Sooner or later the grey is gonna get ya
April 6, 2012 5:26 PM   Subscribe

If I could live anywhere in North America, where would it be? Given what I'm about to tell y'all about myself, what cities should I consider if I wanted to live somewhere else?

I love Vancouver, but I'll admit by this time of year the previous 6 months of rain and gloom can really, really get to a girl. I also have migraines that get triggered by changes in barometric pressure (among other things), and the weather here doesn't really help in that regard.

I'm looking for a city with nice, fairly consistant weather. Sunshine just makes me happy. A city with a good tech industry is pretty vital, as I need to support myself. Also, I identify the most with the left-leaning atheist crowd, so the stereotypical bible-beltish areas are not my first choice. I love walkable cities, but i'm not really the outdoorsy type. I would just really rather not have to drive to get a coffee or gallon of milk. Being able to live close enough to work where the commute won't drive me insane is vital. Other than that, I'm pretty flexible. I am Canadian, but for the sake of argument assume anywhere in North America (north of Mexico) is fair game. So - if you were me, what cities and areas would appeal to you to live in?

Note, I'm not actually planning on moving anywhere soon... but I am trying to figure out where I would like to live, if the opportunity presented itself to just pick up and go!
posted by cgg to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You sound like a future San Franciscan or a potential Brooklynite to me.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:28 PM on April 6, 2012

How about Austin? Or San Diego?
posted by argonauta at 5:30 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I forgot to add -- not only what areas, but why? Thanks all!
posted by cgg at 5:33 PM on April 6, 2012

You want San Francisco but not its weather, so what about the East Bay? Sounds like you'd be happy in Berkeley and thereabouts--although, since you don't want a long commute, perhaps the South Bay is better, and you'll be neck-deep in the tech industry. Austin is nice too but not a terribly walkable city. You'd be among your people in Brooklyn, but you might not like the long gray winter (even when, like this year, it's not too cold).
posted by bassomatic at 5:44 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You know, I actually think you might really like Silicon Valley. (On preview I see bassomatic is recommending the East Bay. Silicon Valley would be South Bay/Peninsula.)

-Sunshine, lots.
-Tech industry obviously.
-Walkable, some parts are. Much of Silicon Valley is really urban-sprawl-y, but there are plenty of smaller portions with walkable downtowns.
-Commute, it depends on how close you live to your job. But given there's not exactly a housing shortage I don't see why you wouldn't be able to find a place that was close. This is one reason I lean towards recommending Silicon Valley itself over the East Bay, because there are more tech jobs down in SV and if you lived there it would cut the commute.
-You're equally close to San Francisco and to beaches.
posted by cairdeas at 5:51 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

San Diego weather.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:53 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also would say, regarding the NYC/Brooklyn recommendations, if weather is a really important factor to you... In my opinion there is about a month of nice weather there on either side of the year. Then you get a broiling hot, sweaty summer, and a piercing cold, windy, snowy, sleety, gray, dirty, trudging through slush, soaking your shoes, numbing your fingers, freezing your ass off winter. But if you like the cold more than I do, it might not be that bad for you.
posted by cairdeas at 5:54 PM on April 6, 2012

Sounds like any of the larger cities in the East Bay are right up your alley. Plenty of tech companies in the area, and commuting to wherever you work is doable without a car thanks to BART. San Francisco is frequently foggy, so I'd suggest a city in the East or South Bay. I think Berkeley and Oakland are more walkable cities than those in South Bay. The weather is pretty great in Berkeley and Oakland, though it does get dreary during the brief rainy season.
posted by yasaman at 5:55 PM on April 6, 2012

In my opinion there is about a month of nice weather there on either side of the year. Then you get a broiling hot, sweaty summer, and a piercing cold, windy, snowy, sleety, gray, dirty, trudging through slush, soaking your shoes, numbing your fingers, freezing your ass off winter.

