Encrusted jewel cities, or something.
September 16, 2010 10:35 AM   Subscribe

What places have you lived in either by choice or by force of circumstances, that were surprisingly cool?

I'm job hunting right now. I can basically move anywhere, but it's easier to find jobs in healthcare in places that are doing well economically but don't have a mad rush of people moving there. I sort of have to move as there aren't any jobs here.

I'm interested in places that might get a bad rap or aren't the "paris of the 90s" (that's where I live right now and I'm a little tired of it), but that are actually great to live in.

Any thoughts?

I'm also open to "pretty cool cities that aren't Boston, San Francisco, NY".

This is a for instance place: Bangor, ME. A fair amount of available jobs, hard for me to imagine moving there though.

Things I like:
Some sort of active art and music scene
Lots of open space
Rivers and lakes, or craggy shorelines
A reasonable expectation of intellectual conversation
Single people in their 30s
Preferably in the northeast but I'll consider anything, even Texas.

Can compromise on most of these.

Hit me. I'd rather hear about your favorite place, city or town than have you not mention it based on my criteria.

posted by sully75 to Home & Garden (72 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't lived there, but I've spent time in Olympia, Washington, and it seems like a good fit for your list.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:38 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Athens, Georgia
posted by Eumachia L F at 10:42 AM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Charleston, SC

Some sort of active art and music scene - lots of museums, art galleries. Spoleto festival is held every year, which has art galleries, performances, operas, etc.

Rivers and lakes, or craggy shorelines - Two beaches about 15 minutes from downtown.

Single people in their 30s - Lots of young professionals moving here. Medical University of South Carolina is downtown as well as a few other hospitals nearby.

Preferably in the northeast but I'll consider anything, even Texas - Give the South a chance :)
posted by rancidchickn at 10:43 AM on September 16, 2010

Would love some more information from you here- what do you like to do, are you outdoorsy?

You say healthcare, what does that mean- do you work in a hospital?

My first thoughts are Chapel hill, NC and Boulder/longmont/denver CO.
posted by TheBones at 10:46 AM on September 16, 2010

Lansing, Michigan; I'm surprised that I really, really like it here. Jobs are a little tight, but some in the medical field are provided by two large hospitals and research or clinical work at the university. Plus it was rated one of the top 10 places for young adults this year.
posted by motsque at 10:46 AM on September 16, 2010

Fort Collins, if the commute into Boulder wasn't terrible I'd move back in a new York second.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:47 AM on September 16, 2010

Moved to Duluth Mn about 15 years ago with the intention of moving on in about 6 months.

I'm not in the field but there are a fair number of medical jobs in the area.

people tend to avoid moving here en mass because of the winter reputation, but if you are outdoor active you can beat it. You can escape the entire city in under 1/2 hour from anywhere within it, and there are plenty of green spaces you can semi escape to within minutes almost wherever you live. Lots of water (Lake Superior!), and craggy shoreline, BWCA is a few hours away.... We have a pretty active music/art scene, a lot of colleges in the area so a lot of education. Consistently the highest, or near highest voter turn out in the country

- The city has a lot of DYI mentality coupled with Scandinavian heritage, so you definitely have to make an effort if you want to participate. Good news is if you can motivate people at all you have a lot of talent to work with and a lot of active people.
- Winter can kick your ass, and driving can be challenging at times
- Unemployment is below the national average, but seems to be stuck at around 7-8% no matter how the economy is doing, so getting that first job may be a little tough.
-The harsh weather and clay subsurface conspire to make some roads pretty rough.

A local community blog to checkout

posted by edgeways at 10:51 AM on September 16, 2010

Philadelphia is starting to grow on me. It's scruffy and rough, and not very pretty. But there are a goodly number of young people, the cost of living/housing is low, the food/beer/bar scene is good, lots to in arts and music. It's got one of the largest urban green spaces in the country in Fairmount Park. You're an hour from the beach, a couple of hours from Chesapeake Bay, and 1.5 hours from NYC (by car, door to door).

Can't tell you anything about the single scene, but I'm sure that one exists.

Oh ... and most importantly, there are MeFi meetups!
posted by scblackman at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2010

Seconding Chapel Hill, and Iowa City might be up your alley too.

