Where in the World is...
February 26, 2010 8:41 AM   Subscribe

I need a fresh start, and want to move somewhere else. But where?

For the past six years, I've been an attorney and I hate it. I hate the fact that I'm chained to one place by this profession, and want to leave. I hate other attorneys and the beastliness of this work.

As part of my career change, I also want to move to another city. I currently live in the Midwest US in a mid size metro area. I'm open to any place in the US or the world. Here are some things I've decided I want:

- No snow or extremely cold temps (above freezing all the time).
- Access to an ocean or sea within 2 hours.
- Sporting events or other cultural events. Basically, not a town that shuts down at 10pm every night.
- Decent public transport.
- Diverse mix of people.

This is anon because some of my coworkers read MeFi and I don't want them to know about my plans.

Throwaway email is at exitboredom at gmail
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (64 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Honolulu, HI. Lived there for grad school. Great place; nothing like the midwest, I can promise you that.
posted by pts at 8:46 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rio de Janeiro? Miami?
posted by mattbucher at 8:46 AM on February 26, 2010

- No snow or extremely cold temps (above freezing all the time).
- Access to an ocean or sea within 2 hours.
- Sporting events or other cultural events. Basically, not a town that shuts down at 10pm every night.
- Decent public transport.
- Diverse mix of people.

San Francisco or many places in the Bay Area.

If you go further south, you get better weather but lose the "decent public transport" option.
posted by vacapinta at 8:47 AM on February 26, 2010

San Francisco sounds like it would fit the bill.
posted by cider at 8:47 AM on February 26, 2010

posted by scruss at 8:51 AM on February 26, 2010

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:54 AM on February 26, 2010

@scruss I just came from vancouver for the winter olympics. While being temperate, it does snow there and definitely gets below freezing.
posted by pennstatephil at 8:55 AM on February 26, 2010

Also, I might add, as you go further North on the west coast you get colder temps and a less diverse mix of people.

In Europe, I'd recommend Lisbon or Barcelona.
posted by vacapinta at 8:56 AM on February 26, 2010

San Diego? Pubtrans isn't fantastic, but it's a very walkable city with lots to do, and there are commuter trains to nearby towns like Carlsbad, which have cultural centers of their own, beautiful beaches and reasonable living expenses. You could probably get away with just having a bike if you're not interested in driving.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:01 AM on February 26, 2010

I went to Portland one summer so I don't know what the winter weather's like... but apart from that it seems to fit the bill well.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:04 AM on February 26, 2010

Baltimore? We have snow, but aside from the recent Snowmageddon, it's usually an inch or two twice during the winter and melts off in a couple days. Also, it's crazy cheap to live here, and we're in commuting distance of DC.
posted by electroboy at 9:07 AM on February 26, 2010

I would say Tampa or St. Petersburg, FL, except that I'm not sure how great the public transit is. Neither cities are happening past 10 p.m. the way, say, New York would be, but there's definitely stuff going on (sports, culture, night scene).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:08 AM on February 26, 2010

Charleston, SC has everything you're looking for with the exception of public transportation. However, if you live downtown, you can walk or ride your bike everywhere.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:11 AM on February 26, 2010

I went to Sanibel Florda for a week during the summer. Fits all your needs
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 9:12 AM on February 26, 2010

There's Austin, which is diverse but somewhat segregated. Also, it's more like three and a half hours to Galveston. Fits the bill in other ways and cost of living is still relatively low.

Internationally, Barcelona and Melbourne are two of my favs.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:22 AM on February 26, 2010

posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:23 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gainesville, FL! The nightlife is somewhat centered around the college, as are the sporting events, but there are plenty of concerts/cultural things. Decent bus system, and most of the center of the city is accessible by foot or bike.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:29 AM on February 26, 2010

I would HIGHLY recommend either San Diego area or a place like Pasadena/Burbank. Absolutely never gets below freezing, plenty of job opportunities and great places to start over. Definitely within 1/2 hr to an hour to the beach and many, many neighborhoods are great walking neighborhoods with friendly people and great public services.

