Author Topic: Where should I live?  (Read 13161 times)

mushroom

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Where should I live?
« on: August 06, 2012, 08:53:45 PM »
First, a bit of background: my husband and I are about 9 months into a year-long round the world trip thanks to building up savings with a frugal lifestyle. Reality has recently started to intrude that we will have to decide where to live and work once we get back to the U.S. We currently have no job, no home, and no car and nothing that ties us to a particular location (although it might be nice to be close to his family in Michigan or my family in CA, but obviously we can't really have both).

I finished my residency in pediatrics last year so I will be looking for a job as a pediatrician, while my husband's career has been all over the place so he could do a lot of different things, but he's probably most interested in something related to academics.

So we've been throwing around ideas for where we should look for jobs and places to live, looking at places with no state income tax, low cost of living, etc. but I would love more suggestions on cities or towns.

Things we'd love:
-Mustachian (low cost of living)
-Sunlight (this may put places like the Pacific Northwest and Alaska lower on our list)
-Access to outdoors, preferably near a national park (we love hiking and the mountains)
-Not super conservative (we're ok with, say, a college town in an otherwise conservative state)
-Major airport within an hour
-Options to buy good ethnic food/access to a decent-sized city within driving distance
-Not crazy cold and not crazy hot, snow is ok

I have a feeling that a place with all of these attributes doesn't really exist, but can you get us close? For instance, we've talked about some cities in Montana and Colorado that might work. Before our trip, we lived in Chicago, which was a pretty good fit except a bit cold for my taste, and I think we're looking to settle somewhere new. We have toyed with living abroad, but I think we're probably looking to stay in the U.S. to be near family and for me to earn a decent salary as a pediatrician for a while.

DocCyane

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2012, 09:34:04 PM »
I wouldn't recommend California. The state is having great difficulty meeting financial obligations and it's poorly run. Illegal immigration is a huge problem and the middle class is struggling. My partner and I are trying to get the heck out.

I realize this doesn't provide you with options, but I can't encourage you enough to go with a low cost of living area. It doesn't matter how far away the airport is if you can't afford to take a vacation.

tannybrown

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 09:44:37 PM »
Tempe hits most of your bases.

JohnGalt

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 09:46:37 PM »
Denver sounds like a good fit for most of your criteria.  Not sure how it fits in with the ethnic food - but it's a major city so I would imagine you can find what you're looking for.  Other than that - I  think it hits pretty much everything you mentioned.

Jamesqf

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2012, 11:02:27 PM »
I'd put Missoula, Montana at the head of the list.  Next would be places in (or at the base of) the Sierra Nevada, say from Mammoth north.  True, a lot of it is in California, but it's not urban California.

mushroom

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2012, 11:11:22 PM »
Yeah, we've definitely thought about Denver, or perhaps a little outside of Denver to get cheaper (i.e. probably not Boulder).  I would count that as good ethnic food!  I mostly don't want to end up like my aunt in a tiny town in upstate NY, where she has to drive 3 hours to get bad Korean food.

Re: Tempe - unfortunately my husband would probably call that "crazy hot"

Re: CA. Agreed that cost of living may be a problem there and probably not worth it.

Re: Missoula. I just mentioned it to my husband and he said, "I already told you I thought that would be a good place to go!"

Thanks for the ideas, please keep them coming!

Mariana

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2012, 09:43:44 AM »
Don't completely rule out the Pacific Northwest!  I grew up outside of Spokane, WA (self-proclaimed capital of the Inland Empire.  Pocatello, ID considers itself the gateway to the Pacific Northwest, so it's actually a huge area)  and in my lifetime the area has grown and, I think, made lots of changes for the better.
The weather is fairly temperate with snow in the winter and occasional triple digits in the summer.  Spokane is full of hospitals and health-care centers (4 hospitals that serve a huge region d/t the rural outlying areas) and also home to 4 universities (two are branch campuses) and two community colleges. 
Spokane is also surrounded by easy-to-access outdoorsy stuff.  It's not as liberal as Seattle, but it could be worse.  All of this in a state with no income tax!

COguy

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2012, 10:09:47 AM »
If you do choose to look into the Colorado front range more, you might look into the west side of Denver or any of its western suburbs: Golden, Arvada, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, etc.  I think Fort Collins and Longmont will also nicely fit your criteria.  I am very biased to these places though as I grew up in Arvada, went to college in Golden and Fort Collins, spent a couple years in AZ and CA, and now I am back in Longmont (not my first choice, but close to work).
 
