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Another where should I move question
August 10, 2014 2:45 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to move soon, with some specific yet somewhat unusual requirements. Mainly gay-friendly, tech culture, and where I can make friends...

I currently live in Richmond, VA, and I pretty much hate it here. I have a job here, but I'd like to move within the next two years. I'd like that move to be pretty much permanent.

Things I really care about:
I'm open to just about anywhere, but I'd prefer the New England area just because the culture is what I'm used to. (This comment pretty well summarizes what I mean... ;) ) This alone is pretty much the most important thing to me; I'm originally from Connecticut, and although we moved to Virginia when I was eight, I never got used to the way people are here. It's really hard for me to make friends. That's really the only reason I'm hesitant about considering Seattle or Portland (SEATTLE FREEZE), because from my experience, that's exactly how the south is: Friendly to you, but never really your friend. I guess everyone kind of sticks to their own groups. It seems like everyone I've met here are really nice and friendly but aren't really interested in anything further. (Although to be fair, NYC was a bit like that too...probably cause it's NYC...) People say they're "rude" or whatever in NYC or Boston, but that's what I want.

The next important thing of course would be having a decent tech culture, just because I'm working in web development and I would like to be able to find a job! Also, acceptance of people from the outside coming in for jobs. I remember in NYC I couldn't get hired ANYWHERE without NYC experience or an NYC phone number...

The last fairly important thing to me is the gay-friendliness of the city. I guess I don't really mean rainbow flags on doors so much as the dating scene (I'm a lesbian and Richmond is not really going well for this...) It seems like here, all the queer girls are going to VCU and only want to date other VCU people or friends of friends. Or something. I don't know. (I'm 23 and just graduated from not VCU.)

Things I don't care about: food, mainstream theaters, symphonies, art galleries, shopping, etc.

I've been considering Boston MA, Portland ME, Burlington VT, Concord NH, Seattle WA, Portland OR. Looking at other places in Massachusetts too, and maybe Connecticut? I doubt the smaller cities will have any tech jobs, but who knows. If I moved to a bigger city like Boston I'd definitely want to be living on the outskirts anyway.

I haven't done that much research yet, just looking for some opinions first! I'm open to other suggestions as well, and I'm not married to any of these places. Also suggestions of where not to go. I'm really just concerned about whether I can find a job and whether I can meet people.

Thanks!
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
 
I grew up just outside Burlington, VT. As much as I love BTV, it may not be a good place to move (unless you get a job first) right now as the largest tech employer in the area is sort of running on fumes. Rumors say it may be shuttered in the near future. The large tech employer is not specifically in web design, but I think the area may be flooded with desperate engineers and programmers soon. Someone currently in Burlington may want to address this more. (Also, the housing is more expensive than you might expect, due to low stock.)

Concord, NH, is quite small, just FYI. I know it looks the same size as BTV on paper, but because Burlington is the largest city in the area, it has a lot more cultural pull. Concord is close to Manchester (where you might actually want to look?) and Manchester is close to Boston, so it's a little different.

I live in (well, just outside) Boston and find it lovely, but it is fairly expensive - to live somewhere with direct subway access, expect to pay at least $1200 for a one bedroom. Most young professionals who live "in" the city (by which I mean Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Newton, and Quincy, at least) have roommates. I don't know how to address the ease of finding friends - there are lots of clubs for young professionals (errr, not that kind of club. well, there are also that kind of club, but I was referring to, like, kickball) but I went to college here and mostly knew people through that, at least at first. It has now been A While and I'd say my friends come from a mix of work, connections through the college friends (including a super nerdy college related activity), and Metafilter (aw, you guys are my friendssssss). I can't help much with the dating scene, both because I am not dating women and I am not dating.
posted by maryr at 3:07 PM on August 10


In terms of making friends in Portland, keep in mind that there are a lot of transplants in this city. While people who have lived here for 5-10 years might have pretty solid social networks, there's always a lot of people who are just arriving and looking to make friends. People won't be rude like they are in NYC, though, so if that's really what you want, it's not here.