If you're at all interested in Burbank, memail me and I'll tell you all about it. It's an independent city from Los Angeles which, IMO, makes an enormous difference.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:41 AM on February 26, 2010

That's an excellent description of Portland, Oregon.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:44 AM on February 26, 2010

Montpéllier, France. It can very occasionally get below freezing; however, all the other points are covered.
posted by jet_silver at 9:45 AM on February 26, 2010

Uh...not to be cliche or point out the super-obvious, but...isn't this exactly why people move to New York? Sure, we break the freezing mark on occasion, but look at your other criteria: We NEVER shut down (there are bars that have happy hours that start at 8am and you can get delicious french food at 3:30am), we are IN THE OCEAN (two big ass rivers spilling into one of the greatest natural harbors in the known world), we are THE MOST DIVERSE PLACE EVER (1 in 4 NYers was born outside of the United States. Parts of Queens have the highest density of nationalities on record), we have arguably the best public trans IN THE WORLD (sure, Shinkansens are great, but seriously, what other bus/subway system stays open 24 hours? What other megalopolis makes it completely superfluous to even know someone with a car?), culture and sports-wise, we have EIGHT VERMEERS and not one, but TWO FOOTBALL, BASEBALL, and basically basketball teams (parenthetically going on about culture in New York is an insult to both you and New York). Oh, and like, hella hockey teams or whatever.

Everyone always says this, because its true: New York City is the greatest fucking place in the world.
posted by jeb at 9:45 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Buenos Aires has everything you're after and is cheaper than pretty much every major US and European city.
posted by jontyjago at 9:50 AM on February 26, 2010

Hmm, I was going to say Austin but every once in a while, they have freezing temps and snow. But, it's extremely rare.

As far as cultural events and diverse mixture of people, it can't be beat. You almost don't even know you're in Texas...
posted by Leezie at 10:11 AM on February 26, 2010

Seconding New York City, although it clearly does not meet the "no snow or below freezing requirement." While we do get snow, and this particular winter has been especially rough, the thing is that the city barely shuts down when snow does hit. You generally don't need to worry about snow clean-up, either, because you rent an apartment and it's other people's jobs to deal with that. You have no driveway to plow, and you don't even need to own a car. As long as you get a warm coat, hat, and waterproof shoes/boots, the snow is generally pretty much a minor annoyance for most people, aside from dealing with short-staffed workplaces on snowy days when your coworkers who commute from outside the city can't make it out of their driveways.

Power outages due to weather conditions are also extremely rare. I haven't lost power in my apartment since the Queens blackout of 2006, which wasn't even weather-related.
posted by wondermouse at 10:11 AM on February 26, 2010

I don't understand why people still move to New York. If you think being an attorney is beastly, I can't imagine you liking NYC.

I'm biased, but Portland fits your bill and it's an incredible city, especially if you don't need a job. Otherwise, Seattle, the Bay area.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:15 AM on February 26, 2010

Seconding Tampa/St. Pete, and there is some public transit. Housing prices are really low these days... Tallahassee is interesting, too.

Savannah is also a possibility, it's a lot more interesting than I would have imagined.
posted by mareli at 10:24 AM on February 26, 2010

posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:29 AM on February 26, 2010

adding another vote to bay area! though in my opinion public transit here isn't the best... but it's passable for being a large city location in the US that isn't new york.
posted by raw sugar at 10:29 AM on February 26, 2010

I don't understand why people still move to New York. If you think being an attorney is beastly, I can't imagine you liking NYC.

People still move to New York because there's something for just about everyone, there are endless possibilities on places to go and things to do, even outside the city because it's so accessible via any source of public transit (and plenty of car rental options as well). While there are plenty of extreme type-A dog-eat-dog types here, there are tons of people who aren't like that. In my experience, the positives generally make up for the negatives. If this person had said they really want to be able to get a big apartment on a modest salary, or to buy a house with lots of land, I would not have suggested New York.
posted by wondermouse at 10:35 AM on February 26, 2010

Monterey or Carmel Valley California. Or Santa Cruz. I lived in all three and they are great. Everything you listed and more.
posted by chocolatetiara at 10:47 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had similar requirements (in addition to your needs, I also required good Mexican food) for a place to live and I chose San Diego. SD is a city of neighborhoods. Many of those neighborhoods are quite walkable and self contained. Like most places in the west, public transportation is great if you live along the route and need to go where it is going. I live downtown and can take the trolley to many places but it doesn't go to a lot of places. But it really car centric place.