I would say if you want affordable housing Golden and Fort Collins fit your criteria best as near downtown Denver can get a bit pricey and the other places I listed can be a bit boring at times (too suburban for my tastes).

I must say that the food in Denver is great, but I have lived in LA and San Diego and the ethnic food in Denver can be a bit weak comparatively.  Of course I know of good Indian, Korean, Chinese, Mediterranean, and of course Mexican places so there is still good food to be had.

Feel free to pm me if you want more info.  I love living in Colorado and I think any Mustachian is a great addition to our state and I think we will have everything you want

MrD

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2012, 12:03:08 PM »
1 vote for Charlotte, NC seems to hit most of your list except it does get pretty hot.

Best features are:
-Very nice city that is easy to get to/leave
-Diverse people/food
-Can go to the beach or mountains in same state
-It is super cheap if you live outside of the city, if you live in VERY north SC you will get insanely cheap housing
-CLT airport is a very nice one and its easy to get to
-Depending on where you are it can be conservative but honestly its not that bad, I rarely hear too much crazy babble

Jamesqf

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2012, 12:33:09 PM »
Don't completely rule out the Pacific Northwest!  I grew up outside of Spokane, WA (self-proclaimed capital of the Inland Empire.

I expect most of us think "Pacific Northwest" applies only to the area west of the Cascades - the rainy part.

For the ethnic food, you can always learn to cook it yourself.

mushroom

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2012, 06:24:09 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions - am doing some research into the cities that were mentioned.  It's really helpful to hear personal recommendations from people who lived there since I don't know anyone from, say, Colorado and just looking at the numbers doesn't provide much of a picture.

Jamesqf - I love cooking ethnic food, but part of what I meant was access to ingredients, too. Asian supermarkets often have crazy cheap produce (10 limes for a dollar!) and specialty ingredients like Thai basil, lemongrass, kimchi, Indian spices, mirin, etc. If the only market were far away, I could stock up on stuff like giant cheap bags of lentils, but I would really miss some of the produce. I guess I could try growing some of my own herbs (once I theoretically have a garden behind my theoretical house in my theoretical city), but I probably wouldn't want to put in the effort into making my own kimchi :).

Jamesqf

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2012, 12:11:30 AM »
Most of those ingredients are available in my local (and very cheap) supermarket.  Not sure about kimchi, but the only other thing I haven't seen is the lemongrass. 

Taylor

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2012, 11:57:43 AM »
I would also put a vote in for Denver. I live in Lakewood (just west of Denver, 10 minutes form downtown and 10 minutes to the foothills of the mountains. Also 10 minutes from the fantastic ethinic grocery stores on South Federal :) Feel free to PM me with questions if you have them.

deciduous

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2012, 12:53:19 PM »
Austin meets all of your criteria other than heat--but when I lived there for two years honestly it never bothered me. I left the AC off on all but the very hottest days, when I'd bring it down to 90 or so. But man, what a fun place to be alive, and it doesn't get tired after you've been there for a while. Music, food, unpretentious culture and a playful independent / liberal streak are some of the main selling points.

Several of my (mostly NYC) friends have complained about over-eager evangelism about Austin from those of us who have lived there. One of them pretty much summed it up by saying, "ok, sure, I believe that the music and so on is great, but it's ridiculous to say that it's the BEST an present it as simple fact. It may be unusually good, and come without many of the pitfalls of a metropolis, but you're a pompous prick if you walk around pitching it that way." I think that pretty much nails it on the head: most of the best parts of a big city, with much less of the bad.

I'll agree with anyone saying Colorado might be ideal for you.

deciduous

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2012, 12:58:15 PM »
Oh, I should say that while I got outdoors a great deal when I lived in Texas and loved every minute of it, if mountains in particular are what you crave, and tall trees are an important part of it, then Austin won't work for you. I missed both of those, and it had a lot to do with the place feeling like "lots of fun, but not home."

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2012, 01:15:55 PM »
Yea I've been researching this every day for a few months.  Since I'm still in the accumulation phase, I mostly considered jobs, cost of living, and taxes.  Texas is looking really good,  it seems to have the best of it all: very low COL, low taxes, and there seem to be a lot of jobs there.  The only downsides for me were that Texas is extremely spread out and doesn't have the public transportation to offset that, and it can get pretty hot.

tannybrown

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2012, 01:33:52 PM »
Texas is the hotspot for the job market right now.

