Livin' it up
December 22, 2009 11:41 AM   Subscribe

What are some good ways, online, to get a feel for what it's like to live in various cities/towns in the US?

I often find myself-- either out of idle curiosity or genuine potential relocation-- trying to find out what it's like, in a qualitative sense, to live in various places. Some resources I already use: Wikipedia, looking at pictures on Google Streetview, Citydata forums. Is there some kind of website like Yelp or Tripadvisor, but that "reviews" entire municipalities, that I'm totally unaware of? Any creative ideas? I'm up for anything you have to suggest. I like reading about the characters of different neighborhoods in an area, people discussing their locale, regional rants/raves, etc.

I love the AskMe questions like "tell me all about East Nowhere, Kentucky"-- basically, where can someone go to compile similar information on their own?

By "what it's like" to live somewhere, I mean some sense of being able to imagine oneself in that environ. I apologize that it's a kind of vague concept, but that openendedness is inherent to what I'm trying to figure out.

(I'm also perfectly willing to consider good ideas for non-US locations, but I just figured I'd narrow my scope here.)
posted by threeants to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Reading the daily newspaper's local coverage on-line gives an idea of what a place is like. Check the "most e-mailed" and "most commented" items.
posted by Carol Anne at 12:06 PM on December 22, 2009

Do a Flickr search by location name or searching the map. Once you find someone who seems to live in the town, look at the rest of their photos. Since a lot of people post photos of their everyday lives, it's a good way to get a sense of what it is really like to live there. Also, Google Blogsearch can be a good way to find blogs of people in the area. (It's at
posted by beyond_pink at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2009

I found the forums at to be useful, but you have to be careful because someone's opinion can be really subjective.

I followed the Pittsburgh one for awhile before moving there and found out which people have similar interests and values to me. Once I did that, I had a pretty good idea about which advice to listen to.

If you really want to get a feel for a place, join and try and stay there for a few days. Best of luck.
posted by elder18 at 1:31 PM on December 22, 2009

Depending on the number of posts for a given city, Virtual Tourist might give you some insights.
posted by Rykey at 3:59 PM on December 22, 2009

I liked Time Out when I was in Chicago.
Local newspapers? University newspapers?
I try too (yes, I do this too!) which sometimes leads to local websites (like in Portland's case), and I like city-data too.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 4:11 PM on December 22, 2009

Also, you might try googling the name of the town/area +webcam. Or just browsing through big webcam portals like Earthcam.
posted by mattbucher at 9:30 AM on December 29, 2009

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