We (my friend and I, early 20s, a year and change out of college) have lived in and around New York City for our entire lives and it might be time to explore going somewhere else. New York seems like a bad place to pursue our goals for a number of reasons:
a musician and composer looking for work in something arts-proximal, but would eventually like to get a serious ensemble together. It seems like a lot of the musicians in the city are either busy supporting themselves on disposable jobs that they can drop if they need to go on tour, or are unwilling to give a young composer the time of day when they could be practicing Ravel in preparation for orchestra auditions.
a newshound who wants to get into public radio production. I did an internship with WNYC but they made it pretty clear that full-time openings are scarce because the best producers from NPR stations all over the country are willing to move in order to work there.
We went to a school adjacent to a tiny town where a lot of students lived and loved the “punk shows in the basement, mason jar cocktails on the porch” way of life. Now that we’re out of school and back near urban density we can appreciate some of the great things about living in a city (lots of bars and restaurants, vibrant singles scene) and I want to see if we can meld the two together.
We’re looking for somewhere substantial (i.e. doesn’t suffer from the Ashville problem
) and friendly with a reasonable supply of “real jobs”, a lower cost of living, and a great music and arts scene.
Some of the current contenders are:
Madison, WI - We have some friends from school who are natives and love it. Much more space, lower rents than the NYC metro area, and a reportedly huge arts culture. Lack of diversity might be a big con; I hear that Madison can be very segregated.
Philadelphia, PA - This is where even secondhand information gets foggy. The grapevine says that the rent is affordable and the arts scene is solid, but I don’t know if that intelligence is still good. Too often, once a city becomes widely known as a good place to move the honeymoon is already over.
Pittsburgh, PA - This is the one we know the least about. I know that Pitt and CMU are located there, but I don't know anything about the health of the music programs at the schools or its radio station. I also know that Pittsburgh is frequently just behind Detroit on the list of rust belt cities that aren’t getting better anytime soon.
We're looking for additional intelligence on the places listed above, along with other suggestions (preferably North the Mason-Dixon line) of towns that are generally bike/walking friendly, youth friendly, and arts friendly.