The weather is great. A cold day is when it is about 50f. What is great as well is the diversity of climate even within the city limits. Within 2 hours there's the beach, mountains, desert. The local mountains get snow you can play in and then go down to the beach later.

I used to live in Austin which also fits the bill. Yes, it sometimes snows (but laughable amounts compared to places where it really snows... and the whole town shuts down if it snows or there's an ice storm). There can be cold snaps but they rarely last more than a few days. It is farther from the ocean (I found the Texas coast a weak comparison to the real ocean I great up with). The lakes do a decent job as proxies though. It does get hot in the summer which is what you get for having such mild winters.
posted by birdherder at 10:48 AM on February 26, 2010

Nthing South Carolina. Several of our cities have good transportation systems, depending where you are it rarely stays cold. You have the beauty of the ocean/ coastal Ialands, incredible historic sites, the Great Smoky mountains are only a couple hours away ( or just outside of town, depending on where you are.) The larger cities have large universities with cultural advantages. Greenville has great cultural diversity: French from Michelin North America headquarters, German with the local BMW mftg., Japanese with Fuji. There are various nightlife opportunities.
Both Greenvill and Columbia sit halfasway between Atlanta and Charlotte, two main hubs that give even more opportunities. We are a bit conservative in lots of ways comp2ed to the west coast. (A plus or minus depending on your viewpoint.) Universities include Furman, Clemson and USC as well as numerous smaller and private schools. As far as scenery, we have it all. please feel free to memail me if you have any questions. Or you can send an e-mail to srbrunson1@aol.com.
posted by srbrunson at 10:51 AM on February 26, 2010

Atlanta, Barcelona, or Sydney.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:56 AM on February 26, 2010

San Francisco has better weather than Portland and New York, and better transit than Los Angeles and San Diego.
posted by salvia at 10:59 AM on February 26, 2010

US Virgin Islands - St. Thomas

I loved living there.
posted by I love You at 11:07 AM on February 26, 2010

New Orleans. You get the feel of a large metro area with all the perks and few of the inconveniences. It's got an AMAZING night life and cultural scene, it's incredibly diverse, and you are about an hour from the beaches on the Gulf. It's warm/hot for about 9 months out of the year, and public transportation is fairly available with the streetcar and bus system. For sports they have the most-awesome New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Hornets, and LSU football is just down the road.

Seriously, I could write 3 pages on why NOLA is awesome. Just trust me.
posted by tryniti at 11:38 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

You should take a trip to scope out the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver are all gems IMHO and largely fit your requirements (though it can get cold in Vancouver). Though I love San Francisco, I'll share with you that my partner moved here to Seattle from SF last year and has decided she likes the weather here better . . . no fog.
posted by donovan at 11:44 AM on February 26, 2010

I grew up in San Diego and visit often during all seasons. Currently I live in the Berkeley area, and I lived in SF (the Mission, mostly) for many years. Living without a car is quite doable in SF and the central East Bay. Depending on your home and work locations in San Diego, you could get away without daily car use, but it'd be much harder go completely car-free.

The SF bay area is a festival of microclimates, so fog is not necessarily a given. Though the closer you are to the ocean, the more likely you'll get fog.

What do you want to do in or around the ocean? In SF you're close, but the tides, temperatures, and currents are such that casual ocean swimming is not always possible (Alameda is a good spot for that). Southern CA will get you the sunny beach fun; in SF it's more like "Bundle up! We're going to the beach!"

Public transit in SF is good, but if you're not in SF proper, it's much less convenient for SF nightlife. BART (main option to east bay) shuts down just after midnight. Transit to the peninsula and north bay is even more heavily commute-oriented. There is plenty to do culturally in the East Bay - theater, performance, sports, everything. I'm not as familiar with peninsula or north bay options.
posted by expialidocious at 12:24 PM on February 26, 2010

Honolulu, HI.

I wish.

