am I wanna hear some music" vibe that SoHo or the meatpacking district has.

I know you don't like cold but Anchorage rocks, and small towns like Seward in the summer are very fun.

Just throwing it out there, but there are people who snowbird or dual season their living arrangements. So, Alaska in the summer and Santa Fe in the winter. Just a thought.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 04, 2014, 10:11:27 PM
Have you considered Chicago?  It has the benefit of being a big city with all the big city amenaties without the high price tag. There are tons of neoghborhoods where rent is extremely affordable.  My colleagues in NY practically die when I tell them about where I live and how much it costs...

Chicago's winters and location have always turned me off, but I know a lot of people are happy there.

As expat artist noted, there are several places in China you might think about.   Visas can be a challenge for independent contractors, but if you are travelling a lot the new 10-year business visa is supposed to come with a 60-day duration of stay limit.  If you based yourself in Kunming or Chengdu and were making regular trips elsewhere in the region that wouldn't be a problem.  I have lived in Chengdu and really liked it.  Maybe not hip enough for you, but there is a good local arts scene.  Enough expats so that there are some import stores for foods you crave and a few ok international restaurants.  The local food ROCKS, as long as you can take spicy.  Read Fuchsia Dunlop's books to get a sense for both the city and the cuisine.  I would LOVE to live in Kunming if I could.  The most ethnically diverse city in China and tons of great minority textiles nearby.  Also close to lots of interesting Southeast Asia destinations.  Dali is another place you might look at.  Big artist community there and supposedly a very nice life.  Lijiang is a bit too touristy for most people's tastes.  Shangrila had a huge fire recently and is probably a construction zone, but if you are interested in Tibetan culture that is one of the few places expats have been able to stay longer term.

Thanks for these and all of the other outside-the-box/country suggestions. They appeal to my wanderlust, but also raise some more concerns that I have yet to resolve. Neither my boyfriend nor I really feel the need to be tied to the US, but we have yet to save up enough cushion money to land us somewhere foreign, start a business, and get us back home if things don't work out. This is what's led us to the idea that we need to move to a smaller city and save up enough of a stash to really venture out. If anyone thinks that we can skip this step and relocate to somewhere interesting with little capital/no existing visa sponsorship, PLEASE chime in!

By little capital I mean that we will probably have 15k in cash (after paying off CC debt) when we leave New York. Moving somewhere foreign now would mean getting rid everything and starting over with new stuff. We don't need many possessions, but we do already have what we need and will move it within the country, saving a lot of money. I should mention that I have my TEFL (english teaching) certificate, although I have never used it. In certain countries, I could get work and sponsorship quite easily, but hardly for a living wage, and my boyfriend would be on his own for a visa and work.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Shade00 on December 04, 2014, 10:18:33 PM
New Orleans is a fabulous city with lots of incredible things to experience. It is hot and humid most of the year. You'll have to figure out if that's a dealbreaker. Living in one of the newly-renovated apartments in the CBD would be an incredible experience.

I've lived in Louisiana almost all my life, and am now considering a move to Nashville or (remote possibility) Seattle. My wife and I are both in love with Nashville but have not had a serious chance to move yet. Part of the issue is I'm an attorney, and my practice and license are not as portable as other professions might be.

I guess you will not be in a position to live in any of these places before making a decision. That's really the best way to make a decision - but if I were a little bit younger and a little bit smarter, I'd be looking for a place with good public transportation.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Pennsylvanian on December 04, 2014, 10:56:41 PM
You should come and visit Pittsburgh. We've got a lot of what you are looking for even though we do still have winter. It is nothing like the coastal storms though, and we are far enough south from the lakes that it is really only about 4-6 weeks at the peak, and you still get 4 seasons.

We've got world class everything here, including restaurants and business incubators and there was basically a tiny recession here because we don't do the wild property value spike or crazy no income interest only bullshit loan here. We lack diversity compared to NY, but mainly in the lily white suburbs; the city is diverse in age, nationality and race and growing that diversity is a priority. We have several world class research, medical and educational institutions and many Fortune 500 world headquarters.

Check out Lawrenceville, Friendship, Bakery Square, The Cork Factory, The Strip District and Bloomfield and Garfield - just a few city neighborhoods with walkable, bike able amenities and so many parks, trees and great places to ride into the country within 30 min. No helmet law too, if you are into that (please wear a helmet!). Google chefs in Pittsburgh to check out our seriously awesome restaurant scene (Kevin Sousa especially!).

Plus we've got abundant fresh water, the gold of the future.

And we are half the price of living in Portland. You can grow a stache here.

