Where in the US should I live for a couple of months this summer?
April 27, 2011 8:40 PM   Subscribe

I can work from anywhere. Hooray! I'd like to sublet an apartment somewhere in the US for a few months this summer. But where?

I can work from anywhere, so I'd like to take advantage of that privilege for a month or two this summer. Someday, I'll think bigger, but for now, I'm thinking in my home country. But where do I go? Here are my picky requirements:

a) Continental US. I'm in Minneapolis, MN and I'll be driving (I'm not good with planes and that won't be changing by this summer). I don't mind a long drive to get there, but places closer to me than not interest me. However, I'm open to anywhere in the US.

b) A cost-of-living that will allow me to sublet a studio or 1-bedroom in a safe area for less than $1000/month. I don't need anything fancy, but it needs to be safe.

c) I'd like a busy, culturally-dense city, OR a beautiful, idyllic, melt-your-eyes-with-beauty rural area (that still has internet access or at least decent cell towers).

d) I'm more of a restaurant/art/coffeeshop gal over nature, so natural attractions (while nice!) won't be my pull. (However, if your suggestion falls into my rural category, I imagine this will change.)

I'm considering Chicago (never been, unsure if I'd be able to find a place in a safe area in my price range), Duluth (used to live there and loved it, but not what I'd call culturally-dense, though it does have terrific culture), Missoula (absolutely no reason other than the city looked beautiful in a movie I saw once) or, vaguely, somewhere in the South. My family is from the South and currently lives in Virginia. I don't want to live in Virginia, but would consider other states.

Other info: I'm a 30something married gal (my husband won't be with me). I'm a loner, so meeting new people is great, but I don't need it. I'm looking for a miniature adventure that stays mostly within my comfort zones. (Emphasis on "mostly.")

Bottom line: I'm looking for an interesting, affordable city in which I can sublet a studio or 1-bedroom for less than $1000/month for a month or two this summer. Where should I go?

Thanks for your help!
posted by Laura Macbeth to Travel & Transportation (51 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by jchaw at 8:43 PM on April 27, 2011

I'd try for a college town, there are lots of good deals on sublets from students leaving for the summer. My first thought is Santa Barbara, which is amazingly beautiful but has lots of artsy places to hang out. But it might be hard to find a place for 1000, though you might be able to find something in the surrounding towns.
posted by skewed at 8:46 PM on April 27, 2011

posted by JesseBikman at 8:49 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Olympia is dirt cheap and phenomenally beautiful in the summer. It's got one of the best music scenes on the west coast. It's also really small, surrounded by water and the only continental rainforest, and right in between Seattle and Portland. Perhaps check it out
posted by special agent conrad uno at 8:53 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'll put in a plug for San Francisco because your budget, while a bit of a stretch, is totally doable, and there's an amazing amount to do here but you're never more than 30 mins from spectacular natural beauty either. But we don't have warm summers. At all.

Providence, RI, however, is glorious in summer. You'll find the College Hill area around Brown and RISD very cheap. There's plenty going on in the summer even with all the students gone, but it also has that great sleepy summer vibe.
posted by AndNeverWell at 8:53 PM on April 27, 2011

Asheville NC.
posted by contessa at 8:56 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Palo Alto, CA
posted by jchaw at 8:57 PM on April 27, 2011

My favourite...

Austin, TX
posted by jchaw at 8:57 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

College and university towns will be good for this -

eg, Ithaca NY, Amherst/Northampton MA, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:58 PM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Might also try Iowa City, Madison, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:59 PM on April 27, 2011

So it sounds like you might want to be in a college town. And of course those tend to have lots of sublets available in the summer. I don't know your part of the US at all but this might get you thinking. (I see Madison has already been mentioned.)

Also: it's a bit of a drive from Minneapolis, but consider Philadelphia.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:04 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: Chapel Hill, NC. College town, in the south, really pretty town, has coffee shops and cultural events, is affordable and near enough to Virginia to be able to go visit without having to visit more often than you wish.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:08 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

unsure if I'd be able to find a place in a safe area [in Chicago] in my price range

yes, you definitely could.
posted by geegollygosh at 9:11 PM on April 27, 2011

The first place that jumped into my mind after reading your description was Asheville, NC. So, seconded.
posted by bedhead at 9:14 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: I was going to say Chicago, and then I got down to the part where you say you've been considering Chicago. Come to Chicago! Chicago is awesome, and if you're into festivals/summer activities, Chicago's got that in spades.