The weather here simply cannot be beat, nor can "access to the ocean". In fact, if that were your sole criteria then I don't think any place in the US (and possibly the world) can beat HNL. I think we also satisfy your "diverse mix of people" criteria pretty well.

But the public transit sucks*, we have no professional sports (although UH baseball is fun) and cultural events are sparse. Our symphony declared bankruptcy recently, and our museums are struggling. Land is outrageously expensive, and our public schools are an embarrassment. Our politicians are even more cretinous than I could have imagined before moving here, and I started out with a low opinion of politicians.

Also, we're 2500 miles from anywhere. I know quite a few people who have gotten sick of the mainland, said "Fuck It!" and moved here, and not lasted two years. Without family or some other grounding here, it can be quite difficult.

* Our bus system, pleasantly called "TheBus" is actually pretty good, and I'm a long time rider and general fan. But it's way overburdened, and just not practical as a general mode of transportation.
posted by lex mercatoria at 12:28 PM on February 26, 2010

New Orleans

I totally agree that it is a fun place, lots of culture, great weather (most of the time).

BUT, it is wretchedly difficult to live there, particularly in Orleans Parish. We got so tired of the corrupt government, terrible streets (craters, people, craters!) and crime - murders down the block, car theft in front of the house, random gunfire at night, and petty property theft (my license plates) - that we moved to Metairie in Jefferson Parish which while better crime wise was only marginally better in terms of government. In total, I lived in N.O. and Metairie for 10 years.

If you are used to a remotely functional government, this is not the city for you. It's the US' banana republic.

And don't even get me started on the hurricanes.
posted by Leezie at 12:41 PM on February 26, 2010

Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore. In that order. I would also suggest Phnom Penh but the cultural scene is not that good.

If you move to Bangkok, you will never want to come home. The people are warm and welcoming, the travel destinations are fantastic, the weather is never cold, the nightlife is legendary, the food is amazing, and there are plenty of work opportunities. You will laugh when people tell you that New York is the greatest city in the world -- cold, full of angry shouty people and obnoxious hipsters. Blech.
posted by cow at 12:53 PM on February 26, 2010

I would agree with Portland, OR, but diversity (at least the racial kind) is lacking. Portland can definitely fulfill the remainder of your criteria though.
posted by garden hoe at 1:32 PM on February 26, 2010

If you're at all interested in Burbank, memail me and I'll tell you all about it. It's an independent city from Los Angeles which, IMO, makes an enormous difference.

Seconded. I work in Burbank, and it's quite nice.
posted by davejay at 1:33 PM on February 26, 2010

I don't understand why people still move to New York. If you think being an attorney is beastly, I can't imagine you liking NYC.


You will laugh when people tell you that New York is the greatest city in the world -- cold, full of angry shouty people and obnoxious hipsters. Blech.

Woah, what's with all the NYC hate people? I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the greatest fucking place in the world like jeb, but c'mon, let's at least have some rational reasons for hating on it if you're going to hate on it. New York is a huge place with a giant diversity of people, places, and experiences. It contains a lot to love, and a good amount to hate too--it's full of every time of human, after all--but it's not monolithic, filled with "shouty people and obnoxious hipsters" exclusively, or hateful just because you might "think being an attorney is beastly" (how does this even make sense?). Let's take it down a notch folks, and at least provide some real reasons for why the poster may dislike New York, rather than this FUD.
posted by dubitable at 1:49 PM on February 26, 2010

...every time of human... --> ...every type of human...

posted by dubitable at 1:51 PM on February 26, 2010

Europe in general has amazing public transportation.
posted by xammerboy at 1:55 PM on February 26, 2010

I don't have a specific suggestion, just some general musings.

Along the lines of PhoBWanKenobi, a college town would be a good choice. By themselves they tend to meet a lot of your needs - bars and clubs open late, sporting and cultural events, diverse people, and public transportation. Maybe this could help the career change - can you teach?

So for the weather and ocean, in the U.S. you are asking for California, Washington, Oregon, Gulf Coast Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and maybe the Carolinas.

Also realize, that when you get to areas that don't have snow, you get blistering hot temps. I lived in Norman, OK (Go Sooners!) and it was normal to get over 100 F in summer, and Austin is even hotter. I currently live in Central FL a few hours south of Gainseville and while it isn't quite as hot, it does get very humid and super muggy. So Winter is nice, but Summer is a bitch.