Seriously, you should check out Pittsburgh. Sorry if I sound like an ad, but Pittsburgh has a great balance of affordability, decent people, steady innovation and growth, a leader in green building, biotech, I could go on but I won't ....

Best of luck to you!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: FreedomInc on December 05, 2014, 01:15:49 AM
Here's where I would like to live:

Honolulu, San Diego, Los Angeles, or a southern California suburb.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: flyfig on December 05, 2014, 02:03:01 AM
What an amazing opportunity. I would agree on Seattle and Portland as amazing places. The grey didn't bother me because being by the water, the ever changing clouds, ocean and light would keep me amused. That said, I think a little inland is quite sunnier. I loved Bend OR when I was traveling through. Great walkability, biking, nature, affordability, culture, etc.

If you like the California coast, how about Santa Cruz or some of the towns by there. You have the challenge of CA state tax but the weather's nice, so yay?

I'm not sure what the economy is like today but I loved Buenos Aires when I visited and the prices were very reasonable. Would agree that Spain is terribly expensive. What about something along the coast- Croatia maybe? It's super hot as a tourist destination and so many opportunities would abound.

I lived in Philly for 3 years. Loved it. Took the train or drove into NYC for family but would have stayed in Philly if I could.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: hdatontodo on December 05, 2014, 03:55:46 AM
Baltimore is a dangerous city with some of the highest cell phone (and rain) taxes in the country. Schools are not great for the kids.

Code red air days in the hot, humid summer. Winter can get down to zero at times.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: iwasjustwondering on December 05, 2014, 05:24:51 AM
Another idea: Sarasota, FL.  Yes, there are a lot of snow birds, but if you really can't take winter, this is a pretty happening city for Florida.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: iwasjustwondering on December 05, 2014, 06:02:34 AM
You should come and visit Pittsburgh. We've got a lot of what you are looking for even though we do still have winter. It is nothing like the coastal storms though, and we are far enough south from the lakes that it is really only about 4-6 weeks at the peak, and you still get 4 seasons.

We've got world class everything here, including restaurants and business incubators and there was basically a tiny recession here because we don't do the wild property value spike or crazy no income interest only bullshit loan here. We lack diversity compared to NY, but mainly in the lily white suburbs; the city is diverse in age, nationality and race and growing that diversity is a priority. We have several world class research, medical and educational institutions and many Fortune 500 world headquarters.

Check out Lawrenceville, Friendship, Bakery Square, The Cork Factory, The Strip District and Bloomfield and Garfield - just a few city neighborhoods with walkable, bike able amenities and so many parks, trees and great places to ride into the country within 30 min. No helmet law too, if you are into that (please wear a helmet!). Google chefs in Pittsburgh to check out our seriously awesome restaurant scene (Kevin Sousa especially!).

Plus we've got abundant fresh water, the gold of the future.

And we are half the price of living in Portland. You can grow a stache here.

Seriously, you should check out Pittsburgh. Sorry if I sound like an ad, but Pittsburgh has a great balance of affordability, decent people, steady innovation and growth, a leader in green building, biotech, I could go on but I won't ....

Best of luck to you!

+1 Pittsburgh is a great city.  Truly awesome.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: lielec11 on December 05, 2014, 07:01:35 AM
Asheville, NC

Do you live there? Ashville is on our list of places to check out in the next two years as possible moving destinations. Care to elaborate why you enjoy it so much?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Goldielocks on December 05, 2014, 07:17:40 AM
Although I haven't been there, all I could think of reading your lists was Portland. From what I hear it is a great hip little city with a diverse food, beverage and music culture. In regards to leaving NYC, I am right there with  you. So tired of the overhyped hustle-bustle here. Overpriced and underwhelming.

My first thought was to get you close to an airport with international connections and market, then I read the description starting with heavily tatooed, motorcycle, etc.
So-
Bellingham?  Then Portland/ bend / Oregon.

Great for motorcycle.  Very accepting of alternative looks/ behavior.

Grey winter skies are OK when it is so green everywhere.  Not like NYC Grey.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: begood on December 05, 2014, 07:39:54 AM
I'll add a vote for the Chapel Hill/Carrboro NC area. Chapel Hill is a college town, very liberal. Carrboro is a small mill town just adjacent - it's cheaper, funkier, possibly even more liberal these days than Chapel Hill. You can definitely live in Carrboro and bike anywhere you need to go in Carrboro or the downtown/university area of Chapel Hill. Carrboro is smaller and flatter than Chapel Hill, which can be quite... hilly!

