The City I Want To Live In: Does It Exist?

I won’t bother reccomending Chicago since the weather thing is probably a non-stater, even if you’re willing to accept Lake Michican as a “coast”. Nails all the rest though.

Just one detail that might be relevant, are you looking for “urban” living or suburban living? There’s a lot of cities, especially in the southeast, that are considered cities but in my estimation are more comparable to large suburbs. When talking about property do you picture a loft/condo or a house with a yard? If you look at a place like Chapel Hill you’ll be getting a house and all that goes with it. If you’re looking at Philly you’re going to be getting a condo which is probably one level of a threeflat or a loft. Of course there are exceptions to both, but it’s worth considering.

Do not, I repeat, do not move anywhere in or near the Washington, DC Beltway, such as Takoma Park. You will curse the daily traffic to holy hell, and, as a matter of fact, the entire Maryland-DC-Northern Virginia area is already to the breaking point of overpopulation, thanks to the massive influx of the “mass affluent” baby boomers who all took government jobs and choke our roads with “Luxury SUV’s”. Trust me, stay away. Mississippienne and I are trying to get out as soon as we have the money.

Austin, TX might be worth looking into…weather’s warm and I heard it’s one of the most liberal cities in the country.


I hear Austin, TX, is very cool and very liberal and rich in culture. I’m not sure it’s in the vicinity you’re talking about though.

The DC area is absurdly expensive - if that is one of your criteria (affordability) - then forget about it. Otherwise it’s nice though and fits most of your criteria.

I’m very familiar with North Carolina. Wilmington is excellent but might not be as rich in cultural activities as you’d hope. However, the film/tv industry is really hunkering down over there and has been for years so perhaps that will add some culture to it. Chapel Hill and Carrboro - perfect. I think they fit every criteria almost. Asheville is actually only 4 hours away from Charleston, SC, so it’s actually not as far away from the beach as some say. It’s anywhere from 6.5 to 10 hours away from the NC coast though. Very gay friendly, very liberal, gorgeous surroundings, culturally rich, clean, affordable, etc.

Good luck. Oh what size city do you want?

I’m a little “rose tinted lenses” about Baltimore, but it’s not out of whack for what you said.

**Affordable. ** Check.
Gay friendly. Well, it’s not gay-aggressive. There are gay bars. There aren’t gay men walking around offering free hand jobs, though. Well, actually, I think there are.
Public transit. Busses and the light rail.
Southernish, from Maryland down [can’t deal with the bad winters]. Check.
No more than roughly 8 hours from where I am now [Southern Ohio]. Check.
The closer to the coast, the better. Okay.
Rich in culture and things to see/do/explore. It’s not NY, DC or even Philly, but it’s probably got Columbus beat.
Attractive and clean.
Relatively safe.

These last two. . .there are parts of town that are ugly, dirty and unsafe. There are areas that are attractive, clean and safe. You can’t generalize “unsafe” or “unclean” to the city because there are parts of town where crime is virtually nil.

Statistically though, we have high crime rates. The effect on my life is zilch.

The nice neighborhoods are becoming more expensive, but people who come house shopping from DC and NY think it’s a steal.

Houston, TX

Fits the bill on everything except the 8 hour deal.

There’s good points
And bad points
I wil find a city
Find myself a city to live in

—Talking Heads, “Cities”

Philadelphia, definitely.

There are very affordable apartments available. It may take a bit of looking, but I know you can find incredibly cheap housing around the University City area (named so because UPenn, Drexel, and Temple are pretty much all right there).

Gay friendly: Definitely. It’s not a warm fuzzy utopia of acceptance, but compared to a lot of major cities, Philly is up there.

Public Transport: Decent - I don’t know a whole lot about it, but I know that the bus system is pretty comprehensive, and there’s any easily accessible subway that runs pretty far into Jersey. NJ Transit also runs a train from 30th street station (major train station in the city) to Atlantic City.

Southernish? Well…compared to Boston, we’re pretty mild. Expect that if there is snow, the city gets hit hard, mostly because the infrastructure sucks and a lot of the streets are old, cobblestone, and very narrow, therefore hard to plow.

Ohio: My family made a several-times-a-year drive up to Cleveland a couple times every year for years; we always easily did it in a day.

Beach: Easy access, really.

It’s pretty safe, decently clean, and fairly nice to look at. There is tons - literally tons - to do: a huge zoo, one of the largest municipal parks in the country, two rivers, dozens of museums, etc.

Thank you all! It’s interesting to see how many Philly-supports there are, I’m really going to have to look at Philly more closely.

Also, the Austin nominations surprised me. Nice to see some of my notions dispelled about Texas and the like. The only thing that scares me about Texas is the scorpions and snakes!

