New Start, New Location
August 25, 2012 6:09 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I want to move far enough away from where we live now that we're able to start something *new*. Help us figure out where to move that we will enjoy and how to move there. Details behind cut.

Our lease ends in February and I’m trying to figure out a location with a good program so I can finish my bachelor’s degree and he can finagle his way into his career (tattoo artist). We are both beyond tired of living in our city. The university here is an expensive school with a good reputation, but in all honesty, that’s all it is. Expensive. In my mind, I figure if I’m going to get myself into debt that hardcore, I might as well move to a state (and actual CITY) that I enjoy living in.

We entertained the idea of moving into the ‘real’ Midwest (ie: Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas) area, but after spending some time there, I realized it’s just too quaint for me and the schools out there are not so great. Both my advisor at school and the department head gave me some universities with good social work programs and University of Cincinnati is at the top of that list. I’ve considered University of Louisville as well, but (boyfriend) has no interest in moving there and so far, Cincinnati has been the only place we can agree on.

I would much rather live in a suburb than in the actual city. What do you recommend looking into? What is the most affordable? How long would it take me to find a job? What are the fun things to do in the area? Are there any non-university related art studio/galleries that have classes available? Any good gyms with yoga and/or spinning classes?

If any of you go there-- how is UC? Are the class times reasonable, or would you recommend the online program? Speaking of, have you taken any online classes through them?

Most importantly, once we choose a place, how do we go about saving/moving? How much should we be saving? What's the best way to move across state lines?

I'm also open to any other cities that have reputable colleges, are more democratic, and have an active art scene.
posted by camylanded to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you can get stand the winters I would recommend Madison over Cincinnati in a heartbeat. Cincinnati has a distinct "hate it or love it" characteristic to it.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:27 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Might help to know where you are now, to better understand what you don't like.

I moved to Pittsburgh several months ago, and it's a lovely, compact city with affordable housing, arts activity and many colleges and universities. I can't speak to the quality of their social work programs, though.
posted by jon1270 at 6:30 AM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know how our social work program is here at UW, but yeah, Madison fits the bill. It's definitely the Midwest, but I wouldn't call it "quaint." Lots of art, lots of tattoo parlors, low unemployment relative to the country as a whole.
posted by escabeche at 6:33 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I live in Bloomington, Indiana. I'd like to stay within a 4-5 hour radius of Indiana since both of our families live here and we're going to have to drive back to visit during the holidays.
posted by camylanded at 6:39 AM on August 25, 2012

Factor in how long it may take to get resident status for tuition.
posted by Cuspidx at 6:51 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I went to UC for a year, though I wasn't in social work, I was in the conservatory of music. I LOVED that part of it and left for reasons that had nothing to do with UC itself. It's not in the greatest part of town by a long shot but I never felt particularly unsafe living in the dorms there or walking around in the area. This was about 10 years ago and it was my freshman year of college, so I don't know how things have changed, but I'd definitely do it over again if given the opportunity. I didn't have a problem with class times or with the quality of the education.

Also, you didn't ask about Madison specifically, but I have lived there as well and will third the various comments above saying that Madison is a great place to live - I'd happily move back there if not for the winter, which is a dealbreaker for me. (The snow wasn't so bad - it was just really cold, and I grew up in Central Kentucky so I was accustomed to a climate similar to yours.) Very liberal, lots of neat restaurants, bars, plenty of suburbs to live in rather than the "city" itself, definitely a college town. Gorgeous lakes. I have very, very fond memories of living there. Plus, it's not too far from House on the Rock, which is one of my favorite places in the country.
posted by agress at 7:04 AM on August 25, 2012

I second Pittsburgh, and also throw Buffalo into the ring as a suggestion. Both places have a very blue collar feel, both cities have several universities to choose from, and although I don't know much about the body art industry in either city, I do know that both cities are able to support multiple tattoo shops, and being cities with a lot of students, both have a lot of potential clientele. Pittsburgh's suburbs are wonderful; Buffalo has several nice suburbs, but also some icky, sprawl-y ones. Both places are incredibly affordable.
posted by peacrow at 7:21 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and SUNY Buffalo has a fantastic social work program. I'll be applying for the MBA/MSW program in a few years myself.
posted by peacrow at 7:22 AM on August 25, 2012