RDU is only half an hour away, depending on traffic, and it's an int'l airport.

The Piedmont of NC has four seasons - beautiful springs and falls, short winters, hot summers. You'll have a hard time finding a place that offers both mild winters and non-humid summers with a low COL. If you do find that place, I'd love to know about it! I think the climate in San Diego is pretty ideal, but damn it's expensive!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: TerriM on December 05, 2014, 07:45:13 AM
Grey winter skies are OK when it is so green everywhere.  Not like NYC Grey.

I'm not sure about that.....  There's something to be said for natural Vitamin D through sunlight.  After spending 20 years in a sunny city myself noticeably happier after a couple of minutes in the sun no matter how angry I was about something..... 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: aneel on December 05, 2014, 07:50:30 AM
Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill.  I'm living in Boston and desperately trying to get back there.  4 hours to Asheville and the Mountains, 2 hours to the beach.  Durham's city life is seriously on the rise, but still has that neighborhood feel and man do people love their dogs down there.
Also, you mention SF/Oakland, so have you considered humboldt (Arcata or Eureka)?  It's a very free life style there, but jobs are lacking unless you're self sufficient.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Goldielocks on December 05, 2014, 07:51:04 AM
Grey winter skies are OK when it is so green everywhere.  Not like NYC Grey.

I'm not sure about that.....  There's something to be said for natural Vitamin D through sunlight.  After spending 20 years in a sunny city myself noticeably happier after a couple of minutes in the sun no matter how angry I was about something.....

Agreed, I like a sunny freezing prairie  over rainy green pacific nw, over grey Chicago or NYC. 
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 05, 2014, 08:04:50 AM
I'm in Richmond Va (RVA) and love it here.  You would especially love The Fan, or Scotts Addition, or Manchester, or Church Hill neighborhoods.  My 24-year old tattooed, purple-haired daughter lives in an awesome 1-BR apartment in Church Hill.  It's in an old bakery factory that was adapted.  It's gorgeous and within walking distance to some of the best, funkiest, fun spots in town.  Her rent is $930 a month. 

The COL is excellent and our winters are typically mild with one or two small snows -- an inch or two and the whole city shuts down.  ;)  Yes, it's humid in the summer but we adapted.

It has a strong community of tattooed, biker, outdoorsy people -- in part thanks to Va Commonwealth University that's here (40,000 students).  The craft beer/ live music/ restaurant/ food truck scene here is outstanding.  Urban farming and farmers markets are popular -- yes, we've got Whole Foods and TJ's but we also have Ellwood Thompson, a local organic grocery store that has been thriving for close to 40 years now.   We are the only city with Class IV whitewater rapids running right through downtown and have an elaborate system of urban hiking trails.  Our bike system is steadily growing and there is a strong advocacy group that's pushing for more.  Next year, we're hosting the UCI World Championship cycling race and are expecting 400k visitors from all over the world.   There is usually some kind of outdoor festival (typically free) of some kind going on every single month of the year -- Bacon, Bourbon, Tomato, XGames, Folk Fest, Watermelon -- we love our festivals.  You could live with one car here, but I wouldn't try to go carless.

Our public transit is pretty shitty but we're adding a Bus Rapid Transit line and hopefully that will help.  We're two hours from the beach; the mountains; or Washington DC.  Our airport is excellent or you can drive to Dulles.

I must admit, I was surprised to see a recommendation for the Tidewater region.  I've lived in RVA for 15 years and in other parts of Va for most of my life. The whole Tidewater region is sprawl,  and car dependent with an elaborate bridge system that causes long traffic bottlenecks.   Va Beach is one of the most conservative places in the country.  Norfolk isn't far behind.  Oh, and it's sinking.  The peninsula is literally sinking by a tiny bit each year while sea level is also rising.  They're high risk for flooding.  Sorry, but I would not recommend Tidewater.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: rujancified on December 05, 2014, 08:12:27 AM
I'm from coastal MA, so I hear you on the grey thing. Until I moved South, I had no idea that winter could be anything but shitty.

How critical is the international airport thing? Nashville's Airport isn't anything to write home about, I've heard. Atlanta's is international but a total nightmare (busier than LAX, right?). Houston or Dallas airports are great, but the cities don't meet much of your criteria.

Not close to airports, but funky mountain towns:
Asheville, NC
Burlington, VT or Boulder, CO if you can deal with winter. Burlington was my first thought until I read your whole post (no northeast).

Someone said Lisbon, which is a great city. I could be wrong, but their economy is worse than that of Spain, so you may find they're not as expat friendly as other parts of Europe. What about Croatia?

