Thinking about moving
July 19, 2014 12:03 PM   Subscribe

I am considering moving from where I live now (Madison, WI) for a number of reasons, but I don't know if it's the best idea right now, and I also have no clue where I should go.

I am a single 32 y/o female, no kids, one cat, on SSDI for being bipolar and also having anxiety and PTSD. Being on SSDI means I am super low income and poses some limitations on my freedom, though at least I am not tied to work or a relationship. (My family is all in Virginia.)

My biggest reason for wanting to move away is that my support system here has gradually eroded. I used to have so many friends here who I could call anytime for anything, but that has changed very much. Now, I have two very good friends left in town. However, one of them is leaving for grad school in a few months and the other is contemplating moving across the country. That means that my only support here would really be my therapist, who is amazing, but she is just one person, plus of course I don't see her socially. I have tried very hard to make other friends or at least friendly acquaintances, but things never seem to work out. Add to that that my past few years here have been totally fraught with trauma, and I am left feeling really vulnerable.

So, if I left, where would I go? Cost of living is a huge factor. I also need to live somewhere that has good state medical assistance and has mental healthcare that is accessible without too much hassle.I don't have a car, so I need to live somewhere that I can walk and use public transit. (I should mention that I would implode if I lived near my parents, so that is not an option.)I also love places that have a lot of local culture, indie bookstores and cafes, etc. and at least some good live music. Not required but would be nice is a strong literary community since I am a writer. Finally, since I am 32 and single, I'd prefer to live somewhere that had social options for people my age who don't have kids. Here in Madison, I feel like everything is either geared toward college kids or families, and that is part of why I have a hard time meeting anyone.

I think I covered all the bases here. If you are suggesting a bigger city, it would help if you could suggest a certain neighborhood. Also, feel free to address whether or not you think it's a good idea to move now, while I am quite fragile, or not.
posted by mermaidcafe to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Messed up formatting. Reporting now.
posted by mermaidcafe at 12:03 PM on July 19, 2014

Philadelphia? I feel like if you are looking for places with public transit that are relatively cheaper, Philly may meet those requirements. Don't know about health care in Pennsylvania or about the social scene there, but of the East Coast cities (which tend to have public transportation) I think Philly is on the cheaper side. West Philly, while possibly not the nicest neighborhood in the city, has some cheaper housing, big Victorians and stuff, is kind of alternative, and probably has a healthy number of young people because of the universities near by. It's pretty urban so I don't think you would have only families and students.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2014

Or, Baltimore? I know nothing about Baltimore, but it is also cheaper, plus DC is not too far away.
posted by thesnowyslaps at 12:36 PM on July 19, 2014

Twin Cities? Good medical care, decent culture, not solely a college town.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 1:43 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Steer clear of Seattle unless you want to live outdoors.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:59 PM on July 19, 2014

May I suggest Pittsburgh? Cost of living is reasonable, many parts of the city are walkable, and though some Pittsburghers will tell you otherwise, the bus system seems pretty good. There's a decent amount of free and cheap stuff to do, and the food options are really good if you feel like eating out occasionally. Another plus: the city is beautiful, very green, with parks and beautiful views, so it's not all steel and concrete. One more plus: I don't know about the writing community, but Pittsburgh has the only radio show I've ever heard of about poetry (they say "writers," but I have only heard poets). There are lots of grad schools here, so lots of grad students in that 25-40 age range.

Only you know best what your options are for SSDI, but PGH is lousy with healthcare, so I would bet odds are good you can find doctors and therapists.

Downsides? It rains a fair amount. People care deeply about sports here, so if that is not your bag, expect to tolerate a certain amount of talk about football/baseball/hockey. Giant Eagle has a monopoly on groceries here, so you need to go out of your way to find cheaper options or stock up when they have sales. But without a car, you've eliminated the hassle of learning to parallel park, and you won't have to deal with the Pittsburgh freeways unless someone else is driving, so there's that. Good luck!
posted by deliriouscool at 3:09 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you plan to stay on SSDI for the rest of your life, or do you plan to transition to part time work? If so, are there any particular places where you'll be best set up work-wise?
posted by samthemander at 3:11 PM on July 19, 2014

Yes, seconding Pittsburgh! There's a small group of MeFites here, so you'd already have friends. ;) I know many people here who are on SSI or SSDI, or are starving artist types, and I'm right around that income level myself at the moment. There's a solid activist community here working on poverty, health, food justice, and all sorts of things, so I think we have a good support system in place for low-income folks.

Living here on a disability budget is definitely doable, whether you want to live alone or have roommates. We have a fantastic local arts scene, some small presses, etc., and I don't think you'd have any problem finding a writing community or niche that would suit you. The Lawrenceville-Bloomfield-Friendship-Garfield corridor is the artsy/creative district, but the whole city has a ton of great indie shops, cafes, and whatnot, lots of great places to eat with a dedicated foodie and craft brewing scene, good local music scene, burgeoning film industry, etc. Bus service is good, but the outlying neighborhoods don't have service or have reduce service between 1:00 and 5:30 AM, generally. Since you're on SSDI you can get a reduced-fare card; zone 1 trips (between downtown and first-ring neighborhoods) would be $1.25 one way.

I have Medical Assistance right now (with a Univ of Pgh Medical Ctr/UPMC PPO plan), and you can sign up with Travelers' Aid to get bus tickets to get to/from medical and psychiatric appointments. We have world-class medical and education facilities here, so you will get excellent care if you need it. If you live in Allegheny County, you will get Community Care as your mental health plan. I've been very satisfied with it so far and have had zero problem to date (*knock on wood*) with getting services.

We have a great food bank system and another ancillary program called Produce to People that distributes extra produce and sometimes other dry or canned goods.

I'm taking a break from the dating scene for now, but I'm in my 30s, too, and haven't had a problem with meeting people when dating was a priority. We have so many universities here that there's a good mix of people in town for high ed, or ppl moving here for jobs, etc., so it makes for a healthy singles scene. We also have a strong LGBT community. There are always interesting events going on here and you wouldn't be too bored or feel out of place demographically, I think. Check out the Pittsburgh City Paper, the Pgh reddit, etc. for ideas.

I LOVE my city and could go on ad nauseum with the boosterism, so if you have any questions, shoot me a MeMail. We would love to have you here, and if you move here next month you can come to our Mefi meetup. :)
posted by cardinality at 3:56 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd recommend looking into the Twin Cities. If my understanding is correct one need only live in-state for twenty-four hours to qualify for medical coverage, and I'm certain that if you aren't working then medical care -- I don't know about psychiatric specifically, but it certainly seems as though that'd be included -- is likely to be covered entirely.
posted by mr. digits at 6:22 PM on July 19, 2014

« Older How to leave work for job interviews?   |   Best exercising regimen for a chronically-lazy... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.