Have you thought at all about Chicago?
posted by ohisee at 3:17 PM on August 10


My daughter and her wife are in Cambridge while she is in a program at MIT, and seem pretty happy there.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:21 PM on August 10


I live near Richmond, so I partly get why you're ready to leave. If you want 'rude' (or what I'm guessing is really just people who are honest and to-the-point - I prefer 'em, too), don't live anywhere other than the northeast. Plenty of blunt people in the northeastern cities; everyone I've ever met in cities in the south and midwest have been weirdly friendly in a way that really throws me off. However, to its credit, Chicago (I'm seconding ohisee's suggestion) manages to be both friendlier than the east coast cities while still having a lot of urban edge/cool to it. It's a great place to move to these days, and you don't seem to mind the concept of living where it's colder.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:37 PM on August 10


How about Providence, RI? It's Gay-Friendly as hell, and convenient to a lot of the tech jobs in the Boston Area.

I will say that after you leave college and your first job, making friends gets harder and harder. Most adults have their friends for the most part. I made amazing friends at work when I had to go through grueling training out of state. We bonded because it was hard, like boot camp, only the phone company.

I made friends in grad school. Pretty much for the same reason. We went through a program where we all stayed in the same class and the instructors rotated in. 18 months with the same group of people will bind folks together pretty tightly.

I joined a UU church and made friends there.

But you really do have to make the effort, it gets harder the older you are.

Perhaps you can join a commune.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:04 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Joining a commune is a much bigger life commitment than just wanting friends. Just to put that out there.
posted by maryr at 4:08 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


You might want to give New York another think. The tech industry is booming here.

I will say that after you leave college and your first job, making friends gets harder and harder.

Yeah, is it possible you're just getting used to post-college life? That said, I found it absurdly easy to make friends in Burlington. Small town and all. New York was harder and took longer, but once I found my scene it got pretty easy.
posted by the_blizz at 4:31 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Northampton, Massachusetts is the greatest place for lesbians on the planet, I think, it's been scientifically proven. However, I know nothing about the tech job scene there - probably not super great. You could look in the greater Pioneer Valley area for jobs and aim to live near Northampton. Boston is NOT at all a great place to make friends.
posted by bobobox at 6:43 PM on August 10


Hmm so it looks like I should look at Providence and Pioneer Valley (and possibly Manchester NH?). I *could* live in central Mass and commute to Boston. I don't know if that's a terrible long-term solution...I lived in Chicago about six years ago, I might possibly consider it again...(it'd be weird going back though! All I remember is everyone was from the midwest or a Chicago suburb....)

I will say that after you leave college and your first job, making friends gets harder and harder.

Yeahhhh...I'm already experiencing that. And it was hard enough for me to make friends in college...That's why I want to move out of here as soon as I can and not move again.

Northampton, Massachusetts is the greatest place for lesbians on the planet

Haha! So I've heard. But for oldies like me? I'm worried that it would be like Richmond all over again, being a college town and all. I'm imagining everything happening around Smith and thereby excluding me from most of it...

Boston is NOT at all a great place to make friends.

Could you elaborate on this? Or is it just because it's a large city?
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:33 PM on August 10


I'm originally from Connecticut, lived for a long time in North Carolina, and now I'm on Portland, Oregon. So... it's different here than the South. In the South, folks are friendly, Southern hospitality and all. Out here, it's not friendly so much as nice. People won't chit-chat you to death, but they do say "thank you" to the bus driver. The standard mode out here is passive-aggressive.

But why rely so much on stereotypes? Portland is hiring tech folks, and it's a great town. Visit and see what you think.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:35 PM on August 10


You're 24. You are not old, even in a college town. (There are these things called "graduate students" you see...) Don't worry about your age so much.
posted by maryr at 7:37 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I've come down really hard on Boston before on AskMe and I feel sort of bad about it because it's just my opinion and certainly other people like it. I wrote a bit about it here.