But here are my thoughts:

Washington and Oregon: I have no opinion here.

California: SoCal - LA near USC (sucks!) or in Sand diego SDSU? Santa Barbara is really nice also. I hear great things about San Fransisco. Really anywhere in the state would work. But California is really (really really) expensive. And the state is about to go under financially.

Texas: (I also disagree with the suggestions of Austin, because the Longhorns suck even more.) Seriously though, except for the vomit orange colors and uterine shaped logos, Austin is a pretty cool town. Houston might be an option, but I don't know how good Houston's public transportation is, but I am guessing it is not very good, unless you are near Rice or U of H, and then still probably pretty bad.

Louisiana: New Orleans is coming back. And Baton Rouge is ok.

Florida: (I disagree with PhoBWanKenobi on Gainseville, because the Gators SUCK. So there.) For public transportation, probably only Jacksonville, Gainseville, Tampa, and Miami have anything, and none of them are very good. Otherwise they all meet your requirements.

Georgia: Athens, GA is supposed to be a cool place. I have personally visiter Augusta and it was ok. Atlanta would have a better public transportation.

Basically, if you are moving to the south, get a car.
posted by I am the Walrus at 2:19 PM on February 26, 2010

Down by the Baydown by the Bay
where the watermelons grow
back to my home I dare not go
for if I do
my mother will say
Move to San Francisco
posted by bam at 2:26 PM on February 26, 2010

at least provide some real reasons for why the poster may dislike New York, rather than this FUD.

New York in the winter is bitter, bitter cold, the kind of cold that cuts to your bone and makes you (well, me) want to curl up and die inside.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:28 PM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Woah, what's with all the NYC hate people? I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the greatest fucking place in the world like jeb, but c'mon, let's at least have some rational reasons for hating on it if you're going to hate on it.

How's this-- it doesn't meet the OP's criteria and the people suggesting it are willfully ignoring the asker's request so they can be self-congratulatory about living in New York. And the fact that it's only New Yokers ignoring the criteria to promote their city tells you all you need to know about people who have moved to New York.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:30 PM on February 26, 2010 [7 favorites]

>>the people suggesting it are willfully ignoring the asker's request so they can be self-congratulatory about living in New York. And the fact that it's only New Yokers ignoring the criteria to promote their city tells you all you need to know about people who have moved to New York.>>

Wow. A lot of suggestions here haven't completely met all of the asker's criteria. Of course some New Yorkers would suggest their city, because they think it's a great city to live in given the asker's desired qualities. That's why a lot of people move here. I can't speak for the other New Yorkers in this thread, but as myself, I am not "promoting" the city nor bragging about it so other people think I'm so great for living here. I am being realistic in saying that one might forgive the weather given all the other qualities the city has that the asker is looking for.

The one request it doesn't meet? Cold/Snow. Some people hate snow because they hate having to clean it up and they hate driving in it, so I mentioned that sort of thing as not being much of an issue. You can get by here without even having a car and never having to pick up a shovel for the sidewalk or your non-existent driveway. That's a rare feature for any city to have. If this person just never wants to breathe cold air, well, then I guess he/she won't like it here. But they didn't say exactly why they don't want cold/snow, so I wanted to throw that out there. I have no need for everyone to want to move here. The city is rather populous already.

I don't know why you hate the city and its people so much, but please understand that we are not all related to whatever terrible experiences you may have had here.
posted by wondermouse at 3:17 PM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

San Diego. If you've got the ability to find good enough work to make a decent living there (and as an attorney, you've got a good chance at that) you'll find it to be an awesome place. All the comforts of the big city with a really laid back vibe.
posted by azpenguin at 4:13 PM on February 26, 2010

I think this question is going to be incredibly difficult to answer because a) you haven't prioritized which of these qualities are more important to you, and b) your point of comparison is not clear and/or c) your point of comparison is a mid-size city in the midwestern United States. Not to knock the midwest, but let's say you're in... Boise Idaho (Is that the Midwest?) ... no offense Boise, but I'm going to guess everything in your "must have" list is better to some degree once you leave there.