It's an extremely affordable city, especially considering all that it has to offer. You'll definitely be able to find something for $1000/month, no problem. I've lived in Hyde Park, Pilsen, the Loop, and Irving Park (south side, lower west side, downtown, and northwest side) in the seven+ years I've been here and have friends who live all over the city who are equally happy. I've very rarely felt unsafe, and those have only been occasions where I've had to walk by myself waaaay too late at night to get home from the library or something.

Chicago is both busy and culturally dense and beautifully idyllic, thanks to the fantastic parks system and the lake shore.
posted by phunniemee at 9:14 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Denver is culturally dense and within easy driving distance of countless beautiful, idyllic, melt-your-eyes-with-beauty spots.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:36 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: Chicago, Chicago, a million times Chicago. It's gorgeous in the summer. As geegollygosh said you will absolutely be able to find housing in your price range (try craigslist and the Chicago Reader online classifieds). there are coffe shops in all neighborhoods, and I'd encourage you to live near the lake (Lakeview, Lincoln Park, or Hyde Park on the south side). There are street fests, art shows, and free concerts every weekend, I think it should be mandatory that everyone spend a summer in Chicago. And the restaurants! And the theater! Stop me, somebody.
posted by slmorri at 9:43 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: Taos NM. Facemelting beauty. If you can stand the summer heat. I was there the last few months and the weather was spot on. I don't know how bad it gets in the summer.
posted by kjell at 9:50 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: If you can't decide, maybe you could live for a month in TWO places this summer! I'll second that Portland, OR (where I live currently) fits your needs pretty perfectly.

But I'll also add some New England love and throw in Burlington, VT which is a beautiful, small city (but the biggest city in Vermont). It's on a lake, by mountains, has the university, great little stores and coffee houses, galleries, trails etc. Near Montreal, kinda near Boston. I'd like to end up here.
posted by Corduroy at 10:04 PM on April 27, 2011

posted by rossination at 10:18 PM on April 27, 2011

Ann Arbor, MI

Westwood district of Los Angeles, CA

New Haven, CT. Take the Metro-North rail down to NYC for around $40 roundtrip, two-hour ride. Two-hour drive to Boston as well.
posted by mnemonic at 10:25 PM on April 27, 2011

Chicago! Should be doable with your budget (I'll let others with more recent knowledge help you there). I would second Austin (I live there now) but can't really fully recommend it during the summer.

And I've always heard good things about Madison, WI.
posted by nightwood at 10:48 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: Seconding Providence. It's ace in the summer, you can rent a summer sublet from a student on the hill and walk virtually anywhere surrounded by coffee shops, and if you drive, you have beaches, Boston and Newport for variety within easy reach. NYC is a 3 hour train ride.

Austin is great except int he summer when it's like being punished for something.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:26 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: I'd agree that Chicago fits the bill and is probably your best bet! If you want to go further afield, I'd suggest my new home, Columbus, OH (definitely moreso than Ann Arbor). Columbus is supposed to have excitement during the summer, including a variety of festivals and big concerts and the like. I rent a two bedroom apartment with a roommate for about $700 a month, plus utilities. A significant portion of the 60,000ish students at OSU won't be around, so there will be tons of subletting available.

(I really do think Columbus is a better bet than Ann Arbor, not just saying that ... Columbus has a much bigger population outside of the university and so the city isn't halved when all the students go home for the summer)
posted by ChuraChura at 11:32 PM on April 27, 2011

Portlaaaand, OR! <3
posted by fuzzysoft at 11:33 PM on April 27, 2011

Another reason somewhere close would be good is so your husband to come drive out and spend a weekend \ long weekend with you, unless you really were looking for a full get away.

I'm partial to the outdoors compared to cities. This list is probably in order of personal preference:
North Conway, NH (The White Mountains are so awesome)
Estes Park, CO (Great little town with easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park.)
Salt Lake City
Salida, CO (Awesome area if you're into more of a river desert feel)
San Francisco
Nashville, TN
Las Vegas
Daytona Beach, FL
Sea Isle City, NJ
Washington DC (Georgetown\Dupont?)
posted by zephyr_words at 11:53 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: I thought it was a given that since you're in mpls and looking to leave (temporarily or not) that you are coming out here to Seattle or Portland. Come here. If you've been in mpls for a while I guarantee you have friends here already (don't even try telling me you don't). It's beautiful. No humidity. Ocean. Mountains. Food. Beer. Coffee. Bikes. etc.
posted by rainperimeter at 11:54 PM on April 27, 2011

Best answer: Chicago sounds like it might be your best bet. I don't know if a college town is what you're looking for. I've heard good things about Madison, but it sounds like you are aiming at a bigger city experience. If I was looking at a "busy, culturally-dense city," for a summer I would look for something which seems to have nationally unique character. NYC seems like the obvious choice, but may be more expensive than your budget. I would look at Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, New Orleans. New Orleans. On the other hand, I don't know anything about Memphis or Saint Louis, but I would look at them.