I was going to be all like "well gee I really like Somerville" and then I saw your location and your "not Boston" so never mind that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2010

Nashville, TN.
- tons of healthcare jobs
- several large lakes and a river through downtown
- Home to a major research university so lots of smart young people (some single, surely)
- Huge country music scene, art stuff like the Tomato Art Festival
posted by ghharr at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2010

Come to Roanoke, VA. It's the healthcare hub of the region, and VATech is just about to open its new med school here. It's not the northeast but DC is an easy drive. It's a small city, not a big one, so it has one good Thai [Indian, falafel, etc.] place rather than a bunch to choose from, but it's got Thai [Indian, falafel, etc.]as well as a growing music scene and lots of interesting people. And good gracious is it lovely. Surrounded on three sides by mountains so there's very little sprawl, and a hop-skip-jump to both the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway so there's tons of hiking/biking/etc.
posted by headnsouth at 10:53 AM on September 16, 2010

That's how I felt about Philly. I really liked the people: found them smart, friendly, and down to earth. City has a ton of personality. And it's very affordable. Tons of "BYO" restaurants make dining cheap.
posted by Amizu at 10:59 AM on September 16, 2010

posted by repoman at 11:00 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Durham, NC. It has everything you want except craggy shorelines and the northeast. There are a lot of hospitals around here, too.

Chapel Hill is also nice, I'll agree, but the cost of living in Durham is better. And, hey, it even has a bad rep, at least locally--but non-locally, we've been getting a lot of press for our food.
posted by hought20 at 11:02 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

New Orleans may not have craggy shorelines, but we have rivers, lakes, and other water in abundance (I'm pretty sure that's not some sort of Katrina joke). Art, yes. Music, hell yes. Top-three American food city? Absolutely. City Park is massive, or you can just drive 45 minutes in whatever direction and be in the outdoors.

Drawbacks: flat, also becomes stinking humid swamp during summer, which is approximately 9 months long.

I love it here.

p.s. we're not all tourists. We leave them confined to the 9x13 block area we call the French Quarter, and we keep all the rest of the cool stuff for ourselves.

p.p.s. I'm kidding, mainly. There's some occasional cool stuff in the Quarter too.
posted by komara at 11:04 AM on September 16, 2010

I fell for Seattle at first sight, well over 20 years ago. Everything on your "like" list is here, by the way.
posted by bearwife at 11:13 AM on September 16, 2010

I got a job in baltimore without knowing anything about it, having ever been to the mid-atlantic, or even contemplated living in baltimore. It turns out to be a really interesting fun, and affordable city (though also with many problems), and I'm glad that I ended up here. I think it meets almost all of your criteria, actually.
posted by advil at 11:21 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Portland, Maine fits your list to a T, plus has a lot of healthcare jobs.
posted by nicwolff at 11:26 AM on September 16, 2010

Pittsburgh! A lot of people still have the impression that Pittsburgh is a dirty steel town, but this is absolutely not true (and this works in your favor - lots of healthcare jobs, but not as many people competing for them). With the steel mills gone, it's actually a beautiful city. You want rivers? They've got three. You want open spaces? They've got those, too - huge parks like Schenley and Frick, waterfront parks that have replaced the old steel mills, and big national parks nearby. Generally speaking, even though it's a major city it feels a lot smaller and more open. Healthcare's a huge industry in Pittsburgh, but so is higher education. You've got the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and several other universities and colleges, so there are a lot of intellectuals around to interact with. They've got an active arts and music scene, too. It's also really affordable.
posted by I Said, I've Got A Big Stick at 11:29 AM on September 16, 2010 [10 favorites]

Seattle for the win. But I've heard an awful lot of good things about Pittsburgh.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:31 AM on September 16, 2010

Minneapolis! Minneapolis! I moved there for college when I was 18, mainly because my school was the best I got into and I wanted to move someplace far from home (Boston). I moved back a few years after college because I missed it so much. I don't live there now but I think I may end up there eventually. It is seriously awesome:

- Obviously lots of rivers (Mississippi and its tributaries) and lakes (duh)
- The best arts/music scenes of any non-enormous city I've lived in. I'm in Seattle now and love it but really miss the Mpls creative scenes.
- Tons of open space - I think it's #2 in the nation for urban green space, and then there are numerous camping, hiking and even skiiing opportunities within a few hours.
- Great for intellectuals. Best-read population in the country, lots of colleges and universities, tons of coffeeshops. Sadly, the independent bookstores seem to be dying one-by-one, but I guess that's true everywhere.

