Where next?


Mark and I had a discussion over the weekend about where we should next call home. This is all completely dependent on where he can find a good post-doc, of course, but as it is too early to know about that, he asked me what cities appealed to me. I honestly haven't given this much thought, so I decided to do some research.

Since I can safely start with knowing that I don't want to live anywhere too small, my starting list will be the 50 largest U.S. cities. The 50 biggest cities in the U.S., in order of size, are:

  1. New York, NY
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Chicago, IL
  4. Houston, TX
  5. Philadelphia, PA
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. San Diego, CA
  8. San Antonio, TX
  9. Dallas, TX
  10. San Jose, CA
  11. Detroit, MI
  12. Indianapolis, IN
  13. Jacksonville, FL
  14. San Francisco, CA
  15. Columbus, OH
  16. Austin, TX
  17. Memphis, TN
  18. Baltimore, MD
  19. Fort Worth, TX
  20. Charlotte, NC
  21. El Paso, TX
  22. Milwaukee, WI
  23. Seattle, WA
  24. Boston, MA
  25. Denver, CO
  26. Louisville-Jefferson County, KY
  27. Washington, D.C.
  28. Nashville-Davidson, TN
  29. Las Vegas, NV
  30. Portland, OR
  31. Oklahoma City, OK
  32. Tuscon, AZ
  33. Albuquerque, NM
  34. Long Beach, CA
  35. New Orleans, LA
  36. Cleveland, OH
  37. Fresno, CA
  38. Sacramento, CA
  39. Kansas City, MO
  40. Virginia Beach, VA
  41. Mesa, AZ
  42. Atlanta, GA
  43. Omaha, NE
  44. Oakland, CA
  45. Tulsa, OK
  46. Miami, FL
  47. Honolulu, HA
  48. Minneapolis, MN
  49. Colorado Springs, CO
  50. Arlington, TX
My first step, obviously, is to remove Austin, as that's where we are now. I then take that list and cut all of the ones that I know have weather I could not handle, I end up with:
  1. New York, NY
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Houston, TX
  4. Philadelphia, PA
  5. Phoenix, AZ
  6. San Diego, CA
  7. San Antonio, TX
  8. Dallas, TX
  9. San Jose, CA
  10. Indianapolis, IN
  11. Jacksonville, FL
  12. San Francisco, CA
  13. Columbus, OH
  14. Memphis, TN
  15. Baltimore, MD
  16. Fort Worth, TX
  17. Charlotte, NC
  18. El Paso, TX
  19. Seattle, WA
  20. Denver, CO
  21. Louisville-Jefferson County, KY
  22. Washington, D.C.
  23. Nashville-Davidson, TN
  24. Las Vegas, NV
  25. Portland, OR
  26. Oklahoma City, OK
  27. Tuscon, AZ
  28. Albuquerque, NM
  29. Long Beach, CA
  30. New Orleans, LA
  31. Cleveland, OH
  32. Fresno, CA
  33. Sacramento, CA
  34. Kansas City, MO
  35. Virginia Beach, VA
  36. Mesa, AZ
  37. Atlanta, GA
  38. Oakland, CA
  39. Tulsa, OK
  40. Miami, FL
  41. Honolulu, HA
  42. Colorado Springs, CO
  43. Arlington, TX
My next cut is places I have been and know I could not live in and remain sane. This leaves me with:
  1. Los Angeles, CA
  2. Houston, TX
  3. Philadelphia, PA
  4. Phoenix, AZ
  5. San Diego, CA
  6. San Antonio, TX
  7. San Jose, CA
  8. Indianapolis, IN
  9. Jacksonville, FL
  10. San Francisco, CA
  11. Columbus, OH
  12. Memphis, TN
  13. Baltimore, MD
  14. Charlotte, NC
  15. Seattle, WA
  16. Denver, CO
  17. Louisville-Jefferson County, KY
  18. Washington, D.C.
  19. Nashville-Davidson, TN
  20. Portland, OR
  21. Oklahoma City, OK
  22. Tuscon, AZ
  23. Albuquerque, NM
  24. Long Beach, CA
  25. New Orleans, LA
  26. Kansas City, MO
  27. Virginia Beach, VA
  28. Mesa, AZ
  29. Atlanta, GA
  30. Oakland, CA
  31. Tulsa, OK
  32. Miami, FL
  33. Honolulu, HA
  34. Colorado Springs, CO
  35. Arlington, TX
If I next weed out places I've heard a lot of bad things about and have no personal evidence otherwise, I then have:
  1. Los Angeles, CA
  2. Philadelphia, PA
  3. San Diego, CA
  4. San Antonio, TX
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Indianapolis, IN
  7. Jacksonville, FL
  8. San Francisco, CA
  9. Memphis, TN
  10. Baltimore, MD
  11. Charlotte, NC
  12. Seattle, WA
  13. Denver, CO
  14. Louisville-Jefferson County, KY
  15. Washington, D.C.
  16. Nashville-Davidson, TN
  17. Portland, OR
  18. Long Beach, CA
  19. New Orleans, LA
  20. Mesa, AZ
  21. Atlanta, GA
  22. Oakland, CA
  23. Miami, FL
  24. Honolulu, HA
A final weed, to take out places that just do not in any way appeal to me, for one reason or another, leaves me with:
  1. Los Angeles, CA
  2. Philadelphia, PA
  3. San Diego, CA
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Memphis, TN
  6. Baltimore, MD
  7. Charlotte, NC
  8. Seattle, WA
  9. Nashville-Davidson, TN
  10. Portland, OR
  11. New Orleans, LA
  12. Atlanta, GA
  13. Oakland, CA
That seems like a fairly reasonable list to start from, I think. What do you think?

