Saturday 24 June 2006

Where to Live Next

I’ve been researching places where I’d best like to live next. Don’t know if anyone else is thinking of same, but here are some of my findings.

I’m so excited because I get to use a table, a real live true table, in this post! TWO in fact, because I’m just that thrilled (seriously).

Here is a comparison chart of what my research results show so far, first by U.S. findings:

Location Attractions Social Benefits Economy
U.S. East Coast Cluster (NJ, NY, MD, DC, VA) USA Culturally, I’m a good fit since I grew up in New Jersey, but I did once say I never wanted to live there again. I could change my mind Some very good friends and family members in this area Surprisingly more affordable than I realized
San Francisco, CA USA My favorite city in the world (so far) Phenomenal friendship network Extremely expensive, high stress potential
San Jose (and South Bay Cities), CA USA Really dislike the area. Strip malls and cars. Very good social / work resources and good social network Extremely expensive
Santa Fe, NM USA Beautiful, stunning, progressive, artistic location with great climate, but little water Good potential social network Medium expensive. Outlying areas are less expensive, but also with less services
Tucson, AZ USA Beautiful location, already own home and business here Limited social support, bad economy Very affordable

And now by U.K. findings:

Location Attractions Social Benefits Economy
London, UK Vibrant, productive scene, one of the world’s truly amazing cities Lots of friends, socialized medicine Damned expensive
Newcastle, UK Lively and growing cultural scene, unique beauty, oh but lord it can get cold Lots of friends, socialized medicine Medium expensive, it could work

What do you think? How about you, looking to go other places, and if so where and why?

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 14:28 | Comments (161)

Comments (161)

  1. Portland! I just returned from three months in my beloved New York City, and it’s great to be home. There are a *lot* of transplanted New Yorkers here, and while I appreciate Seattle, I think Portland’s overall vibe is much friendlier to East Coasters.

    Plus, I live on half what I lived on in the Bay Area (ditto Brooklyn) — and get a lot more out of it. I highly recommend Northwest Portland; people will tell you it’s snooty, but the density makes it an exceptionally nice place for a habitual pedestrian, the streetcar is wonderful, and you can get a great place for much less than you’d pay for a crummy one in the Bay Area.

    Then again, if I move, it’ll probably be to Helsinki, so what do I know?

  2. Come to London – if only for a short while!

  3. What about Hawaii?

  4. Molly – I lived in Tucson/Phx for over eight years. It was the weather that drove me there and in the end it was the weather that drove me out for good (during my last summer there my water bill was over $200 – goodbye). On a whim, I moved to Portland, OR and 1.5 years later I don’t miss AZ one bit. When people ask me why I came to Portland, my answer is “water, culture, and freedom”.

    In Tucson, I lived near the U of A/4th Ave area, a pretty small pocket of culture and activity in a vast suburban sprawl of generic strip malls and cookie-cutter housing developments. In Portland the entire downtown area is booming and alive day and night, brewpubs galore, coffeeshops, awesome live music scene, a big creative/art community, a feisty bicycle community, and the best public transportation system I’ve ever seen. We’re also the most wired city in the US – you can pick up a free wifi signal almost anywhere.

    About the weather: rain. Last January it rained for 28 straight days (can we say All Summer In A Day?) and there was one snow/ice storm. However, the winters are not extremely cold and the grass and flowers grow year round. Summers are perfect.

    I’ll also add that there is a huge California migration moving here and housing prices are skyrocketing ridiculously. Homes in my neighborhood in NoPo, which ten years ago was an urban ghetto, are now literally selling for $400-500K. If you rent, like I do, you can get a nice 3br house for about $1K a month, and shared with a roommate it works out quite well.

    However, if you have the opportunity and ability to move out of the country, do it. Canada and UK are both tops on my list.

  5. What about Madagascar?

  6. I thought the obvious choice would be Wales? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Come on over, get out of the city and take a deep breath of fresh air.

  7. One more vote for Toronto…socialized medicine, public transit, winters are pretty mild…and the Stones practice for each tour here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I like Brisbane, Australia. I lived in Middlesbrough near Newcastle for most of my life and wouldnt go back for quids. Brisbane is like living in a city without living in a city if you know what I mean, 25-30 degrees C most of the year and is much cheaper than anywhere in the UK. Oh, and the fresh fruit & veg is actually fresh here too.