I will say that people there tend to get married younger than in places like NYC, but I'm in my early 30s and of my circle of 10-15 friends there (generally creative and/or nonprofit types), only a few are actually married-married, a few more are engaged, and only one has kids.

A few more things that I think make Mpls so great:

- The cost of living is super-low, which makes it easier for creative, intellectual types to live there without having to "sell out." Like I said, most of my friends there work for nonprofits or do something creative-but-not-lucrative, or are grad students, and their quality of life makes me wonder why I moved to Seattle. This gives the city a creative, intellectual vibrancy.

- Man, midwesterners are friendly! It's pretty easy to get involved in local scenes because, for the most part, if you have stuff in common with people they will welcome you. I know this sounds obvious, but it's not true everywhere. Also, it's a super-community-oriented city. You will know your neighbors (I realize some people see this as a bug, not a feature!).
posted by lunasol at 11:34 AM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh, I should also say that my current city, Seattle, is pretty awesome despite my minor complaints above. But I figure Seattle never wants for boosters on Metafilter.
posted by lunasol at 11:35 AM on September 16, 2010

Fargo, ND

posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:41 AM on September 16, 2010

Seattle, for sure. The economy is doing well here and there's a good mix of small and large businesses. It feels like we're a bit sheltered from a lot of the economic issues that start in the bigger cities of the east coast, and by the time they reach here things are already on the mend nation-wide.

The city is pretty much made up of smart, snarky, artsy young people and just looking at a map makes it clear that nature is a focal point. People here spend their summers going camping, hanging out in cabins, swimming in Lake Washington, hiking in the Cascades, etc.

A final word: Don't believe all of that crap people say about how it's so rainy and awful, weather-wise, in Seattle. Seattle gets less rain than pretty much everywhere in the mid-Atlantic, and doesn't have the bitter winters or oppressively humid summers. Being this far up north does mean that the days are short in the winter, but that also provides incredibly long days in the summer. Seriously, sun at 9pm! Awesome.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:44 AM on September 16, 2010

Seconding Iowa City.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:45 AM on September 16, 2010

All these years later, I still miss Northampton, MA. It doesn't have craggy shorelines, but it does have a river. Because of all the colleges, it has lots of art and music stuff happening. Don't know anything about the health care job market there, though.

I loved living there.
posted by rtha at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2010

Columbus, Ohio. We have rivers (if it weren't for the trees I could see one from my office window) and Great Lakes are 90 minutes away. Appalachia is an hour or so to the southeast, so if you like rocks with your water, there you go. Big arts scene, lots of young people at our thousands of universities (okay, only 10 or so.) Lots of open spaces, including our nationally ranked metro park system, totally free state park system, and a national forest near the border with West Virginia.

I love it, and I'm from LA. The only downside is that we're still waiting for FCC approval for 24-hour classical music on FM (WOSU buying the old address of the alternative rock station.)
posted by SMPA at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2010

Salem, MA. Spent some time here over a decade ago and it was a very tourist-trappy, blue collar type of place. When my wife and I were house hunting last year, we looked at Salem on a whim and were surprised how far it's come. There are now cafes, green grocers, restaurants with a focus on local food, a farmer's market, and a growing art scene.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:55 AM on September 16, 2010

Milwaukee is a nice town with a lot of the qualities you mention, but based on your description, if you were to brave the Wisconsin winters, Madison might be more to your liking. Being a college town, there is a lot of music and nightlife, being the capital, there is a lot of art, being a nice place, there are a lot of cool people in their 20-30s, and being Wisconsin, there are tons of rivers, lakes, and open spaces,

The downside is that Wisconsin winters (or summers for that matter) aren't for the faint of heart.
posted by quin at 11:56 AM on September 16, 2010

You mention Texas, so I will suggest Austin.
posted by TedW at 11:58 AM on September 16, 2010

I came here to make sure Pittsburgh was mentioned, and Big Stick did it justice.

As a bonus, Pittsburgh has so little self-esteem that if you love it just a little bit, it will love you back hard.
posted by oreofuchi at 12:01 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Would love some more information from you here- what do you like to do, are you outdoorsy?

You say healthcare, what does that mean- do you work in a hospital?