Anyway, I think the totally insane range of answers here is reflective of not knowing/understanding these parameters I list above.
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:26 PM on February 26, 2010

Tokyo fits all of your requirements, and is absolutely the exact opposite of boring, but English is not widely spoken. On the other hand, foreign attorneys are in demand by companies here, so you'd have a good chance of finding a job (especially if you were able to come as an expat through a company outside Japan).
posted by armage at 4:34 PM on February 26, 2010

Raleigh, NC fits quite a few of your criteria. We did just have a snowstorm this winter--about 1 ft over 24 hours. It was gone within a week. That's the most snow I've seen in the 5 years I've been here.

It's about 2 hours to the coast; a little longer if you choose western neighbor Durham.

Both are smallish cities but both have diverse populations in terms of race, religion, class, and education.

Public transportation in both cities is comprehensive, and in addition to the intra-city transport, you can also get buses that run among Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, which is a great feature.

There are plenty of NCAA sports here, including football and outstanding basketball teams. There are the Hurricanes, who won the Stanley Cup in 05/06, and there is the Carolina Panthers football team about 3 hours to the west, in Charlotte. The Durham Bulls are the AAA team for the Tampa Bay Rays, and the team is very popular with locals.

Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill all have robust arts communities, and great music venues. The cities do shut down around 2am, but that's better than 10, right?

I moved here from the Northeast in 2004 and have met so many wonderful, friendly people; the area far exceeded my expectations in terms of liveability. I can't offer you a comparison of the Midwest, as I've never lived there; nor can I speak to the job prospects for lawyers. Just thought I'd throw in for my current home base, which isn't such a bad place. Good luck!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 5:17 PM on February 26, 2010

Re: New York: I live in Brooklyn now, but I grew up in Michigan. While I might snicker when a bit of frozen water falls and people start prognosticating about a 'snowicane' or 'snowmageddon', it absolutely gets wintery here: frozen temps, snow, ice. For people who absolutely don't want that -- a lifestyle choice like any other -- New York is out.
posted by amery at 9:10 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

How's this-- it doesn't meet the OP's criteria and the people suggesting it are willfully ignoring the asker's request so they can be self-congratulatory about living in New York. And the fact that it's only New Yokers ignoring the criteria to promote their city tells you all you need to know about people who have moved to New York.

Yeah, that's not really true, and is really just more biased nonsense. As wondermouse pointed out, it fits *all* of the poster's criteria but one, and for the ones that it does fit, as far as in the U.S., it arguably beats every other city out there (well, disregarding the one about being near an ocean, which many cities can claim easily). As I said before, I don't necessarily think it's the best place in the world, but seriously, it's hard to argue against New York's diversity of people, bounty of cultural and sporting events, and (despite its flaws), the best public transportation in the U.S., hands down.

It's been pointed out that New York is still cold (and I can tell you that it's still less cold than a *lot* of places in the U.S.). Okay, fine. But it's not clear what the OP's priorities are, and hating on New York--and now, talking shit about New Yorkers--is really uncalled for. None of the New Yorkers (and former New Yorkers, considering myself) are talking shit about other cities or people who live in those cities.

I don't know why you hate the city and its people so much, but please understand that we are not all related to whatever terrible experiences you may have had here.

posted by dubitable at 9:54 PM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

San Francisco really does seem like the ideal city for you.

Also I'd suggest Sydney. It can get a bit cold, but snows extremely rarely. Other than that it really perfectly fits. Lots of culture, great public transport, amazing beaches, great mix of people.

I really have to disagree that NYC winters are not that rough. I'm admittedly a wimp when it come to the cold, but I fell in love with NYC when I lived there for the summer and had a really hard reality check when I lived there during the winter. While I still love NYC, the winter was long and depressing. I ruined just about every pair of shoes I own slush + salt + god knows what grime, just awful. If you don't like the cold, you will not like NYC for at least 3-4 months out of the year.

Singapore might also fit the bill.
posted by whoaali at 10:58 PM on February 26, 2010

Ok, without making this into chatfilter, I thought I'd chime in again with regard to the "to ny or not to ny" thing, since I fear it was my unintentionally harsh comment that started the whole thing.