Yeah, this is more or less true of NYC, though this past winter was nice. If you are interested in NYC make sure that wherever you end up living and working is close to the subway (<3 blocks) in order that you don't have to be outside in crappy weather for longer than necessary. Same goes for groceries, etc., though in truth you can order pretty much all that stuff for delivery.
posted by dfriedman at 6:10 PM on April 6, 2012

Yeah, with the microclimates here in the Bay Area, San Francisco can be completely socked in with fog and everyone's wearing heavy hoodies in July while Berkeley and Oakland residents are enjoying a beer in the garden as they tend to their tomatoes.

We do have rainy, gloomy weather in the winter. But we're quite far south of you, so that really only last maybe three months, and it's usually broken up with stretches of sunshine, or at least absence of rain. It doesn't rain from June to October. At all.

We have a tech industry, as I'm sure you know. And lefty atheists? We got truckloads.

You won't need a car. Don't live on the Peninsula.
posted by rtha at 6:15 PM on April 6, 2012

What's your idea of a sane commute? And what kind of tech do you do? Startup tech? Bank tech?
posted by zippy at 6:30 PM on April 6, 2012

I'm looking for a city with nice, fairly consistant weather.

That rules out all of Canada, unfortunately.
posted by mhoye at 8:11 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Reading the OP's question, I kept expecting a punch line - in the lines of, "but please don't say SF bay area because..." I think you're nearly exactly describing the bay area. The common objection, of course, is that the cost of living is high.

The weather doesn't compare to San Diego as someone here suggested (or to Southern California, for that matter), but the SF bay area is still very good. Since you'd be coming from Vancouver, you might even find foggy SF acceptable.

As to the Peninsula: You won't hit the politics issue on the head as you would, should you live in parts of SF or East Bay. But I think you'll find that the Peninsula has walkable downtowns. Some areas have as high a concentration of shops and restaurants as in neighborhoods in SF or Berkeley/Oakland/Alameda/etc. And you won't find a closer commute to the center of gravity in tech-land, which is still Silicon Valley, not SF SoMa or parts of East Bay.
posted by ccl6yl at 8:22 PM on April 6, 2012

I live in San Diego. I'm afraid I've pretty much forgotten about this "weather" you all speak of.

Seriously, though, the biggest complaint I hear from acquaintances from other parts of the world is: "I miss the seasons." If this describes you, well, maybe someplace that snows from time to time would be better. (I'm not being snarky here; seasons are fungible in San Diego. We have three kinds of weather: sunny, overcast and rainy. Any one can happen on any day.)

Early spring in the desert is glorious, though.
posted by SPrintF at 8:39 PM on April 6, 2012

You want to check out Victoria. More sun than Vancouver, and it's warmer too. Drier in the summer. Walkable downtown (I live about a block from the Empress Hotel with my family and it is great).

The tech sector is booming, particularly in gaming, SaaS, online marketing and ecommerce, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, oceans, aerospace...

I also suffer from mild depression and mild headaches caused by changes in the weather, but I get by. The worst times of year for me are the month of October and the month of March. The weather is pretty constant from mid-April to the end of September - warm and dry.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:43 PM on April 6, 2012

I head San Diego has a skills shortage in the tech industry, too, and it's cheaper than SF.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:44 PM on April 6, 2012

Denver is really sunny but also has seasons.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:11 PM on April 6, 2012

Note, I'm not actually planning on moving anywhere soon...

Then, sorry for not directly answering your question, but I suggest you learn to enjoy Vancouver winters. I think the best way to do this is to get into snow sports, especially at the local mountains (Grouse, Cypress & Seymour). It totally changes your mindset: rain in the city means snow on the hill, and you'll find yourself praying for sustained cold weather and more rather than less precipitation. Then, suddenly, spring arrives and you briefly mourn the loss of snow while transitioning immediately into summer mode. That reduces the year to only a couple of months (Oct & Nov) when there isn't anything that you can do outside without getting soaked.
posted by wutangclan at 10:39 PM on April 6, 2012

Albuquerque? 330 days of sun. Hi tech stuff. There are walkable areas but it's also very bike-friendly.
posted by OHSnap at 11:40 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Austin is very sunny (although can be hot). It has tech industry and a lot of lefty atheist types. When I lived there I commuted by bus and bike. It is really friendly and has a huge university and a ton of musicians and the people who live there adore it.
posted by feets at 12:13 AM on April 7, 2012

Denver is sunshine! Walkable...maybe not every 'hood, but some.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:29 AM on April 7, 2012

Move to Atlanta. The weather is amazing, pretty much all the time. We do have badass thunderstorms once in a while, but I love those. We are in the Bible Belt, but if more people like you would move here I wouldn't be so damn outnumbered!