But since you ask... For starters, you do have to actually interact with people to make friends. I kind of disagree with the comment that you linked. I found the reserve to be more malevolent than "people respect your privacy." Everybody around me being in an apparent terrible mood makes me be in a terrible aggressive mood too. I met more libertarians than I ever would care to. The people I did meet and like out there are from Western Mass originally. The natives that I met, and even grew to tolerate, I found to be extremely judgmental and laughed off stories of literally pushing people out of the way as they ran to get on the train (and this is a totally normal person). Throw in a bit of casual racism too, if you like. I also don't mean to imply that everyone from Boston is like that but it was more prevalent than I, personally, could tolerate (and surprised me since I had thought it was supposed to be liberal).
Sure, being a large city did play into it too. With any large number of people there are bound to be a ton of people that you don't mesh well with.

All of this says as much about me as it does about the city but, well, this was my experience.

Don't get into a terrible commuting situation, for sure. And you are the perfect age for a fun, happening town!
posted by bobobox at 8:49 PM on August 10


I've lived all over the country and there are definitely regional differences in places about how strangers are approached, but I think the attitude you describe is really the difference between a big city and a small town. At least in my experience. In big bustling cities, people have more shit to do and you'll see more people keeping to themselves. I thought New England people were a little more stuck up than other places and harder to make friends (I always attributed it Harvard/MIT being there -- unfairly or not).

I'd recommend San Francisco. It's a big city and it is basically the unofficial headquarters of the all things tech and web. Gay culture? Duh. As a lesbian, yes, supposedly places like Ithaca NY and Smith College are supposed to have lots of gay ladies, but I think any large city is going to have a decent lesbian population. Now, San Francisco is very expensive -- it has surpassed Manhattan in that regard -- but if you can get a job first, you will be able to make it happen. You could look at a surrounding area like Palo Alto or Oakland or something -- they may be slightly more affordable. I think San Francisco or a city around the Bay Area checks your boxes.

I love Chicago. Big city, very affordable, people are less pretentious than in NYC/Boston. I'd recommend it to anyone.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:13 PM on August 10


As someone originally from the Seattle area, I vote for Seattle.

I'm really just concerned about whether I can find a job and whether I can meet people.

All of my friends who work at Amazon in Seattle say that Amazon is hiring/expanding like crazy and will continue to do so for the near future. So not only is Amazon a good place to apply right now, the draw they're pulling from the local tech labor pool should make it easier to find tech-related jobs in other area companies, too (although the impending Microsoft layoffs might undermine that).

It's certainly possible to make friends in Seattle but in my experience those friendships tend to form around common activities and interests, not just hitting it off with people due to proximity and general friendliness. So if you do move to Seattle, plan to aggressively pursue a few hobbies, causes, and volunteer projects and spend a lot of time going to meetups, events, classes, etc. related to those in order to meet people and make friends.

The last fairly important thing to me is the gay-friendliness of the city.

My brother is gay and has lived in Seattle for almost his whole adult life and has never seemed to have any problems from it. The lesbians I've known in Seattle also seemed to be pretty happy and in happy relationships so I'm guessing that the lesbian dating scene is decent.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:01 PM on August 10


It's certainly possible to make friends in Seattle but in my experience those friendships tend to form around common activities and interests, not just hitting it off with people due to proximity and general friendliness. So if you do move to Seattle, plan to aggressively pursue a few hobbies, causes, and volunteer projects and spend a lot of time going to meetups, events, classes, etc. related to those in order to meet people and make friends.

Very good point. I've been having a hard time finding activities where I could meet people my age that weren't tied to the school here in Richmond..

I guess it sounds like I should reconsider the west coast! haha
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 6:16 AM on August 11


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