Sorry, didn't mean to be too mysterious

I'm a new-graduate nurse. It's a tough market where I am (in the Northeast). However, pretty much every single person I know lives either in NY, Boston or Maine. So...kind of a bummer to move. However, at this point I may just have to.

I'm a photographer, fiddle player (irish music, which generally happens best in big northern cities), I sing and play guitar a bit. I idealize having a piece of land to build a small house on at some point and a big garden.

Happy to go somewhere for a year or two though and come back. Plenty of jobs if you have experience, none if you don't...around here.

Outdoorsy in the sense that I like to be outdoors, in the woods. But I'm not like, OMG HIKING! More like, I like to take a walk down a dirt road to a pond and go swimming.

I've also thought about Baltimore. Any thoughts?
posted by sully75 at 12:02 PM on September 16, 2010

Fort Worth was this sort of place for me in 2002ish -- Dallas sucked (and still does, IMHO), but Ft Worth had surprisingly awesome culture, in every conceivable category, a surprising number of liberals (although don't get me wrong, it's not a blue city), great food (from BBQ to vegan), and some beautiful landscapes (from urban to rural). And Dallas is right there for insertion-style access to cool events, every now and then.
posted by obliquicity at 12:04 PM on September 16, 2010

Lawrence, Kansas. Love that town.
posted by ducktape at 12:05 PM on September 16, 2010

Grand Rapids, MI

The economy is not as bad as the rest of MI. They have a yearly Artprize contest with a $100,000 winning. The art is displayed throughout the city for a few months. You'll be walking along see a giant dragon floating in the river or a massive table and chairs spanning a 4 lane bridge. It's crazy/beautiful how the internatinoal contest has transfromed the city.

It has a smaller town feel with big city accomodations. There are minor league baseball and hockey teams. Plenty of forests, rivers, dunes, and scenic spots. Lake Michigan is about 20 minutes away.

It's quickly becoming one of the major medical sites in the US. They are leading the way with cancer research.

The median age is 30 years old.

There are 13 colleges/universities with plenty of intellectual minds.

The negatives:
1) We average 60" of snowfall every year (I see this as a negative).
2) The mass transportation is improving but you will likely have to own a car.
3) It is fairly conservative. I lean towards being conservative but many people here can be extreme to the point of ignorant and close minded.
4) We have about 20 Walmarts.
posted by WhiteWhale at 12:13 PM on September 16, 2010

Madison, WI.
posted by onepot at 12:13 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

After reading your follow up, I am double recommending Grand Rapids :)

Also- You can beat this skyline
posted by WhiteWhale at 12:16 PM on September 16, 2010

If you're a photographer, you should definitely consider Seattle and Philly. I fall in love with Seattle every time I visit. And Philly, with its grittiness, must be a photographer's dream town. And, hey, Philly isn't far from NYC. Seattle, on the other hand, is a major massive big time move, coming from the northeast. That can be a good thing. The rain isn't the sort of rain you're used to. It's lighter. Almost irrelevant at times. I live in Portland and I don't mind the rain at all. I kind of like it, actually. The whole hippie/hipster thing in the Pacific Northwest can be a little over the top (or a LOT!!!) but there's a general niceness here that I hadn't experienced elsewhere. I really love this part of the country. It's very easy to fall in love with a city like Seattle.

Also, 2nding that Pittsburgh is NOT the dirty steel town it was decades ago. You should definitely give it serious thought. I'd choose Pittsburgh over Baltimore any day.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2010

Whoops, should be "can't"
posted by WhiteWhale at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: Not really an answer, but... I'll bet you live in Davis Square. I've never heard anywhere else referred to as the "Paris of the 90s". ^_^
posted by maryr at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2010

Beaufort, NC

There's this crazy boho artist boat-dwelling culture just under the prim surface.
posted by Windigo at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I kind of have a crush on Asheville, NC

I live in LA now but my brother moved there so now I go whenever I can, and am making long term plans to move there. An artsy, Boulder-minus-the-gortex, grassroots city where everyone seems to know each other.
posted by np312 at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2010

A lot of those mentioned above are cool, but known by all to be cool. For unexpectedly cool, I'd go with Pittsburgh, as someone suggested. Surprisingly beautiful old hilly city, with real ethnic neighborhoods, interesting architecture, a good foodie and arts scene, a bunch of universities, beautiful astonishing elevated views and river views--it reminded me of an earlier San Francisco without the Bay. Warhol museum surprisingly interesting, Mary Cassatt ditto, Wright's Fallingwater not far away and still falling . . . Affordable too.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 12:26 PM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: Look at the academic archipelago. Iowa City and Durham, NC have been mentioned; I've really enjoyed Bloomington, IN. I have friends from Madison WI who say it's awesome (and fulfills the "water" part). What about Chicago? Or Minneapolis?