Let me first say that I fucking love New York City. As a former New Yorker myself, I often tell people that I love New York, but I don't really miss it. And I certainly have a bit of a bias about living there; I lived there when I was poor, I moved there after growing up in buttfuck, midwest, etc. So, grains of salt and such. But I loved living there, and I cherish it as one of the greatest experiences of my life. I mean, seriously, it's new york. There are many, many reasons to not live there, but it isn't a case of hating it, by any means.

New York, and like the upthread comment about writing three pages of stuff about NOLA, is a place I, or anyone who has lived there, could go on and on about in that fashion as well, and obviously many have. I mean, the place is a wonderland. The idea of the 'new yorker' is meaningless. It's just so fucking huge! There is endless exploration there, endless discovery. Of course, because of it's sheer size, you have a shitload of awesome - and a shitload of suck. So it's hard to talk about the minutiae of the city because there's just so much. But as a city, as a city it's wonderful. But I digress. w/r/t your question:

-As has been pointed out - New York is cold. The weather is pretty much suck. The summers get unbearably hot, especially in that early August period, when the heat is just radiating off the ubiquitous cement and people run their air conditioners in Queens until they induce a power shortage, old people and cats die - it sucks. Everyone you pass on the street gives you that knowing look, that look of solidarity, like 'yeah, this fucking sucks. but hey, we're new yorkers, what. I've got an outfit for this." I keed I keed

The winter is also pretty much suck. It gets freezing, and with the wind coming off the ocean and whipping, as it does, through the streets in between the high-rises, it can be brutal. Plus, whatever beauty snow has, the sort you find in the midwest where the pristine of the clean snow lasts for weeks, the snow in ny immediately becomes disgusting, dirty slush.

Of course, Spring and Fall in New York are magical, fwiw. Utterly magical.

-The Ocean. Ok, yes there is access to the ocean in New York. But compared to many other suggestions in this thread, it's a pretty weak access. Sure, you can go up to Montauk, the Hamptons, or whatever, if you've got the time and means, but even those, compared to the Oregon and Washington coasts, with the cliffs and outcroppings and fir forests and remoteness, or the Bay area, with the redwoods and that bizarre meeting of the SoCal tropical vegetation with the NoCal temperate forest vegetation and it's very surreal and beautiful, or Miami, where the beaches are filled with sexy people from every country in the world sipping martinis and smoking pot, or Hawaii - which I've never been to - which I imagine to be spectacular, the ocean access in nyc and upstate is just not that great, imo. This is all to say nothing of someplace like Coney Island, where the beach is only a good place if you're an archeologist looking for used condoms and needles.

-Cultural events? Doesn't go to bed at 10 pm? Well, in my travels, New York is unmatched in this regard. There is no place that I've visited that offers more cultural variety than nyc. It's mind blowing, really. For me, honestly, it got almost to be too much. But I moved to nyc for this reason (plus the romance), and I was not in the least disappointed.

-Decent Public Transport: yep, nyc probably has the best public transport in the world. Get anywhere with at least a modicum of ease and efficiency (depending on your standards). But, a lot of other cities have pretty incredible public transport. Again, I'm biased, but I think pdx's public transit is pretty fucking stellar, especially if you're a biker. I've heard good things about Seattle and the Bay as well, though I don't have enough experience in those cases to say definitively.

One thing about the nyc subway is that it can be both a source of infinite jest (sorry, it's DFW Day on MeFi), and a source of utter terror. For every person I've seen puke, piss, masturbate, fuck, do drugs, and fight on the subway - and the one time my train hit a guy - I've had seen equally many fascinating interactions, met some incredible people, just generally stared in awe and wonder at this vortex of humanity. When I first moved there, I would just ride it about, for the thrill. Of course, as I became the jaded ny-er, I started hating it more and more. But still.

-Diversity. Well, obviously nyc has that covered to, as has been mentioned. My one big qualm with Portland is the lack of diversity - and I even live in the NE, which is one of the supposedly more *diverse* neighborhoods in the city. But it ain't got nothin' on New York.