Thirding Pittsburgh, much under-noticed; feels kinda like San Francisco without the Bay. Only affordable.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 7:49 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you should look again at Iowa. Iowa City is a university town with an amazing writing program, so there's a lot of artsy/creative stuff going on. It's only about a 3-hour drive from Chicago, if you want to see a bigger city once in awhile. There are buses that go between as well. It's a funky town.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:57 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about Ann Arbor?
posted by brujita at 8:03 AM on August 25, 2012

Nthing Madison as a wonderful place to live.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:10 AM on August 25, 2012

Nashville? I don't know anything about Nashville, but it has several schools and apparently leans democratic...
posted by jon1270 at 8:55 AM on August 25, 2012

Was Ohio U. (NOT Ohio State) on your list? Athens is a reasonably funky town, and the local topography is awesome (unless you love cross-country skiing.)
posted by SMPA at 8:57 AM on August 25, 2012

I think you should look at Omaha/Lincoln again. Good schools, great art scene, not expensive. And Athens ,OH is definitely a cool place and cheap, but very small.
I have heard that Grand Rapids is turning into a great town.
posted by Isadorady at 9:15 AM on August 25, 2012

My brother tells me Chatanooga, TN is pretty awesome (he lives in Nashville). I have two friends moving to Pittsburg, PA from San Francisco for the reasons other people have stated.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:04 AM on August 25, 2012

Asheville, NC!
posted by katypickle at 10:26 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

US News has Pitt's MSW program ranked at #11 in the country this year, less than a third of our registered voters are listed as Republican, the arts scene is growing nicely and there are a number of places that offer classes, and our cost of living is comparable to Cincinnati.
posted by notquitemaryann at 12:26 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have no interest in Madison, WI. Too cold. Too much snow. I'm used to something a "little warmer"! :)
posted by camylanded at 12:57 PM on August 25, 2012

Dear OP, wish you had mentioned the snow & cold in the original question.

Therefore, cross most of the suggestions here off your list (Pittsburgh, Chicago, Iowa City, Cincinnati...). Instead, go to Austin, you will get all that you require from that city.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:24 PM on August 25, 2012

Nthing Pittsburgh here. It looks like (based on a climate comparison site) Pittsburgh's winters are a degree or two colder than, but also significantly drier than, Bloomington's. There are plenty of suburbs around if that's what you're looking for (on the other hand, I live in a neighborhood in the city that is walking distance from the universities but still full of trees and near some great parks).

We're more than 5 hours from most of Indiana, though. Columbus, Ohio might be another place to consider - plenty of suburbs there, though OSU's social work school isn't as good as Pitt's :)
posted by janewman at 1:46 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Madison. Raised here, moved away twice, couldn't stay away either time, and here we are again. Please feel free to send me a note if you'd like to know ANYTHING about this city, as I'm sure I can at least direct you to the answer. Never met a soul who didn't like it (everyone complains in the winter, but, you know, it's WINTER).
posted by eenagy at 4:03 PM on August 25, 2012

Oops, I was going to suggest Bloomington, Indiana as an inexpensive college town with some city and international feel, but not over-crowded, and full of culture, arts and music beyond its size, and where a tattoo artist might be able to make a start. Alas, I see you've tried it! I can't speak much to the university for undergrads but it's enormous and has a lot of high quality stuff going on---maybe if you're motivated to find a professor to work with more closely, it might have more to offer... but if you're sick of it, what can you do. I'm not sure you'll enjoy other of the other midwest college towns any more or less (Iowa City and Madison are both nice. I've got a feeling you'd like Minneapolis but it's--well they're all too far)
I'm still confused by the mix of wanting a suburb (with a university? that's inexpensive?), and at the same time an "actual CITY" and not liking the scale of a (one of the nicer ones in my opinion) college town either.
Maybe a community college? Maybe OSU?

Could you say a little more about what's bugging you in Bloomington? Is it feeling too small? (or somehow too big?) Is there something you're missing (for me it was that I could never discover a great restaurant I'd never heard of, but this didn't bug me that much.) Or is the town fine, and is it just the school? And is IU's tuition very different than other similar schools? (I have no idea.)
Also do you have any school interests that might help us help you pick a school (which might happen to be in an okay town.) And do you have any interest in trying to dig deeper to get more out of IU if it's there to be found?

PS. may help compare costs.
posted by spbmp at 7:19 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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