Edited to add:
I just did a cost of living comparison between Austin and my list of cities. Things don't look good. The calculator showed me what percentage of salary increase I would need in order to maintain the same cost of living:

  1. Los Angeles, CA +37%
  2. Philadelphia, PA +14%
  3. San Diego, CA +36%
  4. San Francisco, CA +52%
  5. Memphis, TN -13%
  6. Baltimore, MD +15%
  7. Charlotte, NC +4%
  8. Seattle, WA +29%
  9. Nashville-Davidson, TN -9%
  10. Portland, OR +9%
  11. New Orleans, LA -7%
  12. Atlanta, GA +17%
  13. Oakland, CA +47%

It ain't pretty.


I lived in Atlanta for a while while in school, and I still love to visit there. My biggest problem is that you need a car to get outside of the downtown core, although there really is plenty to do via MARTA and buses if you can plan for that going into the city. I'd also suggest that you add Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina to your list. It seems a lot more interesting that Charlotte, and while none of those city are directly on the Top 50, I think the whole Research Triangle area would qualify. I'm heading out there in a couple of weeks to visit friends that moved up there from Atlanta, and they really love it.

what bad things have you heard about columbus?!

I have friends from Portland who moved to Columbus and hated it so much that they moved back within a year, without jobs or a place to live or anything. From their descriptions, it sounds like a circle of hell.

My sister lives in Louisville and absolutely loves it. She and her boyfriend/fiance, who have very small salaries, just bought a house. The community is surprisingly progressive (for Kentucky!) and they live in a nifty neighborhood in the city where walking is an acceptable mode of transportation. But why isn't St. Louis anywhere on the list? It's bigger than many of the other communities on your list, and it's possible to find a good post doc in almost any specialty here. In my opinion, St. Louis only has three flaws: 1) No mountains/ocean (though there are beautiful rivers and the Ozark "mountains") 2) Not enough snow 3) Too Catholic.

hmm. i am saddened that smell-a made it through all the lists (my sister was not a fan) and boston was axed right away. the weather's not that bad! but i could work with seattle...

I'm also suprised that boston got cut due to weather, and denver made it through. (not that i have an ulterior motive or anything.. ) I would second the positive comments regarding the research triangle area- it's kind of like the austin of NC.

Isn't Boston one of the coldest cities in the country? I like Boston, y'all, but between that and the cost of living there, I just don't think I could handle it. But, as you well know, there are more prospects for Mark in Boston than in lots of other places, so you never know... Mainly, I just want to go home.

SEATTLE! What can I say? My west coast heart is true.

I have a friend that lives in El Cajon which is right outside of San Diego. Check out her blog at vjgreetings.blogspot.com She posts a lot about her town and if you e-mail her, I'm sure she would be glad to tell you anything you needed to know.

Out of curiosity, why is New Orleans still on your list? I'd brave cold winters over periodic devastation-by-hurricanes any day, and it doesn't look like it's going to have much to offer anytime soon.

Philly BAD! BAD BADB BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD! It is, without exception the worst place I have ever lived, including socal. Under no circumstances would I recomend anyone to move there. It is the most unfirendly place I have ever set foot. People will walk right by you and ignore you when you ask for directions. Seriously, it is horrible, do not move there. Plus, about 75% of the people grew up there and don't believe in making firends with anyone other than people they went to high school with. Learn from my mistakes, DON'T GO!!!!!!

New Orleans: I am hoping it will be rebuilt by the time we are ready to move, and I'd prefer a hurricane threat to cold weather. Philly: I really liked it when I visited...

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