Re: Disney Cruises. I have the same opinion as you on Disney Cruises, but you'll find those people everywhere. I know people in the "cool part" of NYC and Oregon State who are Disney fanatics.

New Orleans is crazy humid pretty much year round. I prefer humidity to winter myself, so maybe that's not a dealbreaker for you guys.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: MandalayVA on December 05, 2014, 08:33:08 AM
Dammit, TrulyStashin, you beat me to the RVA pimp!  :D

Seriously, though, Richmond should definitely be on your list for all the reasons TS mentioned.  You guys would love Church Hill, which, I might add, is where I live.  It's a super-diverse neighborhood--everyone from college students to young families to empty-nesters to retirees--plus it's a national historic district.  The city is always looking to help out new businesses in the area too so if you're entrepreneurs there are definitely opportunities here.  When I was younger I would have sold body parts to live in NYC (I grew up an hour outside it and spent a lot of time there, including work) but I'm very happy to live in Richmond.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 05, 2014, 08:49:42 AM
Posting here made me reflect on how much I love this funky little city.  ;))

Here's a story about us from Outside Magazine which picked RVA as the Best River Town in the U.S. in 2012.  http://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/best-towns/Best-Towns-Richmond-Virginia.html (http://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/best-towns/Best-Towns-Richmond-Virginia.html)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: minimustache1985 on December 05, 2014, 09:32:04 AM
If I had to pick from the list you already have I'd go with Portland or Austin, they're both great cities, and Portland while still very grey has way more sunny days than Seattle.

I would add Las Vegas to your list to look into.  Huge airport with tons of flight options/carriers (most international flights you'll have a layover in Cali or NY, but not always), loads of hiking even outside of Red Rock, diverse city, almost no grey days, no humidity, no real winter, etc.  Moreover you mentioned you're in hospitality which is heavily unionized in LV (read: benefits), and if you mean clothing when you say textile goods, Vegas is behind only NYC and LA for fashion/shopping so it could be a good place to start your business.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Chrissy on December 05, 2014, 09:59:09 AM
I've lived in Chicago and NYC (among other places).  Chicago winters are no different than what you're experiencing now.  I've lived through worse snow storms in NYC, frankly.

Definitely check out Richmond.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: The Architect on December 05, 2014, 10:17:52 AM
What an amazing opportunity. I would agree on Seattle and Portland as amazing places. The grey didn't bother me because being by the water, the ever changing clouds, ocean and light would keep me amused. That said, I think a little inland is quite sunnier. I loved Bend OR when I was traveling through. Great walkability, biking, nature, affordability, culture, etc.

And has the full 4-seasons including exceptional cold (Down to 0 degrees when I lived there). That said, Spokane, WA, might tick some boxes and isn't nearly as gray as Seattle/Portland. Bit more conservative though, and I'm not sure if they're as tattoo-friendly as Seattle/Portland. They've got an international airport, are more inexpensive, and a reasonably walkable downtown over there.

Tacoma WA might be another place for you to look - cheaper than Seattle/Portland, but similar vibe. The Sounder train goes both places, buses go more reliably between Seattle and Tacoma (and probably the airport, though I've never tried). Really awesome parks, and Tacoma is unique as a city in that it owns it's own power company, rail lines, and cable company.

Something to keep in mind about the west coast that you may not be aware of living on the east coast - nothing is close together here. Seattle is 3+ hours from Portland (And 5+ hours from Spokane). Almost everyone drives, unless they live downtown in the city in which they work (or they are mustachians who bike).  Tacoma is nicely in-between at ~45 minutes to Seattle and ~2 hours to Portland.

City density is much lower, Seattle has some 650,000 people and is the largest city in the region, with many of the suburbs scattered over a 50 mile radius being in the 100,000-200,000 range.The airport isn't actually in Seattle, by car it's 15-45 minutes south (depending on your location and traffic) in a separate city, there is a light rail from the city center (nowhere near houses, go figure) to the airport though. Mass transit exists, but isn't great, compared to NYC it doesn't even register.

As to gray, I don't think I've seen the sun since October. Night starts at 4:30 PM now. A few years ago, we had rain every day for more than a month straight.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: kmt88 on December 05, 2014, 10:53:30 AM
I'm going throw in a shout out to Long Beach, CA.  It meets every single one of your qualifications, and is a hidden gem of Southern California.  It prides itself on being bicycle friendly, and I have many friends that are car free or car-lite.  There's a very strong bicycling culture and it's how I made most of my friends.  My rent for a nice two bedroom, two bath, two parking spot apartment is $1350/month (I split that cost with a roommate).  I've also lived in this apartment for three years on a month to month lease without any rent increases.  Adorable craftsmen homes are available to rent for a good price.  I'm walking distance to dive bars, free/donation based yoga overlooking the ocean, restaurants, grocery stores, weekly farmer's markets, the beach, thrift stores, house roasted coffee shops, roller derby shops, vintage bike shops, etc etc.  My friends all live within 3 miles of me.