  9. Hi Molly,

    First of all, I have looked over your list of places to live, and it is not bad for beginners. But every time, I get into a discussion where to live best, it turns into a fundamental discussion about who you are. You will have to find a place with which you can identify, where the costs of living are affordable, and where you can work. To get all three of theses things under one cover is not an easy task.

    For myself, I have lived from 1994 until 2004 in the US and found many places I just plain and simply love. But that I love them not necessarily means that I want to live there and work there. Anyway, to make this short, I have found a place where I always like to come back to. I like to work there, the cost of living match the income you can make there, and I can identify with it; and most of all, that country is not even on your list.

    Since I am originally from Germany and I am living there right now, I was tempted to give you a few city names in Germany, but I believe there would be a little language problem. Anyway it is not the place I was thinking about anyway.

    My suggestion in this matter for you is Toronto, Canada. If you havenโ€™t been there in the last 2 years, it is worth a trip. Spend some time there and check out the folks there. You canโ€™t get it more colorful.

    I hope you will find a place matching you, and I even hope more you will have fun searching for it.

    Alex …

  10. Hey, Montana isn’t such a bad place! Pros: Cheap housing (almost as cheap as Kellog, ID); no neighbors; Wildlife; No traffic. Cons: Little-to-no economy;

    I live in Central Montana, outside of Great Falls, and as a student, it isn’t bad. Great Falls and the surrounding areas are fairly cheap, but Bozeman, Missoula, and Billings are more expensive (California retirees). Population Wise:

    | West | Central | East|
    | +++ | ++ | 0 |

    Yeah, Montana has over 50 counties too, since there are few large towns in the east.

  11. *SPLUTTER*


    Heck, you can live in my shed! Actually *I’LL* live in my shed! You can have my house!

    Come to Newcastle! It’s lovely, and we know how to drink beer properly! London, phff!

  12. What about my place?

  13. Why not Cardiff, the capital city of Wales? Lots of history and culture. Lots of green spaces and the shiny new Cardiff Bay. Lots of ongoing investment by the Welsh Assembly Government. The civic centre is stunning. Brains (the city’s brewery) brews a decent pint (try Dark). The new Doctor Who is made here. I’d move here if I didn’t already live here.

    Just don’t buy a house is Splott.

  14. I’m moving to New York in the next few months, so feel free to make the move with me!

  15. Hello Molly,

    While surfing on bloggers for some answers, I came across your link, and then your site. Very intersting.

    I am guessing you’re not particularly cold-hardy, but Chicago is at least worth a visit. Okay, maybe not in February. But that’s what O’Hare Airport is for — portals to everywhere…

    The city is looking gorgeous these days. The new Millennium Park with its Frank Gehry bandshell and wonderful “Bean” sculpture by Anish Kapoor (
    has revitalized downtown. (the “Bean’s” real name is “Cloudscape,” but it looks like a bean, so that’s what the peaple call it… Personally, I’d like to plant it to see if we could get some more of those fine beans…)

    There’s a lot of good art, good music, good theater, good people and great food here. Mostly, though, it’s Lake Michigan that makes the city stand out. There is something magical about being able to walk from the urbanist of urbans across a street onto a beach with a horizon of forever. The line between Big City and Big Nature is a few yards. It’s even wonderful in winter, when the waves stack up ice chunks to the height of little glaciers on the shoreline.

    And in the lemonade out of lemons category, as the earth heats up, living next to 20% of the world’s surface freshwater has its moments…

    At the very least, come out for a presentation somewhere, sometime. The School of the Art Institute, Columbia College, a trade event — there’s got to be something that would bring you this way…

    btw, I never did find the answer to my question on blogger. It’s pretty simple, I think. Some of my posts are article length (I do a lot of science writing) and I’d like to be able to print a teaser paragraph on the homepage, then link to another page with the full post. Is this possible on blogger? It seems that if I don’t post the whole shebang on the home page, it won’t archive.

    cheers & best,


  16. *laughs* I’m sorry, I just can help but gape in astonishment at $165,000 for a 500 sqft apartment being referred to as a ‘steal’ in one of the posts above. I know cost of living is different around the U.S., but sometimes it’s just still surprising. I live in San Antonio, Texas (bout an hour from Austin), and that would get you… oh, about 2500 sqft and plenty of yard space.