The truth is, I think people get too hung up on "cool cities", speaking as someone who moved to the midwest from a cool city. My experience is that people differ much more on the fine scale than the large scale. You can find intellectually curious and active people anywhere; they do tend to pool in the relative urban center, but the local university does that as well as, say, Boston.

And it doesn't really matter if there's 1 or 10 or 100 things happening in your town on a Saturday night -- you're only going to be able to go to one, anyway.
posted by endless_forms at 12:28 PM on September 16, 2010

Houston! I interned and lived close to the medical center over the summer and I absolutely loved it. I probably wouldn't have loved it as much if I had had a long commute.

Dallas is great too!

Economically, both cities are doing great and are very cheap (compared to DC where I am now). Plenty to do, both artzy and outdoorzy; but not nearly as much as say NYC or Denver. But still, fun to be had :)
posted by Neekee at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2010

Ithaca, lots of cool people in their thirties, some of whom are my offspring. Economy there is usually better than in surrounding areas because of the colleges.
posted by mareli at 12:39 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ithaca, NY
Burlington, VT
Portsmouth, NH
Portland, ME
posted by brand-gnu at 12:45 PM on September 16, 2010

I'm going to nth Iowa City. The reasons are:
- three hospitals
- One of the best bookstores in the country.
- A river that cuts through campus.
- Walking/bike trails (although not really of the woodsy variety)
- Cost of living is fairly low so you could find your piece of land. Alternatively, there are also community garden lots for lease.
posted by statsgirl at 12:47 PM on September 16, 2010

May I suggest my hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont. I came here by accident in my 30's, single and have never left. It has everything you asked for and more. Like most places in New England, it takes a while to get to know people, but it's all here, the art, the music, the country roads, Connecticut and West rivers, Four medium sized hospitals within 45 minutes, Check it out.
posted by Xurando at 1:00 PM on September 16, 2010

Bozeman, MT.

Great Hospital, GREAT outdoors, college town, two major ski-resorts, and one long hellish winter.
posted by matty at 1:02 PM on September 16, 2010

Response by poster: For the record, I lived in Portland, ME for a couple of years and was kind of miserable. Lots of interesting people being interesting and beautiful, but for some reason I found it incredibly difficult to make lasting friendships. Other places I lived, I haven't had that problem, but in Portland, for whatever reason, I found myself in the most bizarre situations. Not sure if it's relevant, but it makes me slightly paranoid about places with a higher than average hipster population.
posted by sully75 at 1:16 PM on September 16, 2010

Response by poster: PS This is awesome, actually. Pittsburgh isn't out of the question...I have a good friend relatively nearby in Elkins, WV. The north-midwest or whatever you call it (Minnesota) has always been interesting to me too.

Snow doesn't bother me. Alligators do.
posted by sully75 at 1:22 PM on September 16, 2010

Response by poster: By awesome I meant, THANKS!
posted by sully75 at 1:34 PM on September 16, 2010

Philadelphia (large irish heritage population)

And as a wildcard - Asbury Park, NJ which is where I currently live. There's 2 hospitals in biking distance from me (Jersey Shore Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center) and about 3 more you could easily drive too. Good bar scene with original live music, art galleries, and the beach. Long Branch NJ and Ocean Grove are also nearby with stuff to amuse.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2010

Burlington, VT has all of the above, though it also kind of has the mad rush thing. I don't know about the healthcare job market, exactly, but Fletcher Allen is one of the biggest employers in town.
posted by the_blizz at 1:57 PM on September 16, 2010

I normally don't answer these kind of questions, but if you are looking for a job in healthcare, I can't help but recommend Sioux Falls, SD. We have two health care systems that are growing rapidly and are the top two major employers in the region. It's also dirt cheap to live here, so people in the medical profession do pretty well for themselves.