Long Beach also has strong support for locally own businesses/restaurants.  A new store opened downtown specifically showcasing local artists and entrepreneurs (google "localism long beach").  There are also countless free festivals (especially during the summer, google "summer and music") designed to create community and love for the city.  When I walk down the street or ride my bicycle home, I regularly see people I know.  Very friendly people.

It is also one of the most diverse cities in the country.  Since you love Southeast Asia, you may be pleased to learn Long Beach has the largest population of Khmer folks outside of Cambodia.  We even have a Cambodia Town.  The food in this city is absolutely amazing. 

You also have the blue line metro light rail to take you door to door from downtown Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles in one hour (improvements will shorten this to 45 minutes soon).  I make trips up there monthly with my bike just to ride around and enjoy the larger city (CicLAvia!!!!).  LAX is also one of the largest international airports in the country with great airfare.  (I travel internationally a lot as well).  The mountains/hiking/mountain bike riding in the greater Los Angeles area is incredible.  The weather, of course, is perfect.  You know all about Los Angeles. 

When you described yourself as "rock and roll" and "crunchy granola" I smiled in recognition.  My neighborhood (4th st/retro row) would welcome you with open arms.  I'm the odd one out NOT having any tattoos here.  There's a strong vintage/rockabilly aesthetic to the culture here.  And I also live walking distance to a bar owned by the old drummer of Social Distortion (Pike Bar & Grill).  They have regular motorcycle meetups there. 

Oh, also very very dog friendly.  A lot of places have patios where you can bring your dog with you when you eat/drink out.  There's a dog costume parade every Halloween.  And Long Beach has a dog beach!  (Rosie's dog park).

Clearly, I could go on and on.  I moved here from Atlanta (born and raised there) and never looked back.  The South is really great and cheap, but it's not liberal.  LB just elected a young, Hispanic gay man as mayor.  Try that in a Southern city.  If you want a snapshot of Long Beach's culture, browse the LB Post and Longbeachize.  They're two online newspapers/magazines that cover all the exciting things happening here right now.  Feel free to message me with any other questions as well.  Best of luck in your move!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: neo von retorch on December 05, 2014, 11:20:54 AM
Have you ever visited Charleston, SC? Now, I only spent a few days there, but I really liked it, and the weather is certainly nicer than what I've got here in PA. (If not for your avoidance of the Northeast in general, and your wish for warmer weather, I'd suggest Harrisburg, though it's going through some pains right now recovering some previous leadership issues.)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: Zummbot on December 05, 2014, 11:39:57 AM
I gotta put my vote in for RVA as well. I grew up in Richmond, spent 6 years in NYC after college, and recently moved back. It's a great town, right up your alley. I don't miss NYC at all. The cost of living is super low. Ideal place to grow you stash.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study - Picking a new city to live in. Moving away from NYC.
Post by: newfunkcity on December 05, 2014, 12:16:18 PM
I'm going throw in a shout out to Long Beach, CA.  It meets every single one of your qualifications, and is a hidden gem of Southern California.  It prides itself on being bicycle friendly, and I have many friends that are car free or car-lite.  There's a very strong bicycling culture and it's how I made most of my friends.  My rent for a nice two bedroom, two bath, two parking spot apartment is $1350/month (I split that cost with a roommate).  I've also lived in this apartment for three years on a month to month lease without any rent increases.  Adorable craftsmen homes are available to rent for a good price.  I'm walking distance to dive bars, free/donation based yoga overlooking the ocean, restaurants, grocery stores, weekly farmer's markets, the beach, thrift stores, house roasted coffee shops, roller derby shops, vintage bike shops, etc etc.  My friends all live within 3 miles of me.

...

kmt88, I'm very familiar with Long Beach, as I grew up in Huntington and my family currently lives in Seal Beach. I will be there next week to visit. I agree Long Beach is great, but lacks the appeal of being somewhere new and interesting for me, plus I tend to get caught up in the consumer culture/vanity of Southern California and would rather stay away from those influences, but it certainly is a nice place to live and raise a family if you're at that stage of life. Thanks for the reminder. Glad to hear that you're loving it there.