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I hope this is the correct board for the question

Where is the best place in the USA to live?

I know that’s a rather broad question, but let me explain. I grew up in a small town in the South. As I grew older and got disgusted with the provencial/redneck attitude prevelant in small southern towns, I moved to increasingly larger cities.

Now I’m in the Big City. I have an hour commute to go a scant 18 miles from home in the 'burbs to work – unless there is a traffic accident, in which case the drive has taken more than 2 hours.

I’m weary of the city and I want to move to a smaller town. However, I have a three-year old and I like the diversity and cultural opportunities in the city. I certainly don’t want to end up in another redneck berg.

So, where in the USA can you find a small town with employment opportunities and a diverse bunch of folks not steeped in social conservatism (read religious zealots).

Am I asking too much?


Every survey and table showing “best location” has a different answer. And it all really comes down to very fine lines.

When I moved from a house to an apartment 1 mile away, the city I loved became a terrifying nightmare of noise and dangerous traffic. No survey could have prepared me for that.

My wife and I faced the same situation a number of years ago. And we found a place. I imagine there are a number of people who will read your post and they too will have found their place. 1) It depends a great deal on what you specifically want and are willing to put up with. For you, is 100,000 small, or 50,000, or 5,000? My wife and I both took a major cut in pay, but we are not the least bit sad about it. We moved to a small village of 1,200 and are loving it. In regard to the “cultural opportunities,” I have found that we did not use them an eighth as much in the city as we do in the small town. 2) I doubt that any of those of us who found “the place” you are discribing are willing to share it with you. Humans can be selfish. But our needs probably wouldn’t match up with yours, anyway.

My suggestion is to make a list of your wants and don’t wants and find a map. Call the local newspapers in the towns that look and sound about right and see how well they match up with your list.

Then obviously go and check it out. That’s what we did and it worked wonderfully.

So you want the diversity and cultural variety of a city but you want to live in a smaller community because you don’t want to put up with traffic anymore? Have you considered moving into an even larger city where a car is not a necessity? I may be a bit prejudiced because I live here :slight_smile: but consider Chicago.

Chicago is a city that, like New York City, has the cultural attractions, the diversity, and a good public transit system in many neighborhoods. But housing is much more affordable here than much of New York. I don’t know what occupation you’re in, but if you got a job downtown, you could have the best of both worlds: a house in the suburbs with a good school system (the city public schools have improved but are still nothing to write home about) but the city one train ride away for work and leisure. And not all the suburbs are postwar subdivision sprawl; some have an old town center of stores and older but well-kept houses around the train station.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think Uncle TV was me! Mrs. 2x4 and I lived in a big city and had lived in small towns. We wanted to raise kids in a small town. We took TV’s advice, right down to the letter. (Or would’ve if we’d read this seven years ago.)

Actually, where we initially thought would be paradise really wasn’t. After a month there we picked up stakes and moved to our second choice. We’d researched and visited both places, but it’s still expensive to not make the right choice first.

Seriously, make a list of what you want in a town, and what you could live with within a ten, twenty, of fifty mile radius. (Culture is just fine two hours away for us. We go there when we want some.) When you add weather that you like, and what country you like to the list, that’ll tend to narrow your seach a lot. From there surf the web for Chambers of Commerce and newspapers from those areas.

I miss having family and friends three thousand miles away me and my young lumber, but otherwise where we live is absolutely perfect. It’s really a question of what you, personally, are looking for.

When I moved to Austin in the 80’s it was the answer to your question (to some extent). But word got out and now the traffic and crowding and housing costs have gotten ridiculous, with no relief in sight. Even so, the only other cities I’ve visited in the last few years that I’ve considered moving to (besides the city I’m about to start medical school in) were Madison, Wisconsin and New Orleans. Madison is a really nice place if you don’t mind winter weather (big if). New Orleans is great if you want to be a slacker, but maybe not if you want to raise a family. (And there may be one or two rednecks in Louisiana.)

I recommend you look for a college town if you want culture and non-rednecks. Austin has by far the lowest concentration of rednecks in Texas, partly because it’s a college town and partly because of the computer industry.

Actually, it’s not, but don’t worry, you’re new here, you’ll get used to it. I’ll just move it on over to our In My Humble Opinion forum, which is where questions of opinion (rather than fact) go.

Thanks for the input. I understand what folks are saying about research. Unfortunately, the Chambers of Commerce don’t always speak the truth, i.e. the Texarkana Chamber makes it sound like a great little town. But experience tells me that’s not quite true.

That is exactly what I was afraid of.

That’s pretty much my feeling about Austin. If only Austin City Limits and SXSW hadn’t let everyone know.

Oh well, so much for easy answers. :slight_smile:


One of the reasons I recommended calling newspapers rather than Chambers of Commerce is that Chambers of Commerces…well, present things is a very favorable light. I’d be willing to bet that the Hell Chamber of Commerce makes their spot sound not unlike the Garden of Eden.

Now, you contact the news desk of any newspaper and the people who work there have survived by taking everything with “a grain of salt.” They also have covered stories in virtually every part of the town from knob hill to the slums (if there are either of these in the town). Also, generally, residents of the newsroom try to be honest, so they will be about as frank as anyone in the town.

Can you tell I pretty much grew up in a newpaper newsroom?

Here’s a test, call a newsroom of a town you know and see how accurate they are.