And cheers to the Pittsburgh people, I actually lived in Pittsburgh before moving to Ohio. Lovely city. And I was born and raised in Virginia, so I know lots about there, too!

As for what size city I want and the urban/suburban question – I would like mid-sized or larger, at least Richmond, VA sized. And I’d prefer… hrm. Ideally, a house with a small yard but one that is directly on a busline or very very close to a stop.

I’ll post a better reply tomorrow, I had a lot of oral surgery today and am very fuzzy in the brain. Thank you all again, you’ve been so helpful.

I would not move anywhere until I had checked out three Southern cities: Ashville, N.C. (in the mountains), Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Georgia. The last two are on the coast and a little far from your home, but they are beautiful. Savannah is my favorite. Read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil to get the flavor of it. Fascinating book anyway. It explains why people drink martinis in the cemetery.

Interesting site! My top five spots are:[ul][li]Anchorage, Alaska[/li][li]Portland, Maine[/li][li]Manchester, New Hampshire[/li][li]Nashua, New Hampshire[/li][li]Duluth, Minnesota[/ul][/li]I’d never thought about living in any of those states (well, maybe I’d thought about Alaska a little bit) – but I will now! And it seems like maybe I should consider New England… :slight_smile:

I’ve lived in Austin for 26 years and I’ve only seen one scorpion. Now, it was in my living room at the time, but just one. (newly contructed house – haven’t seen one since).

Snakes are pretty much confined to scrub brush in the country, although you might see a harmless grass snake or two in the city. Snakes usually avoid people.

I’ve been to Savannah and thought it was one of the most gorgeous cities in the USA. I haven’t been to Asheville, though I have friends who live there or in that area.

Savannah seems to have one of the gayest reputations in the whole South. If I weren’t here in Virginia, I might head for Asheville. It has plenty of Wiccans too. Some good ol’ downhome southern mountain Wiccans, good folks.

It’s not on the coast, but other than that, what about Atlanta? I’ve heard good things.

I would like to recommend the Ghent section of Norfolk, VA. That will keep you close to just about everything you need (either walking or bus), is gay friendly (at least I know a lot of gay men who live in that general vicinity), very close to the Oceanfront (buses do run from Norfolk to Va Beach, but I wouldn’t want to rely on them for a daily commute), and if you time hitting the DC area right (see post# 22 above by Agent Foxtrot), you can get to the PA-OH border in about 7 hours.

There are quite a few art/music/cultural things to do in that area of Norfolk.

I would recommend Dewey Beach, Delaware. It meets all of your criteria, is on the beach, and is as gay-friendly as they come outside of the Castro.

Plus, no sales tax and they brew Dogfish Head there.

As a second: Madison, WI meets all your criteria but the southern part.

I second Madison, WI. There’s plenty of stuff going on there, and you’d be close to Milwaukee and Chicago. Public transport = buses, though I’ve no idea how extensive the bus system is. The winters really aren’t that bad. Much better than the Twin Cities or some other one-moose Minnesota town. (Though I’m sure the Twin Cities have at least five moose apiece.) Things start getting depressing around New Years, but perk up in mid-March. And it’s not as if there aren’t great days in between: sunny, crisp days when everything smells wonderful because it’s cold and clean, and you can stretch out in a sunbeam on the living room floor, just feeling good and cozy. When you step out the door, it’s a shock, but a good one.

Hmm, can anyone else tell that it was unbelievably hot and humid today? I miss winter.

There aren’t any in the major metro areas unless you go looking for them. I’m a native Houstonian and have never seen a scorpion in 56 years. Snakes we got, but only if you go hiking next to a bayou.

The housing prices here in Houston are really great these days.

Have you considered Lexington, Kentucky? It is a college town and, as someone else mentioned, if not known for being gay-friendly, it’s at least not anti-gay that I can see. There is a drag show apparently, for instance.

The cost of living is higher here than in other places in Kentucky, but is still much lower than your big northern cities. A lovely four-bedroom home can be purchased for under $200,000, often for much less. It is surrounded by rolling bluegrass horse farms, where famous racehorses can be seen grazing placidly. No major industry polluting industry is here. It’s near Ohio, one of your criterion. While not near the beach, per se, you can be there inside a day. My recent vacation to Charleston, S.C., was accomplished with two four-hour driving days. Other family members drove straight through.

We do have a bus system. We had one of the first merged city/county governements in the nation, and have an excellent city waste collection/recycling program. We are Southernish … our winters are indeed mild (I consider it a good winter if I can go the whole season without wearing gloves). Kentucky is rich in heritage and history, has a great park system and is within driving distance of other interesting cities like Cincinnati, Nashville, Knoxville, St. Louis.

There was a comment that Asheville is FAR from the beach. Ain’t so. While not ON the beach, it’s within a few hours’ drive. And it IS a very nice city. Cost of living is higher there, though, because it is so attractive.