We don't have much in the way of a downtown (it exists, but it's not super) BUT we do have a bunch of unique cute neighborhoods, that compared to San Francisco or Vancouver will sound like a downright bargain, housing-cost-wise.

To be fair, my parents are leaving here to move TO Vancouver--but like I said, if we could convince more liberals to move here I think it would improve the area greatly. And hey, I could get you a good deal on a house that'll soon be empty!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:55 AM on April 7, 2012

If you want sun, I'd say the Tri-Cities in Washington state (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick); it's sunny most days here, though we do have seasons--hot summers, cold winters. Very little precipitation, though. Plenty of tech, what with Pacific Northwest National Lab and all the associated industry. It is spread out, though, and it's hard to get by here without a car. There are lots of bike paths, though, and my boyfriend cycles 11 miles to work in Richland from our house in Pasco and most of that is on bike paths.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 7:37 AM on April 7, 2012

Another vote for San Francisco...
I'm in Vancouver, but have lived and frequently visit San Francisco. Lots to do. Great people. Weather is better than here!. Only thing I am not fond of there is the extensive military and what I have experienced as pro-military positions (even in the left community - in my experience). I have learned to stay away from discussions around America & the military.
posted by what's her name at 8:02 AM on April 7, 2012

San Francisco for the win! You absolutely do NOT need a car to live there - in fact, it's a lot less hassle to not have one. You can always rent a ZipCar for weekend getaways or bulk cat-litter buying expeditions.

SF has microclimates so if you move there, you can pick an area that is sunnier (or at least less foggy). The Mission gets a lot more sun than the (ironically named) Sunset. The Mission is also more public-transit-accessible from BART and bus alike.

If you choose Oakland - also a great city to live in - the Temescal area is my favorite. It's also called "Lower Rockridge" and is roughly bounded by 40th Street to 51st Street and Telegraph to Broadway. It is also well-served by public transit, you don't need a car, and is a very "neighborhoody" neighborhood where there are neighborhood hangouts, people say hi as you walk by, etc.

Rockridge is also a nice, transit-friendly neighborhood but is VERY expensive. I thought that Temescal offered the same kind of coziness at a lower price.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:38 AM on April 7, 2012

San Diego is beautifully and gorgeously sunny most of the time, though there are a few days here and there of greyness and rain. There's a decent sized tech industry here. However, your fit here really depends on where you work and live. San Diego is a big city made up of many smaller neighborhoods. Each has its own character, political leanings, and varying amounts of walkability. You may be able to get by without a car if you live and work near downtown. I'd recommend having a car, though. The good things in San Diego are really spread out; you can walk/bus to get food, see a show, visit the museum and have your bike fixed if you live downtown. If you want to visit your friends in other neighborhoods, eat better Asian food or visit a brewery you'll have to drive. The weather also varies a bit. In some places the coastal gloom doesn't lift until afternoon. Most of the neighborhoods further inland are also a lot warmer than those closer to the coast.

I grew up in the Silicon Valley and have lived in San Diego for 6 years. I can vouch for it being more consistently sunny in San Diego. I currently have the arrangement you want (year round sunshine, short commute to techie job, live a 5 minute walk to my favorite local coffee shop) but it took some luck and exploring to get there. For a while I had a 30 minute commute from a gloomier area to an unwalkable suburban tech corridor. Feel free to MeMail me if you have any further questions!
posted by rhythm and booze at 2:26 AM on April 8, 2012

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