Where I’d live
I saw an article on Business Week.com on the 25 cities in the U.S. (out of 340 urban areas evaluated by the Council of Community and Economic Research) that are the least costly to live in.
Almost all of the cities were in the south, southwest or west, with a few Midwesterners making the cut.
Predictably, there’s a correlation between poverty and cost of living.
Predictably, there’s not one place on the list where I can even begin to imagine living, with the possible exceptions of Indianapolis and Springfield, Illinois. Indianapolis is at least a Big City with (presumably: I’ve never been there) at least some of the benefits of Big City life (including decent restaurants and anonymity). In Springfield, IL – another place on the list I’d never been to – at least you can hop in your car, put your pedal to the metal and zoom up through the soy bean fields to Chicago in a few hours.
Of the cities on the list, the only one I’d been to – and that was just to drive through – was Fort Smith, Arkansas. But a $3.13 hamburger isn’t enough to get met to move there. Ditto the half-gallon of milk for $1.67 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, or a $570 month 2-bedroom apartment in Paducah, KY.
No can do.
Of the cities on the list, the only one – other than Springfield, IL and Indianapolis – that seemed to have anything to recommend it was Pueblo, Colorado, which has nice mountain views.
The article mentioned the urban areas that are the priciest. These are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, San Francisco, and Honolulu. Not coincidentally, these are all places I could live. Not that I’ve really thought about Honolulu, but if I had to pick the top 25 cities in the U.S. in which I would be willing to live, it would probably make the list. I wouldn’t have thought of Queens as a separate entity from NYC, either, but although I’ll take Manhattan, Queens is doable.
Anyway, coming up with 25 Pink Slip livable U.S. cities was actually something of a challenge.
The first tranche was easy enough:
- Boston (Be it ever so humble…)
- Cambridge (Wouldn’t have separated out from Boston, but if the list delineates between Manhattan and Queens)
- Brookline (Ditto)
- Manhattan (Where my husband would like to retire, although I keep explaining to him that you should retire someplace cheaper, not more expensive)
- Brooklyn (Actually, I could easily switch Brooklyn with Manhattan; who wouldn’t want to live on Cranberry or Pineapple Street?)
- Portland, ME (Best little New England city ev-ah)
- Providence (A surprising gem, due to a renaissance largely brought about through the efforts of a corrupt, jail-bird mayor; and the fact that the city always had great bones)
- Burlington, VT (A bit off the beaten track, but how nice to wake up looking at Lake Champlain every morning)
- Chicago (My kind of town; perfect except for flatness, lack of ocean, and – sorry, family members – an accent that’s like a screwdriver going through your ear)
- Washington, DC (Other than the muggy weather)
- San Francisco (Boston with steeper hills, prettier views and better weather)
- Seattle (Other than the rain)
- Portland, OR (Other and/or because of the fact that they drained one of their reservoirs after they caught some guy peeing in it, which seems a little overkill-y, given that all sorts of other animals pee and worse in it)
- Minneapolis (How great is it to have a city with miserable weather where, if you pick you spots right, you never have to go out into because of all those connecting skyways, or whatever they call them?)
- Austin (I’ve never been there, but I think I could make do nicely)
- Philadelphia (Don’t really know the city very well, but it’s enough Boston-like)
- Pittsburgh (Another place I’ve never been, but it has a certain appeal, and I have had recurring dreams about being at the confluence of the Alleghany, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, which must mean something)
Hmmmmm…This is even harder than I thought it would be. Let me put my urban thinking cap on. Ta-da:
- Syracuse (Don’t laugh: I’ve been there plenty of times and really and truly like it. Lots to do in and around, and I bet it’s on the lowish end of this list in terms of cost of living)
- Queens (Because I already said I could live there, and it is so in spitting distance of Brooklyn and Manhattan)
- Honolulu (Someday I actually might get sick of New England weather and, while Hawaii is pretty darned isolated, I’d prefer to get my warmth there than in Florida)
Okay. I’m really wracking my brains now. Surely, there must be other U.S. cities I can see myself living in. I really don’t want to cheat and open this up to places like Paris and Prague. Or pre-riot Vancouver, even.
- Cleveland (If I could live in Syracuse…)
- Houston (I’ll take my friend John’s word for the livability, even though I know I’d have to spend all my time indoors, city next to the air-conditioner and asking myself how I ended up in a state governed by Rick Perry, which I probably wouldn’t focus that closely on if I were in Austin, even though that would actually be closer to where Rick Perry was most of the time. But the mind works in mysterious ways…)
- Flagstaff (I’ll take one of those craftsman-style bungalows, please)
- Madison, Wisconsin (Which, now that I think of it, I’d probably swap sight unseen with Austin)
And as for the magic 25th city I could live in, I give you:
- Worcester, Massachusetts (Been there, done that. And why not? It’s the Heart of the Commonwealth. And it’s always sunny in Worcester, isn’t it? Except when it’s grey and gloomy and snowy and rainy and icy. And the streets are paved, if not with gold, then at least paved. Most of them.)
I’m am hopeful, if not 100% confident, that I will never have to choose a place to live based entirely on how low-cost it is. I really don’t want to end my days in Ardmore, Oklahoma or Murfreesboro, Tennessee, even if it means that I occasionally have to open a tin of cat food or stuff newspapers in my shoes in order to stay in a cold, expensive, northern city, which almost everything on my list is.
Wait, forget that bit about using newspapers to stuff my hole-y shoes with. There won’t be any. Better make that “fast food wrappers.”
Labels: where we live