    However, as much as I love my city … I wouldn’t suggest moving to it unless you plan to be in Austin alot. San Antonio just doesn’t have much of a tech industry at all. I will be utterly jealous if you move to the U.K. though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Come over here! Still owe you Hello Kitty waffles and it would be great ot have you around here (selfish reasons of course)

  18. hi molly,

    london is simultaneously fantastically exciting place to live and quite tiring and stressful. people say southerners are unfriendly, but i find that my social circle is so ridiculously multinational and multicultural that this is not an issue, generally. rent IS expensive, but you’d earn enough for a decent place, easily. I love London, but actually live in Cambridge at the moment, which is another option to consider…45 minutes on train, quiet, green and beautiful, much less knife crime. :D. having said all that, given the choice, i would live in vancouver. most wonderful city on earth. a little remote from everywhere else, perhaps, but i’m never happier than when i touch down in van again (my wife is from there). you should at the very least make a trip up to see for yourself how ubercool it is! toronto is also very pleasant, lived there 7 months. gets quite cold…newcastle, meh. manchester is extremly cool, my cousin lives there and i go regularly and always have an amazing time. avoid luton. it’s a ‘crap town’ ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. How about Oakland? Cheaper than SF and just a quick BART ride into the city. Even still, it is pretty expensive compared to most places. I moved from NY and lived in SF for 5 years and in the east bay (berkeley then oakland) for the past 11 years. There is really no place in the world I would rather be (except maybe amsterdam. or london.)

  20. I’ll second Cindy’s nomination, we’d love to have you here in the nation’s capitol! There’s plenty of things going on here and lots of work. And apparently Hello Kitty waffles! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Did you ever think of Barcelona? Really nice weather, and there’s also sunlight in the winter -something you would miss in Northern Europe-. For working, there’s a growing web scene -a Yahoo research Center, lots of companies…-, and passion for design and architecture. and social benefits. And since you have to travel a lot, Barcelona has good connections to the world. Now I’m living in Madrid, chaotic and expensive city but I’m sure it will get better or, I’ll get back to Barcelona.

    Molly, I suggest you consider seriously Barcelona.

  22. Come and live in Newcastle. I’ll buy you a pint!

  23. Hey Ya, Molly, ya’ all right?

    From SE Wisconsin, who lived in the UK from 2000 – 2002.

    Chester (Cheshire) is the cat’s ass. In the NW, near and accessable to everything. Fine mix of posh and country. The people are great, the weather is great, the food is great, the beer is great.

    My advise is wherever you end up, be a local. So if you move to Britain, be a Brit; not an American living in Britain.


  24. Another vote for Ottawa.

    Yes, the winters are harsh sometimes but it’s just a great city. Great museums, great architecture, great little cafes, great hockey team. Oh, and the great Rideau canal. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Pingback: Little Rock? » Dizzy Island

  26. I’d like to suggest the beautiful Nova Scotia on the Canadian Atlantic coast. Winter tends to be “short” in terms of cold and snow (January-March) and summer can be very warm in July and August (90F’s) providing a range of pleasing climate conditions. The people are friend;y and the cost of living modest. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Molly,

    Sorry for being a little late to the party, but my computer died and I had to replace it with a new MacBook. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    ERNesbitt said above that the North Coast (Northeast Ohio) was a nice area. How true, how true. And you’ve been here, you know some of the folks here (like Eric and myself, as well as a few others — so you know you have friends here), and this area is probably the least expensive area in the US in which to live.

    For what you do, I can’t believe that you actually left us off the list…

  28. What? No CT in the East Coast line-up? We’d love to have you closer Molly.

  29. I’d say, “Molly… go to Singapore.” You will never be cold… the temperatures there are hot, hotter, and grab-a-pitchfork. The island is beautiful and the culture revolves around eating good food. I was being paid US dollars while there which about tripled at the time.