A weird but awesome outlier for jobs: Pittsburgh, PA, aother good Mustachian city.

As for the weather bit, I feel like it's a really overrated aspect of where one lives after the honeymoon period.  I lived in San Diego for a decade and after the first few years, you oddly adjust.  I'd get freezing cold in a 55 degree drizzle there.  Now, here in AZ, I only get really uncomfortable when it gets over 105. 

Like the MMM post noted, our bodies acclimate.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2012, 01:42:29 PM »
Texas is the hotspot for the job market right now.

A weird but awesome outlier for jobs: Pittsburgh, PA, aother good Mustachian city.

I also interviewed for the same company in its Pittsburgh location, win win!  Comparatively between the northern Texas and Pittsburgh locations, Texas was still cheaper with regard to property prices and cost of living, but Pittsburgh had more attractions (it is a larger metropolitan area, basically).  Something to consider in Pittsburgh are Allegheny County taxes, in addition to the PA state taxes.

Quote
As for the weather bit, I feel like it's a really overrated aspect of where one lives after the honeymoon period.  I lived in San Diego for a decade and after the first few years, you oddly adjust.  I'd get freezing cold in a 55 degree drizzle there.  Now, here in AZ, I only get really uncomfortable when it gets over 105. 

Like the MMM post noted, our bodies acclimate.

Yea, I've been in Pittsburgh for about 3 months now and I'm just now starting to get comfortable with the humidity.  If I do move to Texas, I'm hoping I can compensate all the way up to their 120 degree heat indexes!

shadowmoss

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2012, 01:50:29 PM »
Tennessee.  I know the Nashville area, hits a lot of your criteria.  No state income tax.  Several hospitals.  Several universities.  Moderate temperature.  Major airport. 

tannybrown

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2012, 02:01:14 PM »
Texas is the hotspot for the job market right now.

A weird but awesome outlier for jobs: Pittsburgh, PA, aother good Mustachian city.

I also interviewed for the same company in its Pittsburgh location, win win!  Comparatively between the northern Texas and Pittsburgh locations, Texas was still cheaper with regard to property prices and cost of living, but Pittsburgh had more attractions (it is a larger metropolitan area, basically).  Something to consider in Pittsburgh are Allegheny County taxes, in addition to the PA state taxes.

Quote
As for the weather bit, I feel like it's a really overrated aspect of where one lives after the honeymoon period.  I lived in San Diego for a decade and after the first few years, you oddly adjust.  I'd get freezing cold in a 55 degree drizzle there.  Now, here in AZ, I only get really uncomfortable when it gets over 105. 

Like the MMM post noted, our bodies acclimate.

Yea, I've been in Pittsburgh for about 3 months now and I'm just now starting to get comfortable with the humidity.  If I do move to Texas, I'm hoping I can compensate all the way up to their 120 degree heat indexes!

Good point about Allegheny county property taxes, which are ridiculously high.  That said, property values are pretty low, IMO.

HeidiO

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2012, 12:53:42 AM »
I like Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Inexpensive, easy to live in.  Politically purple, socially people have a very "live and let live" attitude.  Hot in the summer, but dry and a lot less hot than Arizona.  Decent university.  Good hospitals (UNM, Presbyterian, Lovelace.)  Decent ethnic food (very important to me, too.)
Heidi

grantmeaname

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2012, 06:24:23 AM »
I like Columbus. I'm not here to convince you to live here, just to point out that everyone on this forum with maybe two or three exceptions loves the place they live. So maybe that means finding a place that meets all your criteria isn't as important as making sure to be happy wherever you end up.

tannybrown

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2012, 07:31:51 AM »
I'll give another vote to Columbus, too...a bigger, more metropolitan city than I was expecting.  Housing costs are good, one of the best campuses you'll find, and kind of a cool place in general.

Mr Mark

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2012, 09:03:36 AM »
We love Detroit: cheap housing, vibrant art & music scene, Canada 5 mins away, low cost of living.

There is some snow in the winter... but global warming is gradually taking care of that!


Jamesqf

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #24 on: August 09, 2012, 12:34:05 PM »
I like Columbus. I'm not here to convince you to live here, just to point out that everyone on this forum with maybe two or three exceptions loves the place they live.

Maybe because a lot of us chose to live where we do because we loved the place?