Consider subletting/renting a room, rather than an apartment. Will likely be cheaper, but will also give you immediate access to a local, you can help with recommendations on what to do/see. Even if they are not the greatest roommate ever, it's only for a couple of months.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:57 PM on April 27, 2011

So Portland and Seattle are at their absolute best in the summer. Olympia is also cool if you decide on a lower key place thats near the bigger city.
posted by Glibpaxman at 12:10 AM on April 28, 2011

Spokane, WA "close to nature and close to perfect" as we say.

Hot Springs, Arkansas--cool little town in the Ozarks, the most under-rated natural area in America.

Santa Fe, NM.

Moab, UT is a gorgeous natural area.

Bozeman, MT.
posted by LarryC at 12:33 AM on April 28, 2011

Yachats, Oregon
posted by TheClonusHorror at 4:45 AM on April 28, 2011

Madison or Olympia
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:58 AM on April 28, 2011

In case you are thinking about NYC, please reconsider. Thanks to the epic urban heat island effect here, summertime in the city is a revolting swampland awash in garbage juice and beer pee. The air on the subway platforms is like a huge soggy dog humping your face forever. Seriously, you might as well roll in poop and then set yourself on fire.

Providence or Portland would be much nicer.
posted by elizardbits at 5:24 AM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I am going to give a shout-out to my favorite city of Pittsburgh, PA. I rent a 4-bedroom house for under $1000 per month so I am certain that you could find something in your price range ;). The summers aren't too hot and there is a ton of beautiful hiking/camping/rafting/whatever right outside the city.

The art scene has really exploded and there are a ton of galleries and coffeeshops, especially in the trendier areas. It still has a gritty urban charm without being dirty or too sad to live in.
posted by amicamentis at 5:34 AM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

another vote for madison -- madison in the summer can't be beat. you could spend all day writing on the union terrace. also, tons of students trying to offload their places for the summer, so you're guaranteed to get a cheap sublet.
posted by nanhey at 5:43 AM on April 28, 2011

Definitely Portland. I just went to visit my sister who lives out there now, and was really impressed. Tons of culture, PLUS jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenerey within walking distance, basically. Great restaurants of every variety you could possibly hope for, street carts up the wazoo, great farmer's markets, and my sis only pays $500 a month for her apartment smack in the middle of it all.

So jealous, have fun where ever you end up!
posted by Grither at 5:55 AM on April 28, 2011

I just moved to Chicago. It is wonderful. I would definitely recommend living here for a couple of months---I think you might really love it. The public transportation is great, the food is amazing and there is tons to do in terms of museums and all that. Oh, and the people are delightfully pleasant.

Seriously, I cannot think of why you would want to go to a sweet little college town for a couple months when you could come here instead.
posted by pie_seven at 6:07 AM on April 28, 2011

Denver's great, but summer sublets here are hard to find (despite having several colleges, it's not really a college city, so people don't leave during the summer, since it's the best time of year to be here). Therefore, I would recommend Boulder -- lots of sublets available, tons of coffeeshops and restaurants to work at, everything is smaller in scale and easy to walk/bike to, plus they have an awesome farmer's market on the weekends near Pearl Street. Or Fort Collins, which is also a great place to live, but slightly less excited about itself than Boulder.

(Someone else mentioned Santa Fe -- it's great, but since it's high tourist season there in the summer, you won't find a rental for under $1000/mo.)
posted by heurtebise at 6:26 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Raleigh is cheap, safe, has a pretty active art scene for a city of its size and has a lot of interesting restaurants/things to do.
posted by timdicator at 6:37 AM on April 28, 2011

Response by poster: Oh man. What amazing answers. I'm so excited! Chicago and Olympia are standing out to me so far. Chicago is the most tempting, so my guess is that'll be my safety city, and I'll explore Olympia as an out-there possibility. Thanks again, and keep them coming, if you want!
posted by Laura Macbeth at 7:21 AM on April 28, 2011

Best answer: New Orleans!