We may not have acres and acres of forest to explore, but the prairie can be just as compelling. Intellectual conversation can be had if you look for it - there is a growing young professional's network and new groups pop up all the time based on niche interests and art culture. If there is a cultural itch that Sioux Falls can't scratch, we're only four hours away from Minneapolis/St. Paul and three from Omaha, NE. The Black Hills are five hours across the state, if you need a drastic change in scenery.

Sioux Falls overall is doing quite well economically and consistently gets named on lists for best places to live, best places for careers and best places for young adults.

As for downsides, you will need a car here unless you work and live downtown. Winters can be pretty rough, too. I'm sure there are more, but I'm pretty proud of our little city. I can answer any questions you might have.
posted by bristolcat at 1:58 PM on September 16, 2010

I wonder why no one has mentioned Portland OR?
posted by fivesavagepalms at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2010

Madison has the University hospital system, Epic (electronic health care records), Toma Therapy, other big hospitals including the VA, and (too) many insurance company headquarters.

Plus five lakes. In the winter, there's ice fishing shanties a stone's throw from the Capitol dome; two weeks ago I went kayaking before work. And walked to the lake. hey did you know that there's a -green- heron, too?
posted by mimi at 2:12 PM on September 16, 2010

Seconding Brattleboro, VT. I lived in the mountains outside Brattleboro for three years and I loved it there. I also liked Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, where I put in a bunch of volunteer hours, both on my own and as part of training for an EMT certificate. I liked the mix of town and gown, as I attended college near Brattleboro but played bar-league pool once or twice a week with non-college locals. There are swimming holes and natural springs for clean water just outside of town, and lots of opportunities for laid-back outdoorsy activities. It turned out that I prefer living in bigger cities, but I have a major soft spot for Brattleboro and really all of Vermont.
posted by swerve at 2:23 PM on September 16, 2010

Melbourne, Australia.

Yeah, a bit further afield - but it's got a lively music/arts scene, it's friendly, and we always need nurses. Admittedly the health fields where I am (Brisbane) needs nurses even more, but Brisbane isn't as cosmopolitan as Melbourne.
posted by ysabet at 3:07 PM on September 16, 2010

The cities that come to mind for me (some of which have already been mentioned) are:

Madison, Wisconsin (lakes, universities, arts, etc.)
Athens, Georgia (good music, food, biking)
Durham, North Carolina (good arts scene, great weather)
Portsmouth, NH (very beautiful and hip but might be too cutesy)

I think there's a truth to what a previous poster said about it being more difficult, socially, to move to cities that are overflowing with hipsters.

Good luck!
posted by tacoma1 at 3:09 PM on September 16, 2010

I wonder if Syracuse NY fits what you're looking for. There's a lively Irish music scene (the Tipp Hill Music Festival is Saturday, in fact). There's a lively arts and cultural scene particularly around Syracuse University but also downtown. You're on the edge of the Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks aren't too far in the other direction. The economy isn't great but I hear the hospitals are hiring. You can PM me if you have questions.
posted by maurice at 3:16 PM on September 16, 2010

Boise, ID
posted by doh ray mii at 3:40 PM on September 16, 2010

what about Atlanta? Full of single people, of every ethnicity and class in their 20s and 30s. Great weather. You're a 3-hour drive from BOTH the Atlantic or the Gulf Coast. Also close to the Smoky Mountains. An amazing art scene from ballet to hip-hop. The DeKalb Farmers Market is one of the largest, most amazing produce markets on earth. Great weather. Short winters, long summers, but nowhere near as hot as Houston/New Orleans or Miami. Lots of hospitals and the CDC is headquartered there. Yes, the commute times and sprawl can suck. but the rents rock and if you live near work, you've got it made. And cheap flights to NYC/Boston abound from the country's largest airport.
posted by caveatz at 3:53 PM on September 16, 2010

I'd say Austin, but we already have had too many people move here, so we've closed up shop. Sorry!

Just kidding. I'm actually a relatively recent 'immigrant' here myself, but yeah it meets all your requirements and all that.