So, in conclusion, as was said upthread, there aren't really enough criteria in your question to narrow it down in any real capacity. And honestly, until you've actually gone to these places, it might be hard for you to know. One last piece of advice: I've often found that the place you're in is not as important as the things you do and the people you become close to there. ymmv.

Best of luck. What a wonderful position to find yourself in!!
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:04 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I live in Nashville. Nashville is not what you want.

I used to live in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Brooklyn might be what you want, if you can compromise on the weather. It does get cold, sometimes very, but the proximity of the oceans (and I used to have seagulls roosting on my fire escape) moderates the temperature a little bit. The boroughs have different characters--I hated Manhattan, which seemed too competitive, loud, brusque, and teeming (stereotypical New York). However, I loved Brooklyn, especially the Park Slope area, which was for all intents and purposes a little slice of San Francisco (a city I also love). Everyone else loves it, and it's become incredibly expensive in the five years since I left, but I think you get what you pay for.

I've been to the Bay area in February and found it cool and rainy, but nevertheless awesome. If weather is more important than transit, San Diego/LA/Central Coast would make you happy.

You may also enjoy the Research Triangle in North Carolina (the "Commie South" as a friend who lives there calls it). I think it's a bit further from a beach than you would like and I don't know the transit situation there.

You may also want to look into Miami (of course) and Jacksonville, Fl.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:41 AM on February 27, 2010

Yes, I didn't mean to suggest the winters don't suck (the summers do too, ugh) - just that the average New Yorker doesn't have to deal with the actual clean-up of the snow. Trudging through slush and navigating gigantic slush puddles on street corners is still a common event, hence the need for good waterproof boots or those overshoes that guys wear. But spring is coming soon, and it can indeed be glorious. And that is all I will say about New York in this post. Hopefully anonymous is satisfied with the bounty of responses and detail here. :D
posted by wondermouse at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane.

All three have brilliant weather (Melbourne gets a little cold, but hardly ever below freezing - Brisbane has amazing weather). All three have beautiful beaches on gorgeous stretches of ocean. Tons of cultural activities, sporting events, opportunities for community life. Some of the best public transport I've ever seen. Incredibly diverse mix of people, with all of the benefits of incredibly diverse restaurants and food shopping opportunities.

Seriously, it's hard to imagine a city in the US coming close to meeting these criteria as well as these cities do.

Good luck getting a visa, though. But if you're under 30...
posted by mosessis at 2:57 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Snow: Rare and inconsequential, never gets extremely cold.

Sea access within 2 hours: Yep, plenty of options and, although most are less than ideal, Brighton and Bournemouth are nice.

Sporting and culture: Yup, plenty, 24 hour pubs and so on, free galleries, Wembley.

Decent public transport - It's not the best, but it's cheap, plenty of options and safer than many other cities. Not to mention you can be in Paris or Brussels within 3 hours via the Chunnel.

Diversity: Check, although Chinatown isn't so much a town as a couple of streets (Yes, I stole that from Stephen Merchant).

And just to weigh in on the NYC controversy, the problem tends to be that New York offers little that most other big cities also have, and they tend to offer more on top.

Furthermore, New Yorkers' rabid insistence that it's the best place on Earth does tend to mean you're setting yourselves up for criticism. It's a pretty average place, in my experience.

And don't get me started on all those ridiculous songs claiming it's the greatest.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 8:20 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, If you'd even consider NYC, London does beat it in so many ways. I say this as an ex-Manhattanite who now lives in London. It is much more livable. Something like 40% of London is green - I mean just one park, Richmond Park, inside London is three times the size of Central Park and has hundreds of deer roaming in it.

The Tube is grand but the bus system is amazing - fast and cheap and clean.

Aside from the constant flow of European ex-pats, London is full of huge immigrant communities - Indian, African, Turkish, Greek, Portuguese, East Asian fill entire neighborhoods. The markets and access to fresh food here also beat what I was used to in NYC and San Francisco.

Culture and nightlife needs no comment but I will add that the museums are free.

Also, in two hours (by cheap plane flight) you can be sunning yourself on the south coast of France.

Londoners though, unlike NYers, are very shy about promoting how great their city is. That's left to loud expats like me.
posted by vacapinta at 10:06 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

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