It's in the south, and you could easily get a nice apartment in the city for under your budget. It's a very cool city with lots of unique things to do, and it is unlike any other city in the county. If you do want to meet people, you couldn't pick a better place. During the summer, there are tons of things going on like music festivals and concerts, not to mention the amazing food and all-around kickass cultural scene. Definitely check it out.
posted by tryniti at 7:38 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you look near Chicago, I know there are several towns east of there (near Michigan City, IN, for example) with very low cost of living and immediate access to the beaches of Lake Michigan and only ~1hr drive to Chicago proper.

As a near-Seattle resident for the latter part of my childhood, Olympia, the Olympic peninsula, and the Cascades are incredibly gorgeous during the summer (mid-June to August). If you even remotely like hiking, you'll have a great time. You can also volunteer with the Washington Trails Association to do interesting hikes with trail maintenance.
posted by bookdragoness at 7:48 AM on April 28, 2011

elizardbits: "In case you are thinking about NYC, please reconsider. Thanks to the epic urban heat island effect here, summertime in the city is a revolting swampland awash in garbage juice and beer pee. The air on the subway platforms is like a huge soggy dog humping your face forever. Seriously, you might as well roll in poop and then set yourself on fire."

Wow, I've got to save this description of summer in NYC for future use

I live in New England now and would definitely recommend Providence if you wanted to do the East coast. That said, we'd had some brutal heatwaves here the past few summers which have made July hellish. Avoid July if possible.

If had this opportunity I'd definitely visit the Pacific Northwest. It's by far my favorite part of the country to visit. I'm from the south and have lived in New Mexico. If you're used to humidity and green stuff...the southwest can be a shock to the system and it takes more than a month to adjust.
posted by victoriab at 8:18 AM on April 28, 2011

PDX. Much cheaper than other cities of comparable cultural density.
posted by paultopia at 9:10 AM on April 28, 2011

Best answer: Cleveland! It's crazy cheap here and if you are a foodie, you will be in heaven. The Greenhouse Tavern (Food & Wine top chefs 2010 award winner Jonathon Sawyer), Iron Chef Michael Symon's Lola and B-Spot, and a million and one other fantastic places to eat. Our art museum is top-notch, we've got lots of fun galleries and shops, a lovely lake and plenty of nearby places to go if you want to do short weekend trips (Chicago and Toronto are both a 5-hr drive away). Amish country and southeast Ohio are super-pretty in the summer.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:58 AM on April 28, 2011

Best answer: Any city on the West Coast, from San Francisco on up, is going to be a pretty great place to visit. I live in SF, but have lived in Seattle and parts of Oregon too, and if I had to choose I'd say that Seattle is probably one of the most amazing places I've ever been in the summer. Absolutely sublime on a sunny day. Lot's of outdoor stuff to do for sure, but also plenty of cafe culture, museums, galleries, and just flat-out awesome stuff to stumble upon*.

But you really can't go wrong pretty much anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. I'm not sure I'd want to spend a whole summer in Olympia (it's kinda smallish for me), but then again I've never lived there. In any case, it is really close to both Seattle and Portland, both of which are not to be missed.

I love that you are doing this, BTW! You're going to have an amazing time, wherever you go, I'm sure.

*If you do go to Seattle, promise me you'll check out The Crumpet Shoppe on 1st and Pike. It's one of my favorite things about the city. PM me for more, if you like.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:05 AM on April 28, 2011

Duluth is beautiful, weather nice, not exciting though.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2011

Best of both worlds: Boulder CO! Culturally dense, unbelievably face-meltingly gorgeous.
posted by aint broke at 10:43 AM on April 28, 2011

Best answer: Chapel Hill, NC:

Cheap cost of living, especially for a summer sub-let, plenty of things going on around town, close to Raleigh, and within half a day's drive of the mountains and the beach.

Also, nthing Olympia, and anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest.
posted by cirgue at 1:03 PM on April 28, 2011

MeMail me if you end up settling on Columbus, I know of a place that will be looking for someone just like you.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:31 PM on April 28, 2011

Best answer: I've lived in Madison (currently living in Chicago) and would definitely say Chicago! This city is gorgeous in the summer and offers the big city/culturally dense experience a place like Madison cannot. Look in areas like Bucktown/Wicker Park and Lakeview/Andersonville for inexpensive summer sublets; very safe/populated areas close to the Loop and have relatively good dining/nightlife. If you're a jogger/biker the lakefront path is great in the summer (although crowded) and the parks here are very well maintained as well. Museums here are excellent, and there's always a free concert/art exhibit going on any random night. The only reason I wouldn't recommend coming here is if you're looking to spend the summer somewhere different than the Midwest, but if that's not the case I think you would enjoy coming here.
posted by andruwjones26 at 3:51 PM on April 28, 2011

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