Too hot though.
posted by BurnMage at 4:00 PM on September 16, 2010

Just be aware that if you come out to the PNW, you will deal with a strange (well strange to me as I'm still getting used to it) cordiality. People here aren't mean, per se, but more aloof and not as easy to get to know. It's kind of unsettling honestly. I've found it to be that way all over washington, but I live in eastern washington.
posted by TheBones at 4:03 PM on September 16, 2010

I second Nashville. It's multicultural and Southern, too.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:21 PM on September 16, 2010

Another voice for Denver Metro area. The healthcare industry is big and sophisticated, due to the University of Colorado medical school. It's an awesome balance between urban and outdoor life. If you don't need to live in the coolest parts of town, it can be reasonable. Arts and public transportation are supported strongly by the community. The state lottery pays for outdoor recreation, so there are bike trails everywhere. The only downside is you have to get used to plastic cloths (aka sportswear). Bring a yoga mat.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 6:44 PM on September 16, 2010

Thirding Pittsburgh. I lived in West Virginia (and Elkins, too, hey!) and Pittsburgh was a great town to visit for the weekend. The cool thing about the location is it gets a mix of a lot of that old-timey crowd, as well as more traditional entertainment. People there are just super nice, and the Strip is an awesome place to shop - plus it's got lots of lovely neighborhoods.
posted by ajarbaday at 7:07 PM on September 16, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS! I'm nth-ing everyone else. I live in Chicago, and would move to the Twin Cities in a heartbeat given the chance. I love it there a lot, and it fits your criteria.
posted by bibliogrrl at 8:17 PM on September 16, 2010

Kansas City has really grown on me. It has a low cost of living, which is a big bonus. If you like Irish music, it's a town overflowing with Irish pride and lots of Celtic singers and bands. As for outdoors, southern Missouri, specifically the Ozarks, is just a few hours drives a way and has really beautiful lakes, rivers, and forests. There's also a thriving arts scene in KC.

Also, mentioned above is Lawrence, KS, which is a great college town. It's about a 45 minute drive from KC.
posted by bubonicpeg at 5:59 AM on September 17, 2010

I moved to Grand Rapids, MI 4 years ago thinking it was a small city with a dead downtown and a plethora of churches. However, I quickly realized it's a vibrant area with a progressive young population and tons of culture, all within a short jaunt of outdoorsy adventures.

To hit your bullet points.

-We have a very active art scene. ArtPrize starts next week, so sculptures and paintings have been popping up everywhere lately. Last year, downtown was transformed into an art gallery, as thousands of artists displayed their works in a bunch of local venues (and on the street for that matter.) ArtPrize is awesome.

Besides that, there are regular art gallery showings on Division Avenue, the Grand Rapids Art Museum is a neat venue with just enough art for a short afternoon (by the time I'm sick of being in an art museum, I'm out of stuff to look at,) and there are a few venues throughout the city to see either local or national acts.

-As mentioned, it's a small town big city, so if you hang out in the art scene, you'll see the same people everywhere. Some people don't like that, but I think it's nice to run into a few folks wherever you go.

-There's a fair amount of open space, and it's pretty easy to find a park to play Ultimate Frisbee or have a picnic or whatever. The Grand River runs through downtown, which provides for good scenery, boating, and fishing.

If you drive 30 minutes in any direction, you'll be far enough from the city center to be in farm country. 45 minutes to the West is Lake Michigan, which has great, wide open, sandy beaches. Some of the beaches are free, some are within one of many state parks, all have sandy dunes.

There are pine forests an hour North, and if you drive another hour/90 minutes North, you can go to Sleeping Bear Dunes and Traverse City, both of which are beautiful and quiet.

However, the city is 1 hour away from Lansing & Kalamazoo (not entirely sure what you'd do there... but they're options,) 2.5 hours from Detroit, and 3 hours from Chicago, so you can see most any band on tour if you so desire.

-Despite the city's conservative reputation (for instance, Calvin College's cancellation of the New Pornographers show [which has since been rescheduled at another venue!]) I've never had a problem finding intellectuals/liberal-minded folk. There's a wide range of opinions depending where you go... just like any place on Earth.

-There is a considerable local food movement. We have a good farmer's market, proximity to lots of good microbrews (Founder's is based here, and they're one of the best microbreweries in the country,) and several good, local-oriented restaurants.

-It's cheap! I pay $600 a month for a 1 bedroom apartment with a garage that's a 15 minute walk from the center of town.

-We have several hospitals (Spectrum, St. Mary's) on the North end of the city, as well as a few small/moderate sized medical device companies.

It may be a little small, but there's still plenty to do. I like it.
posted by Turkey Glue at 10:03 AM on September 17, 2010

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