    Another choice is Bali. A friend owns a software company there… and on my last visit, $100 US money became over a quarter-million in Rupiah. My only qualm is the possibility that al-Quaeda might blow something up over there… but hey, I can retire there and even if all I use is my social security money… assuming it will still exist by then… I will be a multi-millionaire in the local economy.

  30. I’d recommend Singapore. You will never be cold… the temperatures there are hot, hotter, and grab-a-pitchfork. The island is beautiful and the culture revolves around eating good food. I was being paid US dollars while there which about tripled at the time. Another choice is Bali. A friend owns a software company there… and on my last visit, $100 US money became over a quarter-million in Rupiah. My only qualm is the possibility that al-Quaeda might blow something up over there… but hey, I can retire there and even if all I use is my social security money… assuming it will still exist by then… I will be a multi-millionaire in the local economy.

  31. So Molly, have you decided yet? Or was this all a cunning ploy to get people to say “come and live here, it’s great, I’ll live in the shed etc”? If by some bizarre reason you make the wrong decision and aren’t coming to Newcastle, then I’ll still wish you all the best etc, but I’ll not be able to show you round the many many bars.

    Yeah, ok, so sometimes it’s cold. But sometimes it’s hot too. We get actual weather, variable throughout the year, rather than a single climate all year round. And you know what, I like that…

    Plus we’re loud, sometimes brash, and talk a lot, and like spending time in pubs. Do you think you’d fit in?

  32. Hey Molly, dont know if you got the chance to check out Durham City on your travels. Its just south of Newcastle, (great big catherdrale, lovely castle etc). Historic place, friendly people, great nightlife…Ah, Im going to move home.

  33. Would love to hear more about living in Cambridge, UK from Rik Abel or anyone else who has lived there. Molly, I lived in London for 4 years when I was younger and am heading back that way next year. Now that I have a family, I’m considering Cambridge but working in London or alternatively living and working in York. London is expensive but usually the wages are higher than in other parts and as long as you live like a local (for example don’t eat beef steak so often, but rather chicken or pork) then you might find that it is quite affordable. It’s very diverse and if you like the vibe then you can probably find somewhere that you like to settle in London – it has something for everyone. As Samuel Johnson said to Boswell when Boswell was considering moving to London from Scotland “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”!

  34. Molly:

    I moved to Santa Fe from Los Angeles, also thinking it was “medium expensive”. Here’s what I found: Cost of living about the same in LA, real estate a little bit lower (but not necessarily reasonable), salaries drastically lower. If you’re going to make your money somewhere other than Santa Fe, it might work!

    Albuquerque has ended up being a better place for me, both financially and socially — it’s an open, friendly place that’s growing in interesting ways.


  35. i suggest you Nottingham.a perfect city and very easy to live.

  36. hi molly ; have you ever been in Barcelona ? i am sure you like barcelona. give a chance to live in barcelona

  37. I’d have to say that I’m moving to Vancouver for my new job and I’m really looking forward to it! I found a site that I really liked and gave me a bunch of pretty good info that the company and friends didn’t/couldn’t whatever… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Just as long as they don’t expect me to say “eh” every second word, they and I should be all right! ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a look at the sit

    Will ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. As a child moved every year or two, to Alaska, Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, California, back and forth to Kansas several times….later as a young adult lived in Boston, New York, a lovely single year in London…and geography is everything. Everything. It contains all chance, all magic, all possibility. There is no move I have regretted. Only having stayed too long in places. Would give anything to live again in U.K. with my husband and sons…don’t know how one goes around the Home Office regulations and limitation….those rules sent me home once when I wanted terribly to never leave. Now live in New York….finding it dank and unhappy. Go where people have poetry in their voices and their thoughts. London, they do…and in mountainous places.

  39. Molly, tell, when are you going to decide where to live? We are all checking back now and then to see where fate or whim or luck has taken you.

  40. Molly? Molly? Molly?

  41. Always good to read about Rollerblading, my ex was of olympic standards..

    Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive, is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

  42. Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    Rollerblading greats you should write about next, my ex was a Windsurfing champ!

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