I know that's certain true for me: I lived in a few places I loathed (LA basin tops the list), others that I might have been ok with, but chose here (northern Nevada) because it was (at the time) the best balance of things I wanted with the ability to make a living.

$_gone_amok

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #25 on: August 09, 2012, 02:01:07 PM »
Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX has already been mentioned.

What about Chicago? Chicago is more affordable comparing to coastal cities and at the same time offers everything you could get in NYC or San Francisco.

Jamesqf

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #26 on: August 09, 2012, 04:45:05 PM »
Re Chicago, Detroit, and other cities of similar size: note that the OP wants access to outdoors, with hiking & mountains.  Not going to find much of that in a major metro area.

$_gone_amok

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #27 on: August 10, 2012, 03:17:33 PM »
Re Chicago, Detroit, and other cities of similar size: note that the OP wants access to outdoors, with hiking & mountains.  Not going to find much of that in a major metro area.

I have a sneaking suspicion that OP or her family is Asian American so I suggested Chicago because it offers more diversity. Of course I could be completely wrong :)

mushroom

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #28 on: August 10, 2012, 05:42:04 PM »
Thanks so much for the great ideas, guys. I really appreciate it! I'll have to post an update in a few months with where we end up (my husband and I have talked about buying a used RV and trying out a few different locations, but I haven't decided whether we're totally joking or not).

$_gone_amok: we lived in Chicago for a few years before heading off on the trip (see the end of the rather long original post), and it was a pretty decent fit except it was a little cold for me (grew up in LA) and didn't have as much hiking and mountains as we would have wanted. I also think we're looking for something new after moving around so much abroad. But otherwise, I agree that it's cheaper than a lot of other big cities and has some great ethnic neighborhoods and markets. And yeah, I am Asian American - what, just because I'm a frugal doctor with a requirement that any place I live has to have good ethnic food? :P

reverend

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2012, 11:39:20 PM »
I'd put in another vote for you looking at Colorado (along the line from Colorado Springs, through Denver and up to Ft. Collins). There are cheaper areas than Boulder and Arapahoe counties, but like someone already said, check Golden, Erie etc, on the West side of the 25 fwy. I bought my house in Brighton (East of the 25) but I am 40 minutes from Boulder, 25 min from Downtown, 35 minutes from Longmont and 15 from the airport - the last one being a major bonus.

I don't know how you are with humidity, but as I am currently in Texas, I can't recommend it. :)  Austin gets a good nod from a lot of people, but my impression with it now (I don't currently live in Denver) is that it's VERY crowded, traffic is a nightmare, cost of living is pretty outlandish. Taxes, groceries, etc is a good bit worse than Denver. Jobs pay less and I haven't seen the boom in jobs that people talked about before I moved here. Of course, I work in IT so...  The oil business went crazy for a few years.  There are ways to skirt some of those issues, but be prepared.
Then the climate (I have never had worse mosquitoes than here!) can take some getting used to.

Denver has remarkably good weather, but it gets cold in the winter and sometimes you get snow. Even when it gets hot in the summer, the nights are still nice, so I never ran the A/C more than maybe 10-14 days a year total.

I'm mulling over the Pacific Northwest next. I don't know about jobs and cost of living, but I think the JOY of living could be better there. Mass transit and walkability is high on my list for next place to move. I want to be able to go down to one car and never need to use it. :)  I want better weather and more nature (Texas is a desert).

California (I spend over a decade there (Redondo Beach/Irvine/Hawthorne/Malibu/Laguna Beach) has great weather, but is crowded with lots of traffic. Taxes are insane, housing is still insane, jobs don't always pay much more than elsewhere, leading to a bad income/cost ratio. You do get the weather and pleasant people and they can DRIVE so you don't die on the freeway. :)  STill, I think it would be anti-mustaschian to live there. Sadly. I love it and wish I could justify moving home again.  There is nothing you can't do there. Restore cars? Work in entertainment? Ride motorcycles year round? All the fun things are there.  You just pay for the privilege.


Jarvis

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2012, 02:05:32 PM »
I like Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Inexpensive, easy to live in.  Politically purple, socially people have a very "live and let live" attitude.  Hot in the summer, but dry and a lot less hot than Arizona.  Decent university.  Good hospitals (UNM, Presbyterian, Lovelace.)  Decent ethnic food (very important to me, too.)
Heidi

I sent a PM to HeidiO hoping for more information about ABQ, but haven't got a reply.  Posting here in hopes that she, or someone else, could tell me more about Albuquerque. 

My wife and I are 3-5 years away from moving out of the bay area and settling down somewhere for the long term.  ABQ is currently a place we're very interested in because it's close to some of my wife's family, and seems to have a nice outdoor culture we're interested in.  Are there neighborhoods in ABQ that facilitate a mustachian style of living and raising a family?


mushroom

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2013, 08:32:43 PM »
Update: We have a couple interviews lined up in Las Vegas, so we decided that we're going to pack up our stuff and drive over from Michigan and hang out in an extended stay hotel for a while until we sort things out. Hopefully this is not the craziest thing we've ever done. At least I have my family sort of close by to visit in Los Angeles, and there are some nice national parks nearby in case we decide to relabel this move a "road trip" if this Vegas thing doesn't work out. Thanks for all your input! We were eyeing Denver pretty closely (and may move there eventually down the road), but I think we may have better job opportunities in Vegas, and the warm weather, cheap housing, and lack of state income tax in Nevada is nice.

Skyn_Flynt

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2013, 08:47:48 PM »
Although Charlotte meets the criteria the OP laid out - taxes are high here. The sales tax is around 8.5% (varies a little depending on what you buy) and NC has a high income tax (is 9% or thereabouts, if you make over about $65K a year). I'm planning to bail from here and move where taxes are lower in a year or two.

It's not all that cheap to live here either. Plan on spending at least $850 a month for a 2 BR apartment in an average part town. Center city where the trendier neighborhoods are, will be $950 or more. Apartments here like to bill you separately for water and trash (bet you thought that would be included in the rent, huh?) and sometimes require you to buy cable TV as a package deal. It's definately a place you have to take your time exploring and pricing around in.

5inatrailer

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2013, 09:24:51 AM »
You are at the top of the education pyramid which gives you all kinds of options.
Could you take 6 month "locums" and try out different places?
I'm stuck up in Canada so don't have as many exotic locales to pick from (thank God for hockey).
Ultimately, it comes down to what makes you happy:
We moved to a smaller town 2 hours from our childhood homes when we were in our 20's (when you are young and no obligations, the world is your oyster)Then we had some kids, and then more kids and re-evaluated our life so that we recognized a larger family interaction was a missing piece of the puzzle and ended up moving back to our original city.
What will give you work-life balance now? Would you be able to relocate in 5 years when circumstances inevitably change?
As MMM is pointing out, you can make a decent go of it anywhere, even Hawaii. Find a great work environment in a place you enjoy. For my $$ It would be Waimea, Hawaii, Big Island. 2nd choice Santa Rosa California as other things being equal.
Bonne Chance

maryofdoom

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2013, 12:24:01 PM »
Another vote for Pittsburgh here. There's a surprising amount of fun stuff to do here. I moved to Pittsburgh from San Diego and at the time was like "UGH PITTSBURGH" but really liked it once I got here.

Westmoreland County (the county east of Allegheny) has cheap taxes and is pleasantly rural without being too far away from city things.

If you do decide to go to Pittsburgh, I would advise you to pick a place to live that does not require a commute to work that crosses a river. That's where a lot of the traffic happens, in my experience.


StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2013, 03:03:29 PM »
I am not American, so cannot help, but I wanted to say that I am floored at the concept of choosing a place to live based on what it is like to live there, instead of going where you can find a job. You can do that? Mind. Blown.
Okay, I guess you can do that if you're a medical doctor. I should have read more carefully.

This might clash with the "ethnic food" requirement, but you could look into what areas really need you-- I know there are some towns in Northern Ontario that will waive property taxes to encourage medicos to move up; I think I even heard talk of a free house, once.

Kimchee is Korean fermented cabbage, right? Saurkraut (German fermented cabbage) really isn't much work, so you might be pleasantly surprised if you tried making it yourself. 

kudy

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2013, 09:50:41 PM »
Fort Collins is IMHO, the best place in the world.  I have to admit I've never lived anywhere else, so I may be biased ;)

grantmeaname

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #37 on: January 10, 2013, 04:30:30 PM »
Fort Collins is IMHO, the best place in the world.  I have to admit I've never lived anywhere else, so I may be biased ;)
That's exactly how I feel about Ohio.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Where should I live?
« Reply #38 on: January 10, 2013, 05:55:23 PM »
Athens Ohio is one of the greatest places on earth. #facts